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.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Melanie's trip to New York

Street Acrobat
St. Marks at night
Cafe Reggio

Well, some suggestions for Melanie's New York Visit...

Tompkins Square Park, see flying kid in top photo, foot of St. Marks and Ave A.... cheep T-Shirt shops in the neighborhood... Odessa Dinner, Between St. Marks ( 8th Street if it had a number) and 7th Street, on Ave. A. ... so you don't think I never leave the neighborhood... The Cafe Reggio, where me Da used to write poetry in the 50s and the place is still going strong. McDougel Street. OH MY IT JUST CAME IN THE NEWS RUSH LIMBAUGH WAS ARRESTED AGAIN!!!!! but I digress... if Friends have more ideas for Melanie's trip to New York, let's post them in the comments. I will keep thinking...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hey Ludwig!?

loosing your hearing must have been a complete bitch. But... but ... but... would it be worse to have lost that music you heard inside? Which would have been worse for you. I can't say for me... I am surrounded by sound, but have lost the music, the voice of my soul in the worst and best times of my life, can't listen anymore. When people are playing music near me... it is just empty sound, living inside a tin can... noise. Which would you have chosen Ludwig... I don't know. Maybe I do...

Right and Left and the Society of Friends

Around and around the world goes, history goes, seasons of the earth, each different and each the same in their repetition. What is religion, what is politics, science or faith? It comes down to the same thing, the wiring of our minds and the reaction to change. We seek to organize our societies, either by religion or by civil politics, both are in many ways the same undertaking, the same accomplishment. Some societies don't separated the two, religious states have no boundaries between religion and politics, and try as we might, politics are infused in even the most minimal religious institutions. As we organize social structures we fall into two camps which I am sure are a product of our wiring rather than our upbringing. Look at a state which has a single school system, allows no free thought, hands each person a cradle to grave plan and even so, some dear little misfit ( to quote the film "Freaks" gooble gooble one of us... chant those who are welcomed into the Hicksite fold... ) will jump up from the plastic workbench and say, "Hey! What the hell are we doing here! Round pegs DO fit in a square hole!"

The really interesting thing, is that again and again the misfit or innovator ( same thing ) attracts followers who create a box to put the innovation into, and make sure that folks don't jump up in the box and say, " HEY! Square pegs DO fit in a round hole! " So, we name the sides, Left, and Right, Pharisee and Sadducee, Menshevik and Bolshevik, and then... well Yeshua was a Pharisee, a leftist - no doubt about it. In order to make it otherwise takes rewriting and back filling ( as was done ). So... an institution grows, and spins out more institutions which create a right wing, Saducean expression of his Pharasean left wing ideal. Fox is the little misfit who stands up in church and says "Hey! Get rid of the pegs altogether and put thyself in the whole!" and soon, an institution begins to grow, and a Left pulls it one way and a Right pulls it another, both claiming Fox and Jesus and on and on and on...

Sin, for the Right, sin is not obeying the rules... the rules ARE the relationship. For the Left, sin is breaking the relationship, the relationship makes the rules. Pharisee... Leftist... ( gooble gooble one of us... ) Hill el says, "love God with all thy heart and do nothing to another that which is hateful to thyself, that is the Torah and the rest is commentary"...

Harold Bloom points to the terror of abandonment by Yahweh for those on the Right. If He came and walked among his children, wrestled with us, ate with us, parted waters for us... joined us, disguised in battle... wherefore art thou dear friend and God, is it something we said? So... it is necessary to conjure him back in the flesh of Yeshua turned into the infinite of Jesus the Christ and God... and the Left says... we never missed Him... because he was not in the story, the story was not him, the story described a little bit of him, and thy sin, dear brother and sister on the Right is the sin of placing an image of God before Him. Images divide because of their falseness, in order to be made true all the descriptions of everyone else must be false. The one the right they say, thy sin was questioning the list of rules we put in the mouth of the image of our God.

I keep returning to that... putting words in the mouth of God. On the left we wait and listen ... together... advices.... seek God, listen for God, try to act WITH God, on the Right, there is a book, a list, human art which can tell us what God wants of us in black and white, and the Right can act FOR God, and the Left says when ye acts FOR God, ye can't act WITH God... God transcends the box.

So... where does this leave us, on the Right, God tells us to love one another, but to be Godly those that ye love have to follow the rules, do nothing that is hateful to the rules, or God will damn ye. On the Left, God tells us to love one another, and to be Godly seek the relationship which grows from the one rule, do nothing to another that is hateful to thyself, and don't damn another.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Quakers retreating from the world

A Friend in a comment of Rob's Blog ( Consider the Lillie's ) writes:

Finally, dear friend Lorcan, you write that "we are not a faith that builds monastery walls about our fields". That may well be true of liberal Friends, and I presume that you are living among such Friends. But it is not so true of evangelical or conservative Friends.

One tradition in the conservative and evangelical Quaker worlds has been to send one's children to private Quaker schools where they could have a "hedged" and "guarded" education. This was an act of building monastery walls around one's children, the most precious of one's fields. It paid off, too.

Evangelical Friends in particular have a long tradition of calling on one another to be separate from the world. That is one of the important reasons why they do not always respond to outreach from the liberal Quaker world, which they are somewhat inclined to regard as worldly and mired in sin. It is a logical extension of earlier Quaker testimonies against things like hanging out in taverns. I know it is rather different from the way in which many liberal Friends think, but it is as legitimately entitled to the name "Quaker" as the liberal fully-involved-in-the-world attitude is, and there is actually some good sense it in it which may be worth our while to ponder.

Well, I don't know that there has not been outreach to our community from Evangelical or conservative Friends, In 1963, our Hicksite Meeting joined with an Orthodox Meeting. So, as far as outreach, we became each other, as far as our meeting is concerned, though we are a community made up of Hicksites, Wiberites, and New Age Friends, perhaps even a non-Theist Friend or two. Back when we were a Hicksite meeting, English Evangelical Friends would visit with the intent of converting us, according to histories of our meeting.

I've met many conservative Friends who sojourn to our meeting today in fellowship, and thee is setting out on a wonderful walk for witness... this seems to me to be a reaching out, and one that is very welcome.

For us, here in New York, the tradition of Quaker schooling was not to keep our children from knowing about the world, but rather to provide excellent and Quakerly education. However, I am not sure our schools are in fact, completely Quaker these days. That is a whole question in and of itself! But, it seems to me, we have always sought to live IN the world while not being OF the world.

What is it to be mired in sin? There is a deep question. What is sin? Is it breaking rules or separation from God and one's fellow humans? In the world of Yeshua, it was the second. Many positive acts were sinful if not undertaken with a spirit of humility, atonement and forgiveness. As the Jewish Jesus movement was replaced in the three hundred years after Yeshua's death with a Gentile Christian movement, the concept of sin changed, was made more Roman and Greek, with the concept that Jesus was a sacrificial lamb who removed from the individual the need to atone for one's sins, those things one did which divided one from another or from God.
Now, it may be, that the pre-Nicean concept of sin is more the Hicksite tradition, but I think it is closely linked to the concept of that of God equally in all. Our presence to God in the other expects a fellowship, as described in the sermon on the mount. I don't think that feeling that sin is about obeying rules makes one less a Friend, any more than Sadducees were as Hebrew as Pharisees. If one looks at any religious or political system, one will find a rule bound expression, the Sadducee stance or the Quaker Conservative stance, and the Pharisee stance or the Hicksite stance ( or Bolsivik and Menchavik for another example). We showed the health of our movement by marrying the two back together after the divorce of the schism split us apart, though it took over one hundred years. We are still in marriage counseling however! But yes, we both are legitimately fine calling ourselves and each other Friend. I think it would be Christian of us to get together and labor together in a spirit of love as well.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Years pass...

Quarterly Meeting, 4th month 2005, Yearly meeting, 5th Month 1888
Dinning Room under the 15th Street Meeting 1888 & 2006

It seems from the placement of the arches, we may still be eating in the same room and meeting in the same one, there seems to be folks in the other room, under through the arch in the 1888 etching - however, it also might be that two rooms were needed to feed everyone in 1888, then everyone when up to the meeting room, makes more sense to me...

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Rights We Loosing

A few moments ago, I came across a family from another state who had just parked in a legal spot on my block. In their state one does not need a front licence plate, so to accommodate NY ( which they did not have to do by law ) the fellow put his extra plate on the dash board.
A traffic enforcement officer told him that she was going to give him a ticket, that it would have been better not to have it there at all. He said, "I'll just move it to the glove compartment." She told him she would ticket him anyway, even though she had not yet done so. When she told him the amount of the ticket he was stunned. I, from a respectful distance, began to photograph the exchange. She covered her face with her hat and said, "Please don't take my photograph... " then, "I am told you that you can't so you can't." I politely replied that she was in public. She said that it was not legal to photograph the police, and I told her that under the constitution of the United States, it was. She then, still covering her face walked away, so the fellow was saved the ticket. However, this fits with on going actions against citizens in New York City, where the police are telling folks on the streets that it is against the "Patriot Act" to photograph the police.
How long will this be an America we can recognize at all?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

George and the Queen

This, I am told, is a true story, told to me, in the basement of the Strand Bookstore by a fellow who told me he was a high level functionary in the White House, he asked to only be referred to as Linda Lovelace... ? Don't ask me...

Well, it seems George Bush went to meet Elizabeth Hanover, now called Windsor, at her flat in Buckingham Palace. He said,
"Tell me, Liz... HOW DO you find all these intellectualizers to work for you."
"Whell, my dear,", she said with a contented, I am the Queen sort of a look..., "I have a little riddle I ask, and if thy know the answer, they are clever enough to work for me. Here, I will show you..."
She rang a little silver bell, and Tony Blair came bounding into the room, tossing a surprised and happy glance at George, hoping that George had brought him a treat, which he had, but he had given it to Elizabeth's corgis instead...
"Tell me, Tony, Your parents have a child, and that child is neither your brother or your sister. Who is that child?"
"Oh, Majesty, that is quite simple, why it is ME!"
"Bravo Tony, now run along, there's a good lad." And off he skipped, pleased as punch.
"Got some business at home, Liz, gotta run, you know what it is to be the decideror..." And off dashed George to airforce one, and dashed home.
He called in Rumsfeld, and the rest of his cabinet, and said, "Boys, I got a serious question for you. Your parents have a child, who is not your brother or sister, who is that child?"
Donald said, "Well, Mr. President, you know we don't want to leave any child behind, so we have to go into executive session and find you the right answer, though we all could tell you right away, but we just want to make sure..."
They scampered off to his office, went on line, right off to Wikipedia, google, pulled their hair, cried, punched the walls, then one said, "Hey! Let's call Colin Powell! He's a smartie, he'll know..."
So they called Colin and without a moments hesitation, he replied, "That's easy! Its me!"
They raced into the oval office, with two minutes to spare, and panting, Rumsfeld said, "Mr. President, the answer is Colin Powell."
"Damn! The generals are right!" George fumed... "Idiot! The answer is Tony Blair!!!"

Amanda's Transportation Survival Suit

A few notes, on the back of an envelope... the suit is made of steel, and is riveted. Note that on top of the Quaker Bonnet shaped helmet, ( tinted aviation grade plexiglass visor ) there is a classic beanie copter prop, this provides electric power, and turns a small fan inside the helmet to cool the suit. The main power is the distillery tank on the back... one puts potato skins inside it, and they are distilled into a vodka like fuel, which powers the jet engine, which runs the main drive fan\prop behind. On top of the helmet, there is also a rear view periscope, which can also face forward, and be used with the snorkel if one runs into a deep water hazard... there is also the red flashing safety light attached to the snorkel as well as the loud speaker and siren. For giving coins to poor folks, there is a re-tooled slot machine, which dispenses coins when you pull the lever, it is also handy for tolls on the highway. As thy bike is no more, I thought, well, self contained... wheels on the suit, to save the extra cost of the bike. I would not advise speeds over 275 mph on the streets of Cambridge, as that might attract attention, and some trouble stopping, as there aren't any breaks. I thought breaks might be dangerous, as a sudden stop might be, well, .... dramatic? So, my theory is that when a stop is needed, grab a street sign, and put the rudder over hard, and spin around until inertia is expended.
I also think, with the jet power to the drive fan, it is likely, by bending slightly backwards, you can become airborne for long enough to hop over most obstacles, like..., well..., medium sized buildings, or small rivers.
Must run, the forge is nearly hot enough to start... hope to finish oh... around the day some call Christmas... try to be careful in the meantime and keep getting better...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Hey Look! It's Aldo!!!

Aldo, a plain friend from Brooklyn at 15th Street...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Quakers and Holidays

Today, a few decades ago today, a fellow named Hoffman ingested LSD and a generation dropped out, tuned in and fell down, one hundred years ago,this week San Francisco fell down when the earth gave a shake like a wet dog, and two thousand years ago, Yeshua's spirit could not be contained in a grave, wether thee believes his body rose, or like Dr. King, and Gandhi, there are some souls that can't be silenced by murder.

We Friends are not big on holidays. Yet I sometimes long for those faiths that can say, on this day we remember, remember to... forgive, to atone, to clean, we do what we need to do to acknowledge how easy it is to just not do it.

It should be, that we Friends are called to live these holidays every day... I invite us to be that, on this day, that the grave could not hold him.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Fear and Friends

I have been sitting here, well, cleaning the house here, and thinking about the negativity, the constant, unrelenting, negativity, of so many Friends. Hicks said that it is fear that keeps us from perfect love, and it seems to me that it is fear behind the constant negativity of Friends, and fear of what? I am not sure... It seems to me that a fear of anarchy, for example, the fear of new thoughts, the fear of so much, is simply a fear of each other. I am thinking over decades of conflict I have seen in meetings, and at the root, there are so many Friends who just dwell in such fear. That fear has caused so many so much pain. I don't know why it hits me so hard today. Perhaps it is because a dear Friend, who has given me such support and light is speaking of leaving our society, because he sees the failure, the lacking of love in our institutions.
Well, we can't be brave for others, and the slings and arrows of the fear of others... well, we just have to keep on keeping on in the face of it. I hope my Friend stays with us, or that he goes to where he hears God's voice the loudest... I pray that we deserve thee, Friend. Thee has been very brave in so many ways.

Spring Snow

Spring Snow

Friday, April 14, 2006

God bless the world for Children

Kai Leigh Harriott, age five, and paralyzed from a shooting, testified at the sentencing of the man who shot her at the age of three. She cried, then composed herself and said, "What you done to me was wrong," she said to the man seated just 10 feet away. "But I still forgive him."

Towards an On Line Bloggers Faith and Practice.

Recent events convince me that the internet Quaker blogging comunity exists as a community in need of common order. I propose we do as Quakers have always done, and begin a worshipful on line meeting towards unity. I will post a Blog, to which anyone might post, but to take part in the final minute and advice, one needs to be a member of a Friend's Meeting.

My part in this is hardly even recording clerk, I just make offer the space for us to meet. I am not sure of how the form will evolve, other than we should seek to replicate the process of coming to unity in a meeting for worship with a concern for business, on line. As we begin to reach unity on an advice, I will move it from the comments to the post, and we will try a minute.

Any one wish to take part?

It is the first link on this blog...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Street Photography for Laurel Ann

Street Acrobat

Oh, they grow up so fast... :)

Meeting For Worship With a Concern For Business Break.

Break during a long business meeting

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Killed Denis Donaldson?

Sure, a blast from a shot gun nearly took his hand off, as he, in hopeless fright tried to hold the door closed... then moments later, in the remote waterless, electricity free old Irish cabin, as he lay on the floor another blast from a shot gun was the moment which froze his life in eternity.

What killed him? Was it that it was uncovered that he was, for most of the modern history of the war in Ireland a spy for the British in the IRA Army counsel?

It has been written that he was killed to send a message to the wielders of power in the Republican movement, by the ex-rank and file soldier on the street. Who knows. Some have said that they were saying that the Army Counsel, seems to be made up by British agents and folks who, today have sold out all the hopes for justice of those who faced life and death on the streets, who today are not living on the plush like the AC members.

In short, if for revenge, "justice", as a message, he faced death as the good, the bad, the innocent and the guilty have faced in Ireland for 800 years. He died as a symbol of the wrongs... like the British soldier who died for putting on the symbol of his uniform, like the little girl coming home from the store clutching a container of milk, who, at point blank range was shot in the head by the British soldier - never charged, who died as a symbolic warning to her community that someone must pay for his mates killed the day before... and all those many who died, because a hidden politic of control of non-aligned nations by NATO... the hidden wielders of hatred and difference... why did any of them die?

Why are we divided? So that those in those unreachable places, high in the rarified air of real power... need us to be divided and see each other as the enemy in my face rather than see them as the despoilers of the world, who play on our greed, our sexism, our racialism, our homophobia, our fear, our hurt... and it costs us, and even them, all hope for the future.

Many cling to the politic of division, the faith of division, the hierarchy of pain - "I hurt more than thee... " all fly in the face of God, in the face of unity, and fly towards the melting icecaps, towards the equality of fear we will face by being led into such error by all the politics of division and hate... isn't so important that we keep our movements pure by our harsh judgements of each other and ignore the rising water around our feet? Are we not as foolish as the German philosopher who said that a man sentenced to death, should be executed on the last day of the world, to keep meaning in the world... what sadness.

So many place masks on other people's faces, cartoons of who we would make them, and resist every invitation from that person to look behind the mask, at the soul... and then we shoot, we push them out of the meeting, we refuse to listen or even give them the respect of telling them the sourse of our anger, we point fingers, guns, bombs, editorials at the mask and never ask to look behind that mask... and the water rises.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Are we Hicksites or Barnardites?

Not a frivolous question. I read a recent comment on who owns original Quakerism, the Orthodoxy or the Hicksite tradition. I accept that this question is still lovingly asked. And tonight, as I woke up sick around 3 or four, as I do most nights... I began to sink deeper into this question.

We certainly begin with the preaching of Hannah Bernard and the reaction to it. In many ways, Hannah is the innovator, and the reaction is driven by men... who hammer nails into the institution, like putting up plywood in the face of a coming storm.

But... that is not the defining moment. The defining moments Hicks supporting her not being read out, and then Hicks being read out. So, the Hicksite tradition is not anti Christian, nor New Age, nor Non-theist, nor Bernardist. It is that part of original Quakerism which did not set up orthodoxies by reason of keeping process moving forward.

Most meetings today, orthodox or otherwise, accept that we seek unity in a process of openness. That sense of the meeting happens, not only when all agree, but when those who disagree take themselves out of process by saying, I cannot ever accept such and such. So, to stand in the way of ... unity, to say, I am not there yet, we must keep talking, does put off the sense of a meeting, and an issue remains open, but to say, this far I will go and no further, is to take oneself out of process, and also to make a new orthodoxy. Here it is important to note, Hicks did not leave, he was cast out by some, and others did not cast him out, becoming the Hicksite tradition.

The Orthodox communities cast each other out with some regularity, there after, seeking more clearly defined and narrower unity, while it has been noted that Friends were much more rarely read out of Hicksite meetings. One can't ever answer the question, which is truly original Quakerism, as original Quakerism could not survive the growing multi-cultural environment of moving out from small English villages. If we are present to new ideas, and are open to process, inclusiveness had to happen. That some would cling to the values of the original founders is a human process which also always happens, every society grows and resists growth... that we came together is much more original Quakerism, to me, but than again, I grew up Hicksite!

Would Fox have thought twice if told that one day his teaching about inclusive process would lead people away from his observations on the nature of Christ? I don't know. No one can say they do know, and if they can, ... well, then what, are we Foxists, or Quakers? Did Fox intend a faith that would make a pope of him? Again, I doubt it, but again ( do I need to say it again :) ) ... I'm a... oh go on, ye can all say it... like the audience at a Pete Seeger concert...

Oh my, we always come back in every human politic or faith, are we defining a process or an outcome...

Boston Recorder and Religious Teligraph

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Value of the Gospel of Judas

The degree to which folks on the street, today, two thousand years later, state on TV that they know that the Gospel of Judas does not tell a story which is true. Hmmm.
The degree to which we decide we know the truth, and close our hearts to other light, well, what better allegory might there be, then Judas so loved Yeshua, that he did this terrible thing, at his behest, not for greed, and his name has been cursed ever since. A true account or not, it should bring a little humility to us in our judgements of each other.

The world is never, ever black and white. There are few hard lines and unbreakable barriers, if any at all exist. There is a wonderful, and meaningful poem on another blog this week.

Those Tears

of a white woman who came to the group for Women of Color
her grief cut us into guilt while we clutched the straw
of this tiny square inch we have which we need
so desperately when we need so much more
We talked her into leaving
which took 10 minutes of our precious 60
Those legion white Lesbians whose feelings are hurt
because we have a Lesbians of Color Potluck
once a month for 2 hours
without them
Those tears of the straight woman
because we kicked out her boyfriend at the Lesbians only
poetry reading where no microphone was provided
& the room was much too small for all of us
shouting that we were imperialists
though I had spent 8 minutes trying to explain
to her that an oppressed people
cannot oppress their oppressor
She ignored me
charged into the room weeping & storming
taking up 9 minutes of our precious tiny square inch
Ah those tears
which could be jails, graves, rapists, thieves, thugs
those tears which are so puffed up with inappropriate grief
Those women who are used to having their tears work
rage at us
when they don't
We are not real Feminists they say
We do not love women
I yell back with a wet face
_Where are our jobs? Our apartments?_
_Our voices in parliament or congress?_
_Where is our safety from beatings, from murder?_
_You cannot even respect us to allow us_
_60 uninterrupted minutes for ourselves_

Your tears are chains
Feminism is the right of each woman
to claim her own life her own time
her own interrupted 60 hours
60 days
60 years
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are white
you are
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are a man
you are
We who are not allowed to speak have the right
to define our terms our turf
These facts are not debatable
Give us our inch
& we'll hand you a hanky

Chrystos, 1994.

As I said, it is a wonderful meaningful poem. But it presumes race as a thing not a process. In so doing, it becomes so sure of the line between black and white, in all its applications, that it dates itself. Social science goes through fashion trends. Once, the NAACP was seen as a heroic undertaking, a partnership between Black activists and intellectuals, and a large number of White activists and intellectuals, many of them Jewish. Then, in the time when a politic of self determination came into being, as well it should, many young Black activists turned against the White membership in organizations like the NAACP, and did so with some degree of venom, while overlooking the fact that "Strange Fruit" was the expression of one such brave young men, a fellow named Abel Meeropole, who raised the orphans of the Rosenbergs.

As Cornel West reminds us, "Race Matters" even though it does not exist. There is a huge danger in ignoring that it exists, but an equal danger in giving it power by making race a category rather than a process. People are not a race, they are raced. There is not point at which a human is Black or White, more there is a movable convention depending on the reaction to complexion in the society one finds one in. A dear friend of mine, is part Spanish, part Native South American, and part Bohemian. In South American, she is seen as White. In the US, she is seen as completely Indian, and is on the Treaty Counsel.

It is not the simple hurt feelings of the White liberal that are at stake. Even gender turns out not to be an absolute. Where does the transgendered person fit in the poem above, is there a difference in acceptance before or after an operation to assign a more acceptable gender to an individual?

We also see the lines drawn around acceptable minorities. In point of fact, even the progressive community excludes and ignores, racializes. The Romany people are a people who today are the object of genocide, in many places and oppression in most. Those of us who advocate for them, represent a people for whom there is no tolerance of a civil rights movement. No tears are ever shed for them. Black men living in poverty, are excluded from many of the benefits of the rights struggle spearheaded by them and on their behalf. And yet, I would say that there were benefits to the broad nature of the support... it is just important, however to learn the lesson of inclusion.

The feminist movement in the US, was, almost completely sparked by women ( many of them Quaker ) in who had taken part in the abolitionist movement. Then, in a great irony, their movement for inclusion of women in an expectation of rights, in many ways, disempowered Black males, certainly not intentionally.

Derek Bell ( sorry to so paraphrase thee, Derek ) points out that before affirmative action, one's place in society was tied to one's background, the schools you went to and the family into which you were born. So, after the courts said, Black people in the US must be allowed into management, the first programmatic shop floor promotion programs were begun. So, let us say there are five management slots from the shop floor. Two will be affirmative action set asides, well, the first beneficiary is a White male, the three non-set asides. Then, the next, numerically to benefit were White woman, then among all the other descriptions of minorities, a few Black men find their way in, and yet, they become the face of affirmative action. Now, as the society is attempting to reclaim the right of an empowered class to pass opportunity to their own, exclusively, they attack affirmative action, putting the face of the Black man, the last beneficiary on the process of closing down of the road of opportunity.

So, White women, learned from their work for the end of slavery, that they had rights, they accessed rights in ways undreamed at the start of their movement ... and those Black men and women, are left, many far behind. So, is the answer to close off White and Black women as having no shared interests, or to find, together that there are benefits and debts to examine, from which to learn.

The poem ... well, the blame pattern in society is often, almost always pointed down at the other below thee on the ladder, this assumes a place on the ladder, which may or may not be true... I'm not sure it is even the best thing to point the blame pattern up, where it likely belongs, more we have to seek real answers, and I think the answer is seeking unity.

The stark Black and Whitness of the poem... well, the weeping White woman, I can easily see my wife in that. Genie was publicly attacked in a letter in an Irish American newspaper, for her support of Gay rights in the Irish American society. In point of fact, both Genie and I were often some of the few "straight" folks at meetings of ILGO and The Lavender and Green, where we were not judged by the color of our presumed sexuality, but on the history of our engagement in rights struggles.

Sometimes I find a sort of inescapable fate of Martin Niemoiller. When I was a child, and our public school was forcibly integrated I stood with Charles Brooks, a Black friend in the face of White bullies, though I was not Black. When the Feminist movement was still a long way from the beginnings of inclusion, I stood with my sisters in that movement, though I was not a woman, When I witnessed the blatant anti-Catholic policies and actions of Britain in Ireland, I stood with Catholics, though I was not Catholic, and when I learned about the crimes against Palestinian Arabs, I stood with them, though I was not Arab, and then when called to act in favor of the elderly, as a functionary in the NYS Division of Human Rights, I stood for the elderly, though I was not elderly, and then when Bangladeshi minority woman called me to witness that they are being publicly gang raped, I witness for them, though I was not Hindu, or Buddhist or Woman, I have been a voice in meetings for young adults Friends, though some remind me that I am not young, and when I asked Friends to stand with me, there were few who were so called. So, I wonder if Martin Niemoiller did speak out for the Jews etc., how much in the world of identity politics how might he be able to count on the voice of others for himself?

We are involved in many wars, wars with weapons and wars with ideas, and the real struggle to survive ... right this moment, is the struggle to survive a planet which is beginning to change, and become a place where humans may not be able to survive. The ice caps are melting. We struggle for power, to find the culprits among us, and we are not even building a raft together, let alone stopping the actions which are going to kill us all. What real advantage is there in defining our selves by categories of race and gender, when there is a chance of Condie Rice being the next president. Will that be a victory for Black Americans or Women, well, I am not sure it will be!

Like Judas, there is more to learn about each of us, than the package in which we come. Yes, race matters, yes we must reporate for the wrongs of the past, even Quakers have a dept to those we have racialized, but the politics of identity must be balanced with the need to grow towards unity.

Yes Feminism is the right to define thy time and space, but, it is also the need for equality, to be an equal actor. It is the need to find the strength not to pre-judge as well. So, I don't say this poem is wrong, it is part of the world, but the world is also not often as black and white. Well, here I am, a fellow, asking that we think about all this, and in the recent history of Quaker interaction on the Internet, I must say, I am uncomfortable in raising these concerns here, so I end with this is not an attack, a failure to understand, it is a conversation entered into by one who was an early feminist, who even as a child was part of the change away from American apartheid, and one who believes we need to talk to grow. We have to be humble about the things we think we know, such as the nature of Judas or the White man next to thee.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A wee bit of atonement.

I see a post of mine has been included on Quaker Quaker, so my supposition that I was not welcome there, in light of lack of clearness with Martin - was a likely an unworthy assumption. So, forgive the error, and I hope this is the cracking open of a door which might lead to clearness on all counts.
In Friendship

Happy International Roma Day!

Romale, Chavale

Bahktale hai sastimos! Roma OPRE!

Gelem, gelem, lungone dromensa
Maladilem bahktale Romensa
A Romale katar tumen aven,
E tsarensa bahktale dromensa?
A Romale, A Chavale

Vi man sas ek bari familiya,
Murdadas la e kali legiya*
Aven mansa sa lumniake Roma,
Kai putaile e romane droma
Ake vriama, usti Rom akana,
Men khutasa misto kai kerasa

A Romale, A Chavale

Jarko Jovanovic

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why can't we be Friends, friends?

Gary Younge, in the Guardian has written an article about the attacks on freedom of expression in universities in the US. It is very apt, as we consider the real definition between progressivism and the state of Quakerism today. I see a shutting down, an anti-intellectualism spreading. Young writes:

After the screenwriter Walter Bernstein was placed on
the blacklist during the McCarthyite era he said his
life "seemed to move in ever-decreasing circles". "Few
of my friends dropped away but the list of
acquaintances diminished," he wrote in Inside Out, a
memoir of the blacklist. "I appeared contaminated and
they did not want to risk infection. They avoided me,
not calling as they had in the past, not responding to
my calls, being nervously distant if we met in public

Latter in the article he states that:

Political assaults on intellectuals are not new. Nor
are they specific to the US. At the dawn of western
civilization, Socrates was executed for filling "young
people's heads with the wrong ideas". Mao targeted
professors for particular humiliation during the
cultural revolution.

Intolerance, control, wielding of fear, acting out on our fears is not just the way of a definable right wing. Folks who think of themselves as "progressive" folks who believe themselves to be active Quakers, use the same tool of alienation and isolation. We begin to be afraid of sharing light, not because we will find others do not agree with us, but because others will seek to push us out of the less than beloved community. We will be accused of being liars, and even be accused of harassment by Friends.

In Quakerism 101, there is a hypothetical, based on a real event. Thee is one the property committee, and Black activists take a meetinghouse in reparations for slavery and exclusion of Blacks from membership there after in the past. Does one call the police?

In fact, in our history, in such events we did not call the police, we sought clearness through our processes, because we choose to live in a world of our beliefs. Harassment. Well, there is a charge thrown at the persistence of George Fox, and many early Friends who persisted in holding those authorities to the light, who by their actions stifled the light of Friends. That Friends should threaten with harassment Friends who are simply begging that we follow process, well, it does not seem to me to be our way.

In the climate of division in the US today, the way of the world creeps easily into our meetinghouses. We all make assumptions, that we act on them at the expense of our traditions which bore up our faith for so long... well, that's the problem. I've never seen a censor, a dictator, a strong arm that did not think at the root of their actions was a justification. I have a dear friend, a member of the most famous infamous Bike gang, who feels that the violence of his community is justified and righteous. Though he is a friend of mine, I don't support him in this belief.

We Friends should make our lives speak. If we believe in Quakerism, how can we create organisations which don't follow those traditions? Are we so afraid of error that we feel it can destroy our community of faith, and in acting on that fear, have we not already destroyed our meetinghouse?

I met a Romany (Gypsy) family in a restaurant, oh, maybe a little less than a year ago. The father asked about my plain clothes, if I was a pastor. I told him no, I was a Quaker. We spoke about the evangelical movement in the Romany community in America. "You know," the fellow said, "You put ten Gypsies in a room, not one will not be afraid of muloh, all us Roma believe and are afraid of the muloh ( ghosts ). Most of the evangelicals use that fear. They concentrate on the devil, 'Beng', as an evil muloh. I love Devlessa ( God), that is what I believe, that is where I put my faith, in love of God. I think a religion that concentrates on fear of the devil, gives Beng too much power."

When fear of each other cuts us off from each other, we give too much power to Beng.

Devlessa, Romale, Shavale, baxt hai sastimos.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What Quaker Clearness Is and Is Not

Quakerism is not judgmental. One cannot be for peace, if in order to come to peace we have to find one side a culprit. That is hard for some folks who come to Quakerism, rather than grow up in the culture of Quakerism have a hard time with, and that is understandable. We live in a world where justice and revenge are interchangeable in popular media and justice is in punishing the guilty.

Quaker clearness is not that. It is getting to know each other's heart and moving on in unity. Unity is the goal of every thing about us. It is not important to investigate, uncover, prove, use logic to show the other is wrong... it is important to get to know the goodness in each other.

Quakerism is also not about unilateral action. There are no Quaker clerkships which are empowered to unilaterally set policy, cast out, act, all power in a Quaker meeting is a pyramid ending with the base, the gathered meeting. We have no priest or pope, no president or prime minister, we have a gathered community. In order to be a gathered community we can't be so hard headed and sure of the justice of our point of view, or belief in the facts, that we sow dissension by casting another out. We move forever towards each other.

In the past, as seen in the letter of the Elders of Balby, Friends held Friends to the light, often, and formally:
That if any person draw back from meetings, and walk disorderly, some go to speak to such as draw back; to exhort and admonish such with a tender, meek spirit, whom they find negligent or disorderly. And if any, after admonition, do persist in the thing not good, let them again be admonished and reproved before two or three witnesses; that by the mouth of two or three witnesses, every thing may be established. And if still they persevere in them, then let the thing be declared to the church: and when the church hath reproved them for their disorderly walking, and admonished them in the tender and meek spirit, and they do not reform, then let their names and the causes, and such as can justly testify the truth therein, and their answers, be sent in writing to some whom the Lord hath raised up in the power of his Spirit to be fathers, his children to gather in the light, that the thing may be known to the body; and with the consent of the whole body, the thing may be determined in the light.

If, in that, there is a need for clearness, this process is explained:

4.-That as any are moved of the Lord to speak the word of the Lord at such meetings, that it be done in faithfulness, without adding or diminishing. And if at such meetings, any thing at any time be otherwise spoken by any not of the light, whereby the seed of God cometh to be burthened; let the person or persons in whom the seed of God is burthened, speak in the light (as of the Lord they are moved,) in meekness and godly fear, to him; but let it be done in private, betwixt them two, or before two or three witnesses, and not in the public meetings, except there be a special moving so to do.

I take this to mean, if a person is disorderly, is acting out of the tradition of Friends, they are contacted individually and in larger numbers, until if they still refuse to face their actions, they are named to the meeting. Then, if there is conflict, contradiction, they meet in private, seeking clearness.

The lack of judgmental behavior ... seeking together the Balbay Elders state in this manner:
16.-That no-one speak evil of another, neither judge one against another; but rather judge this, that none put a stumbling-block or occasion to fall in his brother's way.

17.-That none be busy bodies in others' matters, but each one to bear another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ; that they be sincere and without offence, and that all things that are honest, be done without murmuring, and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless. the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, amongst whom they may shine as lights in the world.

Sometimes, we can't agree on facts, often in fact. Real Friends then agree to the intentions of the other and move on together in loving membership in the beloved community. Frankly, I think this should be a core question of attenders seeking membership, can thee always forgive and love. Can thee love the best of us and the worst of us. Without that, we have no Quaker community, as the core, the definition of our community is the unity of the peaceable kingdom. Sure we can have confrontation, even some conflict, but without love, without unity, without clearness, we are nothing of what we claim to be.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A note on Violence, and to Pam and Nat

I was hurrying out to a meeting, but thy posts were too important.

As I said in my response in the comments, I apologize, especially as I can't answer completely on line.

My comment, on Joe (Beppeblog's) blog. Was in answer to Joe saying that his exclusion of me, and dropping me from a community he controls was not a violent act. Joe used as an example an example of anti-gay violence against him.

I replied something to the effect that his actions were violent, and the degree to which it my attempts to find support among Friends in my seeking clearness have turned the issue around... felt like a rape.

Dear friends, women are not the only ones who have experienced sexual abuse and violence. My point, which I wrote in more depth to Joe, is that as a victim of sexual violence as a child, I can tell thee, it has created challenges for my entire life.

I have a lot of trouble dealing with folks who play the whole Alpha male thing, the " I'm the boss syndrome", which we do find, even in Quaker meetings. This is why, I have been so intent on us not loosing our tradition of clearness, because without it, the aggressive, those who act without care of others, who refuse to talk, dominate meetings... or the Internet.

It was a terrible reference, especially as I can't go into intimate detail here. But, rape is about being separated from a sense of comfort in society, on one level, for life, and has altered my life in terrible ways. It is about a violence of separation that lasts long after the pain of the assault.

I never did call Martin a rapist, nor would I think of doing so. I was saying that Quakerism without loving process pushes the gentle people out... and Friend Kelly might consider that.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Helping Martin Kelly become a Peace Activist

It is not enough to talk the talk, thee must walk the walk. I do not mean that thee must go to the dangerous places in the world where thy life is at risk, I mean go to the safe place where thy ego is at risk. It is easy to be the alpha male, it is a walk to become a man.

It is easy to sit at a computer station and pontificate about faith and pass on information about peace, but until thee steps up to the plate when thy ego is damaged, thee is not a peace activist. Thee has said things about me that are unsupported by the facts, but fit into thy long time rant that older Friends dominate Meetings. So, on the force of this prejudice thee tells me that I have no place in thy retreat, and now when I say, in light of this we should meet and get to know each other as Friends and friends thee removes me from thy world.

This is simply a cowardly act and unbecoming a man as intelligent as thee. Thee knows better. To be a Quaker is to be open to being eldered, and be open to putting the ego of thy hatreds aside and seeking peace. Now, I know there are many who will elder me for the persistence in holding thee to the light. Well, the cause of peace is not easy or a walk in the park. It takes persistent dedication, and sometimes it takes speaking truth to power.

Martin thee has created power for thyself in a little corner of the Internet, where thee can protect thy power at the cost of Quaker process. The division from thy community to create this power spreads from thy initial actions of hate.

Martin, thee would be surprised to know that I am neither angry at thee, nor do I dislike thee. But, in this lawless frontier of the Internet, I am calling thee to live thy faith and make it a place where we show the world that we Quakers are a people of peace. How silly is it for us to be demanding that Israel and Palestinians meet and make peace if we cannot take that first step of meeting as Friends.

There are other faiths that banish and judge. If thee cannot bring thyself to follow the advices, perhaps thee would be more comfortable to seek such a faith. I don't believe that one faith is better than another, but some people are just not called to our faith. It is not an easy thing to come to the process of clearness with the intention to listen. A few Friends who see this conflict say I am wrong in all this, saying I see myself as right and thee as wrong. This cannot be further from the truth. But, not one of them has relied on the advices to say that I am wrong in seeking clearness. I have tried, just between thee and me, and quietly between Friends to thee, and thee has been obstinate in thy holding to thy grudges and the blocks thee puts in a Friend's way.

Come to the well of peace, Friend, the well of life, the water is fine.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Query for Martin Kelly ( of Quaker Quaker and )

Martin, dear Friend. I know the limits of thy interest in process as a Friend, thee believes that once thee has judged me, thee needs not hear any thing from me, no clearness, no point of view from me, thee writes me out of thy community, and bans me from thy blog and the on line publishing thee is in control over. Well, let us give thee more power, let us say thee is a judge, does thee need a jury, defense lawyers, would thee deny a defendant a voice in thy court? Let us say thee is the president, would thee deny courts to thy enemies, would thee not give an ear to those thee has decided are a threat to our nation? Martin, think about it, what is the limit of thy mistrust of process, in the smallness of thy power in thy life.
Those who wonder why I persist, remember, it took over three hundred years to grant rights to Americans who are not White, and we are not there yet, time is not important. I don't give a pass to someone who denies another rights, just because he is a Quaker or a friend. I also don't withhold my love. I am not angry at thee Martin, nor have I judged thee... I just think that thee should consider Quaker process, censorship and isolation are not Quaker process.
In my opinion, thee might first try seeking peace before proclaiming thyself a peace activist.

Prejudice Cannot Abide Process

Dear Friends, as you know, from an open letter to Martin Kelly of "Nonviolence".org, and "Quaker Quaker" I have been seeking clearness on a dispute I do not believe I started with him. Rather, I received a piece of email from him and in gospel order, sought clearness, first one to one, second, a Friend wrote to him, than an institution spoke to him and then I sought the help of Friends. All this has come to naught, and some of the Friends seem not to understand I am not standing on my rightness or his wrongness, but rather on our dedication to process of Friends.
I feel that we are not clear in several traditions, and it is also clear from the notes from some Friends that some Friends don't understand that we do not hold assumptions against each other, and should we do that, we cannot be present to each other, we cannot listen to each other if we cannot be swayed from our assumptions. A Friend has said that he assumes I will "lie" about him. I have placed Martin's letter on line, and that there is conflict is clear in it. To accuse me of lies, without addressing what facts are in question, well, it is simply slander, it is not reaching for clearness. In the Quaker tradition, in which I was raised, we do not call each other liar, but rather, we seek to understand by DIALOGUE the lack of unity in the way Friends in conflict see events.

Why do we seek clearness and why do those who act out of their prejudices not seek clearness or other process? Well, the word prejudice says it all. To judge before, before the facts, before knowing, before it is right to judge. When do Friends judge? Well, the bible and our traditions are rather clear about that, judgement is up to God, not to thee and me.

So, George Bush, rounds up large numbers of Muslim people, the CIA buys them in forgiven nations, and the vast majority of them are innocent. So, in order that his prejudices not be challenged he sends them to Guantanamo Bay and announces that this is a place where not only US law does not exist, but international law does not exist. Prejudice cannot abide process.
Our Quaker processes are not a trial. They do not seek a judgement of right or wrong, but rather, clearness that we can proceed as Friends. So, I share this all with Friends, so that, one, Friends may help Martin and other Friends to understand that clearness and peace is better, easier and nicer than grudges and hate, and that Friends can, by this, learn to seek clearness and not live the divisions of their assumptions at the cost of unity and in doing violence to each other.

To Friends who wonder at my "obsession" to come to clearness about prejudice and censorship in our society of Friends, I suggest reading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter From the Birmingham Jail". Sometimes one needs to be a little disruptive to bring people to understand that discrimination needs to be addressed.