Some recent Common Dreams website links

I'm on an activist blogging trajectory lately. What's that all about? I think I feel bad about missing the various antiwar activities. Too busy advocating for affordable housing (yes, we still need it, at least around here), raising two sons who I hope will be peacemakers, and remembering to hang out with my wife and my meeting sometimes. And not get too sucked into blogs or Facebook or stuff like that. Though I did find out that a college friend, Jeff Gordinier, has a book coming out on Monday: X Saves the World. Congrats, Jeff!

Anyway, back to the slacktivist thing. I check on the Common Dreams website from time to time. Another college friend, Jeremy Toback, first told me about it, probably five years ago or so. It has links to lots of pieces in the press and online media. Here are some good recent links I got from Common Dreams. The first one links to the original story, the rest link to the Common Dreams citation.

First off, Wow!

Florida Legislature makes formal apology for slavery
By Josh Hafenbrack and John Kennedy | Sun-Sentinel.com, March 26, 2008
TALLAHASSEE - In a watershed moment in Florida's race relations, a solemn state Legislature on Wednesday apologized for the Florida's long history of slavery, expressing "profound regret for the shameful chapter in this state's history."
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Published on Thursday, March 27, 2008 by The Christian Science Monitor
Fight Violence With Nonviolence
Unarmed civilian peacekeepers are saving lives today.
by Rolf Carriere and Michael Nagler
About the Nonviolent Peace Force, which was cofounded by San Francisco Meeting member David Hartsough!

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Published on Thursday, March 27, 2008 by TruthDig.com
Body of War
by Amy Goodman
Typically unmentioned alongside the count of U.S. war dead are the tens of thousands of wounded (not to mention the Iraqi dead).... [T]he Web site icasualties.org reports an official number of more than 40,000 soldiers requiring medical airlifts out of Iraq.... Tomas Young was one of those injured, on April 4, 2004, in Sadr City. Young is the subject of a new feature documentary by legendary TV talk-show host Phil Donahue and filmmaker Ellen Spiro, called “Body of War.”
[I heard part of this interview. It was quite something. Donahue was interviewed on KPFA -- he was awesome in his smooth delivery and his critique of the mainstream media, in which he used to be a leading practitioner.]

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Published on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 by The Guardian/UK
Anti-War Campaigners Have to Change Electoral Tactics
Neither Clinton nor Obama has a real plan to end the occupation of Iraq, but they could be forced to change position
by Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill

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Published on Thursday, March 20, 2008 by Foreign Policy in Focus
Resisting the Empire
by Joseph Gerson [AFSC staffer]
Victories are within sight for people in a growing number of nations where communities that host U.S. foreign military bases have long fought to get rid of them.
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Published on Thursday, March 20, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
Words to the Die-In Participants: We as a People Have the Power
by Daniel Ellsberg
These were my remarks to several hundred activists and supporters participating in a die-in in downtown San Francisco at noon, March 19, 2008, on the fifth anniversary of the launching of shock and awe in Iraq....
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Then there was this in one of my local papers today:

PBS to air study on link between money, health
Victoria Colliver, Chronicle Staff Writer

If you tell Dr. Anthony Iton where you live and how much money you make, he'll tell you how long you're likely to live. The public health director for Alameda County said he was startled by the results of taking the county's deaths and mapping them according to U.S. Census tracts....
     Iton, who appears in "Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?," a four-part PBS series that explores why social factors - economic status, race, neighborhood conditions - can be more powerful predictors of health and life expectancy than biology or even some behaviors such as smoking.


Crosses, Stars, Crescents

This evening, the American Friends Service Committee and Veterans For Peace Bay Area are holding a candlelight vigil in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza to commemorate 4,000 U.S. soldier casualties in Iraq.

There's also going to be a vigil at the crosses, and stars, and crescents, memorial in Lafayette, California: lafayettecrosses.blogspot.com/.

There's now a film about the crosses. I got this link from an email from Santa Cruz Monthly Meeting:
Now Showing--The nationally and internationally reported local project, The Crosses of Lafayette Iraq War Peace Memorial, a new Google video by Jesse Wipert: Click here.
Once a person asked me, "Why do Quakers always have peace vigils? Why don't have vigils for simplicity?" Good question, since a non-simple, high standard of living usually translates to someone else or some part of the earth's environment suffering. It in fact contains the seeds of war, through the doctrine of James*, as Fox pointed out. Still, it just doesn't have the same immediate deadliness of a war. Hence the need to vigil.
*James 4: 1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.


Carrie Newcomer in Berkeley 3/30/08

Carrie Newcomer is a Quaker singer-songwriter from Indiana. She's been performing for years. I don't know a lot of her songs. Lisa of Rooted and Grounded in Love introduced me to a couple of her songs, including "Bare to the Bone," which I really like a lot.

Carrie will be doing a show on 3/30 at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. I've never been there, but I've heard numerous shows announced there on KALW-FM's Saturday folk music line-up over the last 13 years, so I'm excited to go. We just left a message for the babysitter tonight. (Let's hope she can do it!)

Oh, and I'm writing this now because Carrie's manager emailed me today in my role as clerk of S.F. meeting. I would have written something eventually, though perhaps after the fact. Anyway, that was really smart marketing on his part, so I'm going to just reproduce part of his message here:
"One of Carrie's songs ("Be True") has recently been included on a compilation CD ("Out of the Extraordinary") benefitting ELCA clergy who have lost their jobs after coming out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.... She will be donating 10% of the proceeds from the tour sales of her new album to the American Friends Service Committee.... Carrie's performance at Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on March 30th at 8:00 p.m. may be of particular interest to your members. I hope you might help us publicize the performance so that San Francisco-area Friends can attend Carrie's show. If you feel your community would enjoy hearing about this performance, we would love to be included in your weekly bulletin, newsletter, or announcement board. Below you will find a link to a PDF flyer for the upcoming show... (with) free music download information for those unfamiliar with Carrie's music. For more information about Carrie Newcomer, please visit: www.carrienewcomer.com."
Here's the aforementioned flyer. If you're in the Bay Area that weekend, maybe you could join us.

Why not make a day of it? It will be the fifth Sunday of the month, so San Francisco Meeting will hold its now-customary extended meeting for worship from 9:30 am to noon earlier that day. Please join us for that, too!


Introverted Quaker Slacktivist

What did I do today? Drive the kids to school. Drive to work. Work. Drive home. Hang out with friends.

Look at photos online of the many nonviolent direct actions in San Francisco today aimed at stopping the US war against... no, that's not right... occupying Iraq? Well, kind of. Let's just call it a war within Iraq.

There was a die-in outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office. A group dressed as Abu Ghraib prisoners occupied the intersection nearby, dressed in hoods and orange jumpsuits.

Multimedia message by via e-mail Wednesday Mar 19th, 2008 1:15 PM
From Indybay
© 2000–2008 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.
An aged Daniel Ellsberg was arrested at the die-in. And is this what "safety" at home means?

One of the die-in arrestees
by Liz Highleyman Wednesday Mar 19th, 2008 6:08 PM
From Indybay: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/03/19/18486894.php
© 2000–2008 San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.
Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere.
Oh, Lord, have mercy on us, miserable sinners.


Introverted Bookworm Quaker

So this is what's in my pile right now, in physical order from the top down:
  • Erasing Racism by Molefi Kete Asanta, 2003

  • The Third Jesus by Deepak Chopra, 2008

  • Ringo Saves the Day: A True Story: Pets to the Rescue by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Ellen Beier

  • Apocalypse of the Word: The Life and Message of George Fox by Douglas Gwyn, 1986

  • Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith by Diana Butler Bass, 2006

  • The Rich Heritage of Quakerism by Walter R. Williams, 1962 (edited reprint 1987, Barclay Press)

  • The Seed Cracked Open: Growing Beyond Racism by Vanessa Julye, 2006

  • Oxford Study Bible by Oxford University Press, Inc.

  • Resistance and Obedience to God: Memoirs of David Ferris, 1707-1779, edited by Martha Paxson Grundy, 2001

  • The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan

  • Practicing Peace: a devotional walk through the Quaker tradition by Catherine Whitmire

  • A Living Faith: An Historical Study of Quaker Beliefs by Wilmer Cooper
Whew! I see that I need to simply re-shelve several of these. I've read them. I thought I might blog about them, but this will probably have to do.

Meanwhile, I'm in the middle of reading what seems like an embarrassingly large number of these.

And the list is incomplete, because Robin M. has my copy of Clarence Jordan's The Sermon on the Mount.


Winter Soldier: War Comes Home

KPFA-FM and the Pacifica Radio Network are running a weekend-long show, "Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan":
From March 14th to 16th, Pacifica Radio will suspend regular programming to broadcast the historic Winter Soldier gathering in Washington, DC. Hosted by KPFA's Aimee Allison and Aaron Glantz.
Named for a similar event organized by veterans in the Vietnam War era 1971, the event includes testimonials from many veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I listened to parts of it today on the car radio while driving to work and then to a meeting. It's disturbing and powerful stuff.

Speakers include Camilo Mejia, a conscientious objector during the current phase of the Iraq war, and now chair of IVAW. There are podcasts/audio files and transcripts available at:


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So, I added the graphic about US casualties. What about Iraq's? Here's what Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for economics, wrote recently in the Toronto Star; I found it on Common Dreams:
Out of Iraq’s total population of around 28 million, 4 million are displaced and 2 million have fled the country.
    The thousands of violent deaths have inured most Westerners to what is going on: A bomb blast that kills 25 hardly seems newsworthy anymore.
    But statistical studies of death rates before and after the invasion tell some of the grim reality. They suggest additional deaths from a low of around 450,000 in the first 40 months of the war (150,000 of them violent deaths) to 600,000.
The article was titled "The $3 Trillion War in Iraq: Only two winners have emerged from the conflict: oil companies and defence contractors." That sounds right.

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Here's the lead from Greg Palast's newest article, Eliot's mess:
While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was... in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.

Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.
It's worth reading the whole article, including especially the practice of "steering" and the impact of predatory lending on the African American community.


Shirley Golub is on the table

Coincidental or not? Shirley Golub is inviting people to appear with her every Thursday at the federal office building where the peace vigil is held, 450 Golden Gate, San Francisco, from noon to 1 pm:


This ad has been running on the local progressive AM radio station known as "Green 960" as well. This station is apparently owned by Clear Channel now; it had been "960 The Quake" when it was part of the Air America network. Anyway, that's where I heard about Shirley.

Well, if San Franciscans can "impeach the beach," then why can't they put themselves on the table, too?


Marriage form for denominations without clergy

Today I learned that the State of California has a form that denominations without clergy are supposed to use in recording a marriage.

According to the San Joaquin County website, "Members of a religious society or denomination not having clergy for the purpose of solemnizing the marriage must purchase a 'License and Certificate of Marriage for Denominations Not Having Clergy' (VS 115)."

This came courtesy the clerk of College Park Quarterly Meeting, forwarding on the hard-won wisdom of a Friend in Southern California who is getting married soon. Apparently the person he asked at his County Clerk/Recorder's office didn't know of any such thing, and he had to "make a major fuss" before they eventually did find it for him.

So, I thought I'd publish it here as a public service to unprogrammed Quakers in California, at least. Presumably some other states have such things as well.


Firstday School lesson on Walk with Earth

SF Friends Meeting Firstday School Lesson on Walk With Earth, 3/2/08, followed by real walk in the neighborhood!

Today was our last chance to have a lesson on Rolene Walker's Walk With Earth before she departs in a week. She leaves from San Diego, Calif., to go to Santiago, Chile, taking about two years.

Meanwhile, Ruah Swennerfelt and Louis Cox, Vermont Friends who are doing their own walk for Peace With Earth from Vancouver, B.C., to San Diego, Calif. And they happened to be in the Bay Area this weekend! So they came over to join us after meeting, when a large group of us walked from the Meetinghouse about two miles down to the foot of Market Street at San Francisco Bay.

Here is the lesson plan, followed by photos of the walk this afternoon.

Introductions: Say your Name, and A Time When You Walked Really Far

· Learn about Rolene Walker’s Walk With Earth
· Imagine what it’s going to be like for her
· Learn a short hymn that includes the earth
· Prepare a banner for the walk down Market Street this afternoon

  1. Lecture for five minutes about the Walk with Earth:
    where Rolene’s going, how long it will take, why she’s doing it: to raise awareness about the earth especially its beauty and not just the problems we know about
  2. Learn about where she’s going and imagine what it’s going to be like:
    how long will it take? how many seasons will she walk through? how many steps will she take?
  3. Learn “For the Beauty of the Earth” – 1-3 verses plus the refrain
  4. Write out these words on a butcher paper banner, one sheet per word:
    Walk, With, Earth, .org
    - Use open letters and have the children decorate them
    - If we need to fill more time, ask each child to sign his or her name
1. Look at each other's banners.
2. Line up behind the banner(s) as we go into the meeting room, and sing the song
(I had hoped for some "group discernment" on what the group wanted to do when we went back in, but it was too late to bring that much focus back to the group. Plus we had a dozen participants today, from six to 11 or 12 years old or so, and that was too big an age range to add such a discussion on at the end.)

Here are some photos:

Rolene Walker:

Rolene's cake (the number of steps refers to the calculation I did in Firstday School a month ago):

Pete gets a boost from the kids: This was really amazing. Pete hadn't plugged his scooter in properly during meeting, so the batteries didn't have enough energy to take him two miles. Fortunately, human power worked fine, and the kids had a blast pushing him for blocks and blocks and blocks. What a great example of community for them!

Young Adult Friends carry the banners the kids made (thank you so much, YAFs!):


123 Book Meme applied to Douglas Gwyn

Robin M. tagged me with the "page 123" meme. A long time ago in Internet time: over 10 days ago! Yikes. The rules of the meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
2. Find page 123
3. Find the first 5 sentences
4. Post the next 3 sentences
5. Tag 5 people

I'm breaking rule 1, because the computer lives on Robin's desk. The topmost book on my bedside table lately is Douglas Gwyn's Apocalypse of the Word (Richmond, Ind.: Friends United Press, 1986). So here it is:
Here Fox's incarnational emphasis comes through with full force:
...for feeling God's word in the heart to obey it, you come to know that which the prophets and apostles witnessed, the word of life which became flesh [John 1:4], which is Christ in us....

This incarnation receives its highest realization, as we have previously noted, in the Church: [the] word became flesh, and dwelt among us; so he (christ) is the head of the Church...."
I'm honored to be tagged with my first meme, but, like Paul L., I can't keep track of which Quaker bloggers did or didn't do this meme already, so "tag yourself," as Paul said. (Just loved his Canon Office All-in One Pixma MP830 User's Guide, though!)

Here's another quote I liked from the Gwyn book (page 142):
Two closely related ways that the community of faith as a whole answers the light in men and women are the love and unity of Friends with one another. Fox in his own life had a profound sense of God's love, so much so that he speaks of being 'ravished' by the love of God. And his life in this relationship bespeaks a dynamic in which his love for God is not one of pious gratitude, as Calvin describes the Christian life, but of passionate desire. In the community that his message gathered, this love spreads in all directions, as the Friends of Christ (John 15:14) are bonded in love, joined in the one seed.

This love and unity are a powerful witness to the world, one which convinced many who saw Quakers together. It is not a coalition of shared self-interests, but a self-giving faithfulness in which the seed in one person nourishes the seed in the other.