Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 NPYM Annual Sessions: John Calvi

Notes from John Calvi's plenary talk

Our theme for Annual Sessions was, "Experiencing Light in Hard Times: How Do We Stay Faithful in Times of Trouble?"

italics = my thoughts as I was taking notes

  • "maybe faith is an aspect of our response to trouble" (when experiencing injustice, danger)
  • "[trust Allah] but tie your camel" --> practical work, practical support
  • how maintain cxn to Divine?
  • "when trouble comes, can we still be working in the love?"
  • "can we be creative when trouble comes?"
  • my responses to crisis/trouble:
  • when trouble comes from w/out my community, can stand w/community support
  • from w/in my community: that isolation replicates the isolation of early trauma
  • --> trauma separates and isolates us from community
  • MFW as soaking in the silence and stillness ("like a bathtub"), "asking to be washed in Light," "ground opening beneath us"
  • "Quakerism, as one of the mystic religions, is a somatic experience, is something we feel in our bodies"
  • "is is a burden to dislike someone"
  • sometimes we enjoy it, and "that's pathology"
  • "sometimes we can hug someone and say, 'when i am angry at you, i miss you' "
  • "now there are some people who have been very wounded by christianity... b/c there are some aspects of christianity which are very mean"
  • "we cannot blame christianity on jesus"
  • encourages folks who have been wounded by christianity to become familiar with the teachings of jesus
  • and folks who experience jesus need to share that in ways that "don't bump up against those wounds"
  • "now these look like opposites, but these are Friends dancing together"
  • difference between knowing and believing
  • is "your respect for other people spiralling upward or spiralling downward?"
  • if you know how things are constructed and someone shares other experience, increased disrespect for them
  • if you believe: open to continuing revelation; can listen w/respect
  • i know my experience, but not others' --> different kind of knowing
  • what is your response to pain? how is that different from that of people around you?
  • "i find that if i cry about 2 hours a week, i can keep even"
  • "what are the circumstances under which you allow yourself to cry?"
  • how has that changed, is changing, changes with different kinds of pain?
  • it's okay to cry for the pain of others which you experience (remember this)
  • "what brings you back" to your deepest wisdom, experiencing guidance, etc?
  • --> ask for that
  • trouble and pain have a function, "and that function is learning"
  • understanding it moves it to wisdom
  • --> lessens the intensity
  • --> break the pieces down so there can be some learning
  • no learning, it remains pain, trouble, conflict
  • as Friends, we have a duty to come to that pinnacle where we are in awe of creation
  • where we can look at the most wonderful and horrible
  • "we can't always see where our love goes and what it accomplishes"
  • --> "no love is ever wasted"
  • "feeling that anger is very important"
  • "anger needs to be given its place and respected"
  • "i have to balance the anger so it doesn't obstruct my love or the Light that's been given me"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pagan Values � Chrysalis

Check out Pax's page of posts for International Pagan Values Blogging Month. - sm

Pagan Values � Chrysalis: "I posted it here, and kind of just let it go for a little while… but then folks started taking interest! People started linking and posting and it grew into a big ol’ blog carnival with 100 posts, and counting as I find more. I am linking this page to as many of those posts as I can find in the hopes of providing an online snap shot of, and resource for the study of, contemporary Pagan values."

Quakers & Non-Theism

Quakers & Non-Theism:

from the July/August 2009 issue of Western Friend

by Brian Vura-Weis

From the beginning of Quakerism there was a tension between the Word given by the Bible and the Word as experienced by the individual. This dynamic has played out over the years between the Mystical, Universal and Christocentric Friends. It has led to difficulties within meetings and caused yearly meetings and families to split based on their conceptions of Truth. In virtually all of these divisions there was almost never disagreement about the existence of God. The first page of Pacific Yearly Meeting’s current Faith and Practice speaks to this:...

2009 FGC Gathering Notes



the phrase "not just god in a skirt" keeps coming to me --> part of why The Goddess and not just Goddess?
--> "Goddess" w/o "the" doesn't make enough difference in my head and in my thinking

women's community; women coming together
women's community that includes feminist men
--> the E of that community feels explicitly like the Goddess to me

Meeting for Worship

from songs my workshop participants who arrived early yesterday were singing while waiting:

i sat under an old oak tree
and asked the Goddess to carry me
She wrapped me up in ancient green
ancient green

all my fears
all my fears
all my fears
river gonna wash away

...which i learned from becky birtha during the first-ever singing the Goddess workshop i did, at qlc '98.

the river is flowing
flowing and growing
the river (she is) flowing
down to the sea

Mother, carry me
your child i will always be
Mother, carry me
down to the sea*

...which i know is in julie's book, b/c i learned it when a bunch of us got together and sang... a bunch of songs from sfe for julie...

* (c) Diana Hildebrand-Hull, "The River Is Flowing."


Meeting for Worship

step by step, the longest march
can be won, can be won
many stones to form an arch
singly none, singly none
and by union what we will
shall be accomplished still
drops of water turn a mill
singly none, singly none

"God is not moderate"

you shall indeed go out with joy
and be led forth in peace
you shall indeed go out with joy
and be led forth in peace
before you, mountains and hills
shall break into cries of joy
and all the trees of the wild shall clap
clap their hands*

*(c) music, Nancy Schimmel; words, Isaiah 55:12


Meeting for Worship

thought train: teach magic. time spent this week talking about the Goddess and magic.

the question about magic really is, what spiritual practices in your life are transformative? (rather than, what spiritual practices in your life are magical?)

[when talking about magic:] what spiritual practices in your life are transformative? when in your life have you experienced transformation and change?



social and sacred ritual as an E-saving device
--> don't have to decide together each time how to shake hands, etc.

[thoughts/notes from what folks are sharing, for our work tomorrow:]
new beginnings
direct experience
teaching magic

[Bonnie Tinker died Thursday afternoon, and my emotional, mental, and spiritual state was such that I did not take any more notes Thursday or Friday. I am grateful that I was with Friends, in a community with no laity, while we ministered to and supported each other. I also had amazing and wonderful support from the members of my workshop, the other Healing Center co-Coordinators, and the Compassionate Listening team.]

Friday, August 14, 2009

2009 FGC Gathering: Ben Pink Dandelion

Notes from Ben Pink Dandelion's 2009 FGC Gathering plenary talk: "Quaking with Confidence"

italics = my thoughts as i was taking notes

  • "an accompanied life"
  • "how did i lose so much confidence with god alongside me?"
  • confidence --> con + fid --> with faith
  • loss of confidence from keeping god out of the whole of my life, esp. the shadow part
  • role of george fox quote, "there is one, even..." in quaker hx and schisms
  • "can't summon god up," but can be open
  • "nothing outwardly"
  • "nothing upon the earth"
  • inner vs. inward
  • "replace the old self"
  • "how much have we changed or allowed ourselves to be changed by the Spirit?"
  • replacing the old self --> denying the inherent divinity of the original self
  • "all things must change or die, and in so dying, change"
  • early differences between who was a F and who was a member
  • --> membership 1730s re: which Mtg owed whom poor relief
  • --> part of "why we're still so confused about the meaning of membership"
  • testimonies fairly new
  • against outward war
  • in favor of simplicity
  • for early Fs, 2nd coming taking place inwardly
  • break bread til christ comes again; therefore no further need of outward communion
  • --> same with most church observances
  • --> dismissed xmas, easter, xtian calendar, etc. incl set times
  • look up "discipline" in the oed
  • "we have a behavioral creed"
  • "what is our good news" as we are post-xtian?
  • uncertain in our belief; distrustful of those who claim The Answer
  • "an absolute perhaps" of belief
  • "certain of partial uncertainty"
  • "this absolute perhaps is perhaps part of our good news"
  • 86% of Britain YM came in as adults
  • 50% of that 86% no prior spiritual/religious affiliation
  • faith associated with the unseen
  • i've seen the sun come up
  • i have faith the sun will come up tomorrow though i haven't seen tomorrow's sun/the sun tomorrow
  • "Qism is the vehicle of our spiritual life, not the object of our worship"
  • "incarnational spirituality"
  • not just mental engagement with early Qism, early Q roots, writings, etc, but incarnational
  • benjamin lloyd - "confident (?) in ongoing revelation" (faith? belief?)
  • evangelical liberal Qism?? :)
  • i am tired of apologizing within Qism for my Pism, my theism, my non-theism...

Writing from travels

Wow, yes, late June and all of July were really busy.

I traveled for most of that time: apartment-hunting, then FGC Gathering; home briefly, and hosted Full Moon Meeting for Worship and presented at ARE; then to North Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions; home briefly; then to the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network Conference; then home and hosted Full Moon Meeting for Worship. Whew!

I have lots of notes from those experiences, and lots of thoughts, and, of course, a bunch of follow-up I need to do. So, I'm going to try to get some notes posted here.

I'm also preparing for a big move, and dealing with a couple of family near-crises, so I'm likely to be interrupted at any moment, and definitely appreciate being held in the Light.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Re-doing my website - input?

I have to re-do my web site. I had been using GooglePages, which has been discontinued in favor of GoogleSites. Everything was supposed to migrate over, but hasn't; besides, Sites is structured very differently from Pages -- which is good in the long run, because it'll let me do more what I want, but challenging in the short term.

All of this really does mean re-doing my web site.

So I'm wondering what folks would like to see. What works for you about my current website, what doesn't? What would you like to see stay the way it is on the new site, what would you like to see change, and how?

(Knowing that some of what you dislike may be chalked up to the limitations of GooglePages, and that GoogleSites will have its own limitations I may not be able to work around.)


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Facebook account disabled

Anyone who's looking for me over there: my Facebook account has been disabled, with no warning. Grand.

I had just joined Twitter, though, @StasaMA.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

An Angry, Angry Woman � Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change

An excellent post from MezzoSherri, speaking truth to patriarchal power.

An Angry, Angry Woman � Self-Love: It's Just Another Lifestyle Change: "I am haunted and infuriated by the premeditation indicated from Sodini’s choice to attack a women’s-only class at his own gym. Is it possible that part of the rage working through him was based in this assumptive loop that why would these women be gym members except to make themselves attractive for men, and with that as their purpose, then how dare they be unavailable to him?!?"

Outward signs of inward grace (and truth, and transformation)

This weekend at Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, my Monthly Meeting approved my membership, and later approved a revised letter of introduction and support for my ministry.


I am still settling in to how this feels. Do I feel different? If so, how?


This has been, and continues to be, a powerful journey.

The experience of my entire membership process in this Meeting has been such a gift.

I feel known, loved, and respected in this Meeting, and yet the membership process has still been hard: challenging for me personally, and hard work for me, for my clearness committee, and for my Meeting.

But my Meeting has been right here with me, has met me with openness and grace, with openness to grace, with a commitment to Quaker process and to asking how we're led. With a commitment to talking about the elephants in the living room, about spiritual and thea/ological diversity, about the fact that I'm moving across the country soon. With a commitment to understanding, as much as another human being can, well enough to explain it to someone else: What do these words mean to you when you use them? What is your lived experience? How does the Spirit move in your life? With a commitment to asking, and seeking to answer, What other gifts that we don't know about yet do you bring to the Meeting? How can and does the Meeting support your spiritual life and spiritual growth? How might this work?

People keep telling me how much my openness, honesty, and forthrightness have helped this process, and that my membership request has been a gift for the Meeting. I have tried to help those who tell me that understand -- all my openness in the world would have meant nothing if the Meeting hadn't been able to meet me with its own openness. This is a gift, and a grace. It has sustained me and blessed me.

From the very beginning with my clearness committee, I felt their deep commitment to Quaker process and to coming to know me. I felt held. Over the course of our meetings, I was able to move to a place beyond fear of judgement -- not just here, but among other Friends. What a difference this has made in so many areas of my life!

When I read my clearness committee's report to the Oversight Committee, it was amazing. They got it. They understood.

And, they could explain it to other people.

That was powerful.

As the process continued to unfold, I moved from feeling held by my clearness committee, to feeling held by the Oversight Committee and the Clerk of the Meeting, to feeling held by my Meeting.

It was from this place that I went into my ministry at FGC Gathering. And the amazing and wonderful support from my Meeting -- the members of my ministry oversight committee, my elder for my ministry at Gathering, but also the way I felt held by my Meeting as a whole -- enabled me, first, to move beyond my previous limits as a workshop leader, and second, to meet a whole new slew of challenges I never could have anticipated. To be faithful and to stretch and grow beyond where I'd been before.

I was held.

I am reminded of something Ben Pink Dandelion said in his plenary talk at FGC Gathering: "How much have we changed, or allowed ourselves to be changed, by the Holy Spirit?"

To be engaged in a spiritual life means being open to transformation -- means being open to being changed by the Holy Spirit. To be engaged fully in a living Quakerism means being open to transformation and change.

To magic.

This year, I have been changed and transformed. It has not been an easy process, but it has been a joyful one -- each unfolding has brought greater expansion of my heart and spirit, deeper rootedness, more tenderness. Less contraction. More joy.

In my membership process, I have been transformed. In ways that have helped me be more faithfully myself.

In our Meeting, the proposed member stays in the room during the reading of their letter and the Oversight Committee's report. The second Meeting for Business, the proposed member then leaves the room during worship around their proposed membership.

It took a long time.

I understand that part of why is because a fair number of Friends stood and gave vocal ministry -- about their transformation and change, about faithfulness, about ways in which my proposed membership challenged them and why they now felt we had to approve it, about how issues around my membership are similar to other issues the Meeting has dealt with before with other memberships, about how issues around my membership are different than others the Meeting has dealt with... and, I think most of all, about the ways in which I've been as fully present as I could with the Meeting during my time here.

In the worship later in the day, around the revised letter of introduction and support for my ministry, there was some wordsmithing which made it a more powerful, more true letter.

One of the things that has kept coming back to me, in the days since Sunday, is the suggestion of one particular Friend. This is someone from whom I've never felt any disrespect or ill-feeling, and yet who has been completely open with me that my ministry and my language have made them uncomfortable.

At Yearly Meeting, which was between the first and second readings of my proposed membership, they sought me out to talk. And we had the kind of chewy conversation that feels like true community. It was wonderful.

In Business Meeting this weekend, when we were discussing the revisions to my letter, this Friend's suggestion -- that the word "faithfulness" be added to the description of me -- struck me right in the heart.



So, I'm a member of the Religious Society of Friends now. Do I feel different? If so, how?

I have been thinking about when Beloved Wife and I got married. We didn't feel much different at first, in part because it was true, our wedding was an outward sign of inward grace, of inward truth: our marriage.

But something did change pretty dramatically almost immediately: our relationship with our community. I still don't know quite how to put it all into words, but part of it is that now our relationship belonged to everyone who cares about us. We still bore primary responsibility, but our community -- our families, our spiritual communities, our friends, everyone who cares about us -- their own kind of responsibility was now explicit. Especially in the signing of our certificate.

Oversight's report recommending my membership spoke about my membership as an outward sign of an inward truth. If that's the case, how does the formal recognition change things?

I don't know entirely yet.

But I'm also reminded of something my F/friend Vonn said at FGC Gathering, during a long conversation about life and ministry. Vonn talked about how, when you get a minute of religious service from your Monthly and Yearly Meetings, it's amazing; your ministry no longer belongs just to you.

"Um, in a good way or a bad way?" I asked. (The thought made me nervous.)

"Oh, it's totally amazing," she breathed.

I feel owned. In a good way. Claimed. I belong to them. The ownership of this relationship definitely goes both ways.

In terms of ministry, they will help me, as they have all along, listen so that I may be faithful to the leadings of the Goddess.

This Meeting is home.

But I think I should ask that question again -- So, do I feel different? How? -- after my welcome dinner. :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Britain Yearly Meeting and marriage equality - go, BYM!

Blessed be! - sm

News release and background on Committed Relationships paper for YMG09

News Release
31 July 2009
Quakers consider committed relationships

Quakers in Britain today concluded a long and profound process of discernment about the way forward for Quaker marriage and approach to same sex partnerships.

The minute recording their decision is as follows:

Minute 25 Britain Yearly Meeting 31 July 2009

Further to minute 17, (attached) a session was held on Tuesday afternoon at which speakers shared personal experiences of the celebration and recognition of their committed relationships. These Friends had felt upheld by their meetings in these relationships but regretted that whereas there was a clear, visible path to celebration and recognition for opposite sex couples, the options available for couples of the same sex were not clear and could vary widely between meetings. Friends who feel theirs to be an ordinary and private rather than an exotic and public relationship have had to be visible pioneers to get their relationship acknowledged and recorded.

This open sharing of personal experience has moved us and added to our clear sense that, 22 years after the prospect was first raised at Meeting for Sufferings we are being led to treat same sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite sex marriages, reaffirming our central insight that marriage is the Lord’s work and we are but witnesses. The question of legal recognition by the state is secondary.

We therefore ask Meeting for Sufferings to take steps to put this leading into practice and to arrange for a draft revision of the relevant sections of Quaker faith and practice, so that same sex marriages can be prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded and reported to the state, as opposite sex marriages are. We also ask Meeting for Sufferings to engage with our governments to seek a change in the relevant laws so that same sex marriages notified in this way can be recognised as legally valid, without further process, in the same way as opposite sex marriages celebrated in our meetings. We will not at this time require our registering officers to act contrary to the law, but understand that the law does not preclude them from playing a central role in the celebration and recording of same sex marriages.

We have heard dissenting voices during the threshing process which has led to us this decision, and we have been reminded of the need for tenderness to those who are not with us who will find this change difficult. We also need to remember, including in our revision of Quaker faith and practice, those Friends who live singly, whether or not by choice.

We will need to explain our decision to other Christian bodies, other faith communities, and, indeed to other Yearly Meetings, and pray for a continuing loving dialogue, even with those who might disagree strongly with what we affirm as our discernment of God’s will for us at this time.

Following the decision, Martin Ward, clerk of Quakers Yearly Meeting said: “This minute is the result of a long period of consultation and what we call “threshing” in our local meetings, culminating in two gathered sessions of our Yearly Meeting. At these sessions, according to practice, we heard ministry arising out of silent worship which led us to discern the will of God for the Religious Society and record it in this minute.”


Media Information
Anne van Staveren
0207 663 1048
07958 009703

For interviews and photographs during Yearly Meeting Gathering contact Anne van Staveren on 07958 009703. Media attendance is limited. The business sessions of Yearly Meeting Gathering are not open to the media. A background paper on Quakers and committed partnerships is available from

Notes to the Editor:

• Quakers are known formally as The Religious Society of Friends.

• Quakers were given the right to conduct marriages in England and Wales in 1753, but case law before that recognised the validity of Quaker marriages.

• Quakers began to call for a sexual morality based on the worth of relationships in 1963 with the publication of 'Towards a Quaker view of Sex'. Since then, Quakers have developed through tolerance to widespread acceptance of same sex partnerships, particularly since the formation of the now Quaker Lesbian and Gay Fellowship in 1973. Meeting for Sufferings minuted appreciation of gay and lesbian Quakers' contribution in 1988.

• There was no formal stage of 'recognising' same sex partnerships nationally as Quaker procedures allowed it to happen: there was nothing against it. The first meetings for commitment were in 1996. Since then, around twenty local meetings have celebrated same sex relationships through an official meeting for commitment.

• Following the Civil Partnership Act of December 2005, same sex couples in England, Wales and Scotland, who share Quaker beliefs may opt for a blessing or commitment ceremony after entering a civil partnership.

• The Civil Partnership Act allows same sex partnerships to be registered as civil partnerships in law, but such registrations cannot take place in the context of religious worship. Civil partnership is not recognised as marriage, although registered civil partners share almost the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples.

• The total number of civil partnerships formed in the UK since the Civil Partnership Act came in December 2005 is 26,787. (Office for National Statistics)

• Minute 17 reads:

25 July – 1 August 2009

Minute 17: Committed relationships: introduction

The report ‘Exploring our attitudes to committed partnerships’ (pages 61-64 of Documents in advance) has been introduced to us through a personal account of one Friend’s experience of the varied committed relationships in his family and his Quaker community.

We receive minute S/08/11/3 of Meeting for Sufferings held 1 November 2008 on the recognition of partnerships under the auspices of Britain Yearly Meeting. In the light of our testimony to equality we are asked by Meeting for Sufferings to consider how we should celebrate and recognise committed relationships within our Quaker community and what revisions of Quaker faith & practice would follow from this to include same sex partnerships.

We have opportunity at an open session on Tuesday afternoon to hear speakers who will share their personal experiences of commitment, to be followed by response groups, and, on Wednesday evening, special interest groups. We will return to this matter on Thursday afternoon, and to the two requests which Meeting for Sufferings has put to us to:

i) Endorse the conclusions of the Quaker Life minute that it would not be right at this time either to lobby government for further changes in the law on committed partnerships nor to surrender our legal authority to conduct heterosexual marriages;

ii) Explore the issue and give broad guidance on how changes suggested in the Quaker life minute might be expressed in chapter 16 of Quaker faith & practice.