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Showing posts from December, 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,…