Tuesday, April 29, 2008

News article about Quaker Pagans

Over the last few months, quite a number Pagan Friends participated in interviews with religion reporter Matthew Streib of the Religion News Service.

The resulting article, "Pagans find a sometimes uneasy home among Quakers," appeared on the Modern Reformation website on 4/25, and was one of the leads on the RNS website today.

While on the whole I believe Matthew did a good job, I do have some issues with the article:

  • Although I don't know the content of Kevin-Douglas' interview with Matt, I do know (very well) that K-D was involved with Paganism long before Russell died.
  • Every other religion mentioned is capitalized in the article, but Pagan is not. (In this case, I don't know if this is Matthew's decision, or that of his editor.)
  • While I can't speak for all Pagan Friends, for most Pagan Friends I know, this is not remotely a "dual faith."
I have one faith: I am a Witch. Quakerism is central to how I walk that faith in the world. Quakerism is central to how Pagan, Christian, non-theist, Jewish, and agnostic Friends walk our faith in the world.

Funny how I've never heard people say Christians who are Friends have a dual faith. And while people insist I am a hyphenated-Quaker (a Pagan-Quaker, or, more often, pagan-Quaker), I've never heard any insistence that Christian-Quakers are hyphenated.
  • I don't have a tape of our conversation, but I can't imagine that I said you can find a Pagan in almost any liberal Meeting. (For one thing, it certainly depends on how big the Meeting, where it is in the US, etc.)
Woo-hoo! Cat and Peter host "a bastion of Quaker-pagan thought"!

I completely agree with Cat that superficiality is not a good thing. But then, I think that's true for both Paganism in general and Quakerism in general.

So I certainly like how the article ended. But I guess it just seems to me that some basic underlying assumptions went unchallenged in this article, and the ways in which we [the interviewees] challenged those assumptions just went right over the reporter's head. Ah, well. Perhaps in a longer, more chewy piece it may have been more likely to happen.

On the other hand, I am vastly amused by Christianity Today's take on this: "Now hundreds of pagans call Quakerism home." Hundreds? Who knew?? Where are we? (I figured I'd know if there were hundreds of us!)

Check out the lovely and lively comments on Quaker Pagan Reflections. I look forward to reading comments here, too!

p.s. Hee. Just as I was finishing this, "Choir" by emma's revolution (Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow, of FGC Gathering 2003 fame) came on my cd player's shuffle. "Has anybody seen the choir? I want to preach to the converted!" Humor and perspective are Good Things. :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Philadelphia-area event

from Jen and Nif:

Greetings, and happy springtime! SpiralSong will be presenting a spring concert at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Mt. Airy on Sunday, May 4, at 3pm. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 4, 3:00pm.
SpiralSong Sings in the Spring!
Best known for community-wide Winter Solstice celebrations each December, SpiralSong presents a May Day(ish) concert of seedlings,solidarity, and social justice. Directed by bookstore staffer Jen Sheffield.
Admission: free

Big Blue Marble Bookstore
551 Carpenter Lane
(corner of Carpenter and Greene St.)
Philadelphia, PA 19119

"..to welcome in the summer sun, to welcome in the May-o
for summer is a comin' in, and winter's gone away-o"

Friday, April 25, 2008

"An unromantic approach..."

I'd like to recommend my friend Michelle's article, "Don't wait for the 'right room' to pray."

(I know we Quakers like to think we're immune to this, but really, we are confronted with all the same challenges as everyone else when we wish to commune with the Divine. I've heard from a lot of Friends who have trouble worshipping outside the Meeting Room...)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Marines in my life

As some of you know, my surrogate brother was, until very recently, in the Marine Corps. In some ways, there's the kind of tension you might expect between us about it; and yet there are other ways in which he understands some of the peace work I've done out of my convictions as a Friend -- peace witness in the Middle East; American Red Cross Disaster Relief and Armed Forces Emergency Services work -- better than anyone else in my family.

I just found out that a dear cousin on another side of the family, who's graduating from high school this June, has enlisted in the Marines. He tells me he's shipping out in September.

And I am having a hard time with this.

My brother was considerably older when he enlisted. He started in the reserves. He fought in Desert Storm. He's always been older (and taller) than I am. There are times when I've been scared for him, and for my family, but I've had, I don't know -- a certain acceptance of his decision to serve this way.

My cousin is eighteen. He's starting on active duty. We're in the middle of a long war. I held him as a baby. He's only been taller than I am for a couple of years.

And, from the soldiers and families I've worked with as a volunteer, I have some sense of what he's going into.

I'm scared for him, and I don't have that same kind of acceptance of his decision.

I know he's going to learn a lot about himself, and he's going to grow. And I'm looking forward to seeing that.

But I am not looking forward to the rest.

I wish I could protect him in the same way I held him as a baby.

Not a sentiment he'd appreciate, I think. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

'Tis the season

March 30's Oh My Gods! reminded me of something.

Many years ago, I was attending a meeting after work one night just before Easter and Passover. During the break, I was having a conversation with a friend who'd sought me out for mutual support: we were the only two non-Christians in a room full of fairly religious people... many of whom kept looking at us oddly. The program was supposed to be "spiritual, not religious," but we often found ourselves, well, misunderstood. The butt of jokes. Fielding "questions" about the same stereotypes, over and over. From people who insisted they were truly accepting. Or from those who were just truly clueless.

"May the Force be with you! [giggle] No, really, I'm not making fun of you. I think it's fine that you're a Witch."

"You're Jewish? Why did you kill Jesus when He's our Lord and Savior?!"

Our best educational efforts reached a number of folks; but nonetheless, cluelessness can be awfully persistent. After a weeks and then months of it, well, our humor got... warped.

That night, my friend drew me off to the side while we drank our tea.

"How's it going?" I asked.

"Okay, okay."

"Ready for Pesach?"

"Not entirely. We still need the blood of some unbaptized Christian babies so we can make matzoh, you know. Hey, you're a Witch -- you know where to get that stuff, right?"

"No, man, are you kidding? We had to use squirrels last Full Moon. Do you know how hard those damned things are to catch? If you get a line on babies, please let me know."
At which point, one rather young and earnest fellow -- the one who consistently greeted me with, "May the Force be with you," followed by giggles and the insistence that no, really, he accepted me -- stalked up to us and said, "I don't appreciate you making fun of my religion like that." And stalked off.

My friend and I looked at each other. We were speechless.