“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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What’s Anne Hathaway doing in Cape May anyway?

One of the things I don’t get about the press treat­ment of the Follieri/Galante scan­dal is their atti­tude toward actress Anne Hath­away. Until a few weeks ago she was the dap­per Italian’s girl­friend and they were con­stant­ly pho­tographed togeth­er. But they broke up the week before the scan­dal hit the tabloids, and all we’ve got­ten are these sil­ly human inter­est sto­ries. We hear spec­u­la­tion she must be heart­bro­ken, we hear how she’s mov­ing on with her life, we even hear details about get­ting her dog back from her old apart­ment with Fol­lieri. She’s lost a lot of weight of her lat­est movie pro­mo tour and mys­te­ri­ous­ly showed up at a Cape May bar singing Jour­ney songs this week­end with a pho­tog­ra­ph­er con­ve­nient­ly in tow.

Hel­lo? She was on the board of direc­tors of the Fol­lieri Group’s char­i­ties. The New York pent­house they shared was paid for by conned mon­ey as were their lav­ish trips and high fly­ing lifestyle. Boyfriend dra­ma is the last thing she needs to be wor­ried about right now. I sure hope the FBI is care­ful­ly going through her check­book and date book right now. She both solicit­ed and received stolen mon­ey. No won­der she’s lost a lot of weight.

And what’s up with her get­ting off the plane from Lon­don and dri­ving a cou­ple of hours to the south­ern tip of the New Jer­sey? The Cape May Coun­ty house Fol­lieri bought from the bish­op was report­ed­ly just sold again. Could Anne Hath­away be on the deed or autho­rized to sign for  Fol­lieri? Idle spec­u­la­tion of course but I do wish her pub­li­cists weren’t mak­ing fools of the pop­u­lar press like this.

Another Quaker bookstore bites the dust

Not real­ly news, but Friends Unit­ed Meet­ing recent­ly ded­i­cat­ed their new Wel­come Cen­ter in what was once the FUM book­store:

On Sep­tem­ber 15, 2007, FUM ded­i­cat­ed the space once used as the Quak­er Hill Book­store as the new FUM Wel­come Cen­ter. The Wel­come Cen­ter con­tains Quak­er books and resources for F/friends to stop by and make use of dur­ing busi­ness hours. Tables and chairs to com­fort­ably accom­mo­date 50 peo­ple make this a great space to rent for reunions, church groups, meet­ings, anniversary/birthday par­ties, etc. Reduced prices are avail­able for church­es.

Most Quak­er pub­lish­ers and book­sellers have closed or been great­ly reduced over the last ten years. Great changes have occurred in the Philadelphia-area Pen­dle Hill book­store and pub­lish­ing oper­a­tion, the AFSC Book­store in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Bar­clay Press in Ore­gon. The ver­i­ta­ble Friends Book­shop in Lon­don farmed out its mail order busi­ness a few years ago and has seen part of its space tak­en over by a cof­fee­bar: pop­u­lar and cool I’m sure, but does Lon­don real­ly needs anoth­er place to buy cof­fee? Rumor has it that Britain’s pub­li­ca­tions com­mit­tee has been laid down. The offi­cial spin is usu­al­ly that the work con­tin­ues in a dif­fer­ent form but only Bar­clay Press has been reborn as some­thing real­ly cool. One of the few remain­ing book­sellers is my old pals at FGC’s Quaker­Books: still sell­ing good books but I’m wor­ried that so much of Quak­er pub­lish­ing is now in one bas­ket and I’d be more con­fi­dent if their web­site showed more signs of activ­i­ty.

The boards mak­ing these deci­sions to scale back or close are prob­a­bly unaware that they’re part
of a larg­er trend. They prob­a­bly think they’re respond­ing to unique sit­u­a­tions (the peer group Quak­ers Unit­ing in Pub­li­ca­tions sends inter­nal emails around but hasn’t done much to pub­li­cize this sto­ry out­side of its mem­ber­ship). It’s sad to see that so many Quak­er decision-making bod­ies have inde­pen­dent­ly decid­ed that pub­lish­ing is not an essen­tial part of their mis­sion.

Reading John Woolman 3: The Isolated Saint

Read­ing John Wool­man: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 (miss­ing)

It’s said that John Wool­man re-wrote his Jour­nal three times in an effort to excise it of as many “I” ref­er­ences as pos­si­ble. As David Sox writes in Johh Wool­man Quin­tes­sen­tial Quak­er, “only on lim­it­ed occa­sion do we glimpse Wool­man as a son, a father and a hus­band.” Wool­man wouldn’t have been a very good blog­ger. Quot­ing myself from my intro­duc­tion to Quak­er blogs:

blogs give us a unique way of shar­ing our lives — how our Quak­erism inter­sects with the day-to-day deci­sions that make up faith­ful liv­ing. Quak­er blogs give us a chance to get to know like-minded Friends that are sep­a­rat­ed by geog­ra­phy or arti­fi­cial the­o­log­i­cal bound­aries and they give us a way of talk­ing to and with the insti­tu­tions that make up our faith com­mu­ni­ty.

I’ve read many great Wool­man sto­ries over the years and as I read the Jour­nal I eager­ly antic­i­pat­ed read­ing the orig­i­nal account. It’s that same excite­ment I get when walk­ing the streets of an icon­ic land­scape for the first time: walk­ing through Lon­don, say, know­ing that Big Ben is right around the next cor­ner. But Wool­man kept let­ting me down.

One of the AWOL sto­ries is his arrival in Lon­don. The Journal’s account:

On the 8th of Sixth Month, 1772, we land­ed at Lon­don, and I went straight­way to the Year­ly Meet­ing of min­is­ters and elders, which had been gath­ered, I sup­pose, about half an hour. In this meet­ing my mind was humbly con­trite.

But set the scene. He had just spent five weeks cross­ing the Atlantic in steer­age among the pigs (he doesn’t actu­al­ly spec­i­fy his non-human bunk­mates). He famous­ly went out of his way to wear clothes that show dirt because they show dirt. He went straight­away: no record of a bath or change of clothes. Sto­ries abound about his recep­tion, and while are some of dubi­ous ori­gin, there are first hand accounts of his being shunned by the British min­is­ters and elders. The best and most dubi­ous sto­ry is the theme of anoth­er post.

I trust that Wool­man was hon­est­ly aim­ing for meek­ness when he omit­ted the most inter­est­ing sto­ries of his life. But with­out the con­text of a lived life he becomes an ahis­tor­i­cal fig­ure, an icon of good­ness divorced from the minu­ti­ae of the dai­ly grind. Two hun­dred and thir­ty years of Quak­er hagiog­ra­phy and latter-day appeals to Woolman’s author­i­ty have turned the tai­lor of Mount Hol­ly into the oth­er­world­ly Quak­er saint but the process start­ed at John’s hands him­self.

Were his strug­gles mere­ly inte­ri­or? When I look to my own min­istry, I find the call to dis­cern­ment to be the clear­est part of the work. I need to work to be ever more recep­tive to even the most unex­pect­ed prompt­ing from the Inward Christ and I need to con­stant­ly prac­tice humil­i­ty, love and for­give­ness. But the prac­ti­cal lim­i­ta­tions are hard­er. For years respectibil­i­ty was an issue; rel­a­tive pover­ty con­tin­ues to be one. It is ask­ing a lot of my wife to leave respon­si­bil­i­ty for our two small boys for even a long week­end.

How did Wool­man bal­ance fam­i­ly life and min­istry? What did wife Sarah think? And just what was his role in the sea-change that was the the “Ref­or­ma­tion of Amer­i­can Quak­erism” (to use Jack Marietta’s phrase) that for­ev­er altered Amer­i­can Friends’ rela­tion­ship with the world and set the stage for the schisms of the next cen­tu­ry.

We also lose the con­text of Woolman’s com­pa­tri­ots. Some are named as trav­el­ing com­pan­ions but the col­or­ful char­ac­ters go unmen­tioned. What did he think of the street-theater antics of Ben­jamin Lay, the Abbie Hoff­man of Philadel­phia Quak­ers. The most widely-told tale is of Lay walk­ing into Philadel­phia Year­ly Meet­ing ses­sions, open­ing up a cloak to reveal mil­i­tary uni­form under­neath, and declar­ing that slave-made prod­ucts were prod­ucts of war, plunged a sword into a hollowed-out Bible full of pig’s blood, splat­ter­ing Friends sit­ting near­by.

What role did Wool­man play in the larg­er anti-slavery awak­en­ing hap­pen­ing at the time? It’s hard to tell just read­ing his Jour­nal. How can we find ways to repli­cate his kind of faith­ful­ness and wit­ness today? Again, his Jour­nal doesn’t give much clue.

Read­ing John Wool­man Series

  • Part One: “The Pub­lic Life of a Pri­vate Man”
  • Part Two: “The Last Safe Quak­er
  • Part Three: The Iso­lat­ed Saint (this page)
  • Part Four: I Real­ly Do Like Wool­man!

Picked up today in the Philadel­phia Year­ly Meet­ing Library:

PYM Librar­i­an Rita Var­ley remind­ed me today they mail books any­where in the US for a mod­est fee and a $50/year sub­scrip­tion. It’s a great deal and a great ser­vice, espe­cial­ly for iso­lat­ed Friends. The PYM cat­a­log is online too!

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 Non​vi​o​lence​.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://​deli​cious​.com/​m​a​r​t​i​n​_​k​e​l​l​e​y​/​n​e​w​s​.​c​p​t​-​f​o​u​r​.​f​o​x​m​e​m​o​r​ial

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 Non​vi​o​lence​.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]

Bandaging our wounds, mourning our dead and loving our enemies

I’m away from my usu­al haunts on work-related duties but the news sites have plen­ty of arti­cles about the hor­ri­ble bomb­ings in Lon­don; there is no need for yet anoth­er list.
It is always trag­ic to see the cycles of vio­lence, ter­ror­ism and state-sponsored war feed­ing one anoth­er to new acts of vio­lence. Our prayers that the new round of heart­breaks in Lon­don don’t lead into a kind of retal­i­a­tion that will only hard­en hearts else­where. We need to envi­sion a new world, one based on love and mutu­al respect. It’s impos­si­ble to nego­ti­ate with the kind of ter­ror­ists that would bomb a packed bus but we can be a wit­ness that hate can be con­front­ed with love. We must ban­dage our wound­ed, mourn our dead and con­tin­ue to build a world where the occa­sions for all war have been tran­scend­ed.