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.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Have we plowed under our Quaker Utopia and salted the earth?

I have been eldered at times, for saying that "Quaker" schools are elitist and exclusive. Well, I must say, on one hand, I have a certain pride that the Obama family has chosen Sidwell Friends. On the other, I feel positively reinforced by NBC and CBS referring to the school as elite and exclusive.

Now, I find myself thinking, what part of simplicity and equality is described by elite and exclusive. Even if our schools were exclusive to Quakers, they would not be in keeping with the Quaker spirit. But, as they are so exclusive to exclude our own children should they not be clever or wealthy...

We are a utopian faith. It is the utopian nature of our faith that gave some Friends the strength to challenge the establishment of their day, including the elders of their own Meetings, to set about on a journey several hundred years ago, with others, not of our faith, a journey that resulted in there being a president elect, Obama. We dreamed above the prejudices and realities of our days. We dreamed an impossible dream, that we could end slavery, because it was simply wrong.

Today, we bend to both the "realities" of our day, and the prejudice based on testing and expectations, to exclude from Quaker schools, Quaker children for a variety of reasons. How sad, that we realize the best of our dreams for the rest of the world, while selling so cheaply the most understandable dream of our spiritual foreparents, that no Quaker child would be denied a Quaker education.

We are the artisan who makes something so precious we cannot own it. Unfortunately that things is close to the center of our faith - and means so much to the future of that faith. We cannot raise our children in this particular village, as we are in the process of selling it to the wealthy neighbors.


At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see what's utopian in liberal Quakers electing someone who believes in and support the genocide of abortion, and all-out infanticide. It's amazing the depths to which humans will sink, to even commend a candidate who supports genocide, and the greatest human rights violation in America's history.

At 4:39 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Well, ... to begin, I do prefer that people use their names here. I find a person's point much more impactful, if one puts ones name behind one's beliefs. However, everyone is dearly welcome here anyway.

I would not say that liberal Quakers elected Barack Obama. We are a very small faith, and most of us are in Kenya. But, if all 300,000 Quakers in the world were in the US, and were liberal, and voting, for the other candidate, Barack Obama would still have won. Liberal Quakers did not elect Barack Obama, the great majority of the American people did.

You would find, in fact, if Quakers throughout America and the world were poled, that there is not unity on the Supreme Court's acceptance of American women's right to make choices over their bodies in the matter of procreation. Many would see a right of a fetus as a separate individual.

The Jewish\Christian world has also been divided on the issue of choice as well as the question of genocide. There is evidence in the book of numbers, that abortion was practiced in Judea, however, not as a matter of choice by the women. Certainly, in Exodus, God seems to order the Israelites to commit genocide, and infanticide against the Cannonites. This particular passage, led to a large number of Quakers accepting that the bible was as prone to flaws as are all the works of humanity. Like all inspired work, those who wrote the Bible reached for the words of God they knew in their hearts, but as only God is perfect, their achievement was not as perfect as God's instructions.

My own views on a woman's right to choose are not important in examining if a right to choice is genocide or not. I do understand why some see it as "the greatest human rights violation in America's history." If you see the termination of an unborn child as murder, and look at numbers as the measure of greatness alone, then that is a point that I would not try to sway your opinion. On the other hand, if intention and belief is part of a person's weighing the greatness of a rights violation, then I see the point other's make.

I have witnessed a number of the great rights violations committed by America. I have worked with, and traveled among people here and abroad who have been the victim of policies in the United States that have caused poverty and death and suffering. What I might gently point out, is that as a candidate, if Barack had addressed those issues with the intensity that thee addresses the question of abortion, he would have been labeled "anti-American." People around him, who addressed the issues of rights violations by America were used by some supporters of John McCain to claim that he was "anti-American."

It is too easy to fall into the trap of saying one wrong by a society is greater than another, and condemning a segment of society. There are, in this nations two extremes of thought, on most things this nation does, and a big swayable center. The past eight years, many people overlooked the mismanagement of present administration on the issue of abortion, while others could not accept the laudable work the same administration did on the issue of AIDS in Africa, on the issue of choice.

It is possible that this issue is driven, not by the question of abortion or choice, but by a much older issue, that of Republic or Confederacy. To some, the issue of abortion is important enough to rip this nation apart, to fail to accept the results of an election clearly won. In the same way, Slavery once tore this nation apart. But, the real issue that drove the slavery issue was the disagreement over should we have a constitution or articles of confederation? I have seen politicians wield the hammer of this issue, to support their support of a politic that leans away from Federal power, only to have their own actions give lie to that "pro-life" position. Those who support issues like abortion\choice and race in America, often believe in the issues much more than those who use them politically. The division of this nation on the slavery issue did not end that question, nor did it solve the issues over States rights. Polarization does not seem to settle these questions well.

If the "pro-life" side in this American issue wins out, it will not end abortion. Rather, it will result in the kind of deaths I remember from my younger years, where young girls kill themselves while trying to self abort. I've lived through both times, and I am not one to say one or the other is a greater rights abuse. Nor will I villanize either side in the issue. That never has led to justice or good government.

Even though this really IS off the topic of the post, thank'ee for thy comment
With dearest love

At 7:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your logic is faulty and your facts weak. By the fact that you state abortion was practiced in Judea, but not by the choice of women, then by the choice and pleasure of another? By terminating a life forcably at the pleasure of another it becomes murder.
In fact, you profess this murder as acceptable as long as you hide behind your 'lack of villaniziation of either side' what hyprocracy! You may have observed young women wanting to terminate their lives to end the life they carried, but how many of those were Friends? How many of those who were Friends were living according to Christ's teaching? How many were ignoring the gift within? What did you do to assist? There is a third answer... it comes with responsibility. The responsibility is to not choose between the lesser of two evils... which goes against what you advise us you believe. The responsibility is to take action to support those who are in a difficult way... but to also help them to do what is right... sometimes the "right" thing to do is the most difficult. Evidently so is being obedient to God.

At 8:23 PM, Blogger Lorcan said...

Being obedient to God's word, for me as a Quaker, has to be a personal event. The fact that a book dictates the command of God does not convince me, as that book was the result of such overwhelming violence, that I fail to see God's hand in it. Thee might well, it simply does not speak to me in the same way. I join Elias Hicks in saying that I cannot see the hand of God in a command to, for example, kill Cannonite children. I do not see the hand of God in the murder of the Cathars. I do not see the hand of God in the burning of early Gosples and the use by Roman legions of the cross as a symbol of conquest. I do not see the hand of God in the myth that Jews killed the rabbi, Yeshua. In the same way, I would not press for another to have an abortion. However, neither would I endorse law to stop a woman from exercising dominion over her own body. The majority of those who call abortion murder, also support a just war notion, which I do not. God's voice within each of us is too personal a place to be devoid of contradiction. There is no faith on earth that can say, in its history, it has not fought within itself over interpretation of the voice of God.
To expect a nation to follow one set of beliefs is simply not going to happen. I believe God commands us to peace. This will not be possible as long as we vilify each other for our beliefs. Muslims will continue to kill Christians, Jews will continue to kill Muslims, Christians will continue to kill Muslims, who will continue to kill Jews, and on an on in the name of God. I chose not to judge, to vilify, even do not chose to turn away from someone who would not put a name behind heart felt views, but snipe from the dark corners. Peace is the only way forward, and it can only happen when we accept that the world is big enough for those with whom we simply can't agree. Each of us can be an olive branch in God's hands or a sword. If thee must be a sword, be a sword, but I will not fight.

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Lorcan -- if society refrained from placing value judgments,we would have no legislation protecting any human life. I beg to differ that the crux of the slavery argument regarded questions of a Constitution or Articles of Confederation -- and I refer to the words of Abraham Lincoln in every debate he had with Stephen Douglas, culminating in his Cooper Union Address. Slavery was obliterated on the simple and singular insistence that it was WRONG. You may continue to insist that the tearing apart limb from limb an infant in the womb is not a civil rights violation of the highest order, but in light of photographs from abortion clinic dumpsters (Friar Pavone) of tiny perfect hands and head covered with baby fine hair, your statements are ludicrous.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Lorcan said...

This conversation is the crux of the problem of war and peace, and waiting in God's time. If I wished to place a single issue at the center of my political life, I would endorse the holding of war crime trials for a long list of people, from political leaders to CIA operatives. I would consider all who support the murder of innocents by the crime of war to be the enemy. However, this does not bring about God's peace, it only drives us further apart in war. So, for me, I am pro-choice, though could not personally see my way to solve a turn in my own life by abortion. In the same way, I am against war, consider most who lead to war to be either criminal or wrong headed, but where I to cut myself off from all who do not see war as a crime, shunning, excommunicating, damning them, well, that would be a poor example of a faith of peace.
So, do I do nothing about war? No, I try and work solutions to the conditions which lead to war. War does not happen because of the large number of sociopaths who are among the leadership of the nations of the world. War happens for the reasons of poverty, want, hunger... In the same way, the way to end abortions is not to vilify doctors, young girls, politicians. It is to teach those things which lead to responsibility. Now, I am sure that thee and I would not agree what needs to be taught to bring about an end to abortion, but there we go again, there is no a single path in the world, nor will there ever be.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger shane said...

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