An invitation of Friends School parents to a Friends Meeting

Text of a flyer sent home to families at San Francisco Friends School, 2/27/09:

Imagine a Sunday morning spent in silence, in contemplation, among a community of Quakers and fellow San Francisco Friends School (SFFS) families, capped off by home-cooked hotcakes, coffee and conversation….

When: Sunday, March 1st is the date to mark in your calendars for the next Meeting for Worship/Pancake Brunch at the San Francisco Meetinghouse, co-sponsored by our friends at the SF Friends Meeting and your SFFS Quaker Life Committee.
"Going to the SF Friends Meeting let me see a 'family' version of Meeting for Worship, with adults and kids sitting together for the first 15 minutes. When my kids left for their activities upstairs, I was left with my own experience of Meeting. Not getting much time on my own -- let alone in quiet –- I relished it. It also allowed me to witness those speaking from the spirit, into the silence. I was touched by every contribution.” -- Mother of 1st, 4th and 6th graders
What: An opportunity for SFFS families to experience together Meeting for Worship at 11:00, and then gather for a casual pancake meal with SF Meeting members at noon.

Newcomers are also invited to attend an optional Orientation to Meeting for Worship at 10:40, with nursery care for children (under K) starting at that time. Children K and older are encouraged to take part in the first fifteen minutes of Meeting for Worship, followed by an optional program at 11:15.
“There is something very healing just sitting in silence with other people. No advice given, no judgments made (at least not often out loud), nothing but waiting and listening to what spirit or self or others' experiences have to say. When a meeting unifies, or gathers, it is a very personal and humbling experience... to witness others' inner work, what their lives bring them, how we are so, so similar despite and because we are all so different.” -- Mother of 1st grader
Where: The San Francisco Friends Meetinghouse is located at 65 Ninth Street, a half-block off Market. Use Civic Center BART or Muni or any Market Street bus line. Parking is generally available on the street.

What else?
Want to carpool with other SFFS folks? Have further questions? Care to volunteer with clean-up? Contact [Quaker Life Committee member], who is looking forward to attending her first SF Friends Meeting for Worship on March 1st in the company of other SFFS newcomers!
“The Ninth Street Meeting is a must-attend event in that it reflects the diversity and inquisitiveness of the Quaker tradition as it lives in this city and on the West coast. It's simplicity with a complex history! (And the food is excellent...)” -- Father of 2nd and 4th graders
If you can't come on March 1st, please know that you and your children are welcome at Meeting any Sunday!


Reclaiming the Power of Primitive Quakerism - photos

The workshop "Reclaiming the Power of Primitive Quakerism for the 21st Century" was good - Wess, Robin, and Martin have all written about it already. I was hoping to do so, too, but spent my available time trying to remember my Flickr signin credentials. Martin kindly emailed me to say that I could always post the photos directly to QuakerQuaker, so I did.

You can find his and my photos, and eventually more from other Friends, too, by clicking here.

Or just go to the photos page of quakerquaker.org and search for the tag "quakerreclaiming2009." Martin is uploading his video interviews at a mad pace, so check those out, too. I was pretty wiped out when he interviewed me, so it's not one for the ages. It was fun showing the interview with 10 Year Old to him and his younger brother tonight before bedtime.

Here's a pic of Chad explaining the Quaker schism chart (aka "The Religious Society Of Friends In North America Chart") to 7 Year Old.

Update, 2/24/09: added the tag "quakerreclaiming2009" in case it wasn't supposed to have a period in it.


Frequently Asked Quaker Questions: FAQQs

By the time this is published, I'll be packing for the Ben Lomond Quaker Center workshop called "Reclaiming the Power of Primitive Quakerism for the 21st Century." I'm going because I know some of the organizers. :) I'm looking forward to it.

Before that, though, the draft minutes from our February business meeting are in, and I wanted to share the questions we collected at the meeting to use in our Frequently Asked Quaker Questions (FAQQ) series at San Francisco Meeting:
  • Why do Friends worship in silence?
  • What is meant by “testing” leadings?
  • What does it mean to “let our lives speak”?
  • What is the connection between spirituality and action?
  • Is there a political “litmus test” for being a Quaker? Do all Friends have the same political beliefs?
  • What about all the other Quakers? What other kinds are there besides – and even within – unprogrammed Friends?
  • What's the difference between meditation in our private lives, and meditation together as a group?
  • Why do children come for 15 minutes?
  • Who’s in charge?
  • Do you have to be a Christian?
  • What do Quakers think about paying taxes that support war?
  • What is the role of civil disobedience among Friends?
  • How do we make the peace testimony active and valuable?
  • How do Quakers make decisions?
  • Is there a spiritual “litmus test” for Quakers?
  • Why don’t Quakers wear all grey anymore? Am I allowed to wear fancy clothes to meeting?
  • How do Quakers hold marriages and memorials?
  • How do Quakers invest?
  • What do we mean by equality?
  • What is the Quaker view of the Bible?
  • How do Quakers feel about the sacraments?
  • How do Quakers feel about sex? art? music? alcohol? gossip? hell? sin? capitalism? joy? dancing? queerness?
  • What do Quakers mean by “clearness”?
  • Do Quakers have a sense of humor?
  • Why do Quakers ask so many questions? And queries?
We'll sort through these and make them available to our Ministry and Oversight Committee members, who are signing up to lead these approximately 15-minute discussions at the rise of meeting for anyone who wants to participate, whether a new or long-time participant.


Terry Pratchett Overdose

So I had been told I would probably like Terry Pratchett's novels, particularly the Discworld novels. (Whoa, I almost wrote "Discoworld" -- that would really be too much!)

Anyway, Ten Year Old brought home one of Pratchett's teen/young adult novels from the school library, Wee Free Men, and I decided to read it. So then I had to read its sequel, again featuring the Tiffany Aching character, A Hat Full of Sky.

Since then I've also read Only You Can Save the World, Johnny and the Dead, Thief of Time, Night Watch, Thud!, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, The Truth, Hogfather, and Going Postal. And a copy of Making Money is sitting on the living room floor, waiting for me to be done writing this post. And Small Gods is on my nightstand for when I'm done with that.

This is a bit much to have read in six weeks! I am behind in reading blogs I subscribe to. I don't post to this blog very often. I'm not reading thin but spiritually heavy books of biblical scholarship or social critique that are all the rage for me usually. However, I have taken this as a wonderfully relaxing opportunity to read for pleasure and amusement, with a heaping dollop of social commentary mixed in.

(I admit to also spending more time than I like to admit trying to come up with clever and meaning-free status updates on Facebook.)

Anyway, I enjoy reading Pratchett's books. His penchant for silly yet relevant names is longer-running than J.K. Rowling's. His silly situations are more reminiscent of a Fawlty Towers more than Monty Python, but there are echoes of the latter at times. And his ability to create "thrilling" plots in the parallel universe of Discworld are marvelous.

I'm late to the party but enjoying it.


Agenda for an introduction to Quakerism

Last Sunday at San Francisco Meeting, a member of our Ministry and Oversight Committee and I led a two-hour session, "An Introduction to Quakerism." We decided to take a hint from Quaker Quest and lead with the faith not the history.

Twelve people participated. Not huge, but significant. Three people were at our meeting for the first time that day, and two of them had never been to a Friends meeting before. I thought it was brave of them to stay for the whole two hours.

It seemed to go well. We got a nice email afterwards from a longtime member of our meeting, thanking us for doing the session and saying he learned something from both of us.

Here is the agenda we worked from, though what we actually said was of course different from what we wrote ahead of time:

1. Silent Worship

2. Introductions and Icebreaker:
Say your name, when you first attended a Friends meeting, and share something you remember from that first time (or, if you can’t recall, then say something about a meeting that was special for you in some way)

3. Faith: Blake
  • Foundational points from early Friends, based on Wilmer Cooper’s A Living Faith
  • Encounter with the divine in silence, unmediated, etc.
  • Inner Light/That of God in all humans
4. Practice: Blake
  • The encounter with the divine leads us to work this out in our lives
  • Aspects include various testimonies: how do our lives testify to our experience of truth?
5. History: Chris
  • Religious ferment in 17th Century England; Puritans, revolution, Seekers.
  • Fox: Great people to be gathered. One, Christ Jesus, who can speak to your condition.
  • Fell: ally who provided base of operations in North of England
  • Integrity, truthtelling, no oaths, no tithe, interrupting church services => oppression
  • No tithe = no access to state schools, so they set up their own Friends Schools.
  • Quakers and rise of capitalism: Gwyn, Covenant Crucified
  • Success of Penn’s holy experiment w/religious tolerance.
  • Social witness: abolitionism, penitentiaries and prison reform, peace;
  • Growing awareness of racism among Friends past and present, despite history of abolitionism
  • Environment growing more important for many Friends today
6. Queries
  • How do our Quaker roots guide us today?
  • Where do we find inspiration from our Quaker roots?
  • Where do we want to branch out from those roots?
  • How do we “let our lives speak” as Friends? What are our lives saying?
7. Silent Worship


Rebecca Solnit on the current opportunity

I really like Rebecca Solnit's writing. I've got Hollow City: The Siege of San Francisco and the Crisis of American Urbanism, and I filed a copy of an essay she wrote about the future of bio-regionalism in the U.S. And I would still like to read her book Wanderlust: A History of Walking. It came out around the time when I had less time for walking the streets of San Francisco, which I did for years when we didn't have a car and I could walk to work.

Anyway, today Common Dreams carried an essay she wrote for Orion Magazine, "Elegy for a Toxic Logic: And carpe diem for what comes next." I highly recommend it!
» Click for Common Dreams link
» Click for Orion Magazine link

Sample quote:
A decline in snowmobile purchases, overseas vacations, new construction, and so forth is very good news for the environment. The madness of postwar affluence is fading, and Americans are beginning to make very different choices about debt, consumption, and other acts of economic overconfidence-though of course desperation remains unevenly distributed...

And a second one:
[We have] an opportunity to supply a different logic, one of modesty, prudence, long-term vision, solidarity-and pleasure: all the pleasures that were not being brought to us by a system whose highest achievement was represented by endless aisles of shoddy goods made in countless sweatshops on the other side of the world.