Spiritual Formation at San Francisco Monthly Meeting

Here is a flyer I created to highlight upcoming opportunities for spiritual formation at San Francisco Friends Meeting. They include a session on Pacific Yearly Meeting's advices and queries for the first month, on meeting for worship; and a five-week series on our relationship with God, with the Bible as our record and guide. All are welcome! (Sorry, you'll have to come to San Francisco; we don't have webcam hookups -- yet!)

In the past we've labeled these sorts of events "adult religious education." Somehow that sounds too formal or stuffy, even if it's accurate. I'm influenced here in my choice of vocabulary by Catholic religious orders and the authors who like them, like Kathleen Norris.


Books on a Quaker's Shelf

So I'm not the only one taking photos of Quaker books! (See my previous post, "Dilettante.")

Jez S. did it, too: Click here to see his copy of Britain Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice.

Inspired by Jez, last night I took some more photos: Here's the set on Flickr.

This time with no allegory, just trying to capture different views, literally. (I almost typed "liberally" by accident.)

Three newsworthy items

In a throwback to the early days of blogs, here are three things I've stumbled upon recently that I wanted to spread around.

  1. Gordon Fellman is a Brandeis University professor, chair of their undergraduate Peace and Conflict Studies Program, who I heard recently talk on the construction of enemies. His book is Rambo and the Dalai Lama: The Compulsion to Win and Its Threat to Human Survival (Albany: SUNY Press. 1999).

    Okay, so it's not news, but it's good. His academic home page is here.
    Quote: "The central question I pose... [is]: What are the sources, in history and in the self's development and inner workings, of unnecessary human suffering? How can it be thoughtfully, carefully, mindfully reduced?

    Found via the Pacifica radio show Against the Grain with C.S. Soong.

  2. Beatitudes Society in San Francisco --
    "Social Progress: What's Christianity Got to Do with It?"

    A conversation between Marcus Borg and Christine Pelosi (filmmaker, and yes, daughter of Rep. N. Pelosi)
    Thurs, Feb 28 2008
    6:30 public reception
    7:00-8:00 pm Program
    Book signing and dessert to follow
    Bay School of The Presidio San Francisco

    via a US Postal Service-mailed postcard from Beatitudes Society

  3. Poverty 101: Several universities are now offering courses on poverty in America. They include Washington & Lee University's Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability; Baylor University - launching in 2008-09 school year; and Rice University.

    According to the Shepherd Program: "The academic study of poverty from an interdisciplinary perspective enables students to pursue professional careers with a critical social consciousness, prepares students for objective analysis of ethics and poverty, and inspires a commitment to addressing human capabilities in the community."

    From the San Mateo Daily News, off the wire from a story in the Waco Tribune-Herald -- hence the focus on Texas schools.


Lesson on Early Friends

Last Sunday at meeting, the Friends School community was specifically invited to attend meeting for worship and the regular potluck afterwards. There was a wonderful turnout and a great potluck, and not that many new people actually came. Mostly, the regular-but-not-every-week families from school came. And one family that likes to come once a year when we do this, and otherwise goes to a really interesting, progressive Episcopal church.

So the potential (hoped-for? feared?) turnout of two dozen children at Firstday School did not materialize. (It did in 2003, when we first had this intervisitation event.)

I had three third-grade boys and one fourth-grade boy (my own), plus two adults. A decent ratio when dealing with that much boy energy! (One of our older girls decided to help in the nursery with the babies, and I missed her participation in the conversation.)

This time I decided to teach more about the Society of Friends; I wanted the children to know why it's called the Friends School -- it's NOT just because your friends go there! I post the outline here in case there are seeds that might be planted in other locales.

INTRO: Say your name, year born, and something true about you.

OBJECTIVE: Learn a bit about Quaker history and testimonies.

I lectured much more than usual. I'm not sure it served the boy energy well. Yet I think they were listening.

1. History: George Fox sought answers about God as a young man, beginning to wander about the countryside as a teenager. In 1652 in his early 20's he had a revelation about the "Inner Light" being available to all. He wanted others to know, too, so he walked across northern England and preached. He found a lot of others who agreed with him.

2. Names of what became Society of Friends:
- Children of the Light
- Friends of Truth
- Publishers of Truth
- Quakers: Fox on trial, the judge asked if he quaked before the Lord, the name stuck
- Religious Society of Friends (later)

3. Testimonies:
I asked if they knew what "SPICES" stood for. One boy quickly rattled off, "Simplicity Peace Integrity Community Equality and Sympathy." I said that was very good though most people talk about "Stewardship" if they use a second S. I explained a little bit about each word, then asked the group if they knew what integrity meant; none did. I also added Love as a testimony (thanks, Pam and Allison).

4. Exercise:
- Write your own newspaper on a form I cadged from another church's Sunday School.
- Space provided for a main story, a sidebar on an upcoming event (soccer game? choir practice?), space for a "truthful" ad, and a weather report. (Earthquakes and various forms of fantastical hailstorms were popular!)
- Space at bottom to write your name in as "Publisher" -- hence becoming a Publisher of Truth!

RESULTS: Mixed, but I think they picked up some content along the way.

AFFIRMATION: They had fun. See comment above about picking up content.