Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tongue-In-Cheek Quaker Alphabet Soup: NPR, NYT, and DNC/RNC Quakers

I suppose I should have expected a number of political messages in Meeting for Worship this First Day, after the historic Democratic National Convention this last week, and with the also-historic Republican National Convention coming up this next week. But as you can see, I was nonetheless unprepared for just how many political messages there were this morning!

For some actual, and quite good, information on branches of Quakerism in the US, see the Quaker Information Center's pages on Quaker Branches and Branches Today.

I have realized, both with today's messages in Meeting for Worship, and over the last few weeks of worship, that there really are more kinds of Friends in the US than I had earlier realized.

Oh, I knew about the "Big Three"; and not very long after I began worshipping with Friends, I felt like I could explain them reasonably well:


And during our Mid-Winter Gathering of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC) in North Carolina in 2007, I learned there are commonly considered to be five main branches of Friends in the US; and that in NC and some other areas, there are commonly considered to be one or two more. To FGC, FUM, and EFI, we add:


There are a few unofficial, unorganized-as-of-yet, kinds of Friends as well:

You may also be familiar with the term "NPR Quaker." This refers to the phenomenon of Friends who rise during Meeting for worship and begin their ministry with the phrase, "I was listening to NPR this morning, and..."

Recently, I've learned of at least two more kinds of Friends, and I expect to encounter another next week.

A few weeks ago, Beloved Wife and I discovered that there are also "New York Times Quakers" -- folks who begin their ministry with the phrase, "I was reading in the New York Times this morning about..."

And today, we learned there are DNC Quakers! These are Friends who begin their vocal ministry with phrases such as, "I was watching a lot of TV this week during the Democratic National Convention, and..."

I think that next week, we will encounter RNC Quakers: "I was listening to so-and-so's speech during the Republican National Convention, and..."

So, to our list of alphabet soup, we add:
  • NPR Quakers
  • NYT Quakers
  • DNC Quakers
  • RNC Quakers

...right?

(Yes, I am kidding.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

A day with Our Lady of the Earth and Sky

Our Lady of the Earth and Sky (OLOTEAS) is a non-denominational Pagan church here in the Seattle area that a Quaker Pagan friend of mine is a member of. She invited me to sing with the chorus for their open, public ritual in August, centered around the current state of the global food system.

So first, there was a rehearsal at my F/friend's house last Wednesday. I know and feel comfortable with her, and so it didn't occur to me that I'd be working with a whole bunch of strangers! Folks quickly put me at ease, and we worked hard and had fun.

The piece we were singing for ritual is "Barge of Heaven," which is recorded on Reclaiming's Second Chants: More Ritual Music. (If you click on the MP3, be warned that it's likely to get stuck in your head.) It's a song I've known for years, but never had the chance to perform, or sing in ritual. So this was a neat opportunity. The plan was for us to sing while the participants were doing a spiral dance. (That part, by the way, was way cool to watch.)

"Barge of Heaven" is also, if you really pay attention to the lyrics, a highly suggestive song. While we of course noticed this, it wasn't until one of our on-site rehearsals that we were communally attacked by fits of laughter. We managed to sing through them, which impressed me to no end. :)

Although we were very focused while singing during ritual, once ritual was over, we found ourselves again overcome by silliness, this time with a need to share. We formed a chorus line, singing while kicking in unison and other silliness, with an appreciative audience egging us on and becoming as breathless with laughter as we were.

It's good to be with folks who can laugh about religion and spirituality. And sex.

There were about 70 people in circle, which I understand is slightly smaller than many OLOTEAS events. Ritual was good, and satisfying. (Something which can be a real challenge with large-group, open/public ritual.)

I found myself really glad to be heading to Meeting for Worship the following morning: I needed quiet worship. In ritual, I often find that I want more extended grounding and centering time after raising energy than is customary in a lot of groups, or than other people in circle with me want or need. Another way in which my Quakerliness makes itself known. :)

So, I had a lovely visit with OLOTEAS folks, and plan to visit again. Folks were warm and welcoming, which helped some with that dreaded introvert feeling of being one new person among a ton of strangers who must all know each other (and really well, too). It was also a real gift to spend so much of my day outside in a lovely place.

Limiting inheritance by religion?

How would you feel if your parents or grandparents limited which of their children or grandchildren could inherit their money, based on the religion and culture of the person whom their children or grandchildren married? For example, marry someone within your grandparents' religion, and you can inherit; marry someone outside your grandparents' religion, and you don't.

How would you feel if you could limit which of your children or grandchildren would inherit your money, based on the religion or culture of the person they marry? For example, your children or grandchildren marry folks who are the same religion that you are, and they can inherit; they marry someone who isn't, and they don't inherit. (Leaving aside the question of whether any of us will have enough money to support ourselves in our older age, much less leave it to anyone else.)

Is this a legitimate way to support your values with your money, even after you're gone? Is this a way to try to practice discrimination after you've died? Is it a way to try to protect or support your shrinking religion?

Does it feel different if the religion is:
  • Christian?
  • A particular denomination? Baptist? United Church of Christ?
  • Muslim?
  • Jewish?
  • Quaker?
  • Pagan?
It's an interesting question, and one that's current in legal circles in Illinois.

I welcome folks' thoughts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Death of a friend; birth of a friend

I learned this morning of the death of Marianne Taylor, an old and dear friend from Scottish and English dance circles. I write this with tears... I will miss Marianne terribly.

I also learned this morning of the birth of another friend, Leo. Hooray! I celebrate Leo with his parents and brothers. :)

Monday, August 18, 2008

New experience: Rainier cherries. Wow!

Yesterday, Beloved Wife and I went to the University District Farmer's Market, where I was introduced to Rainier cherries.

Now, we had excellent cherries in Michigan, so I was prepared to go back to "ordinary" cherries. But I liked the Rainier cherry sample I tasted, and so bought a pound of them.

I sat down this afternoon to eat a handful, and, wow.

Definitely not "ordinary" cherries. :)

The Full Moon and Western Pines

Our new apartment is very close to a lovely park -- the Washington Park Arboretum. Beloved Wife discovered it during a run the other morning. That night, when I was tired and out of sorts and overwhelmed by unpacking, she insisted I walk over there with her, knowing it would help me breathe, and ground, and center. It was lovely.

The following night was the Full Moon. We walked over together just before turning in for the night, and sat at the top of a little hill, on a bench, surrounded by all sorts of western pines in the pine grove, and watched the full moon through the branches. It was lovely.

What a happy blessing for the first week in our new home.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Hello from Seattle!

I haven't been posting much over the last few weeks because Beloved Wife and I have been in the middle of a long-distance move.

When we moved from Philadelphia to Ann Arbor three years ago, for Beloved Wife to return to her PhD program, that was long-distance enough for me, I thought. She finished her PhD this spring and now has a series of post-docs, one out here in Seattle, the next on the East Coast.

And so I've just made a really long-distance move, from Ann Arbor to Seattle, the kind that requires an airplane rather than a moving truck. (Although, since we're only going to be here a year, we did use a moving truck to put most of our belongings in storage. We Freecycled most of our large furniture first, which was great.)

The cats flew with us, and did really well. =^..^=

We arrived Friday. Saturday evening, we had dinner with a dear F/friend who lives out here and is part of Salmon Bay Friends Meeting; Sunday, we worshipped with F/friends at Salmon Bay. Worship was small but lovely, and sun-drenched.

More when I have more of a brain, and manage to get my own computer set up and connected to the internet.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Lammas

Today is August 1st -- Lammas, or Lughnasa/Lughnasadh in many traditions.

For me, Lammas has for many years been the First Harvest, the first of three harvest holidays or harvest "spokes" on the Wheel of the Year, and the Day of the Reaper.

In the Mid-Atlantic, where I've lived most of my life, it's easy to see Lammas this way -- both as the harvest of the first fruits, and also as the day of the reaper. August is hot and the weather is chancy. Many of the first things that come to ripeness are abundant: corn, peppers, tomatoes, basil, blackberries, blueberries, cucumbers, string beans. (I'm thinking of farm stands by the side of the road in South Jersey.) Now I'm in the Mid-West, and at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, we've also been seeing gooseberries, which are legal here now, cherries, even peaches, and -- amazingly -- some early apples.

But there is so much that is not quite ready yet, a harvest that could easily be lost by too much or too little rain, pests, tornadoes, flood, drought...

I'm remembering Lammases in Roses, Too! Coven, when we would tear bites off Sun-round cornbread, so it would get smaller in the same way the Sun does, while we asked ourselves and each other about this harvest and our hopes for the next harvests. I'm remembering a potluck -- before we learned to make sure we "seeded" potlucks with protein and chocolate -- where all folks brought were fresh fruits and vegetables. (They were luscious, but...)

I'm remembering a Lammas potluck in 1993, thrown by the women who lived in a house called Iniquity (not to be confused with the house called Sin), where what was to become Roses, Too! first came into being.

I ask you:
  • What's happening around you in nature?
  • What have you harvested so far this year?
  • What do you hope to harvest yet this year?

May you have a blessed Lammas. (And if you're from a tradition that does this, enjoy tearing apart your bread man!)