4/26/2007

It's Saturday, and I thank you for coming to the QQ Carnival

It's Saturday morning and the children are reading "Baby Blues" together.

Robin M. is at Redwood Forest Monthly Meeting's retreat, where she and Darcy Stanley are helping them wrestle with "spiritual hospitality."

We have electricity (this was not true for about 45 minutes last night), and a stereo, and thanks to the Peninsula Library System, a CD by Natacha Atlas is playing on it.

The posts have still been coming in to the QuakerQuaker blog carnival. If you haven't checked back in a while, you might want to do so, as a few more posts have been added. Thank you to the 22 or so people who have posted, and to the many readers. Plus Joe G. came out of retirement to leave a comment -- woohoo!
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I went to two different fundraising events this past week, and both of them celebrated the Housing Endowment And Regional Trust, the HEART of San Mateo County, and so I didn't have to say a thing! We even got an award at one of the two events. Makes me feel better getting ready for our own event on May 14, part of Affordable Housing Week 2007. The theme:
Home Is: Family | Opportunity | Community. Comcast is giving us a public service announcement on local cable (ironic since we not only don't have cable, we don't have a TV). Look out, I might upload it to YouTube...

Life is good! At least at the M. household. We are blessed.
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The condition of the wider world is still in question, however. Oh, Lord, have mercy on all of us... between the ongoing war in Iraq, the low-intensity conflict going on in the streets of San Francisco and other U.S. cities, and the California Legislature's proposal to spend $7.3 Billion to build 53,000 new prison and jail beds in the state. Friends Committee on Legislation calculates that to be $283,018.87 per bed. Oh, Lord, have mercy! Marana tha!

Some people will be spelling out the word "impeach" on Ocean Beach in San Francisco today... a repeat of an action in January. There's apparently a whole series of actions planned: http://www.a28.org/. I'm skeptical, but then, the extent of my activism in this area right now is to put a ticker about the costs of war in the sidebar of my blog. Oh, well. May I at least be faithful in the work that I have been given to do...

4/18/2007

QuakerQuaker Blog Carnival

I am pleased to announce the debut of the QuakerQuaker Blog Carnival! This page will link to posts that people write about the QuakerQuaker website, or about the Wider Quaker Blogosphere (WQB) generally. (The acronym is a joke. Just to be clear.)

If you'd like to participate, write a brief post about your experience: How did you find QQ, or Quaker blogs generally? What was a post you found through QQ or Quaker blogs that really moved you, spoke to your condition? Or, what was one of the most engaging conversations you've found?

Then send an email to me at
chrismsf [at] earthlink.net with a link to the page. Posts through the end of April 2007 can be included for this carnival. That's kind of extended, but I figure this will ripple out through the Quakersphere and posts will need time to germinate. I'll update this page regularly as new posts emerge. (I've never hosted a blog carnival before, so if there are any conventions I should be observing, please let me know.)

If you use del.icio.us to bookmark websites, please tag your own or others' posts with "quaker.qqcarnival." I'm certain that will be a unique identifier.

Finally, by way of explanation, this is meant to lift up and honor the work of QQ's webmaster, Martin Kelley, the Quaker Ranter. Thank you, Martin, for your gift of service, behind-the-scenes technical ministry, and constant tweaks. Think of this as your very own FestSchrift|2.0.

(Update: P.S.: Martin covers the costs of QQ himself. QuakerQuaker has a PayPal account by which you can donate; think of it in comparison to a magazine subscription. I encourage you to subscribe to the various Quaker print magazines if you can afford to.)


Let the carnival begin!
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CHERICE: quaker blog carnival!
I really appreciate QuakerQuaker because it helps us to see that we're not alone in our questions for the Society of Friends, as well as our passion for our shared history and our desire to follow the Spirit into the future as we are led.

ROBIN M.: How the Quaker blogosphere changed my life
Quaker blogs opened my eyes to a much wider world of Friends. I had been to Quaker meeting in a few places before that, but Quaker blogs opened windows through walls I didn’t even know I wanted to see through.

GREGG: Thanks, Martin
The biggest surprise to me has been the gift of being a part of a community of Quaker bloggers, a community that I know would not be as connected as we are without the work of Martin Kelley and the linking project he has created at QuakerQuaker.

MARK: Thanks to QuakerQuaker.org
For me, QuakerQuaker.org is the hub of the Quaker blogosphere.

NANCY: QuakerQuaker & me
This blog community has pulled at me in a way that regular meeting hasn't in a long time. It's prompted me to read books that people have recommended, follow links to articles that crystalize new ideas.

LYNN: The Quaker blogosphere
When I first started blogging, I was the only Quaker blogger that I knew about... In blogs, you can more easily come and go from the topics you want, and so you don’t worry as much about the whole discussion being dominated by one difference (whether about theology or practice).

HEATHER: QuakerQuaker: Challenges and Community
I have a new appreciation for the variety of Quaker faith and practice in the world. These different viewpoints challenge me to examine and deepen my own ideas. You're helping me grow in many ways, Friends, and I thank you for that.

RICHARD M: One Hot Summer's Day
The best result of blogging is that it has given me a new sense of how good the larger Quaker community is. We have our differences of course but where else will you find people laboring with each other with so much cooperation, good-will and patience.

SIMON STL: Quaker Ranters and QuakerQuaker
By giving people a central but diverse point where they can find all kinds of writings, QuakerQuaker both inspires us to write and lets us know that not everyone writes in the same kind of way.

WILL T: Quaker Quaker blog carnival
Even though we do not meet face to face, I have found refreshment and encouragement in the writings I have found on these blogs. I have also been helped by those people I disagree with because I have had to learn to listen (and read) better and to feel down beneath other people's words.

JOHAN: Quaker Blog Carnival!
Nothing can replace being together in person, but short of that, the advent of Friendly weblogs has provided a whole new dimension of fellowship and consultation to the Quaker world.

SCOT: Celebrating Connections: QuakerQuaker Blog Carnival
Several months ago, Rik [Panganiban] wrote about a Friends meeting for worship in Second Life. I was intrigued and have been attending, when I can, ever since. As a result, I met other Friends who blog and are hooked into QuakerQuaker. I have become hooked in, as well, and greatly appreciate you all!

MARTIN aka THE QUAKER RANTER: Blushing
It’s mostly just nice to hear how people have come together these last few years via blogs to talk about what they believe, what they experience and what they dream about for this little religious society of ours.

LIZ OPP: QuakerQuaker helps connect Quakers with Quakers
When we give caring, thoughtful attention to the people with whom we interact, we will wish to provide a system that will nurture and nourish those relationships long into the future.

AJ: The First Quaker Carnival
Martin is one of the first Quaker bloggers I found online; not only that, but his passions and concerns mirrored mine: the lack of young adults in meetings, the sadness of the divided state of Quakerdom, being a parent and a minister.

WESS: Quaker-Ranter: Martin Kelley Puts a New Face on an Old Tradition
He’s helped to point the way toward something of a common purpose and goal for a number of Friends. Later this would be dubbed “convergent Friends,” a growing conversation of Quakers mashing up emerging church ideas, postmodern culture and classic Quakerism to find ways of progressing our tradition.

SHELLEY: Rooted
I depend on my Quaker community – still predominantly that of my Meeting, but widening now to include Quakers to whom I am connected only through cyber space – to help keep me rooted, committed to a life that is increasingly Spirit-led.

ROB: The Quaker Ranter
I think it's safe to say that I wouldn't have met a whole heap of people who have had profound and positive influences on my life had I not first got looped in through Martin's ministry.

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Updates! 4/25/07

JOHN., A Tentative Quaker: You take a leap and ....
Ironically 2-3 weeks ago I had no knowledge about Blogs or live feeds and now have key feeds set up and 2 blogs. Its too early to say where the interesting conversations will lead and who I will have them with. But I can and I will.

LINDA: QuakerQuaker Celebration
Over time I’ve found ways to have deeper conversations with folks in my meeting. But the Quaker blogosphere provides the opportunity to have more such conversations, and to feel connected to other Quakers in a variety of meetings.

CAT: The Sincerest Form of Flattery
I now have a higher standard for myself. I at least attempt to write in my blog and in my comments on others' blogs with the same open-heartedness I see in so many Quaker blogs. In a very real sense, blogging and reading blogs has become a major part of my weekly preparation for worship....

   QuakerQuaker has been so important, not just in the world of the Quaker blogosphere, but of the religious blogosphere in general... QuakerQuaker has a new little sister, just about a week old now, in The Pagan Portal.


JOE G., still blogless (*sniff*), came out of retirement to leave a comment.

TANIA: QuakerQuaker and the Quaker Blogosphere
the best gift having a blog as part of the Quaker blogosphere has given me is the ability to be part of a group that has no physical presence. I don’t have to worry about finding a ride, or if I feel up to going out.

4/11/2007

The point of 'convergence' is engagement

I've been sitting on this post for a few days already. It seems that the discussion among Friends with quite different theologies (or a-theologies) is hopping on a few blogs, including Martin Kelley's Quaker Ranter as well as the ones referenced below. So, here's my two-cents/sense.
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In typing up the quotes from Thomas Breidenthal on an "interfaith awakening" recently, I couldn't help but be reminded of some of the conversation going on between Zach and RichardM on both of their blogs as well as elsewhere, or LizOpp's post about unraveling myths about convergent Friends, or our own family's travels among Friends from various branches of Quakerism since we started our blogs.

To me, the point of "convergence" among Friends is to come together as individuals and engage with one another, and to focus on finding areas where our faith and practice overlap.

It follows from the logic of convergence that nontheists, post-theists, etc. etc. are also welcome to come together for pizza and chocolate chip cookies, talk from personal experience, and seek for what we do share in common, versus focusing solely on our differences.

As an aside, it's easy in my meeting to engage with liberal Christians, people with Buddhist practices, who practice yoga, nontheists, even one who calls herself a "post-theist." At the same time, it's not necessarily easy for us to engage with Friends whose style of worship is different from us; that is, programmed. So in my meeting, I believe, the practice is more normative than the theology. Hence we tend to get along well.

It appears that when some Christian, liberal, unprogrammed Friends have engaged with and found similarities with Conservative, Evangelical, or Pastoral Friends, some liberal unprogrammed Friends, especially those who identify as non-Christian, have felt excluded.

For people who do not identify as Christian, it can seem like a weight or a stumbling block when Friends do speak up and identify themselves as Christian, whether in a meeting or online. And that can provoke some pretty strong reactions.

Zach once named the situation as the result of a power imbalance. That seems accurate.

Anyway, suppose the next step of "convergence" were for those of us who identify with that term to investigate together -- preferably in person -- with Friends for whom that term does not resonate what, if any mutuality of praxis we have? What shared Truth and Love do we find revealed to us there? (You might have to put up with a certain amount of Bible talk and probably hymn-singing, though.)

What then? Maybe we would find broad areas of agreement. Or deeper agreement than we thought possible. And quite likely, we still wouldn't agree on things that are "core" for us in one way or another. Would we agree to disagree? Go our separate ways? Or possibly live into more love and deeper truth together? I don't know.

At least, though, we'd be in better relationship with one another. And the food would be good. (Soy cheese and fair-trade chocolate chips available on request.)

4/02/2007

Ministry of the drill, followed by Firstday School ambitions

I taught Firstday School on Sunday. It was an ambitious lesson covering two parables from Luke, Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Quaker business process, and an activity to draw menu choices for the kingdom feast. It somehow worked, except I should have skipped the presentation to the full meeting. The lesson scheme is posted below.

And this was after giving vocal ministry while holding a cordless drill in its case... cubbie had asked to borrow it, and so I had it in my backpack. It felt right to use it as part of the metaphor about building community, sometimes literally by building houses, sometimes by taking meals to parents who are staying in the hospital with their 18-month-old son while he gets a long list of tests for an unknown ailment...

No wonder I'm tired even two days later.
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A Firstday School Lesson Given During Lent 2007

Introductions: say your name and your favorite season

Objectives:

· To learn about the holiday of Easter and the life of Jesus

· To practice how Quakers make decisions

· To do an activity that we decide on as a group

Strategies:

· Read two parables: the lost sheep (Lk 15:1-7) and the lost coin (Lk 15:8-10).

o Lesson: God loves all of us and wants us to find God

· Read about Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem (Lk 19:35-40) and cleansing of the temple (Lk 19:45)

o God’s kingdom is here and now if we can see it. Even the stones will shout aloud! (Some people say they find God in nature; could that be a part of what that means?)

o Jesus was also making the point that the people of Israel would not get their freedom back from the Romans by attacking the Romans with armies. They had to do it by inviting God into their lives, by acting out of love toward their enemies.

o That provoked the political and religious leaders, and they decided to have him punished, even killed.

· Jesus had a last meal with his friends, called the “Last Supper.” His friends were called his disciples. But Jesus was always eating with the people he met, even if the rules of the time said he shouldn’t. He met strangers and got to know them as friends.

· Often we talk about God’s kingdom as being like a feast, where everyone has a place at the table.

Now we’re going to learn a little about how Quakers make decisions and then make our own decision as a group.

· Quakers meet together in a “meeting for worship with a concern for business.” The idea is that we go into a meeting for worship, but we have specific things we need to do on an agenda, or list of things to do.

· Then together we all offer what we think if the best choice for a particular thing. Everyone has a chance to be heard. Then we decide as a group what we think would be best, what we think God wants us to do.

· Now we have a chance to decide something together as a group. Which would you rather do: make signs for a parade proclaiming God’s rule of love on earth, or draw food for a meal where we welcome everyone to the table?

Results: Make signs or drawings of food

Affirmation: Show results to adults

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The children chose to illustrate the kingdom-feast with drawings of food they wanted to bring to the feast. They understood the idea of a march or rally -- we live in San Francisco, after all -- but wanted to focus on the food.

We got into a great conversation about the readings. A real highlight was when one of the participants asked, "So Jesus was Jewish, right? How could he be Christian, if he was Jewish? Jewish people don't follow him, right?" She was genuinely puzzled; this was a recent insight for her. I didn't have a clear and succinct answer, let's just say, and it was also a gift to be present to her in her questioning.

By the end of the time, the children just weren't able to focus on how to present this to the full meeting downstairs. Thus the presentation fell completely flat; the children were completely silent. So I said, "Today we learned that the kingdom of God is like a feast that's available to everyone, right here on earth." And that was that.

Though realizing we weren't prepared, I didn't listen to that prompting and decide not to do it. Oh, well! Lord, have mercy on me; teach me the Way of mercy.

Yet the Spirit was apparently moving: After meeting, two Friends said the Bible Study group had been reading Luke 14 and 15 that very morning. They had spent much of the time talking about the kingdom of God; what is it, where is it, what is it like? And then the children had been covering the same territory. Lord, thank you for your many blessings; what an interesting life this is!

Tangents and Observations

I first read the New Testament in its entirety when I took Elaine Pagels' class on early Christianity. I've read all her popular books since. She's been promoting her new book on the Judas Gospel in a few places, such as "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, alongside another scholar from Harvard.

Today she was interviewed in the "Finding My Religion" on SFGate.com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle: Elaine Pagels on how Gospel of Judas sheds new light on dawn of Christianity.

Quaker Books of FGC catalogues usually feature more titles on Gnostic Christianity than more traditional flavors. Learning about the Gnostics -- through a novel by Robertson Davies -- was actually what led me to the explorations that brought me back to the Bible, to Pagels' class, and eventually to Friends. I hope these non-canonical texts can open up new ways into the canon for others, as they did for me. If I ever write my spiritual autobiography, this will be a big focus.
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Today, Slow Food; tomorrow, Slow Gaming?
Hasbro is now making games that match frenzied life pace of today's American middle class -- and the shorter attention spans that go with it. "A game like [Disney Monopoly], it could literally take you days," says one parent, a self-professed cheater at Candyland. (Busy lives prompt speedier games.)

Well, I have to confess, I didn't much like Candyland as a kid and find it mindnumbing as an adult, so I thoroughly understand the temptation to cheat. Speed-gaming, though, leaves me cold.
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Oh, and that story reminds me, our meeting will be moving to a 40-minute meeting for worship soon. People just can't sit still that long! (April fools!)
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Speaking of April Fools Day, Eight Year Old was eager to celebrate it. He and Five Year Old had even practiced a week ahead of time with pillows on top of their bedroom door.

So, on Saturday night, I heard someone in my room, and figured one of the boys needed something. (This was while Robin was away.) Looking around, no one was there, so I went back to sleep.

Then at 2 am I heard a beeping sound. Eight Year Old's alarm clock was going off on my bed. First, I was confused, then realized the date was April 1, and just got angry. It took me half an hour to go back to sleep. Didn't help that I could hear the teenagers in the apartment upstairs talking. Meanwhile, I meditated on what might be a suitable punishment or loss of privileges.

Fortunately, that evening I had read anj's post new beginnings. "Teach me the way of mercy." Yes, Lord, teach me the way of mercy. So I had a chat with Eight Year Old the next morning, explaining quietly how confused and then angry I had felt, and how mean I thought that trick had been. I think he was shocked to realize what it was like from my perspective. It helped that I didn't raise my voice, just stayed calm. He promised to try to do better next time. Does that make me an enabler, or did I put him in touch with his Inner Guide? Lord have mercy on me, teach my son and me your Way, of truth and mercy and love.