Tag Archives: wess

Becky Thomas Ankeny’s recent message at George Fox University via Wess Danie…

Becky Thomas Ankeny’s recent mes­sage at George Fox Uni­ver­sity via Wess Daniels

Reshared post from +C. Wess Daniels

Becky Thomas Ankeny’s mes­sage at George Fox Chapel yes­ter­day is beau­ti­ful litany of God’s call to all peo­ple. It is espe­cially meant for those who grew up in a reli­gious culture/church who told you that you can­not minister.

Embed­ded Link

George Fox Uni­ver­sity Chapel — GFU Chapel
One Moment Please. Con­nect­ing to iTunes U. Load­ing. George Fox Uni­ver­sity Chapel. GFU Chapel. We are unable to find iTunes on your com­puter. If iTunes doesn’t open, click the iTunes appli­ca­tion ic…

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Do it yourself and don’t get stuck

NMCF Pendle HillThis week­end was the long-prepared New Monas­tics and Con­ver­gent Friends week­end at Pen­dle Hill, co-led by myself and Wess Daniels, with very help­ful elder­ship from Ash­ley W. As I posted after­wards on Face­book, “I feel we served the Lord faith­fully, nav­i­gat­ing the hopes and fears of the mem­bers of the church who gath­ered into this short-lived com­mu­nity. Not the con­ver­sa­tion we expected, but the con­ver­sa­tion we were given, which is enough (always) and for which we feel gratitude.” 

Wess and I have often described Con­ver­gent Friends as a do-it-yourself cul­ture. But this week­end I real­ized that there’s some­thing more to it. There’s what you might call a “don’t get stuck” ethos. 
On Sat­ur­day after­noon, the con­ver­sa­tion turned to what our local monthly and yearly meet­ings aren’t doing well. This is a pretty stan­dard phase of any Quaker gath­er­ing think­ing about renewal. We had asked for “signs of life” and “what does New Monas­ti­cism and Con­ver­gent Friends look like at meet­ings” but this quickly became talk of spir­i­tual sick­ness and meet­ings that seem­ingly want to die. Fine enough, these exist and a half-session feel­ing sorry for our­selves might be cathar­tic, but I’m not sure the work­shop ever fully got out of this funk. Pen­dle Hill was also host­ing a “Griev­ing” work­shop this week­end and I wanted to ask if all of the par­tic­i­pants were sure they were in the right building.
Part of the shift of that amor­phous group we’ve been call­ing “Con­ver­gent” is not get­ting stuck. We use the offi­cial struc­tures when they’re in place and healthy and help­ful. When they’re not we find infor­mal ways to fill in the gaps. This has been hap­pen­ing for a long time in quasi-official net­works, but the internet’s accel­er­ated the process by let­ting us find and com­mu­ni­cate with min­i­mal cost or orga­ni­za­tion. Most of us are work­ing offi­cial and ad hoc tech­niques for spir­i­tual nur­ture, over­sight and pas­toral care.
My guess is that this infor­mal boot­strap­ping will feed back into for­mal process as time goes on. But more impor­tantly, we’re learn­ing and spread­ing a cul­ture of spir­i­tual friend­ship and sup­port that is flex­i­ble and spirit-led and not process-dependent. Praise God!

New Monastics & Convergent Friends update

My work­shop part­ner Wess Daniels just posted an update about the upcom­ing work­shop at Pen­dle Hill. Here’s the start. Click through to the full post to get a taste of what we’re preparing.

Mar­tin Kel­ley and I will be
lead­ing a
week­end retreat at Pen­dle Hill in just a cou­ple weeks (May 14–16)

and I’m start­ing to get really excited about it! Mar­tin and I have been
col­lab­o­rat­ing a lot together over the past few months in prepa­ra­tion for
this week­end and I wanted to share a lit­tle more of what we have
planned for those of you who are inter­ested in com­ing (or still on the
fence). Dur­ing the week­end we will be encour­ag­ing con­ver­sa­tions around
build­ing com­mu­ni­ties, con­ver­gent Friends and how this looks in our local
meet­ings. I wanted to give the descrip­tion of the week­end, some of the
queries we’ll be touch­ing on, and the out­line for the week­end. And of
course, I want to invite all of you inter­ested par­ties to join us!

Read the full post on Wess’s blog

Flashbacks: Aging Youth, Vanity Googling, War Fatigue

I occa­sion­ally go back to my blog­ging archives to pick out inter­est­ing arti­cles from one, five and ten years ago.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Not-Quite-So Young Quak­ers

It was five years ago this week that I sat down and wrote about a cool
new move­ment I had been read­ing about. It would have been Jor­dan Cooper’s blog that turned me onto Robert E Web­ber’s The Younger Evan­gel­i­cals, a look at gen­er­a­tional shifts among Amer­i­can Evan­gel­i­cals. In ret­ro­spect, it’s fair to say that the Quak­erQuaker com­mu­nity gath­ered around this essay (here’s Robin M’s account of first read­ing it) and it’s follow-up We’re All Ranters Now (Wess talk­ing about it).

And yet? All of this is still a small demo­graphic scat­tered all around. If I wanted to have a good two-hour caffeine-fueled bull ses­sion about the future of Friends at some local cof­feeshop this after­noon, I can’t think of any­one even vaguely local who I could call up. I’m really sad to say we’re still largely on our own. Accord­ing to actu­ar­ial tables, I’ve recently crossed my life’s halfway point and here I am still ref­er­enc­ing gen­er­a­tional change. How I wish I could hon­estly say that I could get involved with any com­mit­tee in my yearly meet­ing and get to work on the issues raised in “Younger Evan­gel­i­cals and Younger Quak­ers”. Some­one recently sent me an email thread between mem­bers of an out­reach com­mit­tee for another large East Coast yearly meet­ing and they were debat­ing whether the inter­net was an appro­pri­ate place to do out­reach work–in 2008?!?

Pub­lished 9/14/2008.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Van­ity Googling of Causes

A poster to an obscure dis­cus­sion board recently described typ­ing a par­tic­u­lar search phrase into Google and find­ing noth­ing but bad infor­ma­tion. Repro­duc­ing the search I deter­mined two things: 1) that my site topped the list and 2) that the results were actu­ally quite accu­rate. I’ve been hear­ing an increas­ing num­ber of sto­ries like this. “Cause Googling,” a vari­a­tion on “van­ity googling,” is sud­denly becom­ing quite pop­u­lar. But the inter­est­ing thing is that these new searchers don’t actu­ally seem curi­ous about the results. Has Google become our new proof text?

Pub­lished 10/2/2004 in The Quaker Ranter.

TENISH YEARS AGO: War Time Again
This piece is about the NATO bomb­ing cam­paign in Ser­bia (Wikipedia). It’s strange to see I was feel­ing war fatigue even before 9/11 and the “real” wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There’s a great dan­ger in all this. A dan­ger to the soul of Amer­ica. This is the fourth coun­try the U.S. has gone to war against in the last six months. War is becom­ing rou­tine. It is sand­wiched between the soap operas and the sit­coms, between the traf­fic and weather reports. Intense cruise mis­sile bom­bard­ments are car­ried out but have no effect on the psy­che or even imag­i­na­tion of the U.S. citizens.

It’s as if war itself has become another con­sumer good. Another event to be pack­aged for com­mer­cial tele­vi­sion. Given a theme song. We’re at war with a coun­try we don’t know over a region we don’t really care about. I’m not be face­tious, I’m sim­ply stat­ing a fact. The United States can and should play an active peace­mak­ing role in the region, but only after we’ve done our home­work and have basic knowl­edge of the play­ers and sit­u­a­tion. Iso­la­tion­ism is dan­ger­ous, yes, but not nearly as dan­ger­ous as the emerg­ing cul­ture of these dilet­tante made-for-TV wars.

Pub­lished March 25, 1999, Non​vi​o​lence​.org

Movement for a New Society and the Old New Monastics

Robin wrote a lit­tle about the New Monas­tic move­ment in a plug for the Pen­dle Hill work­shop I’m doing with Wess Daniels this Fall.

Here’s my work­ing the­ory: I think Lib­eral Friends have a good claim to invent­ing the “new monas­tic” move­ment thirty years ago in the form of Move­ment for a New Soci­ety, a net­work of peace and anti-nuclear activists based in Philadel­phia that cod­i­fied a kind of “sec­u­lar Quaker” decision-making process and trained thou­sands of peo­ple from around the world in a kind of engaged drop-out lifestyle that fea­tured low-cost com­mu­nal liv­ing arrange­ments in poor neigh­bor­hoods with part-time jobs that gave them flex­i­bil­ity to work as full-time com­mu­nity activists. There are few activist cam­paigns in the 1970s and 1980s that weren’t touched by the MNS style and a less-ideological, more lived-in MNS cul­ture sur­vives today in bor­der­line neigh­bor­hoods in Philadel­phia and other cities. The high-profile new monas­tics rarely seem to give any props to Quak­ers or MNS, but I’d be will­ing to bet if you sat in on any of their meet­ings the process would be much more inspired by MNS than Robert’s Rules of Order or any fif­teen cen­tury monas­tic rule that might be cited.

For a decade I lived in West Philly in what I called “the ruins of the Move­ment for a New Soci­ety.” The for­mal struc­ture of MNS had dis­banded but many of its insti­tu­tions car­ried on in a kind of lived-in way. I worked at the remain­ing pub­lish­ing house, New Soci­ety Pub­lish­ers, lived in a land-trusted West Philly coop house, and was fed from the old neigh­bor­hood food coop and occa­sion­ally dropped in or helped out with Train­ing for Change, a revived train­ing cen­ter started by MNS-co-founder (and Cen­tral Philadel­phia Meeting-member) George Lakey It was a tight neigh­bor­hood, with strong cross-connections, and it was able to absorb related move­ments with dif­fer­ent styles (e.g., a strong anar­chist scene that grew in the late 1980s). I don’t think it’s coin­ci­dence that some of the Philly emer­gent church projects started in West Philly and is strong in the neigh­bor­hoods that have become the new ersatz West Philly as the actual neigh­bor­hood has gentrified.

So some ques­tions I’ll be wrestling with over the next six months and will bring to Pen­dle Hill:

  • Why haven’t more of us in the Reli­gious Soci­ety of Friends adopted this engaged lifestyle?
  • Why haven’t we been good at artic­u­lat­ing it all this time?
  • Why did the for­mal struc­ture of the Quaker-ish “new monas­ti­cism” not sur­vive the 1980s?
  • Why don’t we have any younger lead­ers of the Quaker monas­ti­cism? Why do we need oth­ers to remind us of our own recent tradition?
  • In what ways are some Friends (and some fel­low trav­el­ers) still liv­ing out the “Old New Monas­tic” expe­ri­ence, just with­out the hype and with­out the buzz?

It’s entirely pos­si­ble that the “new monas­ti­cism” isn’t sus­tain­able. At the very least Friends’ expe­ri­ences with it should be stud­ied to see what hap­pened. Is West Philly what the new monas­ti­cism looks like thirty years later? The biggest dif­fer­ences between now and the hey­day of the Move­ment for a New Soci­ety is 1) the Internet’s abil­ity to orga­nize and stay in touch in com­pletely dif­fer­ent ways; and 2) the power of the major Evan­gel­i­cal pub­lish­ing houses that are hyp­ing the new kids.

I’ll be look­ing at myself as well. After ten years, I felt I needed a change. I’m now in the “real world”–semi sub­ur­ban free­stand­ing house, nuclear fam­ily. The old new West Philly monas­ti­cism, like the “new monas­ti­cism” seems opti­mized for hip twenty-something sub­ur­ban kids who roman­ti­cized the gritty city. Peo­ple of other demo­graph­ics often fit in, but still it was never very scal­able and for many not very sus­tain­able. How do we bring these con­cerns out to a world where there are sub­urbs, fam­i­lies, etc?


RELATED READING: I first wrote about the sim­i­lar­ity between MNS and the Philadel­phia “New Monas­tic” move­ment six years ago in Peace and Twenty-Somethings, where I argued that Pen­dle Hill should take a seri­ous look at this new movement.