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, October 24, 2006

Eid Mubarak to our neighbors


I attended a wonderful prayer service in Tompkins Square Park yesterday, early morning to celebrate the first day of Eid ul-Fitr, the three day feast at the end of Ramadan. The feeling of friendship and care for each other and the poor was very moving. Click on the photo to go to my Flickr page to see more photos, or pick up a copy of the Villager this week for my full story and some more photos.

Prayer Mukhlisur Rahman prepairs a clean place to pray

Monday, October 16, 2006

Profiles In Courage

Lynne Stewart Joy

I had lost faith in the system completely. I could not imagine courage in the face of the tyranny of fear today. I kept thinking of the stories of bravery in John Kennedy's book, "Profiles In Courage" I have a first edition somewhere... I remember the old television show made from the book ... and thought, if only...

We knew of the courage of Lynne Stewart, the quiet courage of the translator Mohammed Yousry, as they faced being tried for the fears of their times. But, I imagined what could we do, as the government demanded 30 years in jail for Lynne... Today, I waited in the court room hall, there was too little room for us to get into the tiny court room. Lynne entered the packed hall, and the crowd began to sing, "My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the lord... Glory Glory Alleluia, her truth is marching on... " Then chanted "Lynne Stewart Must Go Free!" until the walls rang.

Then we waited ... all day in the cold. Late in the afternoon word came down, Twenty-eight months for Lynne Stewart and twenty months for Mohammed Yousry. He continued bail for both, as they appealed their convictions. I stand, eyes filled with tears, and in awe of the courage of Judge Koeltl, standing up to the fear and pressure of his day, to take his place among those who John Kennedy described as profiles in courage. When he spoke of leniency because, "Ms. Stewart performed a public service, not only to her clients, but to the nation," Judge Koeltl created a bit of faith in the future of our republic.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

My friend, Lynne Stewart

I have been agonizing about what to say about Lynne Stewart, in these days when the President of this nation says we do not torture, and I read about the CIA flying an innocent man to Morocco to face genital mutilation to be "interrogated" seeking information about things he has no knowledge. What can I say when we live in a nation which debates how we can torture while in denial that torture happens in our name...
A friend of mine is about to face the lies and fears of our times, as so many have done before. I just don't have words other than to say, I wish I had the words to wake up the humanity in those who accused her, tried her, and are about to sentence her. So, I present this, from Paul H. Zulkowitz, which says it very well...

Friends & Americans--

Throughout American history, a number of attorneys have placed people's
needs and human rights before personal desire for wealth and position. Most
toil in obscurity, defending the indigent in criminal cases that few lawyers
care to touch, others support mothers and children in the least glamorous of
civil cases, helping them to remain in their homes and to put food on the

A few, like the late Bill Kunstler, rise to fame, devote themselves to
people's movements, and live their later days, with no lack of stress, but
in the comfort of family and friends.

Rarely does an attorney find herself in a controversy as notorious as that
of her best known clients; rarely does a grandmother, suffering from cancer,
disbarred from her livelihood, ever-vigilant for the rights of all of us,
face the fate of a political prisoner, face the abyss of the American (could
it happen here?) gulag.

I do not think that I overstate the case when I make the claim that one
school-teacher-turned-lawyer has become exemplary in the history of people's
movements for her singular dedication to the rule of law, democratic
principles, and the human rights of the powerless, poor and reviled.

Lynne Stewart is not now, nor has she ever been, a terrorist.

Lynne Stewart has been tried and convicted for her sheroic devotion to the
American Constitution.

Lynne Stewart has been tried and convicted by a government that has
relentlessly transferred power from the American people to a seemingly
conscienceless coterie of neo-cons, con-artists and enablers (nominal
dissenters better known for being nowhere when we need them).

Please read "The Case of Lynne Stewart" by Heidi Boghosian and Ian Head, a
publication of the National Lawyers Guild, and visit the website, Please investigate this case further on your own. I
think that you will be convinced that Lynne's case is a watershed in our
ongoing struggle for human rights.

It is not for Lynne alone that I ask you to stand up, but for yourself and
for your friends and for all those who stand up to injustices known and
unimaginable. After all, who is going to defend all of us?

Please prioritize your schedule for Sunday, October 15 and Monday, October
16. Please add the following information to your calendar.

SUNDAY, October 15, 4:00 PM
Riverside Church, between 120 & 122nd Street and Riverside Drive, Manhattan
(#1 or 9 to 125th Street)
On the eve of the sentencing, show your support and love for Lynne Stewart.
A tribute to her legal career and to her political life. Speakers and
Entertainment include Vinie Burrows, Michael Warren, Raging Grannies, Peace
Grannies, Howie Hawkins, Michael Smith, Michael Ratner, Professor Louie,
Ralph Shoeman, Jeff Mackler, Black Waxx, and more!

MONDAY, October 16, 8:00 AM
Tom Paine Park (Foley Square) Centre St and Worth St, Manhattan
(#6, J, M to Brooklyn Bridge or Chambers Street)
Rally to accompany Lynne Stewart to Court. Demonstrate your support. You
cannot be too “busy” for this historic moment. One to tell your
grandchildren about. Crucial to the atmosphere of outraged citizenry we
need. Be there for the early rally. Go with Lynne to court. If there’s no
room... rally outside the courthouse in the square.

Thank you.


Paul H. Zulkowitz
The Art & Politics of Justice & Joy
1068 Highland Place
Woodmere NY 11598

Friday, October 06, 2006

Forgiveness is the most powerful action ever taken...

Friends. I am struck, again and again how people in the world today, and in our meetings, seem to feel that they need to hold on to hurts and hatreds. Again and again, Friends have justified to me, their bad feelings about others saying they cannot forgive, as they need to be protected from those who hurt them.

Grudges, revenge, turning away is an act of the weak, it builds nothing but walls which hold back growth. On the other hand, forgiveness builds with the potential to build anything. I look at the dysfunction of so much in the world, and at the root is the in ability to forgive the past and work together towards peace and growth. There is no alternative to forgiveness that expresses greater power or potential.

For those afraid to forgive, rather than protecting themselves behind the walls they build, they only further weaken themselves, and help destroy the world around them.

Sunday, October 01, 2006



I met a fellow, he said his name was JJ, that everything was two. He told me that he had phoned the president the day before. He said that everything would be different now. He said that he had told the president to reconform the world's economy to peace rather than war. He said that the president had agreed and now it would happen. "You'll see" He said, "It will happen." The great tragedy is that the world was not as sane as JJ believed it to be.