Remembering Christine Greenland

Over email, the news that Chris­tine Manville Green­land has passed. In recent times I worked with Chris­tine most­ly through the Tract Asso­ci­a­tion of Friends but I’ve known her for so long I don’t know when I first met her.

When­ev­er she said some­thing it was well worth lis­ten­ing to. On online forums from Soc.religion.quaker to Face­book she was always encour­ag­ing to what Samuel Bow­nas had called “infant min­is­ters.” She had the rare abil­i­ty to slice through thorny Quak­er issues with unex­pect­ed obser­va­tion and wis­dom. She had a long view of recent Quak­er his­to­ry that put things in con­text and she would pull metaphors from her train­ing as a botanist to explain mys­ti­fy­ing behav­iors in our core­li­gion­ists.

She also had a wealth of insti­tu­tion­al mem­o­ry. There’s incred­i­ble val­ue in this. Friends, like most humans, give a lot of val­ue to the ways we’re doing things right now. It only takes a few years before a process feels time­less and essen­tial. We for­get that things once worked dif­fer­ent­ly or that oth­er Friends have a dif­fer­ent meth­ods. By being involved with Friends in dif­fer­ent areas — Cana­da and Col­orado — Chris­tine brought geo­graph­ic aware­ness and by being involved in Philadel­phia so long she brought a mod­ern his­tor­i­cal aware­ness. That dys­func­tion­al meet­ing everyone’s talk­ing about? She’ll remem­ber that every­one was talk­ing about it thir­ty years ago for anoth­er con­tro­ver­sy and point out the sim­i­lar­i­ties. That doubt you’ll have about a path? Chris­tine will tell you how oth­ers have felt the lead­ing and assure you that it’s gen­uine.

She did all this with such gen­tle­ness and mod­esty that it’s only now that she’s gone that I’m real­iz­ing the debt I owe her. More than any­thing per­haps, she showed how to live a life as a Friend of integri­ty through the pol­i­tics and foibles of our Reli­gious Soci­ety.

I used Google to find pre­cious gems of wis­dom she left on com­ment threads. It’s a long trail. She was active on soc.religion.quaker back in the day, com­ment­ed on most Con­ver­gent Friends blogs and was active on Face­book. She took the time to write many enlight­en­ing and warm com­men­tary. Here is a ran­dom sam­ple.

Com­ment on my post “Vision and Lead­er­ship”

Yes­ter­day, I  clerked a small quar­ter­ly meet­ing work­ing group — I’m co-clerk, since it  isn’t my quar­ter… and the oth­er co-clerk is, which works well. We keep ask­ing the ques­tions and see­ing the poten­tials … but when it comes down to being faith­ful (a term I use instead of “account­able”) that needs con­sis­tent test­ing. It is impor­tant to cen­ter in wor­ship, no mat­ter what we are doing.

I had the expe­ri­ence of being chair of a group of biol­o­gists, and found that, even then, I con­duct­ed busi­ness in the same way… one of seek­ing guid­ance from oth­er mem­bers of the group — even though the group of which we were a small part used Robert’s rules of order. I felt our group was too small to make that approach work­able… Occa­sion­al­ly, I for­got I wasn’t among Friends until anoth­er mem­ber of the group (a Unit­ed Church grad­u­ate of Swarth­more Col­lege) remind­ed me… Church of the Brethren folks just grinned and allowed as how they pre­ferred the approach; we were, after all, both friends and biol­o­gists.  For most of us, the work had both a sci­en­tif­ic and a spir­i­tu­al basis.

To Mic­ah Bales’s “Is It Time to Get Rid of Year­ly Meet­ings?”

I checked in with Friends at our Quar­ter­ly Meet­ing pic­nic yes­ter­day; respons­es were mixed for a vari­ety of rea­sons, some hav­ing to do with resis­tance to chang­ing the ways in which we are Friends, and oth­er respons­es that I can only describe as “insti­tu­tion­al cheer-leading”.

Some of this has to do with expect­ed ten­sions as we grap­ple with mat­ters of both race and class; still oth­er mat­ters have to do with the fact that our struc­tures have changed at least twice in 30 years, as has the out­line of our faith and prac­tice. The ques­tion I have (of myself and oth­ers) is “How do we — indi­vid­u­al­ly and cor­po­rate­ly — show that we tru­ly love one anoth­er as Christ has loved us?” By that, I mean all oth­ers.

The most hope­ful exchange was speak­ing with a dear Friend in my for­mer meet­ing who had gone for the first time in decades, and feels strong­ly led to encour­age her meet­ing to assist in work going on at both the quar­ter and year­ly meet­ing lev­el; this will cross bound­aries. I was hope­ful in part because this Friend exudes con­sis­tent love. … and has in the 25 years I’ve known her. Love of God/neighbor are insep­a­ra­ble. She lives that bet­ter than I do.

It seems I have much to learn.

Com­ment on my “What Does it Mean to be a Quak­er?” (on an old site)

I cringe when I hear the word “Quak­erism” or “the Quak­er Way”… I find the two terms inter­change­able — both can lack sub­stance. It seems we have final­ly become the “bureau­crat­ic asso­ci­a­tion of dis­tant acquan­tances” rather than the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends. Some years ago, an expe­ri­enced Friend wrote that Integri­ty (say­ing what one means, mean­ing what one says) was at the heart of Quak­er Prac­tice — as a tes­ti­mo­ny.

If we’re just going for PR, that lacks integri­ty.

The ques­tion — for me — becomes “How can I live as a Friend?”

Com­ment on Eric Moon’s “Cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly Not the Tes­ti­monies”

When I first came to Friends, it was the way of life — not the intel­lec­tu­al con­struct — that drew me to meet­ing week after week (a uni­ver­si­ty meet­ing in what lat­er became Inter­moun­tain Year­ly Meet­ing). When I applied for mem­ber­ship, my com­mit­tee of clear­ness ques­tioned more whether I could live into a way of life, into the com­mu­ni­ty of that par­tic­u­lar meet­ing. Friends felt that wrestling with the under­stand­ing of the faith tra­di­tion was a part of my edu­ca­tion. Only after I moved to Philadel­phia did I begin hear­ing of the “pars­ing” of the faith tra­di­tion. It seemed too pat.

Still, the over­lap­ping cat­e­gories are still as use­ful by way of expla­na­tion, but it isn’t the whole sto­ry.

As with many mat­ters of faith, for those who pos­sess it, no expla­na­tion is nec­es­sary; for those who do not, no expla­na­tion is pos­si­ble. Howard Brin­ton did his best by way of expla­na­tion, but faith-wrestling is a task we all have.

Com­ment on Ash­ley Wilcox’s The Cost of Trav­el­ing Min­istry

My ques­tion about younger Friends serv­ing as trav­el­ing min­is­ters is some­what more seri­ous: Are their meet­ings atten­tive to both the spir­i­tu­al gifts and the needs (cost of trav­el, etc.)as well as the spir­i­tu­al need for sup­port. If not, is the Friend with a con­cern for trav­el, teach­ing, or any oth­er min­istry) hum­ble enough to ask the ques­tions Jon is ask­ing. In my expe­ri­ence (as an old­er adult Friend)there is lit­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tion among age groups so that gifts of min­istry are ful­ly rec­og­nized… Young Friends are often left to their own devices. It may be that lack of spir­i­tu­al sup­port that is the “last door out.”

For instance, I would not trav­el with­out the full con­sent of my past com­mit­tee of care, all of whom know me well. They have gen­er­ous­ly sup­port­ed me this year (as well as my co-leader).

What con­cerns me is the ener­gy it takes (spir­i­tu­al and phys­i­cal), and that it most often takes an elder to attend to the mun­dane things — as well as to keep the min­is­ter on track.

She was also always one to think of the kids. Here she is com­ment­ing on Kath­leen Karhnak-Glasby’s “Bring­ing Chil­dren to Wor­ship: Trust­ing God to Take Over from There”

I recall one par­ent of a small meet­ing in Ontario at Cana­di­an Year­ly Meet­ing ses­sions try­ing to encour­age his daugh­ter to sit qui­et­ly dur­ing wor­ship… Her very rea­son­able response was “but Dad­dy, I can pray stand­ing on my head!” Her min­istry caused me to reflect on whether I could indeed pray/worship in all cir­cum­stances, and from what­ev­er posi­tion I was in at the time. I still reflect on that…

At anoth­er meet­ing, when Friends noticed the pow­er strug­gles between chil­dren and their par­ents, we asked elder Friends to serve as “adop­tive” grand­par­ents, with whom the chil­dren could sit… That defused the pow­er strug­gles, and mem­bers of meet­ing who had no chil­dren of their own were very help­ful to par­ents in that meet­ing.

I also recall learn­ing to sink deeply into wor­ship — and hear­ing a younger Friend’s grand­moth­er gig­gle. I looked down and there was the 1 – 2 year old peer­ing up in won­der at why/how I could sit so qui­et­ly when he was busy crawl­ing under the bench­es. it was just fine. He became a part of my prayers that day, and still is a part of them.

And this one has to be the last I’ll share, from a Quak­erQuak­er dis­cus­sion start­ed by Richard B Miller and titled “Elders’ Cor­ner”

Like you, I learned about the role of elders from Con­ser­v­a­tive Friends (in Cana­da and Ohio).  In the con­text of my own meet­ing (and quar­ter), how­ev­er, there are Friends who can and do serve as guides and sound­ing boards — offer­ing cor­rec­tions as may be required.  Ide­al­ly, elders should arise from the month­ly meet­ings, and then be rec­og­nized in larg­er bod­ies of Friends, not nec­es­sar­i­ly being named by a year­ly meet­ing nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee.

I was asked to serve as an elder for Year­ly Meeting/Interim Meet­ing… but because I was also on the nom­i­nat­ing com­mit­tee, had a “stop” about whether that was right­ly ordered. I con­sult­ed some North Car­oli­na Friends, who agreed with the “stop”.

One dif­fi­cul­ty that you raised is that many of the con­ser­v­a­tive Friends who held that tra­di­tion are no longer avail­able as guides… One effect is that the role elders once played is dimin­ish­ing among con­ser­v­a­tive Friends.

I’m feel­ing pret­ty bro­ken up right now. And I’m feel­ing the weight of this loss. I’ve found myself more and more to be the one giv­ing out advice and giv­ing his­tor­i­cal con­text that new­er Friends might not have. It’s the kind of perch that Chris­tine had. I’m only start­ing to appre­ci­ate that she formed a gen­tle men­tor­ing role for me — and I’m sure for many oth­ers.

A few years ago my wife and I lost our remain­ing par­ents (her dad, my mom) and we had the unescapable recog­ni­tion that we were now the old­est gen­er­a­tion. I know there are old­er Friends around still and some have bits of Christine’s wit and wis­dom. But one of our human guides have left us.

Trying out Google PhotoScan

Today Google came out with a new app called Pho­to­Scan that will scan your old pho­to col­lec­tion. Like just every­one, I have stash­es of shoe­box­es inher­it­ed from par­ents full of pic­tures. Some were scanned in a scan­ner, back when I had one that was com­pat­i­ble with a com­put­er. More recent­ly, I’ve used scan­ning apps like Readdle’s Scan­ner Pro and Scan­bot. These de-skew the pho­tographs of the pho­tos that your phone takes but the resolution’s is not always the best and there can be some glare from over­head lights, espe­cial­ly when you’re work­ing with a glossy orig­i­nal pic­tures.

Google’s approach clev­er­ly stitch­es togeth­er mul­ti­ple pho­tos. It uses a process much like their 360-degree pho­to app: you start with a overview pho­to. Once tak­en, you see four cir­cles hov­er­ing to the sides of the pic­ture. Move the cam­era to each and it takes more pic­tures. Once you’ve gone over all four cir­cles, Google stitch­es these five pho­tos togeth­er in such a way that there’s no per­spec­tive dis­tor­tion.

What’s remark­able is the speed. I scanned 15 pho­tos in while also mak­ing din­ner for the kids. The dimen­sions of all looked good and the res­o­lu­tion looks about as good as the orig­i­nal. These are good results for some­thing so easy.

Check out Google’s announce­ment blog post for details.

Quick scans from an envelope inherited from my mom.

Distant signals from the future

radioI was in ear­ly high school when I got my first alarm clock radio. My par­ents were a bit old­er when I was born, so the LPs in the back of our hall clos­et were a generation-and-a-half out-of date: I remem­ber most­ly musi­cal sound­tracks like South Pacif­ic and West Side Sto­ry. My old­er broth­er had brought the Bea­t­les into our house but he had moved away for col­lege and adult­hood years before and the only trace of his musi­cal influ­ence was a Simon & Gar­funkel great­est hits 8-track tape my mom had bought for a pen­ny from the Time-Life record club.

In my bed­room late at night in the ear­ly 80s, I explored the sounds inside my new radio. I would bury myself under­neath my Star Trek sheets, pull the radio inside, and lis­ten with vol­ume bare­ly per­cep­ti­ble. Three was no real rea­son for the secre­cy. I’m sure my par­ents wouldn’t have par­tic­u­lar­ly cared. But I was a pri­vate kid. I didn’t want to let on that I was curi­ous about the adult world. Pop radio and MASH reruns were my secret.

I had had a short­wave radio in mid­dle school and brought the thrill of long-distance dis­cov­ery to my radio explo­rations. Geog­ra­phy and sound had more mys­tery in those days before the inter­net. On a cold, clear night, I could tune in AM pow­er­hous­es half a con­ti­nent away.

One par­tic­u­lar­ly cold night, one of these dis­tant sig­nals played a song I had nev­er heard or even imag­ined. It was half-drowned out by sta­t­ic. The sig­nal drift­ed in and out in waves but I lis­tened mes­mer­ized. To a intro­vert­ed kid in a sleep Philly sub­urb, this song was a key to a yearned-for future. I was instant­ly cer­tain that that no one around me had ever heard this song. If only I could make out some words, maybe I could spend the next year scan­ning the dis­tant radio bands to hear it again. As I got old­er, I could go into the city to scour bins in the seed­i­est of indie record stores. This song no one knew would be a touch­stones to a new adult­hood I was con­struct­ing in the secret of my bed­room.

As the fade came, I bare­ly caught the DJ’s words through the sta­t­ic. “Hotel Cal­i­for­nia.” I vowed to myself that some­day, some­how, I would find this song and hear it again.

RIP Glenn Frey.

Were Friends part of Obama’s Evolution?

Pres­i­dent Obama’s been attribut­ing some of his so-called “evo­lu­tion” on same-sex mar­riage to his daugh­ters. As he told ABC’s Robin Roberts:

You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose par­ents are same-sex cou­ples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sit­ting around the din­ner table, and we’re talk­ing about their friends and their par­ents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that some­how their friends’ par­ents would be treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly. It doesn’t make sense to them and, frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in per­spec­tive.

So where do Obama’s daughter’s inde­pen­dent friends come from? Like most tweens the like­li­est answer is school – in their case, Sid­well Friends. It’s not unlike­ly that the “evo­lu­tion” owed some­thing to the Quak­er envi­ron­ment there.

Most élite Quak­er schools have only a token base of Quak­er stu­dents and teach­ers, so we can’t assume that Malia and Sasha’s friends are Friends. Like many outward-facing Quak­er insti­tu­tions, mod­ern Friends schools’ strongest claim to Quak­erism is the val­ues and dis­cern­ment tech­niques they share with the wider world. They con­scious­ly trans­mit a style and ped­a­gogy and cre­ate an envi­ron­ment of open­ness and diver­si­ty. Of course the Oba­ma kids are going to rub up against non-traditional mar­riages at a East Coast Quak­er school. And no one should be sur­prised if they bring a lit­tle of that back home when the school bus drops them off at 1600 Penn­syl­va­nia Avenue.

NYTimes: Oba­ma Girls Influ­ence the Pres­i­dent — Again
Pres­i­dent Oba­ma often uses his daugh­ters, Malia and Sasha, as object lessons in explain­ing his rea­son­ing behind impor­tant pol­i­cy posi­tions.

The Gorillas and Chimps of the Social Networking Scene

Over on the New York Times, an arti­cle about a new Nickolodeon-created web­site for par­ents

now in the final stages of beta test­ing.

In a non­pub­lic test of the site over the sum­mer by about
1,000 recruit­ed par­tic­i­pants, exec­u­tives learned that these users
want­ed to blog; now, every user with a pro­file can, Ms. Rep­pen said.
Through the beta test, which is now open to new mem­bers, Nick is
learn­ing that par­ents want spaces to sell their crafts, a sep­a­rate
Chris­t­ian home-schooling dis­cus­sion and big­ger type on the Web site.
Local dis­cus­sion boards will also be added, as will user-generated
video.

They also quote a Nis­san mar­ket­ing exec­u­tive, who says that
“com­mu­ni­ty sites are one of the big phe­nom­e­non hap­pen­ing on line this
year.”

There is a big shift going on.

It’s star­tling to real­ize that my three year tod­dler is almost the same age as Myspace and old­er than Face­book.
In just a few short years they’ve come to dom­i­nate much of the online
world, espe­cial­ly with under-25 users. The kind of inde­pen­dent blogs
that dom­i­nate a sites like Live­jour­nal and Blogspot don’t have the web
of cross-connections – what I called the “folk­so­nom­ic den­si­ty” – of the new
social net­work­ing sites. It seems appro­pri­ate that Myspace was found­ed by spam­mers: who knows more about suck­ing peo­ple in?

The ques­tion: will the net have room for inde­pen­dent niche sites?
Myspace is chang­ing its archi­tec­ture to dis­able key link­ing fea­tures of
third-party embed­ded plug-ins like the from the pop­u­lar video site Youtube. The big search sites also want a piece of this mar­ket – new fea­tures on Yahoo local and the geo­t­agged maps
on Yahoo’s Flickr are impres­sive). It all reminds me some of the
debates about local food co-ops ver­sus enlight­ened super­mar­kets: is it
a good thing that organ­ic pro­duce and soymilk can be pur­chased at the
local Acme, even if that cuts into the inde­pen­dent co-op’s busi­ness?
Don’t we want every­one to have access to every­thing? In the end,
phi­los­o­phy won’t set­tle this argu­ment.

Friends Familiar with My Struggles

A Guest Piece from ‘Quak­er­s­peak’ C. Red­dy.

On April 23 I flew to Ore­gon to serve on an edi­to­r­i­al board for a book that QUIP is putting togeth­er of young Friends’ expe­ri­ences of Quak­erism. After arriv­ing in Ore­gon but before I met with the edi­to­r­i­al board for this, I served on a pan­el with the oth­er young Friends on the edi­to­r­i­al board in a QUIP meet­ing (as we had arrived at the end of a QUIP con­fer­ence for our meet­ing) about how media, print­ed or oth­er­wise, inspired us spir­i­tu­al­ly. As we relat­ed our expe­ri­ences as young Friends (and grow­ing up as Quak­ers), a num­ber of issues sur­faced rather quick­ly.

As young Friends move through high school and enter the [young] adult world, there is often a gen­er­al lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between young Friends and adults in Meet­ings, as if there’s some ten­sion about it. Per­son­al­ly, as a young Friend in Durham Friends Meet­ing (NCYM(Cons.)), I’ve found that I know cer­tain adults — ones with whom I have inter­act­ed more specif­i­cal­ly over the years as I have grown up. Often these are par­ents of oth­er young Friends in the Meet­ing or peo­ple who have been involved in youth group events. What’s miss­ing is the con­nec­tion to the rest of the adults in Meet­ing; I’ve been attend­ing Durham Friends Meet­ing since I was born (with a peri­od dur­ing mid­dle school where I was most­ly absent, but for the last few years I’ve been quite reg­u­lar in atten­dance) and I feel like most of the meet­ing has no idea who I am. In addi­tion to that, I’ve not known how to com­mu­ni­cate my involve­ment and ded­i­ca­tion in var­i­ous nation­al Quak­er com­mu­ni­ties, such as being cho­sen as one of six co-clerks of the HS pro­gram at FGC Gath­er­ing this sum­mer, my par­tic­i­pa­tion in Young Quakes, my atten­dance at a Pen­dle Hill Clerk­ing work­shop last fall, my involve­ment in this QUIP book, or how I have been read­ing many Quak­er books over the last few months, all of which have been VERY inte­gral in my spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment. Even Friends in Durham Friends Meet­ing with whom I do con­verse some­times after Meet­ing do not know of all these things with which I am involved.

Also, when I stopped attend­ing First Day school in Jan­u­ary of my junior year in high school (a lit­tle over a year ago) and began attend­ing the full hour of Wor­ship, I spoke to two youth lead­ers about it briefly so they would under­stand, and then there was no fur­ther response. Look­ing back on this, I feel that the Meet­ing should be more involved in such a tran­si­tion for all young Friends — not just those adults direct­ly involved in the youth group/First Day school, but every­one should be more aware and atten­tive of the young Friends in Meet­ing and their involve­ment in Quak­er com­mu­ni­ties out­side of Meet­ing.

One thing that each of us felt is very impor­tant yet very lack­ing is men­tor­ship with­in Meet­ing for Wor­ship. There need to be adults who are not nec­es­sar­i­ly First Day school teach­ers, youth group lead­ers, or par­ents who are will­ing to have a rela­tion­ship with a young Friend as some­one who has had more expe­ri­ence with Quak­erism and can nur­ture a young Friend’s spir­i­tu­al devel­op­ment. A young Friend who was in Ore­gon with me relat­ed her expe­ri­ences with a men­tor she has at Earl­ham (she is a second-year there, cur­rent­ly), and how she sees him about once a week; often she even receives books to read from him.

As the only active young Friend at my school (I’m sort of the ‘token’ Quak­er around), I usu­al­ly do not have any­one to talk to about my spir­i­tu­al find­ings and lead­ings. As I have con­tin­ued to devel­op spir­i­tu­al­ly, I find more and more I need oth­er Friends to talk who are famil­iar with my strug­gles.

These are issues not only with­in Durham Friends Meet­ing, but in Meet­ings across the coun­try. I rec­og­nize that there are efforts to improve youth pro­grams every­where, but it nev­er hurts to start local­ly.

As a grad­u­at­ing senior this year, and as an involved Friend, I would like to improve my rela­tion­ship with the Meet­ing as a whole and make way for bet­ter rela­tion­ships between mem­bers and young Friends in the future. This, how­ev­er, needs to be ful­ly a double-sided effort.