“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.“
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…
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.
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.
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”: http://www.quakerquaker.org/quaker_blogs/::
bq. 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:
bq. 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”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
h3. Next time: I Really Do Like Woolman!
h3. Reading John Woolman:
* Part One: “The Public Life of a Private Man”:http://www.nonviolence.org/martink/reading_woolman_part_one_the_public_life_of_a_private_man.php
* Part Two: “The Last Safe Quaker”:http://www.nonviolence.org/martink/reading_woolman_part_two_the_last_safe_quaker.php
* Part Three: The Isolated Saint (this page)
* Part Four (forthcoming)
Picked up today in the “Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Library”:http://www.pym.org/pm/lib.php:
* The Reformation of American Quakerism, by Jack Marietta
* _John Woolman Quintessential Quaker_, by David Sox
* The Tendering Presence: Essays on John Woolman, edited by Mike Heller 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!