Plain in the city

A plain Quaker folk singer with a Juris Doctorate in his back pocket, salt in his blood, and a set of currach oars in the closet, Ulleann Pipes under his arm, guitar on his back, Anglo Irish baggage, wandering through New York City ... in constant amaze. Statement of Faithfulness. As a member of the Quaker Bloggers Ad Hoc Committee I affirm that I will be faithful to the Book of Discipline of my Meeting 15th Street Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Placing God back at the center of our Convergence in the Society of Friends

Reaching towards each other for unity is the act of placing God at the center of our meetings and our society.

Today, we are laboring with the question is Friends Seminary a Quaker school. Some voices say that we need to immediately restore more direct direction over the school, and some say that the school has assimilated property and ownership of the institution and we must accept that the reality is that it is a separate institution and should be fully independent, possibly taking the property and no longer being called Friends Seminary.

Respectfully this is not Quakerism. In the first instance in God's time we move towards what God directs, in the second instance, God does not lead in a Quaker meeting through implication. If in the past twenty years we have shirked our responsibility to make decisions over Friends Seminary, than we must either come to unity that the job is beyond us, or we must get to work examining the issues and seeking openings towards change.

On one had some speak of separate incorporation, on the other some say they would not ever accept that. Well, in the face of an impasse we need to look at other ways that open. We must remember that it is not the schools time demands, nor ours that lead, it is God's time. If we are not doing right in our schools we do not say to our God, sorry, we are not up to the job, we seek God's direction, and admit that our polar opposite plans are both not the open way.

I think that we need more direct involvement in the schools and the only way to accomplish this is programs which seek out Quaker teachers and students. A school that has almost no Quaker students or Quaker teachers is not ready to become independently Quaker. In these days when we have been made afraid of terms that defined us as Liberals, we need to reclaim the value of such words such as affirmative action. I think it is time for Quaker affirmative action to put Quakerism back in Quaker schools.

We are not ready, yet to examine the polar opposite plans, so we need to examine new middle and common ground.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Who wears the chains in the United States today?


Outrages against human dignity. Article 3 of the Geneva Convention is vague to George Bush, so vague that he cannot tell what an outrage against human dignity is. To the civilized world it is sexual torture, sleep deprivation, white noise, physical coercion, most of us know what an outrage against human dignity is. So, like so many Germans in the late forties, who said, "We did not know, it was hidden from us…" Hidden rather in plain sight… George Bush hides his prisons of torture in foreign lands, so as to do what he wishes to do to those he suspects are his enemies, without oversight of our courts. In these United States today, he is not criminal. He a statesman.

On my block, a building was torn down after the squatters where tossed in the street by folks who smashed down the door with sledge hammers, that building was torn down without proper permits, a lovely old ornate building front destroyed, to put up a featureless, soulless slab, fines were paid as the cost of doing business, that was not done by a criminal led away in chains, that was done by a developer, a businessman.

A few poor souls, at least one of them stone cold sober, (note in the photo he is drinking Arizona Tea) as his breathalyzer tests later showed, were chained together in the park and led away … criminals who took a drink in the park. American criminals… ?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What thee has done for the least of us...

He was found on a Park Bench

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How do we decide if Friends Seminary is a Quaker School?

I have been hearing this questioned raised at meetings for worship with an intent for business and in called meetings, and we never seem to get to a method of asking the question, often it comes down to yes it is no it is not.

Well, perhaps we might look at it this way, what if a Friends meeting, used the school as a model for operation? First of all, our clerk and almost every member of every committee which defines us, or does the work of the meeting would not be member ... or even attender of this or any other meeting, in fact would self identify as members of other religions or no religion. Then, as children came to First Day School, they would be divided into those who are intelligent enough to be Quaker, those who have learning disabilities, and the simply average. The simply average would be turned away ... simply turned away. Those with learning disabilities would be sent to a special First Day School where they are out of sight of, and held apart from the very intelligent. The very intelligent would define the meeting.
Well, being that we are running the meeting in this manner, we would also test and segregate adults in our meeting in general, all the while proclaiming that we are not an elitist faith.
Work on the meeting house would not be cleared through business meeting, but every element of the original building, at any moment, might be ripped out to keep up with the look of the modern age, while we, at the same time expand our buildings, buying any adjacent property we may, because expansion is much more important to a Quaker meeting that being a good neighbor, and using that which we have well, and with thought, bigger is better in the Quaker ideal.

Now, to be fair, we have to then ask, does Quakerism work in the "real" world? I think it can, but, we need to ask if we should not treat interactions in the real world as our faith proclames, simply, and in a spirit of equality.