Famed rocker Neil Young has played hundreds of towns and cities all over the world since starting his illustrious career in the ’60s, but last night marked his first performance in the beautiful mountain town of Telluride, Colorado. Neil Young and Promise Of The Real treated fans to a 21-song performance as part of their first of two consecutive shows at Town Park in Telluride on Friday.
Websites are starting to talk about a Donald Trump presidential cabinet and the names highlight a curiosity of this election: many of the principle insiders come from Northeast Corridor states that voted for Hillary Clinton. Rudolph Giuliani and Chris Christie, are, like the whole Trump family, metro New Yorkers and as far as I know Newt Gingrich lives in northern Virginia.
I’ve lived in Chris Christie’s New Jersey since he was elected governor and I find it really hard to believe he’s suddenly going to have a strong interest in the Midwestern red states that gave Trump the win. You can point to VP-elect Mike Pence of Indiana, but as far as I can tell he was only brought on for strategic reasons and is not part of the Trump circle.
What really can Trump do to bring back the good paying jobs that disappeared decades ago? Our economy has been shifting regardless of which party occupies the Oval Office. There’s sops and pork to be doled out, but the national economy has been centralizing in the big coastal cities that our new political leaders call home (the same would have been true with a Clinton presidency). What if Trump’s election is the ultimate prank: red states selling their vote to a New York developer who will mostly continue to develop the New York-to-DC corridor?
The biggest changes in half a decade are coming to QuakerQuaker. The Ning.com service that powers the main website is about to increase its monthly charge by 140 percent. When I first picked Ning to host the three-year-old QuakerQuaker project in 2008, it seemed like a smart move. Ning had recently been founded by tech world rock stars with access to stratospheric-level funds. But it never quite got traction and started dialing back its ambitions in 2010. It was sold and sold again and a long-announced new version never materialized. I've been warning people against starting new projects on it for years. Its limitations have become clearer with every passing year. But it's continued to work and a healthy community has kept the content on QuakerQuaker interesting. But I don't get enough donations to cover a 140 percent increase, and even if I did it's not worth it for a service stuck in 2010. It's time to evolve!
There are many interesting things I could build with a modern web platform. Initial research and some feedback from fellow Quaker techies has me interested in BuddyPress, an expanded and social version of the ubiquitous WordPress blogging system. It has plugins available that claim to move content from existing Ning sites to BuddyPress, leaving the tantalizing possibility that eight years of the online Quaker conversation can be maintained (wow!).
I will need funds for the move. The subscriptions to do the import/export will incur costs and there will be plugins and themes to buy. I'm mentally budgeting an open-ended number of late Saturday nights. And the personal computer we have is getting old. The charge doesn't hold and keys are starting to go. It will need replacement sooner rather than later.
Any donations Friends could make to the Paypal account would be very helpful for the move. You can start by going to http://bit.ly/quakergive. Other options are available on the donation page at http://www.quakerquaker.org/page/support. Thanks for whatever you can spare. I'm as surprised as anyone that this little DIY project continues to host some many interesting Quaker conversations eleven years on!
“I want to suggest that there is a living tradition of spiritual teaching and practice that makes up the Quaker Way, which is not defined by a particular social group, behavioural norms, or even values and beliefs.”
As usual Craig clearly articulates his premise: that Friends have become something of a content-less, lowest-common-denominator group that fears making belief statements that some of our membership would object to.
I agree with most of his analysis, though I would add some pieces. I don’t think one can understand what it means to be a Quaker today without looking at different types of definitions. Belief and practices is one part but so is self-identification (which is not necessarily membership). We are who we are but we also aren’t. There’s a deeper reality in not being able to separate Quaker philosophy from the people who are Quaker.
In this light, I do wish that Craig hadn’t resorted to using the jargony “Quaker Way” ten times in a short piece. For those who haven’t gotten the memo, liberal Friends are no longer supposed to say “Quakerism” (which implies a tradition and practice that is not necessarily the denominator of our member’s individual theologies) but instead use the vaguer “Quaker Way.” In my observation, it’s mostly a bureaucratic preference: we want to imply there is substance but don’t want to actually name it for fear of starting a fight. Contentless language has become its own art form, one that can suck the air out of robust discussions. A truly-vital living tradition should be able to speak in different accents.
One of the most famous scenes in the AMC show Mad Men comes near the end of season one. Kodak has asked the advertising firm to create a campaign around a new slide projector that has a circular tray. Don Draper presents the Carousel and gives a nostalgia-steeped presentation that use his personal photographs to move both the Kodak execs and the viewers at home, who know that these semi-focused pictures will soon be all that left of his disintegrating family.
No falling apart family for me, but I find myself already feeling nostalgic for a family vacation to Disney World that doesn’t start for another six days. I’ve recently been looking through our Flickr archive of past trips (four for me) and realize that they are our Carousel. The start with my fiancée taking a cynical me on my first trip. Later visits bring kids to the photographic lineup: newly-found legs to run, the joys of messy ice cream, the scare of not-very-scary rides and the big eyes of parades all run through the sets.
In less than a week we’ll start a new set. There will be two new children in this one. “The babies” are both walking and toddling and are at their peak of baby photogenic cuteness. The older two are real kids now and the eldest is starting to show early glimpses of teenage-hood: eye-rolling, exhalation of air (“uh!”) to show disapproval of inconvenient parental instructions.
Iconic family pictures will happen. Since our last visit five years ago, my wife’s lost her father to cancer and my mother’s been slipping into the forgetfulness of Alzheimer’s. As the wheel of life turns it somehow becomes more possible to see ourselves as part of the turning Carousel. Some decades from now I can imagine myself going through these pictures surrounded by indulging children and antsy grandchildren, exclaiming “look how young everyone looks!”
Yesterday I was home with the kids on comp time and got to participate in their religion session (my wife keeps them to a schedule in the summers and religion makes for a quiet half hour midday).
My 9 year old was reading the passage of Jesus’s temptation in the desert found in Matthew 4. I find it such a relatable story. No, no one with pointy ears and a red tail has offered me a kingdom lately, but there are a number of normal human elements nonetheless.
To start with, Jesus is fasting and living without shelter for forty days. I know I become less of the person I want to be when I’m hungry, tired, and stressed. The tempter also proffers a test to see if God cares. That too is familiar: how often do we want something from close family and friends but hold back to see if it’s offered. “Oh, if they really cared I wouldn’t have to remind them.” We do this with God too, confusing changing states of fortune with divine favor rather than welcoming even hard times as a opportunity for growth and understanding.
One of my favorite parts of the Lord’s Prayer is the plea that we not even be led to temptation. There’s a certain humility to that. Jesus might be able to resist the sweet promises of the tempter even when cold and hungry, but I’d rather skip the tests.
It’s hard enough living in this world in a state of humility and coöperation. None of us are perfect, starting with me, and we all certainly have plenty of room to grow. But it’s nice to know that we don’t have to face the tempter alone. God knows just how hard it can be and has our back.