What is this QuakerQuaker thing?

There’s been some head-scratching going on about QuakerQuaker over the last few weeks. In the service of transparency I’ve posted my contributor guidelines on the “About QuakerQuaker page“. Here they are:

Post should be explicitly Quaker: Any thoughtful posts from any branch of Friends that wrestles in some way with what it means to be a Quaker is fair game. While we all have our own issues that connect deeply with our understanding of our faith, the Blogwatch only seems to work if it keeps focused on Quakerism, on how we our faith and lives interact. Back when this was just a links list on my personal site I would get complaints when I added something that seemed related to my understanding of Quakerism but that wasn’t specifically written from a Quaker standpoint (when we want to make this kind of link we should do so on our personal blogs where we can put it in better context).

Post should be timely: I’ve billed QuakerQuaker as “a guide to the Quaker conversation” and links should go to recently-written articles with strong voices. We’re not trying to create a comprehensive list of Quaker websites, so no linking to organizational homepages. While most links should go to blog posts, it’s fine to include good articles from Quaker publications. A link to something like a press release or new book announcement should only be made if it’s extraordinary. Remember that QuakerQuaker posts will only appear on the main site for a few days (if the initial setup goes well I can start work on some ideas to giave a more timeless element to the site).

Post should be Interesting: Don’t bookmark everything you find. If the post feels predictable or snoozy, just ignore it (even if the writer or topic is important). The Quaker bloggers all have their audiences and we don’t need to highlight every post of every blogger. Only make the link if the post speaks out to you in some way (it’s quite possible that one of the other contributors will pick up, finding something you didn’t and highlighting it in their description). That said, the posts you link to don’t have to be masterpieces; they can have grammatical and logical mistakes. What’s important is that there’s some idea in there that’s interesting. It might be a good discipline for each of us not to add our the posts from our own personal blogs but to let one of the other contributors do it for us.

That’s it. While there are some vague assumptions in all this about the role of tradition and community, discipline and individualism, there’s nothing about theology or who gets linked. This is a publication, with something of an editorial voice in that I’ve chosen who gets to add links and asked them to be subjective, but its very mellow and I’ve been happy to see contributors range far afield. Google tells us that this is one of 18.7 million “Quaker” websites and $10/month will get you your own so let’s not do too much navel-gazing about what’s linked or not linked. If you don’t find it interesting, there are plenty of non-subjective Quaker blogs lists out there. I do listen to feedback and am always twiddling with the site so feel free to send email to me at martinkelley.com/contact.

Christian peacemaker Teams News

On Saturday, November 26, 2005 four members of “Christian peacemakers Teams”:www.cpt.org were abducted in iraq. On March 20th the body of American Quaker Tom Fox was found; on March 23rd, the remaining three hostages were freed by U.S. and British military forces.
Here at Nonviolence.org, we have always been impressed and highly supportive of the deep witness of the Christian peacemakers Teams. Their members have represented the best in both the peace and Christian movements, consistently putting themselves in danger to witness the gospel of peace. Not content to write letters or stand on pickett lines in safe western capitals, they go to the frontlines of violence and proclaim a radical alternative.
While we can be grateful for the release of the three remaining hostages, we should continue to remember the 43 foreign hostages still being held in iraq and the 10-30 iraqis reportedly taken hostage each and every day. As iraq slips into full-scale civil war we must also organize against the war-mongerers, both foreign and internal and finde ways of standing alongside those iraqis who want nothing more than peace and freedom.

Here’s links to recent articles on the situation: https://delicious.com/martin_kelley/news.cpt-four.foxmemorial

And a personal note from Nonviolence.org’s Martin Kelley: I myself am a Christian and Quaker and one of our folks, Tom Fox, of Langley Hill (Virginia) Friends Meeting is among the hostages. I don’t know Tom personally but over the last few days I’ve learned we have many Friends in common and they have all testified to his deep committment to peace. Some of the links above are more explicitly Quaker than most things I post to Nonviolence.org, but they give perspective on why Tom and his companions would see putting themselves in danger as an act of religious service. I am grateful for Tom’s current witness in iraq–yes, even as a hostage–but I certainly hope he soon comes back to his family and community and that the attention and witness of these four men’s ordeal helps to bring the news of peace to streets and halls of Baghdad, Washington, London and Ottawa.

Action Step:

If you have a blog or website, you can add a feed of that will include the latest Nonviolence.org-compiled links. Simply add this javascript to the sidebar of your site [Disabled Now]

Must read: G/localization: When Global Information and Local Interaction Collide

Read
a fabulous article last night and this morning by Diana Boyd, a PhD
student at UC-Berkeley and a researcher at Yahoo! Research Berkeley.
She’s writing about the interactions of culture and technology and it
speaks a lot to some of the online and offline conversations I’ve been
having lately.

Here’s the link: G/localization: When Global Information and Local Interaction Collide. And here are some snippets to entice you to follow it:

On culture:

When mass media began, people assumed that we would all
converge upon one global culture. While the media has had an effect,
complete homogenization has not occurred. And it will not. While some
values spread and are adopted en-masse, cultures form within the mass
culture to differentiate smaller groups of people. Style-driven
subcultures are the most visible form of this, but it occurs in
companies and in other social gatherings.

Techies will like her take on “embedded observers”:

While the creators have visions of what they think would
be cool, they do not construct unmovable roadmaps well into the future.
They are constantly reacting to what’s going on, adding new features as
needed. The code on these sites changes constantly, not just once a
quarter. The designers try out features and watch how they get used. If
no one is interested, that’s fine – they’ll just make something new.
They are all deeply in touch with what people are actually doing, why
and how it manifests itself on the site.

On online communities:

Digital community participants sometimes find that they
“accidentally” meet someone. People collide on Flickr because they took
similar photos; the find wonderful blogs through search. These ad-hoc
interactions typically occur because people are producing material that
can be stumbled across, either through search or browsing. They may not
intend for the material to be consumed beyond the intended audience,
but they also don’t see a reason to prevent it. In essence, they are
inviting moments of synchronicity. And synchronicity is energizing.

Call for Tom Fox memorials

John Paul Stephens has asked if I could help compile a list of online tributes to our Tom Fox, the fallen Christian Peacemaker for FreetheCaptivesNow.org’sTom Fox Memorials page. I’ve started a list, now up on QuakerQuaker.org, that I’ll keep up for a few months. Any readers who know of something that should be included should either email me at martink-at-nonviolence-dot-org or tag it “for:martin_kelley” in Del.icio.us. Thanks. Here’s my list so far:

h3. See also:
* “FreetheCaptivesNow.org”:http://freethecaptivesnow.org/
* “Christian Peacemaker Watch”:http://www.quakerquaker.org/christian_peacemaker_teams/ over at Quakerquaker.org
* “My posts on the Christian Peacemaker witness”:/martink/cpt
* “A really nice page on Tom over at Electronic Iraq”:http://electroniciraq.net/news/2302.shtml

Love is unconditional and accepts us for who we are

I tried to post this as a comment on “this piece by James Riemermann”:http://feeds.quakerquaker.org/quaker?m=299 on the Nontheist Friends website but the site experienced a technical difficulty when I tried to submit it (hope it’s back up soon!). James describes his post as a “rant” about “conservative-leaning liberal Friends,” and one theme that got picked up in the comments was how he and others felt excluded by us (for that is a term I use to try to describe my spiritual condition). Rather than loose the comment I’ll just post it here.
Hi James and everyone,
Well, I think I was one of the first of the Quaker bloggers to talk about conservative-leaning liberal Quakers back in July 2003. I too am not sure it’s anything worth calling a “movement.”
I hear this feeling of being excluded but I’m not sure where that’s coming from. When James had a really wonderful, thought-provoking response to my “We’re All Ranters Now” piece, I asked him if I could “reprint” the comment as its own guest piece. It got a lot of attention, a lot of comments. I didn’t realize you were using nontheistfriends.org as a blog these days but “Robin M”:http://www.quakerquaker.org/contributors_robin_m/ of “What Canst Thou Say”:http://robinmsf.blogspot.com/ did and has added a link to your post from “QuakerQuaker.org”:www.quakerquaker.org, which again is a validation that yours is an important voice (I can pretty much guarantee that this is going to be one of the more followed links). You and everyone here are part of the family.
Yes, we have some disagreements. I don’t think Quakerism is simply made up of whoever makes it into the meetinghouse. I think we have a tradition that we’ve inherited. This consists of practices and values and ways of looking at the world. Much of that tradition comes from the gospel of Jesus and the epistles between the earliest Christian communities. Much of what might feel like neutral Quaker practice is a clear echo of that tradition, and that echo is what I talk about that in my blogs. I think it’s good to know where we’re coming from. That doesn’t mean we’re stuck there and we adapt it as our revelation changes (this attitude is why I’m a liberal Friend no matter how much I talk about Christ). These blog conversations are the ways we share our experiences, minister to and comfort one another.
That people hold different religious understandings and practices isn’t in itself inherently exclusionary. Diversity is good for us, right? There’s no one Quaker center. There’s mulitiple conversations happening in multiple languages, much of it gloriously overlapping on the electronic pathways of the internet. That’s wonderful, it shows a great vitality. The religious tradition that is Quakerism is not dead, not mothballed away in a living history museum somewhere. It’s alive, with its assumptions and boundaries constantly being revisited. That’s cool. If a particular post feels too carping, there’s always the “eldering of the back button,” as I like to call it. Let’s try to hear each other from where we are and to remain open to the ministry from those who might appear to be coming from a different place. Love is the first movement and love is unconditional and accepts us for who we are.
I better stop this before I get too mushy, with all this talk of love! See what I mean about being a liberal Quaker?
Your Friend, Martin

A time of sadness and prayer

Sad news coming over the internet: after 100 days of captivity, Christian Peacemaker Tom Fox was found dead yesterday in Iraq, the status of his three companions unknown.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams issued an elegant and heartfelt statement beginning “In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion.” Fox knew the risk he was taking going to Iraq unarmed. But he also knew that this witness  would mean more to the Iraqi people than a hundred tanks. He knew the war we Friends wage is the Lamb’s War, a war won not through strength but through meekness, our only weapon our humilty before God and our love of neighbor. My prayers are with his family and friends, may Christ’s comfort continue to hold them through these aching times.
More history and resources on my “Christian Peacemaker Team Watch”:http://www.quakerquaker.org/christian_peacemaker_teams/

Quakersong.org

Quakersong.orgWebsite for Peter Blood & Annie Patterson, musicians most well known for their insanely-popular songbook Rise Up Singing. They sell books and tapes on the site (e-commerce handled ably and simply by Paypal) and they also have lots of high-quality content including a lot of hard-to-find Pete Seeger CDs. Movable Type is used as a content management system (CMS).

Technologies: Movable Type, Paypal. Visit Site.

Deepening the intervisitation of Gathering

The program for this year’s FGC Gathering of Friends went online at midnight yesterday–I stayed up late to flip the switches to make it live right as Third Month started–right on schedule. By 12:10am EST four visitors had already come to the site! There’s a lot of interest in the Gathering, the first one on the West Coast.

Students of late-20th Century Quaker history can see the progression of Friends General Conference from a very Philadelphia-centric, provincial body that had its annual gathering at a South Jersey beach town to one that really does try to serve Friends across the country. There’s losses in the changes (alumni of the Cape May Gatherings all speak of them with misty eyes) but overall it’s been a needed shift in focus. In recent years, a disproportionate number of Gathering workshop leaders have come from the “independent” unaffiliated yearly meetings of the West. It’s nice.

Joe G has been sending me emails about his selection process (it’s almost real-time as he weighs each one!). It’s helpful as it saves me the trouble of sorting through them. It’s usually tough to find a workshop I want to take. A lot of Friends I really respect have told me they’ve stopped going to the Gathering after awhile because it just doesn’t feed them.

It’s a shame when these Friends stop coming. The Gathering is one of the most exciting annual coming-together of Quakers in North America. It’s very important for new and/or isolated Friends and it helps pull all its attenders into a wider Fellowship. Intervisitation has always been one of the most important tools for knitting together Friends and the Gathering has been filling much of that need for liberal Friends for the last hundred years.

I’ve been having this sense that Gathering needs something more. I don’t know what that something is, only that I long to connect more with other Friends. My best conversations have invariably taken place when I stopped to talk with someone while running across campus late to some event. These Opportunities have been precious but they’re always so frantic. The Traveling Ministries Program often has a wonderful evening interest group but by the time we’ve gone around sharing our names, stories and conditions, it’s time to break. I’m not looking for a new program (don’t worry Liz P!, wait it’s not you who has to worry!), just a way to have more conversations with the QuakerQuaker Convergent Friends–which in this context I think boils down to those with something of a call to ministry and an interest in Quaker vision & renewal. Let’s all find a way of connecting more this year, yes?
_For those interested I’ve signed up for these workshops: “Blessed Community in James’ Epistle”:http://FGCquaker.org/gathering/workshops/work14.php (led by “Max Hansen”:http://alphamind.maxhansen.net/ of “Berkeley Friends Church”:http://www.berkeleyfriendschurch.org/), “Deepening the Silence, Inviting Vital Ministry”:http://FGCquaker.org/gathering/workshops/work20.php (20), and “Finding Ourselves in the Bible”:http://FGCquaker.org/gathering/workshops/work22.php (22)._
h4. Related Entries Elsewhere:
* “Robin”:http://robinmsf.blogspot.com/2006/03/FGC-gathering-registration-begins.html
* “LizOpp”:http://thegoodraisedup.blogspot.com/2006/03/posters-themes-and-historyof-FGCs.html