Yummy eats en route to Ohio

Yummy eats en route to Ohio
More back blog­ging from our Ohio trip, this photo from a vegan eatery a few miles off a rural Penn­syl­va­nia turn­pike exit. Prices were steep and the home­made non-dairy ice cream serv­ings small but we ate every­thing from our plates.

Photo: Vegan food & messy boy at Maggie’s Mer­can­tile off exit 91 of the Penna Turn­pike, an hour or so east of Pitts­burgh. Enlarged photo.

The Young Conservative

The Young Conservative
Fran­cis on the cover of the mock mag­a­zine.

Photo: A new pub­li­ca­tion of the Neo Post Con­ver­gent Dia­per Set. An irony I have to point out is that I’ve agreed to have the boys raised Catholic, the faith to which Julie returned after eleven years with Friends. Can I help it if the kids look so dern pho­to­genic in front of Quaker meet­ing­houses? Enlarged photo.

Lead-painted toys? Aye-Yeash!

Trains & MessesThe Times has a fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cle on the rise of recalls on Chinese-made toys over the last few years. Two of our kid’s “Thomas and Friends” wooden trains are part of the lat­est recall because of lead paint. We’ve long pre­ferred the metal Thomas trains since 21-month old Fran­cis chews on the wooden ones and gnaws their paint off.

We learned about the lead painted Thomas’s on the same day that our fam­ily doc­tor told us that it was offi­cially time to become con­cerned with Francis’s slow speech devel­op­ment. When Theo was just a lit­tle older than Fran­cis is now we put together a dic­tio­nary of his vocab­u­lary. Fran­cis makes cute sounds and seems bright and curi­ous but he’s not even got­ten out a con­sis­tent mama or papa and we haven’t been able to fig­ure out a mean­ing for his most com­mon word (Aye – YEASH). He’s got an appoint­ment six months from now with spe­cial­ists at Wilmington’s Nemours (that’s how backed up they are!).

We’re not blam­ing the trains — the lead ones we had were rel­a­tively unpop­u­lar and have few signs of wear. And we’re not pan­ick­ing. My mother brushes off all con­cern with the assured dec­la­ra­tion that kids learn to talk at lots of dif­fer­ent ages. She could cer­tainly be right of course: our doc­tor sent us to Nemours for Theo with the worry that he had a big head. If Fran­cis does turn out to be a lit­tle “slow,” well then we’ll just take that as another lesson plan God has for us.

Some gratuitious family pics

In the What a Dif­fer­ence a Year Makes (or Doesn’t) Depart­ment:
Julie took the kids out to South Jersey’s fabled Sto­ry­book­land last week.The fun­ni­est dis­cov­ery were the pic­tures that matched those from Theo’s class trip last year.
|Theo's class trip to Storybookland|Theo returns to Storybook Land|
|Theo's class trip to Storybookland|Storybookland 2007|
|Theo's class trip to Storybookland|Storybookland Return 2007|
We all went together on a fam­ily trip this week­end to reac­quaint our­selves with one another: our sched­ules haven’t been sync­ing well lately. Julie picked a “farm B&B”:http://www.thegreenacresfarm.com/ out in Lan­caster County full of chick­ens and goats and an easy com­mute to Stras­burg PA, a good place for those who like to look at “trains”:http://www.rrmuseumpa.org/, “trains”:http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/ and “trains”:http://www.nttmuseum.org/, then drool over “trains”:http://www.etrainshop.com/, “trains”:http://www.ttstation.com/, “trains”:https://www.rrmuseumpa.org/cgi/Whistle_Stop_Shop/rrmuseumpa-store.cgi and “trains”:http://www.strasburgrailroadstore.com/ (we haven’t seen “trains”:http://www.redcaboosemotel.com/ or “trains”:http://www.choochoobarn.com/ up close yet). Pic­tures from around the B&B “are here”:http://flickr.com/photos/martin_kelley/tags/mountjoy/; strangely we for­got the cam­eras on our steam-powered out­ings so you’ll have to “look at old pics”:http://flickr.com/search/?q=strasburg&w=84169004%40N00. Here’s a shot of the kids on top of the play­house barn’s slide:
Trip to Lancaster Co. B&B

I too can buy kid clothes!

!>http://​aycu07​.web​shots​.com/​i​m​a​g​e​/​1​6​6​0​6​/​2​0​0​1​6​0​0​2​3​5​0​2​8​0​3​7​5​3​9​_​r​s​.​jpg! A pos­si­ble addi­tion to my page of “odd search phrases”:http://www.quakerranter.org/its_light_that_makes_me_uncomfortable_and_other_googlisms.php that bring peo­ple to my site is this one from early this after­noon:
“Why Men Shouldn’t be Allowed to Buy Clothes for Children”:http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Why%20Men%20Shouldn%27t%20be%20Allowed%20to%20Buy%20Clothes%20for%20Children&btnG=Search
There’s Quak​er​Ran​ter​.org at num­ber eleven. Oh the shame of it! I’m going to run to W*LM*RT right now, well I would if only I kind of knew the kid’s sizes, ummm… I could call Julie at work and ask her I guess…

Unpopular Baby Names: Avoiding the Jacobs, Emilys and Madisons

My wife has now fin­ished the first trimester of her preg­nancy so we can let peo­ple know that our lit­tle Theo’s going to be a big brother this fall. That means it’s time to think of baby names.

Fallen Baby Names List

Name Rank:
Drop Name Rank:
1 Her­bert 32 962 930 1 Edna 17 986 969
2 Her­man 45 974 929 2 Louise 24 977 953
3 Floyd 50 964 914 3 Beat­rice 44 982 938
4 J 35 920 885 4 Bertha 26 963 937
5 Fred 19 876 857 5 Gladys 15 945 930
6 Earl 27 882 855 6 Lucille 49 954 905
7 Clarence 18 717 699 7 Dorothy 7 846 839
8 Howard 30 721 691 8 Hazel 20 681 661
9 Alfred 33 683 650 9 Edith 25 683 658
10 Ralph 23 660 637 10 Frances 16 580 564
11 Elmer 36 654 618 11 Irene 21 581 560
12 Harold 15 595 580 12 Marie 8 496 488
13 Ernest 26 599 573 13 Martha 31 487 456
14 Eugene 49 578 529 14 Alice 10 426 416
15 Leonard 48 571 523 15 Helen 2 389 387
16 Harry 13 517 504 16 Ruth 5 350 345
17 Fran­cis 37 509 472 17 Rose 14 358 344
18 Willie 28 454 426 18 Annie 28 339 311
19 Roy 24 433 409 19 Clara 23 295 272
20 Wal­ter 11 356 345 20 Esther 30 297 267
21 Arthur 14 353 339 21 Josephine 33 260 227
22 Carl 20 357 337 22 Eva 39 215 176
23 Lawrence 34 344 310 23 Ruby 42 197 155
24 Albert 16 311 295 24 Mar­garet 3 130 127
25 Joe 38 321 283 25 Cather­ine 19 106 87
26 Theodore 42 313 271 26 Laura 50 122 72
27 Louis 21 278 257 27 Mary 1 61 60
28 Leo 44 288 244 28 Eve­lyn 34 89 55
29 Frank 8 228 220 29 Anna 4 21 17
30 Ray­mond 22 188 166 30 Eliz­a­beth 6 9 3
31 George 4 137 133 31 Mil­dred 9 n/a 0
32 Edward 9 128 119 32 Flo­rence 11 n/a 0
33 Paul 17 124 107 33 Ethel 12 n/a 0
34 Henry 10 116 106 34 Lil­lian 13 n/a 0
35 Peter 46 148 102 35 Gertrude 22 n/a 0
36 Ken­neth 47 109 62 36 Mabel 27 n/a 0
37 Richard 25 86 61 37 Bessie 32 n/a 0
38 Charles 6 59 53 38 Elsie 35 n/a 0
39 Robert 7 35 28 39 Pearl 36 n/a 0
40 Thomas 12 36 24 40 Agnes 37 n/a 0
41 John 1 17 16 41 Thelma 38 n/a 0
42 James 3 18 15 42 Myrtle 40 n/a 0
43 William 2 11 9 43 Ida 41 n/a 0
44 Jack 41 46 5 44 Min­nie 43 n/a 0
45 Joseph 5 6 1 45 Viola 47 n/a 0
46 Samuel 31 23 –8 46 Nel­lie 48 n/a 0
47 David 29 14 –15 47 Grace 18 13 –5
48 Anthony 43 10 –33 48 Julia 45 33 –12
49 Andrew 40 5 –35 49 Emma 29 2 –27
50 Michael 39 2 –37 50 Sarah 46 12 –34

Most new par­ents want to give their child unique names and want to steer clear of the most over-used names. Yet if you tell your friends you’re nam­ing your boy Jacob or Joshua, they’ll all cheer you on. If your lit­tle girl goes by Emily, Emma or Madison, they’ll think that’s dar­ling. Yet those are the top three boy and girl names for 2003.

They are tens of thou­sands of kids get­ting these top names every year. All of the kids with these names are going to be get­ting nick­names to dif­fer­en­ti­ate them from one another: just hope your lit­tle angel isn’t the one that gets tagged “The Ugly Emily” or “The Stu­pid Joshua” by their third grade class­mates!

There are def­i­nite trends in names. Cer­tain names tend to sound fresh and dar­ing even when they’re overused and trite. The only way to train your ear away from such trends is to method­i­cally study the data (the New York Times had a fas­in­cat­ing arti­cle on all this when we were pon­der­ing Theo’s name, Where Have All the Lisas Gone?).

For­tu­nately the U.S. Social Secu­rity Admin­is­tra­tion pro­vides a list of the most pop­u­lar baby names by year, going back to the turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury. Using this, my wife and I were able to choose “Theodore” for our first child’s name; born in 2003, he name is the 313th most pop­u­lar boy’s name and drop­ping. Yet it’s a known name and there have been great twen­ti­eth cen­tury folks who have answered to it (e.g., Dr. Suess, Theodore Geisel).

How is a par­ent to choose? One recent after­noon I cut and pasted the top fifty boy and girl names of the first decade of the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury. I looked up their cur­rent sta­tus (the 2003 data) to see what move­ment has occured in their place­ment. The old names are still known but some have fal­len far out of use. Her­bert, for exam­ple, was the 32nd most pop­u­lar boy’s name in the first decade of the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury, but now ranks a dis­mal 930! If you want a name every­one knows but no one is giv­ing their kid, Herbert’s your choice for boy’s and Edna’s your choice for girls.

Now these fal­len names prob­a­bly sound awk­ward. But that’s the point: they run coun­ter to the trends. I’ll admit that some deserve their reduced sta­tus; I can­not imag­ine sad­dling a lit­tle girl with “Edna.” But in the list are some gems which have been unduly demoted by the trend-setters.

We’ve been very happy with “Theodore,” the 26th most fal­len name of the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury. He’s offi­cially named after his great-great uncle. The social secu­rity date­base assured us that the name was safe from trendi­ness.

So what will the new baby be named? Check in soon!! The due date is the end of August.

Update: drum­roll please.… Our new son’s name is Fran­cis! And fur­ther follow-up brought us Gre­gory and Laura. We’re offi­cially out of the baby-making game now but if we were look­ing for more, Walt and Dorothy would be our next picks of classic-but-uncommon names.

Are Catholics More Quaker?

I guess folks might won­der why the son of the Quaker Ranter is get­ting bap­tized in a Roman Catholic church…

[box]An updated note before I start: I don’t want this to be seen as a cri­tique or put-down of any par­tic­u­lar indi­vid­u­als but to point out what seems to me to be a pretty obvi­ous larger dynamic within Quak­erism: our reli­gious edu­ca­tion pro­grams have not been doing a very good job at trans­mit­ting our faith to our young peo­ple. One mea­sure of such pro­grams is how many chil­dren we retain as actively-participating adults; by such mea­sures I think we can say Quak­ers are fail­ing.

And, a few per­haps obvi­ous dis­claimers: 1) there are deeply faith­ful peo­ple who grew up in Young Friends pro­grams; 2) there are reli­gious ed instruc­tors who are wor­ried about the mes­sage we’re giv­ing our young peo­ple and fret as I do; 3) there are a lot of mem­bers of the RSoF who just don’t think teach­ing dis­tinctly Quaker faith­ful­ness is impor­tant and wouldn’t agree that there’s a prob­lem.

I don’t think it’s use­ful to read this with­out also look­ing to my early arti­cle, The Lost Quaker Gen­er­a­tion, which mourns the friends I’ve seen drop out of Quak­erism (many of them “birthright,” i.e., born into Quaker fam­i­lies), and We’re all Ranters Now, which argues that our soci­ety of seek­ers needs to become a soci­ety of find­ers if we are to be able to artic­u­late a faith to trans­mit.

On June 30, 2000, Julie and I met at a national gath­er­ing of Quak­ers. Four­teen months later we were mar­ried at the Wood­stown Friends Meet­ing­house under the care of the Atlantic City Area Friends Meet­ing. Roughly four­teen months later, when the sparkles in our eyes were meet­ing with an approv­ing nod from God and our baby was con­ceived, I was co-clerk of Atlantic City Area Meet­ing and Julie was clerk of its Out­reach Com­mit­tee. Ten months later, our infant son Theo was bap­tized at Mater Eccle­siae Roman Catholic Church in Berlin, N.J. It’s Julie’s new church; I myself remain Quaker, but with­out a Meet­ing I can quite call home. What hap­pened?

I don’t want to try to speak for Julie and why she left Friends to return to the faith she was brought up in. But I do have to tes­tify that the rev­er­ence, spirit and authen­tic­ity of the wor­ship at Mater Eccle­siae is deeper than that in most Friends Meet­ing­houses. It’s a church with a lot of mem­bers who seem to believe in the real pres­ence of Christ. A dis­claimer that Mater Eccle­siae is unusual, one of the few churches in the coun­try that uses the tra­di­tional Tri­den­tine Mass or Roman Rite, and that it attracts ardent fol­low­ers who have self-selected them­selves, in that they’re not going to their local parish church. I don’t think it’s the Catholi­cism alone that draws Julie – I think the pur­pose­ful­ness of the wor­shipers is a large piece. Despite all the dis­trac­tions (chants, Latin, rote con­fes­sions of faith: I’m speak­ing as a Friend), the wor­ship there is unusu­ally gath­ered. But more: there’s a ground­ed­ness to the faith. In a one-on-one con­ver­sa­tion the priest explained to me the ways he thought Quak­erism was wrong. I wasn’t offended – quite the con­trary, I loved it! It was so refresh­ing to meet some­one who believed what he believed, (Hey, if I didn’t believe in the degen­er­a­tion of the Roman Catholic Church or the empty pro­fes­sions of hireling priests, I might join him. I also feel com­fort­able pre­dict­ing that he would wel­come my joust­ing here.)

What I can talk about is my mis­giv­ings about the prospect of rais­ing up Theo as a Quaker in Philadel­phia Yearly Meet­ing. The weakest ele­ment of the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends is its children’s reli­gious edu­ca­tion. This is some­thing I’ve seen man­i­fested in two dif­fer­ent kinds of ways: con­tent and results.

Quak­ers have remark­ably few expec­ta­tions of their chil­dren. It’s con­sid­ered remark­able if older chil­dren spend a whole ten min­utes in Meet­ing for Wor­ship (I’ve heard adult birthright Friends boast that they’ve never sat through a whole hour of Quaker wor­ship). Quak­ers are obsessed about lis­ten­ing to what chil­dren have to say, and so never share with them what they believe. I’ve known adults birthright Friends who have never had con­ver­sa­tions with their par­ents about the basis of their faith.

Quaker reli­gious edu­ca­tion pro­grams often forgo teach­ing tra­di­tional Quaker faith and prac­tice for more fad­dish beliefs. The base­ment walls of the Philadel­phia Yearly Meet­ing youth cen­ter is painted over with danc­ing gods, while of the big events of the Young Friends’ annual cal­en­dar is a “Quaker sweat lodge”. A cul­ture of touch and phys­i­cal­ity (“cud­dle pud­dles”, back­rubs) is thought charm­ing and immod­est dress is con­sid­ered a sign of rebel­lious indi­vid­u­al­ity. Quaker schools pub­lish brochures say­ing Meet­ing for Wor­ship is all about “think­ing, with God given lit­tle notice.” When Quak­ers want to have “inter­gen­er­a­tional” wor­ship, they feel they have to pro­gram it with some sort of attention-keeping play­time activ­ity (Mater Eccle­siae echoes Quaker tra­di­tion here: “inter­gen­er­a­tional” means chil­dren sit­ting through and par­tic­i­pat­ing in Mass with the adults).

Too many of the peo­ple my age and Julie’s who were brought up at Friends are igno­rant of basic Quaker beliefs and are unaware of Quaker tra­di­tions (FUM, EFI, Con­ser­v­a­tives) out­side the easy-going East Coast lib­er­al­ism they were raised in. For them being a Friend is act­ing a cer­tain way, believ­ing a cer­tain brand of polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy and being part of a cer­tain social group. Too many Young Adult Friends I’ve known over the years are cliquish, irre­li­gious, and have more than their share of issues around inti­macy and sex­u­al­ity.

Don’t get me wrong: these kids are often really good peo­ple, chil­dren to be proud of, doing great things in the world. Many of them are open-hearted, spiritually-sensitive, and in deeply grounded rela­tion­ships. But only a very few are prac­tic­ing Quak­ers. And when I look at the reli­gious edu­ca­tion they get, I can’t say I’m sur­prised. If I were to raise Theo as a Quaker, I would have to “home school” him away from most of the reli­gious edu­ca­tion pro­grams offered locally. When all the kids scram­ble out of wor­ship after ten min­utes I’d have to say “no” and tell him to keep sit­ting – how weird would that be?

Theo has a bet­ter chance of shar­ing the tra­di­tional Quaker val­ues of the pres­ence of Christ, of Holy Obe­di­ence, and of bear­ing the cross by being raised as a Catholic in a tra­di­tion­al­ist church. It’s more likely he’ll turn out Quaker if he’s bap­tised at Mater Eccle­siae. Julie and I will be teach­ing him rev­er­ence by exam­ple. I’ll share my Quaker faith with him. I’m sure he’ll par­tic­i­pate in Quaker events, but con­sciously, selec­tively, guard­edly (in the old Quaker sense).

If Friends believe they have a faith worth holdling, they should also believe they have a faith worth pass­ing on. Do we?

Related Reading

  • Beckey Phipps con­ducted a series of inter­views that touched on many of these issues and pub­lished it in FGCon­nec­tions. FGC Reli­gious Edu­ca­tion: Lessons for the 21st Cen­tury asks many of the right ques­tions. My favorite line: “It is the most amaz­ing thing, all the kids that I know that have gone into [Quaker] lead­er­ship pro­grams – they’ve dis­ap­peared.”
  • I touch on these issues from the other side in The Lost Quaker Gen­er­a­tion, which is about the twenty- and thirty-something Friends that have drifted away