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Showing posts from 2008

An Important Article on Same-Sex Relationships and Religion

I don't normally make blog posts that are merely links to other people's articles. But , in reading Jason Pitzl-Waters' end-of-year roundup on the most important Pagan news stories of the year, I followed a link to The Revealer's nominations for the best overall religious news stories of 2008. Among them was an incredibly lucid, well-reasoned article on the struggle within the Anglican Communion. Garret Keizer's article,"Turning Away from Jesus: Gay Rights and the War for the Episcopal Church" is one that many Quakers will not yet have read. And though not everything on the plate of the Episcopal Church is relevant to Quakers as we struggle with our own understandings around same-sex relationships in the context of the FUM personnel policy, a good deal is.

I suspect that we Friends are going to be a lot closer to hearing what Spirit intends for us on this matter when we are able to set aside our certainties and convictions that we and we alone truly un…

Yule and the Loss of Youth

I saw a young man walking by the side of the road yesterday.

He had a fey quality to him, and I felt I instantly recognized something in him that I'd seen before: a kind of tentative joy and relief, the sort that's felt by the misfit adolescent who finds himself suddenly furloughed from the old routine of being shoved into lockers by thuggish peers or of hiding the humiliation of being the smartest boy in school who doesn't know what to do with something as ungainly as loneliness and desire.

He reminded me of many nameless young Pagans, young men especially, that I have known. And, seeing him bounding lightly over the snowy sidewalk across the street from me, I couldn't help but grin in delight just to see him there.

Just as I grinned, the young man glanced up and saw me; he grinned back, began to wave a cheery greeting, and then, a heartbeat later, with a hitch in his step, brought his hand back down.

It could not have been clearer if he'd shouted it, his unspoken t…

American Quaker War Tax Resistance: A Book Review

American Quaker War Tax Resistance from the 17th through the 19th Century: A Documentary History. David Gross (ed). 2008. 500 p. The Picket Line, softcover, $24. (ISBN/EAN13:1438260156 / 9781438260150).

One of the wonderful things, for me, as a new convert to Quakers, is having 350 years of history to catch up on.

In American Quaker War Tax Resistance, David Gross has created, not so much a history of Quaker war tax resistance as a source book for those who seek help discerning their leadings in this area. Gross has brought together over a hundred historical documents, from Friends as weighty as John Woolman and Elias Hicks, to prominent critics of Quakers' practices such as Benjamin Franklin, who found Friends guilty of "A Variety of Evasion" to avoid entering into direct conflict between an outward show of support for the peace testimony and the military requirements of the state.

It is one of the strengths of this book that a full range of opinions and responses are re…

What to Do About Plastic: Watermelon Pickles and String Too Short To Save

This post is a sequel to an earlier post, What's Wrong with Recycling? The Trouble with Plastic. There's an old joke about stingy, thrifty Yankees that deserves to make a comeback. If you haven't heard it, it goes like this:

The old man was known for his thrift and saving all his life. When he died, his children went up into his attic to see what he had kept up there. Neatly labeled, there were all sorts of things: boxes and jars of nails and screws, clothing long out of fashion, tools and books and cardboard boxes. Cardboard boxes labeled tin foil. Cardboard boxes labeled string.

And one box labeled, "string too short to save."

My grandmother knew how to make pickles out of watermelon rind, and I bet your grandmother or great grandmother did, too. I remember my mom telling me how, as a kid, they all loved when one particular mom made the tuna sandwiches for the school event. That mom only got six sandwiches out of a small can of tuna... as opposed to al…

What's Wrong With Recycling? The Trouble With Plastic

This post is the first in a series. The sequel to this post is What to Do About Plastic: Watermelon Pickles and String Too Short to Save.
I am increasingly troubled by the ubiquitous presence of something I used to take for granted: plastic.

I'm typing these words on a plastic keyboard, and watching them appear on a computer monitor that is largely made of plastic. At my left are a series of plastic notebooks I use to hold information on my work for my monthly meeting, and on my right a stack of DVDs I bought to show my classes in school. Plastic, plastic everywhere...

So, what's the problem? Plastic can be recycled, right?

Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no... and actually, even when the answer is apparently yes, it's really no.

Here's what I mean: most of us who care two pins for the planet are by now familiar with the recycling symbol, with a number in the middle of an ouroboros of arrows. Setting aside for the moment the problem of plastic without the littl…

The Dark

I have been very aware of the growing darkness these last few weeks.

It's not surprising. I rise (too early!) and am out the door and off to work just about the time the sky is starting to gray up from the full blackness of night. As I drive over the wooded hills between my home and my job, the sky gradually warms. I watch as the east turns dying-embers red between the naked limbs of oaks and swamp maples. By the time I pull into my school's parking lot, the buses are clearly yellow, and the soft smudges of shadow are just beginning to be visible. By the time I lay out the supplies for the day in my classroom, a yellow glare is starting to beat through my windows.

But when I leave again at the end of the day, once again the land is fading back to charcoal and ash. By the time I reach my own house, the light in the windows is an appealing yellow, and the sky overhead is soft and dark.

It's dark, my friends. Yule is almost here, and the wheel is still turning.

As a Quaker,…

Good Quakers are Retired

This morning, Peter suggested we call a landscaping company to see about raking up our leaves. Now, our yard is pretty small, but the leaves haven't shown any signs of raking themselves up, any more than the yard has tidied itself of fallen branches in the last few weeks, or the fence gate repaired itself. His suggestion is a practical one, and, if we're not rolling in dough, still, we probably could swing it.

But it feels wrong, so very wrong. What about simplicity? What about being close to the earth? Shouldn't I at least want to get out there in the bright light of morning, put in my couple of hours of yardwork, and bask in the glow of homeowner satisfaction?

I said as much to Peter.

"Good Quakers don't hire someone else to rake their lawns!" I said to him. "Good Pagans don't hire someone else to take care of their yards!"

"Good Quakers are retired," he observed. "and good Pagans are students."

Damn. He has a point.

We use…

Personal: A Request for Prayers and Spells

Hi,
I hope you will excuse my being off-topic on this one.

Yesterday, my mom was badly hurt when she was struck by a car as she was walking down the road. Happily, the driver stayed with her and called for help; she was thrown by the impact some distance into the woods, and might not have been found if he/she had been less conscientious.

So already, there is something to be grateful for.

Medical stuff: I'll update or correct this as I have web access and better information later--but the bottom line at the moment seems to be: she hurts, she's going to have a long recovery, but she's going to be OK.

My mom has a number of broken bones; the worst is her leg and ankle, but she also has several broken ribs, a broken arm, and some cracked vertebrae that, thankfully, are not expected to result in long-term damage. No head trauma. She's lucid and clear, though on a morphine drip for pain and in the ICU, and she's going in for surgery on the leg this morning--they want to be …

Yet Another Meme: Six Bad Books

This post is at least partly Cosette's fault. She named me in a perfectly good meme over at Pandora's Bazaar--the Six Random Things meme. But I'm feeling a bit twisted today, so I'm going to twist it. You ready? The new, twisted rules are these:
Link to the person or persons who tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Name 6 obscure books that you honestly love--but think almost no one else could. (You must really love the books; you must think most people would hate them. No cheating with books you think other people will love, too!)
Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.So, here are my Six Bad Books I love. (Really. I think they're awesome. But don't take that as a recommendation...)
Clarissa, by Samuel Richardson. This epistolary novel from the 18th Century is the longest novel in the English language. (And you tho…

Long Time Coming.

I know it's not over. I know that the hard job of governing the country has not yet begun, let alone the harder job of uniting a country divided by a long and polarizing campaign.

But I know, too, that I am not the only person out there who has been hearing, in Barack Obama's victory speech, echoes of an earlier speech:
We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.

And I don't mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the…

A Little Bit of History

I don't think I have been as moved by the act of casting a ballot since I turned eighteen.

I began to realize just how different this election felt to me as I left school. In spite of my eagerness to learn about voter turnout and to begin the election night past-time of trying to scry the vote, I turned the news off as soon as it came on and rode home in silence. It just felt wrong to clutter my mind with commentary on the way to do something that, I suddenly grasped, had an importance to me that was more than usual.

I did miss voting one year. I had injured my back--pretty seriously, as it happens--and I was in a lot of pain.

Other than that, I've kept my dates with history, but I do forgive myself for standing the country up at the polls that one time. Life happens.

But, I realized, I was not going to be OK with it if anything kept me away from the polls this year.

Not if I broke down by the side of the road. Not if I were in the hospital. Not if some weird little glitch de…

Plain Peace

If I were a Christian Quaker, I would be strongly drawn to the tradition of plain dress.

Perhaps it's good that I'm not, in that I don't have to do the difficult work of discernment that I probably would if I were. It does seem to me that plain dress, like all the Quaker testimonies, needs to have its seed in a spiritual leading, and I cannot be sure that my inclination toward it isn't merely personal. Pagans as a group are, after all, awfully taken with costume and theater, and even if I am extremely plain for a Pagan, I can't be entirely sure that part of my attraction to plain dress isn't simply to yet another cool set of threads.

The real issue is probably deeper than that, though. It is my desire to live absolutely, visibly, and identifiably as someone with a peace testimony.

Another of my favorite students is entering the military. He has done early enlistment and will be leaving us at midyear, and he brought me in a picture of himself in his fatigues.

Memories and Not

I keep thinking I'm gonna give up memes, and then there will be one I just can't resist. Like this one... Which I flat out stole from Bright Crow (and he, in turn, stole from Igraine).

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now (even if we don't speak often or have never met), please post a comment with a completely made up, fictional memory of you and me.

It can be anything you want - good or bad - but it has to be fake.

When you're finished, post this little paragraph in your blog and see what your friends come up with...Well? How about it? Anybody remember the time our flea market booth specializing in Hollow Earth artifacts was raided by Atlantean Customs officials? How about the prank with Captain Scarlet and the Voice of the Mysterons? Or that embarassing incident with the yak?

Teacher Grace

Teaching has been both easier and harder than ever for me this year. It has been a really tiring year; I don't remember having such long days since my first year in the classroom. Probably that's because I'm teaching a course I've never taught before, and I'm putting in enough extra time developing my own approach to it that I'm just putting in more time day by day.
It's been satisfying, though. In three out of my four classes, I basically never have a bad day—once the kids are there in front of me, I'm having fun. The fourth of my preps is more challenging, but not in any horrible, what's-wrong-with-our-civilization way. They're just kids who aren't always wild about being in English class by the end of the day. But not a one of them is mean, and not a one of them is without an endearing trait or two. There's always a class or two that's tougher to teach than the rest—that's the law of averages, I think. But though we …

Simony and NRMs, old and new

I'm up to Acts in my blitzkrieg tour of the Bible. (Clearly, there's a whole lot of prophets I've missed and will need to go back for--this Biblical literacy notion is not for sissies. )
I don't believe I've ever read Acts before. Though I was not raised Christian, still, I've dipped into the Bible once or twice over the years. I've done my time in Deuteronomy, having had it quoted at me by the soapbox preachers at my colleges; I've waded before through the Sea of Reeds (or the Red Sea--both are fine by me) with the Israelites heading out of Egypt--first in a children's Bible I read as a girl, and later in the King James I borrowed from the public library. (And with Charleton Heston, of course. How many of us owe our limited Bible literacy to the Omega Man?) I've skimmed the occasional psalm, and made it most of the way through the gospels thanks to an adorable little palm-sized book another campus Christian group was handing out for free.
B…