Wednesday, August 2, 2017

British Quaker Tweet

Quakers in Britain (@BritishQuakers) tweeted at 3:04 PM on Mon, Jul 31, 2017:
It's hard to imagine the chant: what do we want? Gradual change. When do we want it? In due course

Thursday, July 20, 2017

For Lack of a Quaker Creed

Many people join us from "away," either by retiring here to Maine or joining us during their summer sojourns. Plus we have a number of members and attenders who come from a different faith background. Questions and contrasts are bound to pop up.

Julia started attending our meeting for worship in mid-winter. Raised in an extremely conservative faith practice, she arrived in our space and "settled in" with us quite quickly. happy to have found us. She is young, thoughtful, eloquent, and full of Spirit. Like many of us convinced Friends, Julia sometimes remarks on how different we are from what she experienced in her past. She often contrasts the pervasive, prescriptive rules and limited choices she has moved away from with what she is learning about Quaker practice.

Julia recently said that being good and proper is no longer a simple matter of "Is my skirt the right number of inches long?" She shared about that change from a prescribed and directed life she'd experienced as a child to the one where she is constantly considering what would be the "Quaker" thing to do. She decided that, for her, it was to act with "love."

There followed a lot of thoughtful sharing about what each of us might consider core, what we connect to about the Society of Friends, how each of us might answer "what is the Quaker thing to do?" People shared:
  • "What is it that you Quakers believe?" can be challenging for a group to come up with a single response.  For me, it is to "try what love will do." 
  • Some faiths require people to promise or pledge to believe a particular creed all their life. The speaker thought that he couldn't do that. The lack of a lifetime oath or promise gives him the freedom to change and the responsibility to be a searcher. 
  • Seeking that of God in everyone. Including myself.  
  • Listening for the Inner Voice.
  • Having no separation between my secular and my spiritual life. Living my life in a way that expresses my inner Light.
  • Quaker structure is bottom-up rather than top-down. 
  • We are in community together in our seeking, a Society. We support and nourish each other. We are not some solitary people off alone meditating someplace.  Corporate worship brings the Spirit to us as we open to it. 

I found this on the Quaker Information Center's page delving into various Quaker beliefs and think they are a good resource:
All Friends can agree that outward statements of belief are an insufficient basis for a life of faith. Friends aim at an inward knowledge of the Spirit - both individually and in our Meetings. The core of our faith is our living relationship with and obedience to God, not merely the rote recitation of creeds or performance of rituals.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Community Action Calendar

The Midcoast Community Action Calendar began as a cooperative effort to share news of important actions and events occurring in the Lincoln County, Maine area. 

The calendar is being set up so local organizations (including social justice groups, environmental action groups, and area churches) can inform the public about and invite them to join their actions.  We hope it will also help coordinate our efforts and avoid scheduling two events at once. Scroll down to learn how to post and subscribe.

Click on an event to get a more detailed description and a contact person for more information. 
Those wishing to post an event should email the details to  The calendar organizers reserve the right to screen postings for appropriateness. 

You can subscribe to this calendar in several ways:  If you already use a Google Calendar, view your calendar and look down the left column for the "Other calendars" button.  When that is clicked it offers you a search box where you just type in the address.  
You can view the calendar in any web browser using HTML:
If you use ICAL: 

And you can always come back to this blog to view it.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Safety Pin Question

Jogging without a license:

I don't have to worry about anyone questioning my immigration status, so when I jog around my neighborhood I don't always carry any form of identification. That's because I'm an old white lady and I live in a community that is mostly white older people.  No one is going to stop me and ask me to prove I belong, or jail me until I can. No matter where I lived, I've never had anyone challenge my right to be where I am. That's white privilege, also class privilege.  I was born into it and didn't even notice at first that it wasn't that way for everyone.

But Mr. Rogers said:

I've always been told that if I have a problem I could flag down the nearest "authority figure" for help. The "helpers" are those in the positions of authority, wearing uniforms.  Heck, that's what Mr. Rogers said, isn't it?  "Find the helpers," he said, when talking about scary things happening. I told that to my students. No one in my hearing ever added, "but be sure to keep your hands visible and make no threatening moves, because that helper might be afraid of you." Privilege, again.

No medicine for them:

I remember being a high school student in the 70s (in a large city in another state) and going to the "North End" of town, with my best friend, to interview black community leaders there about the discrimination behind the riots happening in my town. I was amazed to learn that there were no pharmacies in the North End, because no one would make start-up loans or insure the stores. There followed a whole list of things, besides getting prescriptions for sick family members, that people in this neighborhood did not have access to. I had been allowed to grow up until this point ignorant of the issues in ethnic neighborhoods in my own town: again, privilege.

People First, except when that denies their identity:

I did try to become more aware of what went on with marginalized people, find ways to be supportive and inclusive, and tried to educate myself on what I, personally, should do. Sometimes, the right thing to do is clear.  Often, it isn't. Like with "people first" language:

The theory behind "people first" is that if you name the person first and then the trait -- say, a "person with a disability" rather than "disabled person" you are emphasizing that the person is a person first.  There are lots of arguments that people first language actually dehumanizes (implying the trait is bad, or not a part of their basic identity) and places the identity apart from the person in a way that does not reflect reality. Plus the grammar is awkward. We don't say "person with Italianness" or "person with offspring." This essay by Jim Sinclair (click here) and this essay by Lydia Brown explain the argument for "identity first" language.

So now, the safety pin question:

After the Brexit vote reports of abuse and intolerance of immigrants went on the uptick. People in the UK began wearing safety pins as a sign of solidarity with the immigrant population. After Trump's election in the U.S., appeals to show solidarity and willingness to protect marginalized groups on Facebook and Twitter by wearing a safety pin began appearing.  Actors and others posted pictures of themselves with safety pins on, along with statements that they would be an ally.  

Then other voices began to surface, suggesting this was a superficial gesture and although it might make the wearer feel better it was not enough to help those marginalized groups unless the wearer was willing to also step up and take action. Actions like intervening when seeing intolerance (there are some lovely guides about how to do that circulating on social media), and offering other ways to be an ally (this article offers some solid strategies for gaining understanding and effectiveness (strong language warning)). 

Both sides of this argument over what to do to be an ally have merit, and I want to both declare solidarity and take action to follow through.  

But there's a third thing to accomplish, and that is to take back some of the public space that we lost to hatred and bigotry.  I want to take some of the air out of the sails of the intolerant or just plain uncaring people who voted for someone who spouts hatred.  I want those emboldened by Trump's public racism, religious discrimination, LGBTQA intolerance, and xenophobia to know that they don't speak for me. The safety pin makes a quick, efficient, and public statement that I think they are wrong and want them to stop. At least, that is what I hope it does.  

Monday, October 3, 2016

World Quaker Day 2016

Sunday the 2nd of October was "World Quaker Day."  We celebrated with a picture, Meeting for Worship, and a Potluck.

During Meeting for Worship a theme arose around the joys and challenges of George Fox's quote "answering that of God in everyone" and a more recently quoted "answering that of God in all creation." 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday Morning Silences

I arrive at the meetinghouse for 10 a.m. on Wednesdays.  I often encounter a few people leaving from our newly instituted mid-week silent worship.

This brief 30 minutes of quietude was organized by a Friend who felt led to seek a chance to regroup in stillness and silence mid-week.  She invited in several people she knew, none of whom are Quakers, and all of whom gave it a trial. Local Friends have also joined her.

She arrives and unlocks the meetinghouse at 9:30 a.m.  She enters quietly and goes directly to the worship room and others do the same. After half an hour, they quietly disperse.  They may wish each other good day but they do not linger long; there is no expectation of a social time or coffee hour.

True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.
~ William Penn, 1644-1718