Hammonton Food Trucks

From the first Ham­mon­ton Food Truck Fes­ti­val. Cool stuff but the lines are way too long for a sin­gle par­ent with four antsy kids.

One of our friends said the line waits were up to 1.5 hrs. I could just about have jumped on the express­way to Philly, got­ten some Fed­er­al Donuts, and made it back in that time. I like that Ham­mon­ton has made then edges of a hip­ster map but this is a bit sil­ly. We end­ed up get­ting frozen treats at the Wawa around the cor­ner.

Quaker Folkways and Being Patterns on the Interwebs

Last Sun­day I have a pre­sen­ta­tion to Had­don­field (N.J.) Meeting’s adult First-day school class about “Shar­ing the Good News with Social Media.” As I pre­pared I found I was less and less inter­est­ed in the tech­niques of Face­book, etc., than I was in how out­reach has his­tor­i­cal­ly worked for Friends.

For an ear­ly, short, peri­od Quak­ers were so in-your-face and noto­ri­ous that they could draw a crowd just by walk­ing a few miles up the road to the next town. More recent­ly, we’ve attract­ed new­com­ers as much by the exam­ple of our lives than by any out­reach cam­paign. When I talk to adult new­com­ers, they often cite some Quak­er exam­ple in their lives – a favorite teacher or delight­ful­ly eccen­tric aunt.

Peo­ple can sense when there’s some­thing of greater life in the way we approach our work, friend­ships, and fam­i­lies. Let me be the first in line to say I’m hor­ri­bly imper­fect. But there are Quak­er tech­niques and val­ues and folk­ways that are guides to gen­uine­ly good ways to live in the world. There’s noth­ing exclu­sive­ly Quak­er about them (indeed, most come from care­ful read­ing of the Gospels and Paul’s let­ters), but they are tools our reli­gious com­mu­ni­ty has empha­sized and into which we’ve helped each oth­er live more ful­ly.

In the last fif­teen years, the ways Friends are known has under­gone a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion. The Inter­net has made us incred­i­bly easy to find and research. This is a mixed bless­ing as it means oth­ers are defin­ing who we are. Care­ful cor­po­rate dis­cern­ment con­duct­ed through long-developed tech­niques of Quak­er process are no match for the “edit” but­ton in Wikipedia or some com­mer­cial site with good page rank.

That said, I think peo­ple still are dis­cov­er­ing Friends through per­son­al exam­ples. George Fox told us to be pat­terns and exam­ples in the world and to answer that of God in every­one. A lot of our exam­pling and answer­ing today is going to be on the thread­ed com­ments of Face­book and Twit­ter. What will they find? Do we use Face­book like every­one else, trolling, spam­ming, engag­ing in flame wars, focus­ing on our­selves? Or do Quak­er folk­ways still apply. Here are some ques­tions that I reg­u­lar­ly wrestle with:

  • When I use social media, am I being open, pub­lic, and trans­par­ent?
  • Am I care­ful to share that which is good and eter­nal rather than tit­il­lat­ing for its own sake?
  • Do I remem­ber that the Good News is sim­ply some­thing we bor­row to share and that the Inward Christ needs to do the final deliv­ery into hearts?
  • Do I pray for those I dis­agree with? Do I prac­tice hold­ing my tongue when my moti­va­tion is anger or jeal­ousy?

What strug­gles do oth­ers face? What might be our online folk­ways?

A modern-day Commonplace Book?

From a post by Jamie Todd Rubin, \”Going Paperless: How Penultimate and Evernote Have Replaced My Pocket Notebook,\” I\’ve learned the concept of the \”Commonplace Book,\” which he attributes it to Jefferson:

The notion for the “commonplace book” comes from Thomas Jefferson, who used just such a book to capture pretty much anything: passages from books he was reading, notes, sketches, you name it.

Wikipedia takes it further back in its entry on Commonplace books. The name comes from the latin locus communis and the form got its start in a new form of fifteen-century bound journal:

Such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator\’s particular interests.

I really like this idea. I\’ve been thinking a lot about workflows recently (and listening to way too many geek podcasts on my commute). I\’ve been muddling my way toward something like this. I\’m currently using Evernote to log a lot of my life but there\’s scraps of interesting tidbits that have no home. An example from half an hour ago: I was listening to Pandora the train when along came an unfamiliar song I wanted to remember for later. A Commonplace book would be a natural place to record this information (First Aid Kit\’s Lion\’s Roar if you must know, think Bonnie Raitt steps out with Townes van Zandt for a secret assignation at a Stockholm open mic night.)

Of course, being a twenty-first century digital native, my workflow would be electronic. What I imagine is a single Evernote page that holds a month\’s worth of the bits that come along. I have something similar with a log, a single file with one line entries (lots of Ifttt automations like logged Foursquare check-ins, along with notes-to-self of milestones like issues sent to press, etc.). I\’ll start setting this up.

Make a buck, make a buck

“There’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ float­in’ around this world, but one of the worst is com­mer­cial­ism. Make a buck, make a buck.”
–Alfred, Mir­a­cle on 34th Street (1947)

Did Thanks­giv­ing even hap­pen? Walk­ing around the neigh­bor­hood and scan­ning the store cir­cu­lars it seems more like some blip between Hal­loween can­dy and Christ­mas toys. In 1947, Alfred’s Christ­mas ism was a fast-footed sprint launched by Santa’s appear­ance at the end of the Thanks­giv­ing parade (though with all due respect for Mr Macy, for us old time Philadel­phi­ans the finale will always be a red-coated fire­man climb­ing into Gimble’s fifth floor).

What was a six week sprint for Christ­mas sales in 1947 has stretched out to the leisure­ly half-mile jog through the autumn months. Trea­cly remakes of hol­i­day stan­dards have been play­ing in malls for weeks. Box store work­ers who might have pre­ferred to spend time with their fam­i­ly on Thanks­giv­ing were pressed into ser­vice for pre-Black Fri­day sales (fed by the hype of arti­fi­cial scarci­ty, it feeds the gam­bler gene’s need for the big win). And today, server farms around the coun­try are over­heat­ing to meet the demands of the lat­est retail gim­mick, the seven-year-old Cyber Mon­day (proof that cap­i­tal­ism hasn’t for­got­ten how to dream up more “make a buck” isms).

And all for what? Most of us mid­dle class Amer­i­cans have every­thing we need. What we lack isn’t the stuff that line the shelves of Wal­mart super­stores and Ama­zon dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters, but the us that we’re too busy to share with one anoth­er.

I love the puri­ty of ear­lier gen­er­a­tions of Quak­ers. They point­ed­ly ignored Christ­mas, work­ing and open­ing their schools on the 25th. They would have undoubt­ed­ly skipped the com­mer­cial­ism of the mod­ern con­sumer hol­i­day. But I’m not will­ing to go that far. In our fam­i­ly Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas is a time of togeth­er­ness and sea­son­al habits–tag­ging the Christ­mas tree, Sweetzel’s spiced wafers, mak­ing cook­ies and pies, vis­it­ing fam­i­ly. When I was young, my moth­er made a framed col­lage of my annu­al pho­tos with San­ta, and while it once fas­ci­nat­ed me as a doc­u­ment of San­ta vari­a­tions, now the inter­est is watch­ing myself grow up. Today, our family’s Flickr col­lec­tion of Christ­mas rou­ti­nes shows that same pas­sage of time. None of us need fall into the Hal­loThanks­Mas sea­son of make-a-buck-ism to find joy in togeth­er­ness.

Russian Old Believers in Millville NJ

A few weeks ago we were con­tact­ed by some­one from the St Nicholas Cen­ter (http://​www​.stni​cholas​cen​ter​.org) ask­ing if they could use some pho­tos I had tak­en of the church my wife is attend­ing, Mil­lville N.J.’s St Nicholas Ukraini­an Catholic. Of course I said yes. But then my cor­re­spon­dent asked if I could take pic­tures of anoth­er church she had heard of: St Nicholas Old Believer’s Church. It’s on the oth­er side of Mil­lville from our St Nick’s, on an ancient road that dead ends in woods. We had to vis­it.

The Old Believ­ers have a fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry. They were Rus­sian Ortho­dox Chris­tians who refused to com­ply with litur­gi­cal changes man­dat­ed by the Patri­arch and Czar in the 1650s. As usu­al, there was a lot of pol­i­tics involved, with the Czar want­i­ng to cozy up with the Greek Ortho­dox to ally Rus­sia again­st the Mus­lim Ottomans, etc., etc. The the­o­log­i­cal charge was that the Greek tra­di­tions were the stan­dard and Rus­sian dif­fer­ences latter-day inno­va­tions to be stamped out (more mod­ern research has found the Rus­sians actu­al­ly were closer to the old­er forms, but no mat­ter: what the Czar and Patri­arch want, the Czar and Patri­arch get). The old prac­tices were banned, begin­ning hun­dreds of years of state-sponsored per­se­cu­tion for the “Old Believ­ers.” The sur­vivors scat­tered to the four cor­ners of the Rus­sian empire and beyond, keep­ing a low pro­file wherever they went.

The Old Believ­ers have a fas­ci­nat­ing frac­tured his­to­ry. Because their priests were killed off in the sev­en­teen­th cen­tu­ry, they lost their claims of apos­tolic suc­ces­sion – the idea that there’s an unbro­ken line of ordi­na­tion from Jesus Christ him­self. Some Old Believ­ers found work-arounds or claimed a few priests were spared but the hard­core among them declared suc­ces­sion over, sig­nal­ing the end times and the fall of the Church. They became priest­less Old Believ­ers – so defen­sive of the old litur­gy that they were will­ing to lose most of the litur­gy. They’ve scat­tered around the world, often wear­ing plain dress and liv­ing in iso­lat­ed com­mu­ni­ties.

The Old Believ­ers church in Mil­lville has no signs, no web­site, no indi­ca­tion of what it is (a life­long mem­ber of “our” St Nick’s called it mys­te­ri­ous and said he lit­tle about it of it). From a few inter­net ref­er­ences, they appear to be the priest­less kind of Old Believ­ers. But it has its own dis­tinc­tions: appar­ent­ly one of the great­est icono­g­ra­phers of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry lived and wor­shipped there, and when famed Rus­sian polit­i­cal pris­on­er Alek­san­dr Solzhen­it­syn vis­it­ed the U.S. he made a point of speak­ing at this sign­less church on a dead end road.

Links:
* Wikipedia: http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​O​l​d​_​B​e​l​i​e​v​ers
* Account of US Lithua­ni­an Bespopovt­sy com­mu­ni­ties: http://​www​.synax​is​.info/​o​l​d​-​r​i​t​e​/​0​_​o​l​d​b​e​l​i​e​f​/​h​i​s​t​o​r​y​_​e​n​g​/​n​i​c​o​l​l​.​h​tml
* OSU Library on icono­g­ra­pher Sofronv (PDF): http://​cmrs​.osu​.edu/​r​c​m​s​s​/​C​M​H​2​1​c​o​l​o​r​.​pdf
* Solzhenitsyn’s 1976 vis­it: http://​www​.freere​pub​lic​.com/​f​o​c​u​s​/​f​-​n​e​w​s​/​2​0​5​7​7​9​3​/​p​o​sts

In album St Nicholas Old Believ­ers, Mil­lville NJ (9 pho­tos)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The drafters of the statement included Quaker Symon Hill who has written of…

“The drafters of the state­ment includ­ed Quak­er Symon Hill who has writ­ten of the state­ment: “As one of the drafters of the state­ment, I want to make clear that we want to act in sol­i­dar­i­ty with peo­ple of oth­er reli­gions and of none, not impose our reli­gion on them or claim to be a more impor­tant part of the move­ment than they are. This point is made in the open­ing line of the state­ment.”

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A Quak­er pres­ence at Occu­py Lon­don
Almost 100 Quak­ers attend­ed a Meet­ing for Wor­ship on the steps of saint Paul’s cathe­dral in Lon­don on Sun­day after­noon. The Meet­ing for Wor­ship took place in sup­port of the Occu­py Lon­don move­ment that… 

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