Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Jana update

I am so excited to hear my F/friend Jana has moved from the hospital to intensive inpatient rehab. What's more, she called the friend who sends updates and told her this herself! And she's been eating meals!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Coming out in junior high

This is a really amazing article: "Coming Out in Middle School."

It's a good, and much-needed, reminder that while things are not where they need to be yet -- we do not have equal rights yet -- things are much, much better than they were ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty years ago.

Thank you to all of us who have come before. Thank you to all of us living with such courage now.

Blessed be.

What’s Wrong With the National Parks? - Room for Debate Blog -

This is a really good article for those of us concerned about preservation, right usage, recreation, and the environment.

What’s Wrong With the National Parks? - Room for Debate Blog -

The national parks have been well loved since their beginnings in the 1870s; sometimes nearly loved to death. Since their creation, there has been tension between two goals: wilderness preservation and making these sublime landscapes open to more people.

What’s the best way to protect the national parks, and what’s the best use of resources for that purpose?

The Age of Eco-Angst - Happy Days Blog -

The Age of Eco-Angst - Happy Days Blog -

Eco-angst, it turns out, is but one version of a widely studied psychological phenomenon, one well-known in the world of retailing. Take a bargain bin cabernet, tell people it’s an expensive, estate-bottled varietal, and they’ll tell you they like it. They’ll even linger longer over their dinner, enjoying not just the wine but the rest of their food more. Now describe the same wine as a low-end variety from North Dakota, and they’ll tell you it’s not so good — and finish their meal faster, enjoying it less.

...What’s more, brain imaging now reveals that tasting what we think is a high-end wine produces heightened activity in a key strip of neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex, which lights up during moments of keen interest — a pattern some neuroeconomists see as the brain signature for brand preference. The “low-end” wine, on the other hand elicits not a budge in orbitofrontal chatter, a pattern indicating disinterest or disgust. (Study data can b found here.)

...Eco-angst dawns with the discovery that some children’s sunblock contains a chemical that becomes a carcinogen when exposed to the sun, or that the company that makes a popular organic yogurt operates in ways that result in significantly more greenhouse gases than their competitors. The moral here, or course, is not to stop using sunblock nor to give up yogurt, but to choose the brands without these downsides.

...Rather than taking the ascetic route of “No Impact Man,” we can together become high impact shoppers, tipping market share to products with gentler ecological imprints. But to do so we need to face the often unattractive truths behind the making of our favorite stuff, and so risk a stiff dose of disgust.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The School Issue - College - When Your Dorm Goes Green and Local -

h/t Suebear.

The School Issue - College - When Your Dorm Goes Green and Local -

Thoreau said education often made straight-cut ditches out of meandering brooks. But not at the EcoDorm, which houses 36 undergraduates and is the spiritual heart of Warren Wilson College, a liberal-arts school of fewer than 1,000 students in Swannanoa, N.C.

A call to moral accounting --

Great article with an unusual perspective. h/t Lisa G!

A call to moral accounting --

But though the rituals are ancient, they're never far removed from modern life. Between our prayers, American Jews are sure also to discuss the current events that touch our community most deeply: the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, President Barack Obama's recent meetings with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and the United Nations' recent Goldstone Report, in which both Israel and the Hamas government are accused of war crimes. To my great sorrow, however, many in the Jewish community have already rejected the latter out of hand.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Footprint Network Blog

h/t Marshall.

Footprint Network Blog:
“It’s a simple case of income versus expenditures,” said Global Footprint Network President Mathis Wackernagel. “For years, our demand on nature has exceeded, by an increasingly greater margin, the budget of what nature can produce. The urgent threats we are seeing now – most notably climate change, but also biodiversity loss, shrinking forests, declining fisheries, soil erosion and freshwater stress – are all clear signs: Nature is running out of credit to extend.”

Barbara McGraw on Religion in America - A Pagan's Blog

h/t to Aline/Macha!

Barbara McGraw on Religion in America - A Pagan's Blog:

In a lively talk McGraw explained that neither the religious right nor the secular left really understands the Founders' thinking on church and state. Secularists argue religion should be purely private, the right that we are a Christian country. This is why both sides throw quotations around so freely, quotations that seem to contradict one another. They ignore the context of the quotations they sling about. As she put it, both sides 'are half right and half wrong.'

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2009 NPYM Annual Sessions: Thursday (con't)

Here are more of my notes from NPYM's Annual Sessions in July. Items in italics are generally my thoughts, rather than notes per se.


In the warmth of your presence, I am safe at home
I will stand, I will stand...

[I had written out the words to Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow's "I Will Stand," which was written for a graduating class (my Ffriend Rebecca's) at the Woolman Semester.]

Interest Group: The Radical Inclusiveness of NPYM

  • Quakerism is larger than Christianity; to limit Quakerism to Christianity is to limit the power of Quakerism.
  • Quakerism is more powerful than Christianity alone.
  • if theology is not the ultimate "test," and if the peace testimony is not the ultimate "test," then what is?
  • -- is it our commitment to Quaker process?
  • to use the blind men with the elephant as a metaphor
  • -- is Quakerism about the whole elephant, or about one part?
  • -- (is Christianity, and does Christianity see itself as, the whole elephant, or part?)

John's workshop

  • if John's a tube, and for him the energy comes from above, whereas for me it comes from below... does that make me a straw?? :)
  • "what's going to put me in my reverence?" "what's going to help me in my tenderness and care?"
  • "settle your body first, and then place your hands" --> when did i start doing that in the opposite order?
  • keeps coming back to the heart
  • Meeting for Worship for Healing
  • -- gathering ppl's reverence and tenderness
  • -- like doing energy work in a large group
  • "you know, healing was one of the first things Quakers got thrown in jail for" (Fox's Book of Miracles) (like Richard [Lee] said)
  • haven't had someone around me "who understands the gift to help with discernment" and support, as john says
  • this is beginning work, not what he does with a client or a victim of torture

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Article in the Inquirer about spiritual direction

This is a lovely article about spiritual direction from the Philadelphia Inquirer. (Thank you to Laurie K for pointing it out.)

Spiritual direction has been part of my ministry for a long time, but it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that I was willing to call it that. I didn't like the phrase, for one; having grown up in hierarchical religions, the notion of having someone "direct" my spiritual life was a distinct turn-off.

Winter before last, during a period of intense discernment, my friend Michelle told me, in so many words, that spiritual direction is exactly what I do. I nearly tossed off a flippant email in reply, but thought first and looked some things up. My searches brought me to Spiritual Directors International's page on "What is spiritual direction?" I felt like I'd been dropped in a bell that was ringing. Ohhhh. What Michelle said made so much sense.

I still haven't found a term I like better, or, most importantly, that conveys the essence of this practice to other people more accurately. Spiritual navigation? Spiritual mentoring? (A term used in some Pagan circles.) Spiritual companionship? The best terminology for me will come.

I'm glad to see this article, which talks about some of what's behind spiritual direction, but more importantly, the experience of people who seek out, and find it helpful, to talk to someone about their spiritual lives.

Certified spirit guides | Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/23/2009:

Certified spirit guides
Quietly, compassionately, spirit directors take the soul by the hand, helping a seeker tap deeper dimensions.

By Anndee Hochman

For The Inquirer

Fifteen years ago, Susan Cole was a pastor with a troubling dilemma: She felt unable to pray. It was a stressful time in her parish at Arch Street United Methodist Church in Center City, and Cole felt her anxiety climbing. She tried closing her eyes and focusing on a meaningful passage of Scripture. She tried waking before dawn to pray. All that did was make her tired.

'I was a mess,' she recalls. 'I would feel myself working really hard, I'd get more anxious and not feel any connection to God.'

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gathering together, building community

How to explain this deep-seated urge I have...?

I am a match-maker. I love to put people together with resources; I love to bring people together with other people I think they'll have good conversations with; I love to make connections, to knit things together with each other in unexpected ways that work in new ways. I adore connecting people with one another. ("A, meet B. B, meet A. Here's what made me think I should introduce you, but I'm sure there are other things I don't know about. Talk amongst yourselves...")

Fostering space for people to get together, building community, this has been an important (to me) part of my ministry since sometime in the late 80s or the early 90s.

When I went back to college in the early 90s and became part of the Pagan community there, I started organizing dinner get-togethers in the dining halls, or small private rooms just outside them, for Sabbats. I felt that it was important that people who are part of a minority religion, without any kind of campus ministry, who were from different traditions, who didn't know each other well enough to be in circle together necessarily, should have the chance to celebrate together in a meaningful way and to be in community with each other in a way that didn't require the intimacy being in circle together does.

After my life was no longer centered on campus, this translated -- predictably perhaps -- into wanting to hold Sabbat potlucks.

This wish came true as part of the work Nif and I did in the early years of Roses, Too! Coven. (Well, the idea to start something that might grow into a Coven came about at a potluck in the first place, now that I think of it.) Once we had our feet under ourselves enough to start hosting things, we started throwing Sabbat potlucks. These eventually became one of the signature features of Roses, Too! Coven, drew all sorts of people, and became quite a community. I admit some pride in the fact that the extended potluck community included plenty of non-Pagans and plenty of folks who claimed no spiritual path at all, people who did ritual with us and people who never once did ritual with us -- but for whom coming together in this way, sharing food and drink, music, and our stories, was somehow important.

(Now that I'm back in the Delaware Valley, I'm looking forward to starting Roses, Too! reunions, and hosting regular Sabbat potlucks here again, too.)

Different kinds of wanting-to-bring-people-together have been on my mind a lot lately:

1) The week we moved was the Full Moon in September. I knew there was no way we'd have our act together enough to host worship. I happened to ask folks on the QuakerPagans YahooGroup if anyone in the Philly area was interested. Really, before I even blinked, someone had Full Moon Meeting for Worship all arranged for a location in Delaware County, and other folks had made plans to join us in worship from far away.

We definitely felt their presence during our worship here. That reminded me a lot of the sense I used to have, of kinship with Witches everywhere celebrating the Full Moon and the Sabbats, and of the sense I have talked with my Meeting about, of being with them even from afar through Meeting for Worship.

Folks on the email list talked a little about their worship that night, and there was something powerful going on there.

This really struck me. I hosted Full Moon Meeting for Worship/Worship-Sharing the entire year I lived in Seattle; why did it never occur to me to invite distant folks to join in from wherever they were? Why didn't it ever occur to me to post Full Moon and Dark Moon queries here on my blog and see where folks' worship took them? Interesting!

2) A friend from several different contexts has another friend who's Pagan and seems to be called to worship with Friends, but is concerned about finding a Meeting where she will feel welcome as a non-Christian. So of course I keep thinking of people in that area to put her in touch with.

3) All sorts of Friends from different geographic areas, some of whom identify as Pagan and some of whom don't, have been talking about the power of the idea of getting together for Full Moon Meeting for Worship. Sure, Pagan Quakers get together at FGC Gathering every year; but more and more of the folks I'm in touch with aren't able, for any number of good reasons, to go to Gathering. This was the need that led to Great Waters Pagan Friends Gathering, but there hasn't been the energy or leadership to continue it.

We need to get together; we need to gather.

4) A Pagan Quaker blogger I sometimes read has been writing lately about feeling isolated and unknown in her Meeting. (I don't know her well enough to know if she'd welcome a link here.)

5) Another Pagan Quaker blogger I often read wrote recently about two things that struck me: being known, about each other as an avenue of communion with the Divine ("You Who Are My Bible"); and about the lovely woods near her new home, with a clearing with a fire ring ("Meeting for Worship for Woods") (yay, woods)...

Reading her description, I wanted to ask, Can we have a bunch of people come over for Full Moon Meeting for Worship at your house? This is actually less about Full Moon per se, and more about the lure of those woods and that clearing, and the lure of bringing Friends together for Quaker worship that is rooted and seated in nature...

It's about community. It's about the isolation that so many Pagan Quakers and Quaker Pagans feel. It's about the magic that happens when we come together, where we can feel deeply many of the ways we're alike and can be different in all the ways we're different from each other. It's about the magic that happens when non-Pagan Friends join us in worship and in spiritual community, and we help each other be faithful. It's about the magic that happens when non-Quaker Pagans join us in worship and in spiritual community, and we help each other be faithful. It's about the magic, the power, of silent worship in expectant waiting.

Expectant waiting on the woods. On the moon and the stars. On the wind and the sun. On each other.

And what about getting together?

More and more, yet again, I'm hearing this need -- just as in other minority communities I've been part of -- to gather.

For years, I was part of a group of Quaker lesbians who got together once a month for Meeting for Worship, followed by a potluck dinner. We met at different women's houses. This was a magical experience for me.

Since 2001, I've been part of Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns, a community of LGBTQ Friends and allies, and have grown very much as a result.

Friends of African Descent, allies, and loved ones get together for Meeting for Worship and for gatherings, and these gatherings feed Friends' souls in the same way as other minority-focused time and space do.

This year at FGC Gathering, I finally went to Shabbat with Jewish Friends.

Both in spiritual/religious space, and in non-spiritual space, I have seen, and I have experienced for myself, the power that comes when folks who are a minority in the larger group or larger society come together.

In Quaker contexts, all of my experiences with minority groups within Friends have deepened my identity as a Friend, as part of the larger community of Quakers.

I feel again the hunger for connection among Pagan Friends.

How shall we gather? How shall we connect? How shall we come together?

What ways of getting together would help us connect, build community, would feed us and our allies?

Love and respect

This is a message that came to me in worship yesterday. It didn't quite meet the must-speak-or-will-get-a-migraine test, so I didn't stand, but it has still stayed with me...

Last fall, Lois McMaster Bujold came to Seattle, promoting her new book. I went to see her at the University Bookstore with my F/friend Marni, and we had a lovely evening.

After reading the new book, I of course had to go back and re-read the other three in the series. Among many other things, it's a series about this opposite-gender couple who meets and falls in love, both far from home.

In the first book, Dag, who has plenty of respect but not much love in his family, does not understand why Fawn, this woman he wants to marry and whose family clearly loves her very much, does not find all the love her family gives her to be sufficient. Until he visits them with her. And then he sees how they love her but do not respect her, and so try to make her smaller -- in a way, similarly to how his own mother and siblings try to make him smaller for respecting his work, but not loving the person he is.

And so Dag comes to understand that just as respect without love is not enough, so love without respect is not enough.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My F/friend Jana, update 3

Jana continues to improve!

Highlights include: she is able to eat some on her own; her cognitive skills are improving; she has been able to hold somewhat longer conversations and use words and phrases from other languages in context.

So, she still has a long road, but she's well on her way, and I'm grateful.

Blessed be.

Friday, September 11, 2009

British government apology to Alan Turing

I read today of the British government's apology to Alan Turing.

I visited the Turing memorial in Manchester, England, last year, as well as the Turing Building at the University of Manchester; pictures, and a little of Turing's story, here. Note the apple in the sculpture's hand...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My F/friend Jana, update 2

Jana is breathing on her own, blessed be!

Two other F/friends have blogged out Jana's accident and their experience around it: Ashley W at A Passionate and Determined Quest for Adequacy, and RantWoman at RantWoman and the RSoF.

I know Jana still has a long, hard road ahead of her, but I am so grateful and so joyful right now.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My F/friend Jana, update

I just learned that Jana is awake and responsive, though still in the ICU. Blessed be!

My F/friend Jana

I just found out that my friend Jana, from my home Meeting in Seattle, is in the ICU after being hit by a car Thursday night.

Jana and her husband Warren are both dear friends of mine and of Beloved Wife. Also, our friend Katherine, who was my elder for my ministry at FGC Summer Gathering and my traveling companion going to and from North Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Sessions, is coordinating care from the Meeting. I talked to her this evening, and got a fair amount of information. Warren, Jana, and their young adult children are getting good support -- practical, emotional, and spiritual. Everything practical that can be done, is happening.

I also talked to Warren, and what he said he and they need are prayers, in whatever form works.

So I invite you to hold Jana, Warren, Katherine, and University Friends Meeting in your spiritual care with us: by holding them in the Light, by praying for them, by sending good thoughts their way, by thinking of them with love or tenderness, by lighting candles for them... whatever it is that you, personally, do when you hold someone in your spiritual care.

I know I could be a lot more articulate, but I'm still kind of numb. I know that because of past experience, it's even more upsetting for me when someone I know gets hit by a car. I know Jana's in good medical hands. I know she and her family are in good spiritual hands. And I know it will be a while until we know what's going to happen.