Who are we part one (just what pamphlet do I give the tattooed ex-con?)

If you cycle through my last few months of com­ments, you’ll see that I’ve been spend­ing a lot of time think­ing about who “we” Friends are and who we serve and the con­se­quent ques­tion of why we orga­nize into local meet­ings, nation­al affil­i­a­tions, blogs, etc.

Essen­tial to this think­ing has been Jeanne B’s Social Class and Quak­ers blog. There are many ways to tease out the way cul­ture and faith work to rein­force and sab­o­tage one anoth­er, but class is a good one. If you trav­el from one the­o­log­i­cal brand of Friends to anoth­er, from one cul­tur­al zone to anoth­er (e.g, urban vs ex-urban vs rur­al) you’ll see marked cul­ture dif­fer­ences. Just take a look at the potluck array if you doubt me. Jeanne talks about the urban lib­er­al Quak­er stig­ma against Cool Whip and a great link she turned me on to talks about some of the ways the alterna-lefty cul­ture can unwit­ting­ly sep­a­rate itself from poten­tial allies in social change over tofu.

Since falling out of the rar­efied world of pro­fes­sion­al Quak­erism a year ago, I’ve become more local. I live in a small, large­ly agri­cul­tur­al town in rur­al South Jer­sey rough­ly equidis­tant from the region’s sky­scraper metropoli (I don’t give its name for pri­va­cy rea­sons) and res­i­dents range from multi-generational fam­i­lies to Mex­i­can farm­work­ers to peo­ple who got in trou­ble up north in NYC and are look­ing for a qui­eter place to come clean. I don’t see Quak­ers in my day-to-day life any­more but I do inter­act with a more rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­pling of Amer­i­ca, peo­ple who are all try­ing to get some­where oth­er than where they are. Jesus would have been here. Fox would have preached here. But what do mod­ern lib­er­al Friends have to say about this world? As Bill Samuel wrote on Jeanne’s blog issues of safety-net pub­lic assis­tance that seem like do-gooder caus­es for most well-off lib­er­al Friends are mat­ters of per­son­al prac­ti­cal­i­ty for more eco­nom­i­cal­ly diverse reli­gious bod­ies (the child care pro­gram that Pres­i­dent Bush vetoed last month is the same one that let me take my fevered two year old to the doc­tor last Fri­day).

Last First Day I heard a good ortho­dox piece of Quak­er min­istry couched in a learned lan­guage, all talk of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion ver­sus sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, with a bit of insid­er Quak­er acronyms thrown in for good effect. I love the fel­low who gave the mes­sage and I appre­ci­at­ed his min­istry. But the whole time I won­dered how this would sound to peo­ple I know now, like the friend­ly but hot-tempered Puer­to Rican ex-con less than a year out of a eight-year stint in fed­er­al prison, now work­ing two eight hour shifts at almost-minimum wage jobs and try­ing to stay out of trou­ble. How does the the­o­ry of our the­ol­o­gy fit into a code of con­duct that doesn’t start off assum­ing mid­dle class norms. What do our tofu cov­ered dish­es and vanil­la soy chai’s (I’m so addict­ed) have to do with liv­ing under Christ’s instruc­tion? And just which FGC out­reach pam­phlet should I be hand­ing my new friend?

Enough for now. More soon. 

  • I think the best thing to give this new friend is what we’d extend to any new friend – your own hand, in wel­come. I’m sure that’s what came first to you, of course; I’m not being flip. But I think that five min­utes of warm and wel­com­ing con­ver­sa­tion, answer­ing ques­tions as they arise, is worth any num­ber of pam­phlets…
    Prob­a­bly that’s part of the secret of Pagan “evan­gel­i­cal” suc­cess. (If suc­cess is mea­sured by num­bers, then the Pagan move­ment is wild­ly suc­cess­ful; our growth in the last twen­ty years has been mind-boggling – though that’s not actu­al­ly an unmixed good.) Though there are an awful lot of pop­u­lar titles out there – not to men­tion web­sites, list­serves, and blogs – the real entry is per­son to per­son, and all real reli­gious edu­ca­tion is either self-directed or in the con­text of inti­mate social con­nec­tions. I think that helps com­mu­ni­cate the spir­it, the real sub­stance, of the reli­gious prac­tice.
    Just my thoughts…

  • Mary M

    I have a very prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tion. Check out the South­ern State wor­ship group down near Cape May. The per­son you need to ask is William Geary who is a mem­ber of a meet­ing down in Cape May. Bill attends our year­ly meet­ing annu­al­ly with let­ters from the pris­on­ers who are cur­rent­ly in the wor­ship group at South­ern State prison.
    MaryM

  • Mar­tin,
    Assum­ing for the moment that there isn’t a good pam­phlet, I’m won­der­ing what one would look like if you wrote it. And beyond that, sup­pose you did have a pam­phlet that was more focused on liv­ing under Christ’s instruc­tion, is there a meet­ing that would give your friend the sup­port he would need? Once the seed is plant­ed, we need some­one to water it.
    Also, Bill Geary of Mul­li­ca Hill Friends Meet­ing (PYM) facil­i­tates South­ern State Wor­ship Group in a prison (I think it is in NJ), he might be a good resource in talk­ing to your friend about Friends. I don’t have any con­tact info for him, unfor­tu­nate­ly, but you might be able to get it from the clerk of NCYM-C. Also, min­utes of the NCYM-C 2007 have a let­ter from South­ern State wor­ship group, as do the old­er min­utes.
    With love,
    Mark

  • Maybe I’m not explain­ing myself well. I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly want to get involved in prison min­istry. I threw out a quick sketch to show you how dif­fer­ent some of the peo­ple I’ve got­ten to know are from the Quak­er main­stream. This par­tic­u­lar guy once asked if I was Chris­t­ian (“yes of course,” “good”) so I’ve won­dered about brin­ing up reli­gion in some of his more hot-tempered moments.
    There’s lots of sto­ries I could give, and the com­mon thread isn’t prison (though that’s not uncom­mon) but hard, unre­ward­ing work where breaks don’t come easy and laps­es in judg­ment can mix with tem­per and bit­ter­ness to trag­ic effect. These aren’t just my neigh­bors but yours, wher­ev­er you live, this is the life of much of Amer­i­ca that’s invis­i­bly right under our nose in a thou­sand check-out lines and all-night gas sta­tions. It’s the Beat class of Amer­i­cans that Ker­ouac was orig­i­nal­ly try­ing to talk about in much of his writ­ing before the term became trendy. And then there’s Jesus, who cer­tain­ly didn’t hang with all the goody two-shoes in the tem­ple.
    FYI: Much of rur­al deep South Jersey’s econ­o­my is prison-based: the state builds pris­on­ers for Newark and Cam­den in the southern-most coun­ties. My next door neigh­bor com­mutes to one of the pris­ons. I’ve met Bill Geary and it might be fruit­ful to talk with him about how he talks Quak­er. But again, my inter­est is not the prison pop­u­la­tion itself. I should say I also have a lot of “What Would Peg­gy Say” moments!
    PS: it feels so pre­ten­tious to even write this. Ack.

  • Mar­tin,
    I didn’t think you were try­ing to get engaged in prison min­istry (if you were I’d point you to PVS), but I did think that Bill might be able to pro­vide some insight as to how pris­on­ers approach and respond to Quak­erism, so I agree with you that it might be fruit­ful. Read­ing the let­ters from the wor­ship group might also give a sense of where they are — which seems to me to be very Christ-centered, and steeped in the bible. That sense might help deter­mine what might go into a pam­phlet for out­reach to peo­ple like your friend. Or rather, it might help weed out some of the “mid­dle class val­ues”.
    With love,
    Mark

  • Why do you have to choose which pam­phlet to give him? What’s your motivation/agenda? And should you even have one? Do you think Jesus would have giv­en some­one a pam­phlet?
    What does your friend want? I think the answer is right there.

  • I think you’ve writ­ten about the answer before — it’s not to hand peo­ple a pam­phlet and then wash your hands. It’s to say, “would you like to have lunch with me and my fam­i­ly?”
    It’s to remind every­one, fre­quent­ly, out loud, that Christ has come to teach his[sic] peo­ple him­self — that George Fox, one of the first Quak­ers even said that you don’t have to go to col­lege to become a min­is­ter, you have to lis­ten to the Word of God that is already writ­ten on your heart. Any­body who’s try­ing to stay out of trou­ble is hear­ing that voice. How can we help them to lis­ten to it?
    It’s to be will­ing to speak in the first per­son about the choic­es we make. And to include the mis­takes we make.
    And those of us with this con­cern have to hang in there, to be at meet­ing when folks are brave enough to vis­it, and to think about ways of doing out­reach that include the bul­letin board at the pak-n-save gro­cery store not just the health foods store.
    To start with.

  • Alli­son wrote: Do you think Jesus would have giv­en some­one a pam­phlet?
    That is an inter­est­ing ques­tion to pon­der. In his time, infor­ma­tion was con­veyed to the mass­es by word of mouth. Teach­ing in para­bles and “pithy say­ings” is, in a way, like giv­ing some­one a pam­phlet, in that it is some­thing they can take home and remem­ber, and even tell to oth­er peo­ple. I don’t think a pam­phlet is a sub­sti­tute for face-to-face inter­ac­tion — we are a faith com­mu­ni­ty after all, not a book club. There are numer­ous rea­sons for want­i­ng print­ed infor­ma­tion about our soci­ety, though. For exam­ple, some peo­ple have trou­ble tak­ing in infor­ma­tion oral­ly, they have an eas­i­er time read­ing it. Maybe you can’t always reach peo­ple to ask ques­tions, maybe you want to read about it while sit­ting on the bus. The root of our faith is sim­ple — and it isn’t about what you read, but the imme­di­ate expe­ri­ence of “that of God” with­in us. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to share our expe­ri­ences, ques­tions, advice.
    Alli­son also wrote: What’s your motivation/agenda? And should you even have one?
    Let me relate that one to Allison’s ques­tion about pam­phlets — What was Jesus’ motivation/agenda? Should he have even had one? I believe that his only motivation/agenda was a deep love for all peo­ple. Like­wise, I believe that should be our moti­va­tion. And out of that love, Jesus taught peo­ple, he preached to them, he demon­strat­ed with ser­vice to oth­ers, and by exam­ple in how he lived his life. He point­ed the way and issued an invi­ta­tion to fol­low, but he did not force any­one.
    With love,
    Mark

  • @Robin: yes, one piece is just shar­ing our sto­ry. Fig­ur­ing out a way of hav­ing more ground­ed con­ver­sa­tions might be good.
    @Allison & Mark: inter­est­ing ques­tion about Jesus and pam­phlets. The dif­fer­ence between the kind of direct preach­ing of Jesus (and any min­is­ter under His guid­ance) is that it’s speak­ing direct­ly to the con­di­tion of the lis­ten­er. How we speak will be affect­ed by our rela­tion­ship with the lis­ten­er and the con­text and cul­ture of the forum.
    Pam­phlets speak to a gener­ic “some­one.” I’m won­der­ing if there’s a par­al­lel between blogs and their idio­syn­crat­ic will­ing­ness to share a faith life as lived, and insti­tu­tion­al church sites that tend to be full of hedged gener­ic state­ments about beliefs.
    Agen­da? Mine is not to be self­ish with the insights and grace God has giv­en me. I want to praise His name and be an instru­ment that helps turn oth­ers to the Light.

  • Pam­phlets are impor­tant to have avail­able to give to the ones about to get away… I spend hours every week at farmer’s mar­kets, and have a stack of lit­er­a­ture on the table for peo­ple to look at while they’re wait­ing for me to fin­ish with anoth­er cus­tomer.
    I use pam­phlets that I write to give curi­ous peo­ple some­thing to take away, espe­cial­ly if they’re too hur­ried to talk. But still, the most impor­tant thing to do is talk to them per­son­al­ly, to their con­di­tion. Talk­ing about God and Quak­erism to Protes­tant Ethiopi­an sem­i­nary stu­dents is dif­fer­ent from talk­ing to Wic­cans or Reformed Calvin­ists. Or Sufis.
    I’m talk­ing strangers on the street here, where you have one shot and they’re gone. If I want to reach my Puer­to Rican neigh­bor, I share his life and bone up on the Span­ish. I bor­row his jumper cables, feed his dog when he’s away, and teach his kids how to jug­gle. But I also tell him explic­it­ly what I am and what dri­ves my deci­sions. I dress weird, so peo­ple usu­al­ly ask any­way.
    Actu­al­ly, I’m poor­er than most of my neigh­bors, so they give me food and sec­ond hand cloth­ing. I just remem­bered that.
    Kevin

  • Katie

    This is a hard one for me. I work in the social ser­vices. Most of the peo­ple that I inter­act with that come from a dif­fer­ent socioe­co­nom­ic group than me are my clients. They are for­mer­ly home­less peo­ple and many expe­ri­ence major men­tal ill­ness­es. At one point I attend­ed a meet­ing that includ­ed per­son who lived at a pro­gram I occa­sion­al­ly worked at. I’m not sure if he made the con­nec­tion, but the expe­ri­ence was uncom­fort­able for me. I couldn’t fig­ure out how to nego­ti­ate the com­plex bound­aries of the sit­u­a­tion, and nev­er set­tled into the meet­ing.
    I feel unset­tled by my own dis­com­fort about this, but am try­ing to accept it as real at this time. A friend of mine who also works in this field has talked about how in the­o­ry she would like to be a part of a faith com­mu­ni­ty that had space for the high­ly symp­to­matic home­less women she works with, but she just can’t deal with it. She needs to have time away from that pop­u­la­tion. I think it’s even more chal­leng­ing in con­text of meet­ing, because of the lev­el of inti­ma­cy involved in speak­ing in meet­ing.
    I don’t any answers on this, and I know that my expe­ri­ence is very par­tic­u­lar. Most poor peo­ple are not home­less or men­tal­ly ill. Still, class seems to be tight­ly inter­wo­ven into these dynam­ics.
    Katie

  • Katie, you make an inter­est­ing point and one that I hadn’t thought about. Many Friends work in help­ing pro­fes­sions: teach­ing, social work, psy­chol­o­gy, doc­tors, etc.
    I had a bone mar­row trans­plant and ran into a Friend dur­ing dis­charge. She ran the vis­it­ing nurs­es pro­gram. She seemed extra­or­di­nar­i­ly (my judg­ment) uncom­fort­able pro­vid­ing care to me even though she went to a dif­fer­ent meet­ing than I. And even though my care com­mit­tee knew far more inti­mate details of my care than she did (and many of these details were broad­cast to the entire Meet­ing).
    So what was the prob­lem?
    Just as you state – you want to be away from those you help. I bet she saw her work as sep­a­rate from her spir­i­tu­al life.
    But did Jesus stay away from those he helped?
    Yes, he had his time in the desert. So per­haps if you cared for your­self out­side of the one hour dur­ing Meet­ing for Wor­ship, you wouldn’t need to feel so sep­a­rate.

  • Mar­tin, you are right-on here. And I’d post­ed a sim­i­lar ques­tion tonight on my blog after read­ing a New York Times arti­cle about class and race. It gets to the heart of who we are, and who we want to be.
    Quak­erism felt real­ly inac­ces­si­ble to me when I first arrived at Meet­ing, and because I’d learned to hate my class back­ground (from my moth­er and from soci­ety). I felt ashamed, like some­thing was wrong with me. Oth­ers, who don’t feel shame, I think they see that unnec­es­sar­i­ly aca­d­e­m­ic stuff and turn away.
    And I think it would be hyp­o­crit­i­cal to make a pam­phlet to speak to your “hot-tempered Puer­to Rican ex-con less than a year out of a eight-year stint in fed­er­al prison, now work­ing two eight hour shifts at almost-minimum wage jobs and try­ing to stay out of trou­ble.”
    I wish it were that easy.

  • Jim

    In our meet­ing we are strug­gling might­i­ly with what to put in our “Wel­com­ing Pam­plet”. Here is my two cents:
    Quak­erism is about trust­ing peo­ple that they can know or find their own spir­i­tu­al path or places. We believe that with­in each of us is a seed of inspi­ra­tion that giv­en time to grow in a qui­et sup­port­ive place will trans­form us and heal us of all world­ly trou­bles.
    Much more than that we have dif­fi­cul­ty say­ing because there is a world of dif­fer­ence between the words we use con­cern­ing that trans­for­ma­tive thing and the thing itself with­in. The words them­selves do so often lead us astray.
    But if we wait and labour to know, under­stand, and allow our­selves to be guid­ed by, the motives, lead­ings, teach­ings of the thing thing with­in we will be trans­formed and healed.

  • Mar­tin Kel­ley

    @Jim: But your descrip­tion doesn’t give any­one much of a rea­son to vis­it or join your meet­ing. As I see it Quak­erism isn’t about giv­ing peo­ple per­mis­sion to find a spir­i­tu­al path, it’s about offer­ing a spir­i­tu­al path, one test­ed by a com­mu­ni­ty of faith held account­able to itself and its lega­cy. Just because words some­times lead astray doesn’t mean we have to go mute. By tak­ing the very legit­i­mate lib­er­al Quak­er con­cern around emp­ty words this far we’ve stripped our­selves of the pos­si­bil­i­ty of artic­u­lat­ing an alter­na­tive. I think we need to stop being such purists and get messy with the lan­guage again.

  • Jim

    When one attends our meet­ing one feels the spir­i­tu­al­i­ty there. That is enough. I don’t have the quote in front of me but Bar­clay once said, “when I am in their pres­ence I feel the good rise up and the evil melt away.”
    The spir­i­tu­al path test­ed by our com­mu­ni­ty and its lega­cy is our trust that the Truth resides in each of us. There are so many dif­fer­ent under­stand­ings among present and his­tor­i­cal Quak­ers about the nature of God and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. Often these dif­fer­ences are masked because we can pre­tend what you mean by “God” or “The Divine” is the same as what I mean, or we do not wish to go there because at oth­er times these dif­fer­ences have caused us to be at odds and to split. How­ev­er, the fun­da­men­tal Truth goes beyond words and we need not be trapped by those words.
    I recent­ly asked a non-theist Friend why he uses God lan­guage. He answered that it is the lan­guage of pow­er. That is my obser­va­tion also. God lan­guage is about pow­er, you see it every­where in the bible. Pow­er is not spir­i­tu­al­i­ty. It is in the absence of pow­er that spir­i­tu­al­i­ty tru­ly ris­es up to trans­form.
    Quak­er spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is about a spir­i­tu­al­i­ty ris­ing from with­in. It is a bloom­ing flower, cre­ativ­i­ty itself, a foun­tain whose source need not be cap­tured by name and is bet­ter not cap­tured.
    If you wish to name it for your­self I will cel­e­brate your cel­e­bra­tion of the foun­tain with­in, but the need to name it for us is an exer­cise in pow­er, per­haps even a vio­lent act.

  • @Jim: After some dig­ging I real­ize you’re refer­ring to that well-trodden Bar­clay quote, para­graph sev­en of his Eleventh Propo­si­tion where he’s chill­ing out from his extend­ed and very detailed (and very vio­lent?) descrip­tion of Friends to tes­ti­fy to his own con­vince­ment. As he said, he was drawn in by an aware­ness of the of the “secret pow­er” of those assem­bled and not the right doc­trine they espoused. I agree with him and with you about that. But I think he and I will dis­agree with you that this means gospel min­istry is inher­ent­ly vio­lent. Here’s a next quote a lit­tle ways down from the one you chose:

    I do not so much com­mend and speak of silence as if we had a law in it to shut out pray­ing or preach­ing, or tied our­selves there­un­to; not at all: for as our wor­ship con­sis­teth not in words, so nei­ther in silence, as silence; but in an holy depen­dence of the mind upon God, from which depen­dence silence nec­es­sar­i­ly fol­lows in the first place, until words can be brought forth which are from God’s Spir­it…

    This reminds me of the dis­cus­sion recent­ly over at a blog of a seek­er recent­ly come vis­it­ing Friends. He was giv­en a fifty year old pam­phlet upon walk­ing in the door. It’s Howard Brin­ton, a mod­ern clas­sic from the pages of Friends Jour­nal (1955), a great pam­phlet and a good intro­duc­tion to Friends’ wor­ship, with copies print­ed by both Friends Gen­er­al Con­fer­ence and Philadel­phia Year­ly Meet­ing. Some­one writ­ing today in the “Quak­er We” like Brin­ton would be cen­sured by those Friends who argue that any col­lec­tive state­ments of faith are an exer­cise in pow­er (that’s why we let dead Quak­ers do our talk­ing for us). Brin­ton actu­al­ly address­es this ques­tion of inward faith and out­ward voice more elo­quent­ly than I could at the end of the pam­phlet:

    In avoid­ing one form, Friends some­times slipped into anoth­er. Forms and creeds are inevitable. They have impor­tant uses, espe­cial­ly in edu­ca­tion, where forms are used to show what ought to be the real con­tent, and even, some­times, to cre­ate the con­tent. Our Chris­t­ian reli­gion would be weak and vague with­out the doc­trines which under­gird it. Quak­erism does not aim at form­less­ness and undi­lut­ed mys­ti­cism. It is a pecu­liar and unusu­al­ly stub­born effort to cre­ate a kind of reli­gion in which the out­ward form express­es, as near­ly as pos­si­ble, the inward thought and life.

    It’s a call for bal­ance between the inner and out­er. Unfor­tu­nate­ly pub­lic dis­course by and among Friends has become split between ultra-inner’ness and ultra-outwardness. One the one hand you have the you-can-think-this and I-can-think-this kind of “undi­lut­ed mys­ti­cism”; on the oth­er you have a kind of “SPICE min­istry” of activism that is essen­tial­ly sec­u­lar. I have to admit that I’m find­ing most meet­ings ter­ri­bly bor­ing and boor­ish these days, self-indulgent, sec­u­lar and clich­es of com­fort­able upper-middle-class lukewarm-ishness. Would a young Robert Bar­clay feel the secret pow­er of these assem­blies? Where’s our pecu­liar and unusu­al stub­born­ness gone to?

  • Jim

    There should be great con­cern from all Quak­ers about a “you-can-think-this” and “I-can-think-this” spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, a con­cern which I share. There is some­thing about Quak­erism that is unique, shared and deeply spir­i­tu­al. Each of us has a con­nec­tion to that inner seed and what is beau­ti­ful about Quak­erism is that we see that con­nec­tion and that spir­i­tu­al­i­ty in every­one.
    The prob­lem with “you-can-think-this” and “I-can-think-this” is that it involves “think­ing”. Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is not “think­ing”, which is where I believe the Uni­ver­sal­ists go astray. Quak­er spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is some­thing much, much, deep­er and more con­nect­ed. Yes think­ing can be a raft that leads us to the spir­i­tu­al shore and think­ing can be the ves­sel that cre­ates Quak­er action from our spir­i­tu­al core, but Quak­er Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty is not about “think­ing” it is about the mouth of that deep per­pet­u­al­ly flow­ing riv­er. It is the “think­ing” that dilutes that “secret pow­er”. I believe that Chris­to­cen­tric Friends, if they lis­tened long enough, would find their Chris­to­cen­tric spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and could drop their Chris­to­cen­tric “think­ing” which requires Quak­erism to be a Chris­t­ian reli­gion. If we lis­ten with our “spir­i­tu­al ear” we can hear that deep spir­i­tu­al seed equal­ly in the Chris­to­cen­tric Friend and the Friend that is not Chris­to­cen­tric. We can be equal­ly trans­formed by both of them.
    It has been said that sec­u­lar­ism is a recent inven­tion. In Eng­land 350 years ago being sec­u­lar or non-theist was not a real option. Now we have to “think” about that choice and worse feel we have to pro­claim Quak­erism to be one or the oth­er. One only has to read about Fox and Woolman’s inter­ac­tions with native-Americans (a unique place where they had that “choice” oppor­tu­ni­ty) to see that Quak­erism is broad­er orga­ni­za­tion of spir­i­tu­al­i­ty than one ratio­nal frame­work.

  • Jim: Of course Christ speaks to those who don’t call them­selves Chris­t­ian; Friends have always thought that. Beyond that we’re going to have to agree to dis­agree. Please stop the argu­ing and please stop telling me I can’t believe what Quak­ers have always believed, it’s get­ting rude. If you have more to say you’ve got your own blog.

  • Excel­lent post, Mar­tin.
    The ques­tion that aris­es for me is: If our mes­sage and reli­gious cul­ture only appeal to a nar­row seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion, have we strayed from the mes­sage we Quak­ers were giv­en? The answer is a resound­ing YES, as far as I’m con­cerned. And the solu­tion to the prob­lem is not to be found in the pam­phlet sec­tion at the FGC book­store, as you so humor­ous­ly allude to, Mar­tin. Instead the solu­tion will be found deep with­in our hearts when we seek to reori­ent our­selves, remem­ber­ing that the good news is for EVERYONE, not just those among us with col­lege degrees who like our vanil­la soy lattes (I actu­al­ly pre­fer a plain non-fat lat­te).
    If huge seg­ments of the pop­u­la­tion feel uncom­fort­able among us, there is some­thing wrong wth US!