Monday, August 29, 2011

Recommended radio piece: BBC's "Twenty Minutes: Quakers Don't Sing"

BBC Radio's Twenty Minutes: Quakers Don't Sing

This was announced at the rise of Meeting for Worship yesterday, and we made sure to listen when it was broadcast last night.  Some F/friends in the States also heard it and passed the link on to the Quaker Pagans email list.  It's both fun and deeply moving. 

Many creative people have found a spiritual home amongst the Quaker movement in our noisy modern world but one thing seems to be missing from this most peaceful of all gatherings - music. Dame Judi Dench, novelist Margaret Elphinstone and the composer Sally Beamish contribute to a montage of thoughts, akin to a Quaker meeting discussion, and reveal their own relationships with silence and music.

The Quaker part starts at about time mark 3:30.  Enjoy! 

(The broadcast is available on-line through 8:30 PM British Summer Time on 4 September.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Recommended article: Selina Rifkin's "Cauldron to Kitchen: Pagan Kosher"

This is the first in a series where Rifkin explores the idea of "Pagan 'kosher'."  I've followed the beginnings of this exploration in other communications with Rifkin, and I'm looking forward to seeing how her ideas develop further of how we, as Pagans, can approach being in right relation with our food, with what we choose to eat, and with what food options are available to us given our life circumstances and where we live.  I have a feeling Friends might also find this an interesting and useful avenue of inquiry as well. 

Rifkin writes:

But why should it matter? Are not all acts of love and pleasure Her rituals? Certainly eating chocolate can approach the experience of ecxtasy. But what if that chocolate was harvested with child labor? And how good can we feel about an industry built on a foundation of slave labor? The sugar trade spawned the African Slave trade, and never mind what it does to our health. But this is just one example. The food we eat should not just feed our hunger, our desire. It should feed our bodies and minds. It can connect us with our ancestors and our descendants. It can connect us to our local environment. Every time we eat, it is a chance to affirm our ethical choices, and create alignment with our communities. Food is powerful.

Read more at Cauldron to Kitchen: Pagan Kosher

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recommended reading: Feminist Hulk and J's interviews at Ms. Magazine Blog

Here are links to the three interviews -- two with Feminist Hulk and zir "literary life partner," J, one with J alone -- at Ms. Magazine Blog.  I found that while reading these, I laughed uproariously, nodded, winced, and felt often like I'd found two like-minded souls.




Who's Behind the Mask of Feminist Hulk?  Only the Ms. Blog Knows!

Feminist Hulk make Stasa happy

You can take that any way you want; but what I'm talking about is, I love this quote:

It’s important to remember that Republican doesn’t have to equal conservative. Palin is an embarrassment for the many intelligent and dedicated Republicans who are tired of their party’s dependence on the far right. In a year when so much of the GOP’s agenda has appealed to conservatives by stomping on women (whether by trying to defund Planned Parenthood’s ability to offer pap smears–in a redundant effort to limit federal abortion support–or by trying to redefine rape), I think there is no greater sign of this problem than the laughable notion that Palin is the best female candidate they could come up with.

This quote is from Feminist Hulk's "literary life partner," J. (Jessica Lawson).

Why do I love it?

It's nuanced.

I've been following Feminist Hulk for a while, and I just finished reading all three of zir interviews with Ms. Magazine Blog.  Feminist Hulk is a fierce feminist, as fierce as I am.  This makes me happy.  And just as Hulk smash gender binary, Hulk smash us/them binary that divides women from each other and people from other people who share values with each other.  This also makes me happy.  (Yes, labels like "Republican" and "Democrat" are at times irrelevant.)   

It takes courage to cut across that either/or divide, whether it's in politics, religion, spirituality, culture, customs, etc. 

At its heart, feminism is about seeing through those artificial either/or divides, back to both/and.

At their heart, so are Quakerism and many forms of Paganism.

Feminist Hulk rock.

(And Feminist Hulk make Stasa happy.) 

Monday, August 8, 2011

On my way home from NPYM Annual Sessions last summer

I recently found an old draft of this post and decided to share it.  - sm

Where do I even start this story?

It was last July (2010).  I was standing in the entryway to the airplane, watching my soon-to-be seatmate in the first class cabin put lotion on her hands, and I had a bad feeling about this.

I was on my way back to NJ from Spokane, WA and North Pacific Yearly Meeting in Missoula, MT.  I’d accepted a voluntary bump that re-routed me through Portland on a twin-prop plane, instead of going through Salt Lake City on a commuter jet.

Happily, coming into Portland, it was a calm evening, and the view of mountains and rivers was gorgeous.  (Gorges, for the Columbia River Gorge?)

Powell’s Books in PDX was an unexpected respite and delight.  I’d been upgraded to first class for the second, red-eye part of my journey, an ambiguous delight.  (Paying for real, unsweetened oatmeal for breakfast at JFK the next morning with an airline voucher was deeply satisfying.)

I was feeling ambiguous about being in first class.  I’d been thinking about class a lot lately, talking about it a fair bit, and been writing about it some.  And hoo boy, had I been feeling in touch with my working class roots and self.

So that night, on one hand, I welcomed the extra space on a flight where I would really, really need to get some sleep; Beloved Wife was overseas on a research trip, and I was going to need to get myself to central NJ on public transit from JFK when my body thought it was 3 am and I was under the weather.  But I felt somehow like I was reinforcing the class system.  And I also felt somehow like I wasn’t presenting as “good enough” for first class.  Conversely, with our family's scruffy travel backpack, no makeup, my faded Guatemalan print pants and my hiking shirt, traveling first class on a mitzvah, I also felt like I was subverting the class system.  (And representing well, too...) 

So I sat down next to my seatmate.  And oh, my, was that lotion strong.  I can’t even tell you what it smelled like, except it was very spicy somehow. 

Because first class boards early, I had a lot of time to contemplate what to do.  Or not to do.  I had a lot of time to argue with myself that that lotion wasn’t actually making me sick.  It wasn’t giving me a migraine, so it was easy to argue that it wasn’t really making me nauseated – that was just how warm the airplane was.

I’d already had a bad asthma attack this trip because of totally unexpected mold exposure; both the asthma attack and the meds to treat it had left me feeling pretty vulnerable.  The next day I’d had an ADA accessibility problem and a chemical exposure problem within the same ten-minute time frame, both of which also left me feeling tender and vulnerable.  I’d been wrestling with these kinds of issues for a good chunk of my trip, with Friends who love and respect me, and even with that love and support it was hard – so let me tell you exactly how much Ms. Scruffy Itinerant Minister Bumped Up to First Class felt like telling a total stranger her hand lotion was a problem.

I got up to pull my cell phone out of my bag in the overhead and turn it off.  Standing in the aisle, I instantly felt much better.

Shit, I thought.  I have to say something.  What do I say?  How do I ask this total stranger in first class to go wash her hands

I sat back down.  Lotion.  My head pounded and my stomach rebelled.

“Excuse me,” I finally said.  “I need your help with something…”

And it worked.

My seatmate was quite startled, but very responsive.  I kept it short and sweet and talked about it in terms of allergies.  She was sympathetic.  She’s from Europe and her husband’s from the US, and they have very different allergy problems when they visit family in different countries.  She obviously felt a little silly washing her hands, but then worried the fragrance in the soap would be a problem.  It was fine, and I was deeply grateful.

She drank her wine and went to sleep.

Eventually, I went to sleep, too.