Here at Friends Journal, we're very lucky to have some very committed volunteers. Karie Firoozmand and Eileen Redden sends books out to dozens of volunteer readers and pull the results together into our monthly books column. Rosemary Zimmerman reads through all the poetry that comes in, carefully selecting pieces to appear in the magazine. Mary Julia Street reworks the birth notices and obituaries that come in to include more interesting details than you get in most newspaper listings.
Last year we won the "Best in Class" award from the Associated Church Press. We're proud, of course, but I was pleasantly. Compared to most denominational magazines, Friends Journal is crazily understaffed. Forgive the pugilistic metaphor, but these volunteer editors are a big reason we punch above our weight. Cutting through cultural static and the manufactured busyness of modern life and reach seekers is a never-ending challenge. Think about whether you might be led to work with us on this
The extended deadline is January 16th. MLK Day. Learn more at:
Maybe the web’s form of hyperlinking is actually superior to Old Media publishing. I love how I can put forward a strong vision of Quakerism without offending anyone – any put-off readers can hit the “back” button. And if a blog I read posts something I don’t agree with, I can simply choose not to comment. If life’s just too busy then I just miss a few weeks of posts. With my “Subjective Guide to Quaker Blogs” and my “On the Web” posts I highlight the bloggers I find particularly interesting, even when I’m not in perfect theological unity. I like that I can have discussions back and forth with Friends who I don’t exactly agree with.
My father-in-law died in January. These are few pictures I put together while Julie was still at the family home with the close relatives. Thanks to our friends for sharing a bit of our life by reading this one. He’s missed.
A look at Friends testimonies and the difficulties of being a fair-trade pacifist in our hyper-connected world today. I think George Fox and the early Friends were faced with similar challenges and that our guide can be the same as theirs.
A number of new services are trying to update the culture of blogging. This post looked at comments; a subsequent one considered how we might reorganize our blogs into more of a structured Wiki.
This year saw a lot of hang wringing by mainstream journalists on the anniversary of the Iraq War. I didn’t have much patience and looked at how dissenting voices were regularly locked out of debate ten years ago – and are still locked out with the talk that “all of us” were wrong then.
The January issue of +Friends Journal will include an interview with +Robin Mohr. One of the classic Quaker tracts that’s inspired her is a 1944 speech that Rufus M Jones gave to young Friends in Baltimore Yearly Meeting. We couldn’t locate a copy online so we scanned, copied and typed it in and will use it as a supplemental link to Robin’s piece. #blog
A bit of a milestone – I finished the One Year Bible reading plan last night! I managed to stretch it out to 27 months but that’s alright. I started in January 2009 and initially kept the daily readings going till May of that year, when I feel hopelessly behind. I kept a mental note of the date and in May 2010 I started where I had left off. I kept reading regularly until the last week in December, when I was understandably distracted by the birth of our third son Gregory on 12/28. Knowing I wanted to keep the cycle going, I skipped that week and started again on January 1, 2011. It was only last night that I went back and finished up that last week – featuring Malachi and Revelations (which has the Lamb’s War metaphor so important to early Friends).
Thanks go to Gregg Kosela and AJ Schwanz for letting me know such a thing as one year Bible reading plans existed. I had never been able to stick to a regular Bible-reading regimen before. The grandmother who frequently declared me a Bible illiterate would be so proud! (Actually not, she’d find something else to critique, but her hangups around family and “Christian” living are a much longer blog post!).
It’s been great having a regular spiritual practice. I’m glad I can find my way around the Bible now and my understanding of Friends has deepened. The early Quaker writings are steeped in Biblical allusions and we miss a lot when we miss those references.
I’m writing this from the back of St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, a small church built in the 1920s in the small crossroads town of Malaga New Jersey. It was closed this past November, supposedly because of a broken boiler but really because the Diocese of Camden is trying to sell off its smaller churches – or any church with prime real estate along a highway. It was reopened without permission by parishioners in early January, while we were still in the hospital with baby number three, a.k.a. Gregory.
We’ve spent a lot of time here since then. It’s a 24 hour vigil and has been and will continue to be. In Boston there are vigils that have been going seven years. I try to imagine Gregory as a seven year old, having spent his childhood growing up here in this little church. It’s not an impossible scenario.
I also spend a lot of time talking with the faithful Catholics who have come here to protect the church. It’s a cacophony of voices right now – conversations about the church, sure, but that’s only one of the many topics that come up. People are sharing their lives – stories about growing up, about people that are know, about current events… It’s a real community. We’ve been attending this church for years but it’s now that I’m really getting to know everyone.
I sometimes ponder how I, the self-dubbed “Quaker Ranter,” got involved in all of this. Through my wife, of course – she grew up Catholic, became a Friend for eleven years and then “returned to the Church” a few years after our marriage. But there’s more than that, reasons why I spend my own time here. Part is my love of the small and quirky. St Mary’s parishioners are standing up for the kind of churches where people know each other. In an era where menial tasks are hired out, the actual members of St. Marys tend the church’s rosary garden and clean its basement and toilets. They spend time in the church beyond the hour of mass, doing things like praying the rosary or adoration.
The powers-that-be that want St Mary’s closed so badly want a large inpersonal church with lots of professionalized services and a least-common-denominator faith where people come, go and donate their money to a diocese that’s run like a business. But that’s not St. Mary’s. There’s history here. This is a hub of a town, an ancient crossroads, but the bishop wants big churches in the splurge of suburban sprawl. Even we Friends need places like St Mary’s in the world.