John Dear's statement on eternal law of nonviolence

Jarrod McKenna from Peace Tree says people are trying to get Fr. John Dear nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Here's a statement he made before being sentenced for civil disobedience at Sen. Domenici's office. I found it 1/22/2008 on CommonDreams.org:
It’s a powerful experience to stand before a judge and be sentenced to jail for saying No to war, injustice and nuclear weapons, something I highly recommend for all peacemakers. In these days of war, poverty, nuclear weapons, global warming, and violence of every description, I think it’s a blessing to be in trouble with the empire for practicing nonviolence, for daring to offer a word of peace, for serving the God of peace.
This morning, I think of Mahatma Gandhi as he stood before a judge on March 18, 1922. “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good,” he said. I think this war is evil, and every effort to legalize this war and our weapons of mass destruction is evil, so I will continue to resist this evil war in a spirit of Christian nonviolence, love and truth. Accordingly, I will not pay any fine, nor will I undertake any community service; my whole life is community service. I can not cooperate with this unjust system which continues to kill sisters and brothers in Iraq and elsewhere.
But I take my case to a higher court, and plead before the ultimate judge, the God of peace, for us all: “Give us a new world without war, poverty or nuclear weapons, a new world where one and all live by your eternal law of nonviolence. Help us to end this war and abolish war forever. Thank you, God of peace, for hearing my plea. Amen.”


Quotes from Wm. Braithwaite

I finally finished William Braithwaite's The Beginnings of Quakerism to 1660, originally published in 1912. (See Simon's thoughts at Light and Silence.)

I liked this section near the end of The Beginnings, page 510 (1955 edition):
The illuminating and educational value of silent meetings lay in the high spiritual results that attended such processes of reflection and meditation, when the issues of right and wrong were weighed in the balance of the sanctuary. Where there was warm fellowship and an earnest seeking after truth, the meetings, alike in their silence and utterance, were times of refreshment and vision, in which Friends had rich communion with one another and with God. But the vacant and the indolent mind needed more of teaching minisry than was commonly found in them….

     Fox, as we have seen, as early as 1656, warned Friends to “take heed of slothfulness and sleeping in your meetings, for in so doing ye will be bad examples to others and hurt yourselves and them….”

     The right holding of meetings was an object of unceasing concern on the part of the leaders. We find much advice as to a worldly spirit and as to the dangers that arise from jangling and judging, and there is a good deal of caution against speaking out of the life.

Ah, yes, be aware of the dangers that arise form jangling and judging; I must keep this in mind while reading blogs!

Lord, when I speak or write, may it be in the Life and Power of Love and Truth. When I read, may my eyes seek the meaning behind the words, and read with love and openheartedness. May I be a good example, rooting out the indolence and vacancy in my own life before correcting others. And may I confine my blog reading to a healthy maintenance level and not that of an addiction!


Is that the sound of Way opening...

...or are You just happy to see me?

God, I'm absolutely beholden and grateful to You. Thank you so much for all Your help. I don't know what we would have done if there had been a lot of snow. The very cold weather in Rochester -- 8 degrees at night with lots of wind is surely cold -- was a good reminder that You have "given orders to the morning, [and] shown the dawn its place " (Job 38:12). Still, I'm grateful that the little flurries here and there never amounted to much. It made it possible for me to get there in one day.

You gave my mom enough strength to get discharged from the hospital on Friday. And to feel a little better every day, so she and my sister could leave on Monday and make it up there by Tuesday!

And You arranged for one of the three moving companies we called to call us back -- on a Saturday -- for a Monday morning job! They were really helpful. And kind. Please be good to them, okay?

And You provided me with four hours to relax and sit calmly in the JFK airport on Monday. It was a fine opportunity to finish Brian McLaren's Everything Must Change -- fabulous book, I'd love to tell You about it some time! -- and Douglas Gwyn's Apocalypse of the Word. It was also a fine opportunity to see some of Your humanity parade by -- the other passengers, the flight crews, the ground crews, the wheelchair attendants. And a few cute little pets in carriers. And of all the charming but tired children, none of them were mine -- thank You, and thanks to Robin M. for enabling that to happen.

You also sent Your friend Marcus to help me at the jetBlue ticket counter. He spent nearly 45 minutes helping me! He made sure that my seat on the later flight was still there even as the chances of going standby on the earlier flight were evaporating. (As You'll recall, the wet weather You sent to SFO yesterday was a real reminder to everyone just Who is in charge, and it's not always the FAA!) Marcus even went down to the baggage area to make sure my suitcase had been checked through all the way from ROC to SFO. I was so grateful I asked to fill out a comment card; he suggested I call the airline's main number. Well, they didn't know what to do! They put me on hold for a while, then took my comment. I guess they're a lot more used to people calling to complain. (Thank You for giving me the idea to express my gratitude to other people and not just to You!)

Finally, I really appreciated Your sense of humor and fabulous timing as I got onto I-195 in New Jersey at the start of driving the rental truck to Rochester. I had been thinking before the trip that I would like to listen to some bluegrass gospel on the way there. The truck even had a CD player, but I didn't have any of my CD's! And it's not what my mother listens to.

Well, You just had to show You care! I found some bluegrass on WBJB, Lincroft, a station I'd never even heard of before, even though I grew up as a rabid radio listener in NJ, and a DJ myself for a few years. There it was, Bluegrass Jam! And then the DJ played a set of bluegrass gospel, for the elderly and shut-in on Sunday, who couldn't get out to church. Well, it was for the rental truck drivers who couldn't take time out for meetin' for worship, too! Thank you, WBJB, and thank YOU. The journey wouldn't be the same without You.


My Own Private New Jerseyana

I'm traveling tomorrow to New Jersey, so I will have to miss the first session of Our Relationship with God. I'm helping my eldest sister move my mother closer to where my sister lives. I wonder how often I'll get back to New Jersey after this. I used to love it so much, and I haven't lived there in 18 years, almost exactly.

One of my claims to NJ fame is that I went to elementary school with the daughter of Peter O. Wacker, the most famous geographer of New Jersey in the world. In fact, they lived on our street, even!

My parents sold the house I grew up in and moved to a smaller place not long after we moved West. My father passed away almost two years ago. So now my mom is moving away from the state altogether.

In December I learned that a childhood friend from NJ had passed away, earlier in 2007. It was in some ways unsurprising, and yet devastating. I've been in touch with his brother, who lives not so very far away, and we hope to get together one of these days. Oh, there's so much I want to write about this, and my friend, and yet I think it should wait, maybe until I see his bro.

Tonight on the way home from work, I was listening to Iris Dement's version of this one, on her 2004 record "Lifeline," and it was hard not to tear up. (Fortunately, I was at a stoplight.) It was a comfort in this time of changes and transitions.

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
Words: Eli­sha A. Hoff­man; Music: An­tho­ny J. Sho­wal­ter

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.


Guest Post: Our Relationship with God

From a flyer distributed at SF Friends Meeting:

Our relationship with God, with the Bible as Record and Guide
5 sessions facilitated by Krista Barnard

Have you been intending to do some Bible reading, but feel like it’s too difficult? Or too conservative?

Have you wondered what the Bible has to do with the spiritual life of a 21st century Quaker?

If so, you aren’t the only one. The Bible belongs to us, not just to people in the distant past or to some of our contemporaries who want to use a literal reading of the text to shape the science curriculum. Our Quaker faith is deeply rooted in the Bible, and exploring the Bible can nourish our faith, enrich our understanding of our history, and provide language for communicating about the ineffable. Join us at the Quaker Meetinghouse in San Francisco to consider a series of aspects of our relationship with God, as illuminated by stories and images from the Old and New Testament. Ours is an experiential religion, in which George Fox urges us to come to understand the scriptures by the Spirit of God in ourselves, and I will weave in examples of my approaches to the Bible and its impact on my spiritual life over the last decade, and encourage your participation in group discussion, writing, and vocal ministry.

This series is in part a basic introduction to the Bible, and I will not assume participants have much background. I intend each session to be self-contained, with no outside preparation or attendance of prior sessions expected. The first, introductory session, held after Sunday meeting for worship, will be primarily a lecture. The following four sessions, held on Tuesdays after our regular evening meeting for worship, will be more interactive. Bring a Bible with you, or use one of the ones that will be available for use during the sessions.

(1) Introduction – Sunday, January 20, at 1 p.m. – The place of the Bible in my own spiritual life, an introduction to the Bible itself (parts, languages, dates, types of writing, etc.), and the Bible as a history of a changing relationship with God and a guide to ongoing relationship.

Tuesday evening sessions – bring a bag dinner to eat if you wish.
» Worship then time for dinner: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
» Program: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

(2) Hallowed Be Thy Name: Who is God? – Tuesday, January 29, 7:00 p.m. – A kaleidoscope of views of God found in the Bible, including God as one with whom we argue, one in whose image we are made, one who asks us to do things (even things we don’t think we can). Yahweh is as close as a spouse or parent, yet is one whom we cannot understand or look directly upon. God the Father/Son/Holy Spirit guides us, prays for us, gives us strength, loves us, forgives us, baptizes us with spirit and fire, and tells us to rest.

(3) Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread: Prayer – Tuesday, February 5, 7:00 p.m. – A survey of some of the prayers that are in the Bible, particularly in the Book of Psalms; some of what Jesus and Paul say about prayer; and some ways passages in the Bible can be adapted as prayers. Prayer can take other forms than spoken words. Vocal prayer is rare in our meetings for worship, and we tend to be more comfortable saying “hold in the Light” than “pray for”.

(4) On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Discerning and Obeying God’s will – Tuesday, Feb 19, 7 p.m. – Learning what God wants us to do is done in a variety of ways in the Bible, including drawing lots, interpreting dreams, asking for signs, and hearing from messengers (angels and prophets). While none of these look much like meeting for business, there are many instances of something we Quakers are still creating: epistles to other people trying to follow the Way.

(5) Forgive Us Our Sins – Tuesday, Feb 26, 7 p.m. – Actually doing what we are told is even harder. Sin is that which draws us away from God. Early Quakers spoke of being convicted. Now we don’t speak much of sin and confession and repentance and forgiveness. But God’s forgiveness is an essential part of our relationship with the Divine and with one another. We can see it throughout, from the penitential psalms to Jesus’s instruction to forgive 70 x 7 times. Powerful stories include Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples and Jesus’ praying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

[Updated 1/22/08: Corrected date for session (5), 2/26/08.]


Celebration, and a head nod to Martin

Today I bumped over the 10,000-visits level for my blog. It's a little behind Robin and Peggy and Wess (who have all posted about reaching milestones on their own blogs), but I'm happy with it.

Quaker Quaker Dot OrgThanks for the linky-love, Martin Kelley! Not just for the posting to QuakerQuaker today, but also for including my photo on the new QQ layout.

Proud to be a humble Quaker with the "right" books on the shelf... Is there a smiley face or emoticon for "Ugh!"? :)


The prayer bells of heaven lay hidden in the silence

Today I helped facilitate a session on Quaker silence as one part of a board retreat for a local organization. It took a lot of planning with my fellow presenters, and a lot of logistical support (thank you, George and Katherine and Daniel, Peter, Greg, and Rosemary, Marisa and Kevin and Levi, and of course Robin, Nine Year Old and Six Year Old!).

It was really pretty extraordinary. One helpful tool in preparing my part was Brent Bill's book Holy Silence. Chapter three starts with this quote from William Penn, which I read to the group: "True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment."

Another aspect was an experiment in group centering that you might like to try with a group unused to silence. I suggested we create a lot of noise and hub-bub in the room, then decrescendo into silence. It worked! It helped to have the external experience of going from the noise to the quiet.

We only had 15 minutes scheduled for the actual silence, and most of the group were not Quakers, so we called it "silent reflection/worship time."

Worship actually went almost 30 minutes. Not long into it, one person spoke, and that opened up the opportunity for several more people. Each one felt deeper than the previous one. Several of us had tears in our eyes, as the expressions of gratitude came. It ended just after a friend talked about how the board always had the next hurdle in front of it, yet he noticed that he was happier the more time he spent around this institution; he asked us to take time to notice what we had already built as a community, even as we were looking ahead at the next step.

What was in my mind as we closed worship was Brent Bill again, this time quoting Carrie Newcomer's "Holy as a Day is Spent" (link is to a PDF of the lyrics):
"Holy is the familiar room
And the quiet moments in the afternoon
And folding sheets like folding hands
To pray as only laundry can"

I wouldn't have been able to read it without sobbing at that point, though, so it's just as well worship ended. (Like AJ and Allison, I have recognized tears as a sign of the Spirit's presence.

- - - - - - -

It's seeming like I have an ever-growing prayer list for both my own life and personal connections and the world at large. So I'll just offer up these lyrics as a parting prayer, instead. (I found two versions of this on YouTube and chose not to link to them. There's just not as much bluegrass gospel video as there is the blues videos like those that Johan Maurer links to!)

Prayer Bells of Heaven

While we are living in this world of care
Many the burdens that we have to bear
But there's a prayer bell at the Lord's right hand
Give it a ring and He will understand.

Prayer bells of Heaven, oh how sweetly they ring (they keep ringing)
Bearing the message unto Jesus the King (of glory)
When you are burdened with troubles and care (my brother)
Ring on and on for God will answer your prayer.

Three Hebrew children to the flames were thrown
Because the mortal king they would not own Jesus delivered and the king then saw
Prayer bells of Heaven beats a man made law.


When Paul and Silas were both thrown in jail
They did not worry about who would go their bail
But on the prayer bell they began to ring
Off fell the stocks and they began to sing.


Judith Zinspenning (17th C.) and Montford Cardwell (20th C.)

I'm reading William Braithwaite's The Beginnings of Quakerism. This particular copy came from the library of the late Montford Cardwell, via the library of San Francisco Friends Meeting. I love seeing his name in it; it reminds me of his deep and mellifluous voice. He was a member of San Francisco Meeting but didn't attend often, because his paid gig was as organist at a Baptist church. His niece has some interesting artwork online, found via the inevitable Google search, and she attributes her re-engagement as a visual artist to Montford's encouragement. It was nice to read her brief tribute to him.

Anyway, I liked this single-sentence quote Braithwaite included from Judith Zinspenning, a Dutch Quaker who died in 1664 (page 413, 1955 edition, emphasis added):
Dear Friends, keep your meetings in the fear of the Lord, and have a care that your minds are not drawn out to hear words outwardly; but stand in the cross to that which desireth refreshment from without: and when at any time ye feel but little refreshment, let it not enter into your hearts that the Lord is not mindful of you, but centre down into yourselves, in the pure light, and stand still therein: then it may be ye will find the cause why the presence of the Lord is departed from you for some time, and ye, putting away the cause, shall enjoy the Lord again to your comfort.

Do I desire refreshment "from without" in meeting for worship, or do I find the Source within? Do I seek and find that Source within other people, too, during meeting, and at other times?

Stuff and more stuff

I'd like to write more but stuff keeps getting in the way. Literally.

Robin M. has written about the plague of mold upon our house. We're getting close to done with cleaning it up. Tonight I brought a bunch of stuff down to the station wagon to take to Goodwill, and brought a bunch of flattened boxes to the trash room (which still doesn't have recycling bins, but the staff says they'll take the separated-out recycling... to where they take it, I'm not entirely sure...)

Robin has done yeoman's work to pull things out of closets, purge some stuff, organize the cleaning (a fair portion of which I've done), and organize it all on the way back into the rooms and closets from whence they came. Hey, darlin' -- thanks a lot!

A commenter left a link on her post about The Story of Stuff, and I want to second that recommendation: www.storyofstuff.com.

There's other "stuff" I'd like to write about, but today is Five Year Old's birthday -- now I'll call him Six Year Old! His birthday party is tomorrow, and we grownups need some sleep. We'll probably have to stay indoors, with the second day of a bunch of big storms that shut down the Richmond San Rafael Bridge for hours today and I believe even the Golden Gate Bridge briefly. Nature's forces are not to be underestimated.