At work today we had those lovely internal head-scratching questions on whether the common name of the insects of the pentatomidae family is one word (stinkbugs) or two (stink bugs). Yes, yes, sometimes even Quaker thought and life today includes these horrors.
Our house dictionary (the American Heritage College Dictionary, 4th edition) unambiguously declares it a single word, which would normally end the conversation, but pretty much every other source says two. The proscriptively-correct response is to clutch for dear life to that book and delete the space. But when Wikipedia and state ag college extension offices alike seem to prefer the two words, insisting on the dictionary seems unnecessarily pendantic.
I half-wondered if this might in retrospect be seen as another step on the road to officially endorsing Wikipedia as our house dictionary. If I were the Dowager Countess of Grantham, I’d come up with a quippy line about this being how civilizations crumble.
One of the white ministers with James Reeb in the 1965 attack that helped propel the Voting Rights Act remembers the night.
He also reflects on the value of white lives vs. black lives for national attention in the Civil Rights Movement. While the actual Selma march was protesting the killing of black civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson by a state trooper, national outrage focused on the visiting white minister.
In 1967, Dr. King noted, “The failure to mention Jimmy [sic] Jackson only reinforced the impression that to white Americans the life of a Negro is insignificant and meaningless.”
Don’t miss Gail Whiffen Coyle’s overview of contemporary Friends Journal coverage of Selma on our website.
Bayard Rustin’s letter to the Draft Board:
> I admit my share of guilt for having participated in the institutions and ways of life which helped bring fascism and war. Nonetheless, guilty as I am, I now see as did the Prodigal Son that it is never too late to refuse longer to remain in a non-creative situation. It is always timely and virtuous to change—to take in all humility a new path.
Outreach, Family, Pacifism, and Blog Culture
At year’s end it’s always interesting to look back and see which articles got the most visits. Here are the top-five QuakerRanter.org blog posts of 2013.
This grew out of a interesting little tweet about search engine optimization that got me thinking about how Friends Meetings can retain the curious one-time visitors.
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.
I should give the caveat that these are the top-five most-read articles that were written this year. Many of the classics still outperform these. The most read continues to be my post on unpopular baby names (just today I overheard an expectant mother approvingly going through a list of over-trendy names; I wondered if I should send her the link). My post on how to order men’s plain clothing from Gohn’s Brothers continues to be popular, as does a report about a trip to a legendary water hole deep in the South Jersey pines.
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has a page devoted to issues of faith and next year’s presidential elections.
2012 Presidential Candidates Religious Backgrounds | Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
Interested in how religion could affect the 2012 election? Learn about the 2012 presidential candidate’s religious backgrounds in Pew Forum online biographies.
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Not that exciting yet. We’ll see.
Quaker thought and life today
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My life is now such that I don’t have the time to do long-form, thoughtful blogging. When I have time to think about big ideas expressed in well-chosen words, it’s as editor at Friends Journal. I have a rather long commute but it’s broken up with transfers, I often have to stand and I usually don’t have a laptop on me. What I do have is a smart phone, which I use to keep up with Quaker blogs, listen to podcasts and take pictures.
Despite this, I can usually write a few paragraphs at a time. Kept at steadily those could amass into blog posts. But the finishing-up effort is hard. I have a 2/3rds completed post lavishing high praise for +Jon Watts’s new album sitting on my phone but haven’t had the chance to finish, polish and publish. So what if I serialized these? Write a few paragraphs at a time, invite commentary, perhaps even alter things in a bit of crowd-sourcing?
Any feedback I’d get would help keep up my enthusiasm for the topic. This informal post-as-chat was actually the dominant early model for blogs, one that fell away as they became more visible. It’d be nice to get back to that. The medium seems obvious to me: Google+, which allows for extended informal posts. So I’ll try that. These will be beta thoughts-on-electron. If they seem to gell together, I might then polish and publish to QuakerRanter.org, but no promises. This is mostly a way to get some raw ideas out there.
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