Blogs

A Tale of Two Nightmares: One Asleep, One Wide Awake

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 7:54am

Nightmare Number one, wide awake: In the summer of 1959, my father, an Air Force bomber pilot, was transferred to a base near Cheyenne, Wyoming.

“Peace Is Our Profession” said the billboard by the base gate.

There my mother sent me and several of my siblings to St. Mary’s, the Catholic school downtown. It was across the street from the state Capitol. St. Mary’s was run by Dominican nuns, whose convent was next door.

I could have objected, but thought better of it.  Although I had become more or less an atheist, I was also a senior: one year left. I figured to keep my head down, get through it, then escape to college somewhere.

Far away in Rome, a new pope was settling in, replacing the late Pius XII. Pius had taken over in 1939, three years before I was born. When I thought about Pius, which was rarely, he had seemed like a permanent fixture, as solid as the thick stone walls of the old church in Kansas  where I was baptized, as unmoving as the statues there yearning toward their timeless crucified Christ.

But no, Pius was a mere mortal, and his successor, John XXIII, was quietly preparing to shake up the church’s seemingly impregnable  status quo. I mention these items, not because anything about them had penetrated my teenage male brain, but rather because I realize now that our nuns, an educated and alert group, were no doubt keenly aware of them. In fact, this must have been a very exciting year for them: not only was there a new pope, but Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy was making a serious run at becoming the first Catholic U. S. President in 1960.

Not that the nuns shared their anticipation with the likes of us. Only looking back can I perceive a few tiny slips. For instance, in Civics class, I noticed that whenever Sister Mary Catherine spoke about the ongoing presidential race, and Kennedy’s evident progress, she tended to look down, at her desk or even the floor, as if distracted.

This was puzzling at the time, but now I think I know why: she could not stop smiling, even grinning with anticipation– but in those distant days such levity, not to say obvious partisanship, was unseemly for a consecrated woman, at least outside her cloister.

These nuns  were  pledged  to  Marian  decorum and a drastic modesty: all had taken new names, beginning with Mary: Sister Mary Brigida, Sister Mary Amator, etc. They wore identical floorlength cream-colored habits, with high collars, stiffly-framed, black- trimmed veils and wimples that billowed loose behind them like capes, and covered all their hair.

Our nuns, the Sinsinawa Dominicans, in their pre-Vatican Two habits.

(One day in English class, Sister Mary Amator’s wimple shifted an inch or two, and a wisp of hair escaped from under its protective hem. Absorbed in whatever she was writing on the big blackboard, she noticed nothing, except how unusually attentive the class was. But of course–we were all leering at the loose lock, no less naked because it was grey; afterward the whispered debate was intense, but the consensus view was that Sister Amator had formerly been a blonde.)

Forget our snickers: these women were serious about their mission. It was not only to aid the salvation of our immortal souls, but also to see us properly prepared to take part in this new Catholic era. Thus they repeatedly urged us to enroll in Catholic colleges once we graduated.

(Such attendance, they also knew, greatly increased the odds we would marry other Catholics, and produce that most valuable church asset: new Catholic families.)

To this end, it was announced one day that we would soon be treated to a field trip, all the way to Denver, to visit the nearest Catholic colleges: Regis, for men, run by the Jesuits; and nearby Loretto Heights, for women, operated by the Sisters of Loretto.

I enjoyed the trip, though I was already clear that, as a budding atheist, wherever I went to college, it would be at a secular school. This resolve was greatly strengthened when we visited, of all places, the Regis library.

I had long had fond feelings for libraries,  and at first glance, the one at Regis seemed a fine specimen: well-lighted, relatively new, with many long open shelves. Open shelves of books to me embodied freedom of thought and learning, and its liberating possibilities.

But something didn’t jibe with this appealing tableau. Behind the reference desk, my eye was caught by a large area enclosed by heavy mesh metal partitions, like chain link fencing but thicker, with a locked gate. Inside were more books; I could see the shelves through the mesh. Were they antiquities? Precious manuscripts of historic value? They didn’t look like that.

No. My question to a cheerful librarian got a straightforward answer: the enclosure was for books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum: the Catholic Index of Forbidden Books.

I stared at it in fascinated horror: of course I had heard of the Index. It was hundreds of years old. Where the Church was part of or protected by governments, it went hand in hand with censorship.

The Index, in a 1758 edition. I had never seen it, but it still loomed large over my youth. It is reported that this edition removed works affirming heliocentric from the forbidden list, after 200 years om it. A statue marks the place in Rome where Giordano Bruno was burned in 1600. He was held prisoner for six years before execution, but refused to recant his “heretical” views.

My first, adolescent thought was that it must include the books about sex. True enough, authors such as Gide and Balzac, thought to be peddlers of lasciviousness, were on it. But the Index was much more concerned about the mind than the loins, with stamping out heresy more than suppressing lust. One of the main goals for its first few centuries was to stop the spread of that damnable, intolerable heresy of (wait for it) heliocentrism: the belief that the earth and other planets revolved around the sun rather than vice versa, the latter being the Church’s official view. One of this view’s early advocates, Giordano Bruno, had his books added to the Index, and was burned at the stake in 1600 by the Inquisition. But in 1959, there were more philosophers (Kant, Spinoza, and Sartre) on it than racy novelists, or for that matter, astronomers.

Prohibited, yes; but many of the books were there at Regis, partly visible on those shelves. That was because, like numerous drugs, they were dangerous at large, but could be useful in special situations, and if doled out in carefully limited doses. Thus to read them, one needed a “prescription,” in the form of official permission. This was granted (or not) by the local bishop or Cardinal, based on an adequate showing of why the reading was needed (say, studying the history of astronomy), and how the project would be subject to properly orthodox supervision.

The Frontispiece to the 1758 edition of The Index. The motto at the bottom is Latin for a verse from the New Testament Book of Acts (19:19): “Many [recent Christian converts] who had practiced witchcraft gathered their books together and burned them in front of everyone.” (Actually, in those days it would have been scrolls.)In fact, in 1959 the Index, after its nearly 600-year run, was on its last legs. The new pope I was oblivious to would push it halfway over the brink before his premature death, and his successor, Paul VI (just  made a saint by Francis) finished the job, formally abolishing it in 1966.

But I had no inkling of that. On that day in Denver, in that brightly lit library, I felt I was looking into something close to the very Heart of Darkness. Here was one of the key tools by which the Church intended to capture, control and stifle my mind, as it had those of millions down the centuries.

A Headline from The Guardian, marking the official end of the Index.

Further, that locked gate at Regis did not open on a museum, filled with old relics, but on something intended to be a key part of my personal present, and future.

That enclosure, unremarkable visually, has stayed with me ever since. I have also seen that while the wire mesh is down, the Index abandoned, the spirit behind both has not been finally banished, either from the church or from many power centers outside it. Digital technology, as we are beginning to learn, has spawned many new tools for new censors, official or self-appointed.

Many in our class of about sixty heeded the call behind the Regis field trip: one became a priest; two of my close buddies headed east to the Catholic University of America, and so forth. To these two, once they were safely away on the east coast, I sent a long “coming out” letter, disclosing the lack of faith I had carefully concealed from them in our year at St. Mary’s.

Suitably shocked, they soon wrote back, pleading for me to take my concerns to a priest, before it was too late. But it was already “too late” for me, so of course I didn’t; and eventually both of them, by different circuitous paths, joined me in this “outer darkness.” We’re still in touch, intermittently, scattered across the continent from the far Northwest to the southeast.

Nightmare Number Two, Fast Asleep: Last night, a strange one. No monsters, no open violence, but cumulatively unnerving:

I was at a university, whether as a student, faculty, or something else wasn’t clear. The school was unnamed, but large, and prestigious. It was also being culled.

First, students were disappearing. Not being snatched by goblins, or screaming and resisting, but suddenly gone, quietly but unmistakably. Those who vanished were not all of one color, or LGBTs, or any other such familiar marker. But it somehow became evident that all had been identified as wrong or undesirable. By whom and how, there was no clue; maybe — I thought this later, but it fit the dream — it was Inquisition-by-some-invisible-algorithm: automated analysis of our ever-growing collections of individual likes and clicks had yielded suspect “profiles” which were marked for removal.

And shortly it was not only students. I saw books sliding off shelves and being slipped into a transparent wrapping, something that could be folded like saran wrap, but then became solid as plexiglass. The titles slid past too quickly to track; some looked old, others not. The books didn’t disappear, but were still being put entirely out of our reach. Again, by whom or for what, was not evident.

Through all this, no one touched or spoke to me; yet the sense of threat became steadily more pervasive and surrounding.

This culling was being done deliberately, and the dream unfolded slowly but relentlessly. The growing claustrophobic sense that my turn was coming finally forced me awake, into the familiar darkness of my predawn bedroom.

This was some relief; but the sense of indefinite menace continued, and sleep was gone. My usual morning routine of reading the daily papers didn’t help at all. It was better later at Meeting, though to get there I had to take a detour past numerous hurricane-downed trees, and sit in a chilly, unlit meetinghouse. . . .

The post A Tale of Two Nightmares: One Asleep, One Wide Awake appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Somberly dressed men astride horses

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 2:50pm

Colonial-era Quakers weren’t all saints when it came to opposing slavery but there are some moments we afford to look back to with a smidge of pride. In 1783, a delegation from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting walked into the Continental Congress to make good on all that “created equal” language.

Princeton villagers and members of the Continental Congress beheld the arrival of an unusual delegation of somberly dressed men astride horses. They had come from Philadelphia to raise an issue that the Continental Congress did not wish to address: the plight of half a million American residents — one-fifth of the people — who had been listening to memorable words about inalienable rights and how America would usher in a new age of freedom and justice, but who were condemned along with their children to lifelong slavery. The four men carried a parchment titled “The Address of the People Called Quakers.”

The author, Gary Nash, has a book out about Walter Mifflin, one of the four, which Friends Journal reviewed this April.

As I recall, the transatlantic slave trade went into overdrive in the newly independent United States. If the Continental Congress has listened, the complexion and character and history of the U.S. would be far different.
 



A Moment in Nassau Hall

“THE PACE OF THINGS is inconceivably altered in Princeton within a fortnight,” wrote a Princeton College student to…

Princeton Alumni Weekly
Categories: Blogs

Somberly dressed men astride horses

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 12:50pm

Colonial-era Quakers weren’t all saints when it came to opposing slavery but there are some moments we afford to look back to with a smidge of pride. In 1783, a delegation from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting walked into the Continental Congress to make good on all that “created equal” language.

Princeton villagers and members of the Continental Congress beheld the arrival of an unusual delegation of somberly dressed men astride horses. They had come from Philadelphia to raise an issue that the Continental Congress did not wish to address: the plight of half a million American residents — one-fifth of the people — who had been listening to memorable words about inalienable rights and how America would usher in a new age of freedom and justice, but who were condemned along with their children to lifelong slavery. The four men carried a parchment titled “The Address of the People Called Quakers.”

The author, Gary Nash, has a book out about Walter Mifflin, one of the four, which Friends Journal reviewed this April.

As I recall, the transatlantic slave trade went into overdrive in the newly independent United States. If the Continental Congress has listened, the complexion and character and history of the U.S. would be far different.
 



A Moment in Nassau Hall

“THE PACE OF THINGS is inconceivably altered in Princeton within a fortnight,” wrote a Princeton College student to…

Princeton Alumni Weekly
Categories: Blogs

Somberly dressed men astride horses

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 10:50am

Colonial-era Quakers weren’t all saints when it came to opposing slavery but there are some moments we afford to look back to with a smidge of pride. In 1783, a delegation from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting walked into the Continental Congress to make good on all that “created equal” language.

Princeton villagers and members of the Continental Congress beheld the arrival of an unusual delegation of somberly dressed men astride horses. They had come from Philadelphia to raise an issue that the Continental Congress did not wish to address: the plight of half a million American residents — one-fifth of the people — who had been listening to memorable words about inalienable rights and how America would usher in a new age of freedom and justice, but who were condemned along with their children to lifelong slavery. The four men carried a parchment titled “The Address of the People Called Quakers.”

The author, Gary Nash, has a book out about Walter Mifflin, one of the four, which Friends Journal reviewed this April.

As I recall, the transatlantic slave trade went into overdrive in the newly independent United States. If the Continental Congress has listened, the complexion and character and history of the U.S. would be far different.
 



A Moment in Nassau Hall

“THE PACE OF THINGS is inconceivably altered in Princeton within a fortnight,” wrote a Princeton College student to…

Princeton Alumni Weekly
Categories: Blogs

Somberly dressed men astride horses

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 10/12/2018 - 8:37am

Colonial-era Quakers weren’t all saints when it came to opposing slavery but there are some moments we afford to look back to with a smidge of pride. In 1783, a delegation from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting walked into the Continental Congress to make good on all that “created equal” language.

Princeton villagers and members of the Continental Congress beheld the arrival of an unusual delegation of somberly dressed men astride horses. They had come from Philadelphia to raise an issue that the Continental Congress did not wish to address: the plight of half a million American residents — one-fifth of the people — who had been listening to memorable words about inalienable rights and how America would usher in a new age of freedom and justice, but who were condemned along with their children to lifelong slavery. The four men carried a parchment titled “The Address of the People Called Quakers.”

The author, Gary Nash, has a book out about Walter Mifflin, one of the four, which Friends Journal reviewed this April.

As I recall, the transatlantic slave trade went into overdrive in the newly independent United States. If the Continental Congress has listened, the complexion and character and history of the U.S. would be far different.
 



A Moment in Nassau Hall

“THE PACE OF THINGS is inconceivably altered in Princeton within a fortnight,” wrote a Princeton College student to…

Princeton Alumni Weekly
Categories: Blogs

2020 Speculations: Wanted — A Fighting Leader

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 7:19am

With the awful weekend behind us, we can now return to our regularly scheduled programming, namely endless speculation about the Democrats & their 2020 presidential contest.

Even during the Late Unpleasantness around the Supreme Court, many media mavens kept offering comments about how presidential aspirants on & off the Senate Judiciary Committee were (or weren’t) building their 2020 “brand” in the midst of the swirling controversy. And I admit, I was pondering all that too.

If this now sounds rather ghoulish, it’s still what they (& I admit it, we) do, and some even get paid for it (not me; I’m such a sucker I do it for nothing).

So, with that lame apologia, here’s my handicapping report:

There were three identified aspirants on the minority side of the Senate Judiciary Committee: California’s Kamala Harris, Jersey’s Cory Booker & Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar.

For my money, Klobuchar came across best, but none of them really stood out. Harris & Booker stumbled out of the gate, heckling Chairman Grassley about arcane procedural technicalities (extra points if you can remember any of them), which of course went nowhere.

Then neither of them really laid a glove on Brett Kavanaugh, despite his flagrant & frequent lying. I kept longing for someone to elegantly, icily call him a liar & a perjurer. None came close. Nor did any of them effectively smack down the libelous Lindsey Graham, or the odious ancient apostle Orrin Hatch.

Sens. Cory Booker, left, and Kamala Harris, right.

The only one who defended her dignity was Klobuchar, who batted back Kavanaugh’s gratuitous insults about both her and her father as he blustered and prevaricated about his drinking. There was a welcome — tho all-too brief — flash of steel in her response— but then the Minnesota Nice reflexes kicked in and she squandered the opening.

The upshot was that all three aspirants joined their Dem colleagues who just sat there and let the Coverup Crew splatter them with slime like drunken Beach Week Yalies tipping over a row of porta-potties. The only real fightback came from the protesters,  shouting as they were hustled out; it wasn’t enough.

So of these three, Klobuchar seemed the most solid. But unless she learns to land a punch, no dice. One thing the protests inside and out in the halls made clear is that the Democratic base is boiling mad and fed up with getting rolled. Whoever their 2020 standard bearer turns out to be, she/he will have to be a fighter, and be seen as such.

This consideration applies to several figures outside the Committee too. Take the one some pundits regard as the presumptive front-runner, Joe Biden.

Uncle Joe.

Although Uncle Joe is highly-regarded as a seasoned party elder, his long history also brings baggage: above all, it stirs memories of a double disaster from 1991: first, the humiliation of Anita Hill. And second, the empowerment of Clarence Thomas, whose legacy of embittered, reactionary jurisprudence has disfigured the Supreme Court for 27 years and counting.

Biden was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee then. And while it makes me want to Ralph to voice this comparison, the truth is that his performance then was only barely less appalling than that of Ghastly Grassley last week.

Many younger angry millennials likely don’t even know this traumatic story; but we can count on the GOP’s propagandists to make sure they learn it. Maybe I can forgive Biden’s 1991 performance; he’s expressed regret about it. But though I say it reluctantly, in 2018, it’s a burden that’s disqualifying.

Clarence Thomas, left. Anita Hill, right.

Then there’s the other legacy candidate, my hero of 2016 whose visage is carved indelibly on my personal Mt. Rushmore:

Bernie. 

Sanders did the right thing. He was among the first to publicly oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination, and for the right reasons.

A magic moment: Bernie greets a bird that alighted on his lectern at huge Oregon rally, 2016.

But he was not high-profile in the struggle. Maybe that was also the right thing to do: step back and leave the spotlight for women. We know he’s a fighter. But still . . . . How about Bernie for Attorney General?

And there’s one more aspirant who needs mention here. Within two hours of the confirmation vote, I had an email from this one. (I get dozens of such emails daily; I suspect somebody thinks my last name is spelled S-O-R-O-S).  This missive struck me as being very different from what I had seen and heard from the others. Here’s most of it. Look it over; can you see what caught my attention?

“Just before the vote, I thanked, hugged, and consoled the hundreds of people who were still outside the Capitol and Supreme Court. Women (and friends of women) who have relived the worst moments of their life these past few weeks and fought with courage for the millions of people who could not be here.

Today’s vote hurts people. It hurts every victim of sexual assault who’s been ignored, every woman who’s been told to be quiet, every person who’ll be on the losing end when Brett Kavanaugh casts a gut-punching deciding vote – in favor of states that keep American citizens from voting, in favor of corporations that cheat people, in favor of gun traffickers who put our kids at risk.

We lost this one. I don’t like to lose – and this one really hurts – but I’m not sorry I got in this fight.

Because here’s the deal: When we fight, we get stronger. It doesn’t drain our batteries. It builds up our muscles. And this was a righteous fight. We called out entitled, powerful men who use their privilege to protect each other. We lifted the voices of millions of survivors of sexual assault. We refused to be women who sit down and shut up.

And we strengthened our bonds for the next fight that lies ahead. Because there will be a next fight, and another fight after that, and another fight after that. We won’t always win when we fight. But if we don’t put up a fight, we’ll always lose.

So today, take some deep breaths – and get ready to fight back. . . .”

Of course it’s Elizabeth Warren. And in it I hear a voice that’s much more in tune with the moment than any of these others.

First, she’s angry, convincingly so. Controlled, coherent, but really pissed.

Second, her writing combines the brains of a Harvard Law professor with a clipped, assertive, down-to-earth vernacular:

“Today’s vote hurts people.” “ . . . a gut-punching deciding vote . . .”  “We lost this one. I don’t like to lose . . . but I’m not sorry I got in this fight.
Because here’s the deal: When we fight, we get stronger. . . . We refused to be women who sit down and shut up.”

This is plain talk with a solidly authentic ring.

I was not among the thousands of women and men who thronged the Capitol. But I think I know what they’re feeling today: they want to keep up the fight, with leadership that’s ready to fight, capable of it, and can lift their flagging spirits as they regroup to face the next battles.

Among all of these names here, Warren by far sounds most like that kind of leader. And she’s got a real  track record.

January 2017: Warren was silenced in the Senate by Mitch McConnell when she persisted in reading statements by earlier senators opposing the appointment of Jeff Sessions as a federal judge, because of evidence of his racist statements and actions. After her silencing, numerous male senators read the same statements, but were not sanctioned. Warren’s act of defiance became an instant viral resistance meme: “Still, she persisted.”

Right now she’s concentrating on re-election to the Senate from Massachusetts, and leads in all available polls. She says she’ll decide about 2020 after that.

If my intuition is right — that her fighting voice and image best fits this moment and the angry, fired up base — this could well be her moment too.

“We won’t always win when we fight,” she said frankly, “But if we don’t put up a fight, we’ll always lose.” And: “Because there will be a next fight, and another fight after that, and another fight after that.”

This may not quite be Churchillian, promising blood, tears, toil & sweat. Yet it’s not so far from it, it’s realistic, and has a forceful  eloquence of its own.

And so far, the Committee newcomers,  Harris, Booker and Klobuchar, are all promising, but just not yet in the same class.

So these are my current speculations on the 2020 Democratic horse race. I’ll close with a quote from a Warren floor speech before the vote, about the ultra-secret FBI instant-“investigation”.  She declared flatly that, despite all its shortcomings,

“ . . . the available documents contradict statements Mr. Kavanaugh made under oath. I would like to back up these points with explicit statements from the FBI documents — explicit statements that should be available for the American people to see. But the Republicans have locked the documents behind closed doors.”

If anybody can find a way to pry open those closed doors, it could be her. And if that happens, Brett Kavanaugh may soon have many new reasons to Ralph. And the White House could be faced with a real fighter in 2020.

It would be about time. Way overdue, in fact.

If you find this post useful, please pass it on.

The post 2020 Speculations: Wanted — A Fighting Leader appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Post-Confirmation: Our World Won’t End Right Now. (But you can see the clouds gathering.)

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Sat, 10/06/2018 - 1:54pm

The confirmation vote is is done.

I won’t hold it against anyone who feels stunned and numbed by the travesty in the Senate, and needs to take some time to scream, cry & regroup. (Just don’t forget the midterms!)

Yet soon enough, those on the progressive side will need to look beyond the next election to the long work of coping with other aspects of what Kavanaugh’s arrival on the court portends.

And yes, the outlook is mostly bad; terrible, in fact. And it was a terrible prospect even before any of us knew who Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick were.

The upside down flag signals an emergency. I rest my case.

Further, it’s about what we knew, or could have known, before the explosion, that I want to deal with here.

I don’t mean to diminish for a minute the magnitude of the institutional violence done to women this week, especially survivors of direct assault and abuse. Yet the list of legal catastrophes whose likelihood will climb with Kavanaugh’s ascension was already long, and portends massive negative impact on many other segments of the population; all of us, really.

Further, there was an excellent, but now forgotten overview of this in the opening session of the hearings, presented by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

I don’t know why Whitehouse isn’t  better known.  Maybe it’s Rhode Island’s mini-size (at barely 1200 square miles, it makes Vermont — 8 times as large– look huge; or maybe its due to the state’s mostly Democratic voting record.) Perhaps it’s because he is not running for president.

Whatever; Whitehouse was a prosecutor and state attorney general before he came to Washington. He knows how to make a case succinctly and trenchantly. And he made this detailed pre-rapist case against Kavanaugh in the first round of opening statements on September 4.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

After him, the supposed ace debater Ted Cruz sounded shrill, small and tinny. Cruz’s butt-kissing only underlined the power of Whitehouse’s statement,  a masterwork of plain, well-informed, vivid, carefully angry and occasionally profane argument.

Most of the rest of this post will be quotes from Whitehouse’s  statement. The text, along with links to the documentation for his charges, are all on his website, in full.

If you read the earlier post about Whitehouse’s statement, his brief is worth revisiting. A month ago it was a possibility; it’s now about to become imminent.

Whitehouse did not focus solely on Kavanaugh; rather he spotlighted the bloc that the newcomer will solidify, what Whitehouse rightly called “The Roberts Five.” That’s a phrase we should remember and make clear to the public. We’ll let Whitehouse  pick it up here (I have added the emphasis, having heard the talk first, which he delivered with much passion.)

Whitehouse: When is a pattern evidence of bias?

In court, pattern is evidence of bias all the time; evidence on which juries and trial judges rely, to show discriminatory intent, to show a common scheme, to show bias.

When does a pattern prove bias?

That’s no idle question. It’s relevant to the pattern of the Roberts Court when its Republican majority goes off on its partisan excursions through the civil law; when all five Republican appointees — The Roberts Five, I’ll call them — go raiding off together, and no Democratic appointee joins them.

Does this happen often? Yes, indeed.

The Roberts Five has gone on 80 of these partisan excursions since Roberts became chief.

There is a feature to these eighty cases. They almost all implicate interests important to the big funders and influencers of the Republican Party. When the Republican Justices go off on these partisan excursions, there’s a big Republican corporate or partisan interest involved 92 percent of the time.

A tiny handful of these cases don’t implicate an interest of the big Republican influencers — so flukishly few we can set them aside. That leaves 73 cases that all implicate a major Republican Party interest. Seventy-three is a lot of cases at the Supreme Court.

Is there a pattern to those 73 cases? Oh, yes there is.

Every time a big Republican corporate or partisan interest is involved, the big Republican interest wins. Every. Time.

Let me repeat: In seventy-three partisan decisions where there’s a big Republican interest at stake, the big Republican interest wins.

Every. Damned. Time.

Hence the mad scramble of big Republican interest groups to protect a “Roberts Five” that will reliably give them wins — really big wins, sometimes.

When The Roberts Five saddles up, these so-called conservatives are anything but judicially conservative.

They readily overturn precedent, toss out statutes passed by wide bipartisan margins, and decide on broad constitutional issues they need not reach. Modesty, originalism, stare decisis [the value of precedent], all these supposedly conservative judicial principles, all have the hoof prints of the Roberts Five all across their backs, wherever those principles got in the way of wins for the Big Republican interests.

The litany of Roberts Five decisions explains why big Republican interests want Kavanaugh on the Court so badly that Republicans trampled so much Senate precedent to shove him through; so let’s review the litany.

What do big Republican interests want? Well, first, they want to win elections.

What has The Roberts Five delivered?

Help Republicans gerrymander elections: Vieth v. Jubelirer, 5-4, license to gerrymander.

Help Republicans keep minority voters away from the polls: Shelby County, 5-4 and Bartlett v. Strickland, 5-4. And Abbott v. Perez, 5-4, despite the trial judge finding the Texas legislature actually intended to suppress minority voters.

And the big one: help corporate front-group money flood elections — if you’re a big special interest you love unlimited power to buy elections and threaten and bully Congress. McCutcheon, 5-4 counting the concurrence; Bullock, 5-4; and the infamous, grotesque 5-4 Citizens United decision (which belongs . . . on the Court’s roll of shame).

What else do the big influencers want?

To get out of courtrooms. Big influencers hate courtrooms, because their lobbying and electioneering and threatening doesn’t work. In a courtroom, big influencers used to getting their way have to suffer the indignity of equal treatment.

So The Roberts Five protects corporations from group “class action” lawsuits: Walmart v. Dukes, 5-4; Comcast, 5-4; and this past term, Epic Systems, 5-4.

The Roberts Five helps corporations steer customers and workers away from courtrooms and into mandatory arbitration: Concepcion, Italian Colors, and Rent-a-Center, all Roberts Five. Epic Systems does double duty here: now workers can’t even arbitrate their claims as a group.

Hindering access to the courthouse for plaintiffs generally: Iqbal, 5-4.

Protecting corporations from being taken to court by employees harmed through pay discrimination, Ledbetter, 5-4; age discrimination, Gross, 5-4; harassment, Vance 5-4; and retaliation, Nassar, 5-4. Even insulating corporations from liability for international human rights violations: Jesner, 5-4.

Corporations aren’t in the Constitution; juries are. Indeed, courtroom juries are the one element of American government designed to protect people against encroachments by private wealth and power. So of course The Roberts Five rule for wealthy, powerful corporations over jury rights every time — with nary a mention of the Seventh Amendment.

What’s another one? Oh, yes.  A classic: helping big business bust unions. Harris v. Quinn, 5-4; and Janus v. AFSCME this year, 5-4, overturning a 40-year precedent.

Lots of big Republican influencers are polluters. They like to pollute for free.

So of course The Roberts Five delivers decisions that let corporate polluters pollute. To pick a few: Rapanos, weakening wetland protections, 5-4; National Association of Home Builders, weakening protections for endangered species, 5-4; Michigan v. EPA, helping air polluters, 5-4; and, in the face of emerging climate havoc, there’s the procedurally aberrant 5-4 partisan decision to stop the EPA Clean Power Plan.

Then come Roberts Five bonus decisions advancing a far-right social agenda: Gonzalez v. Carhart, upholding restrictive abortion laws; Hobby Lobby, granting corporations religious rights over the health care rights of employees; NIFLA, letting states deny women truthful information about their reproductive choices—all 5-4, all the Republicans.

Add Heller and McDonald, which reanimated for the gun industry a theory a former Chief Justice once called a “fraud”; both decisions 5-4.

This year, Trump v. Hawaii, 5-4, rubber stamping President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim travel ban.

And in case Wall Street was feeling left out, helping insulate investment bankers from fraud claims: Janus Capital Group, Inc., 5-4.

No wonder the American people feel the game is rigged.

Here’s how the rigged game works: big business and partisan groups fund the Federalist Society, which picked Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh. As White House Counsel admitted, they “insourced” the Federalist Society for this selection. Exactly how the nominees were picked, and who was in the room where it happened, and who had a vote or a veto, and what was said or promised, is all a deep dark secret.

Then big business and partisan groups fund the Judicial Crisis Network, which runs dark-money political campaigns to influence Senators in confirmation votes, as they’ve done for Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh. Who pays millions of dollars for that, and what their expectations are, is a deep dark secret.

These groups also fund Republican election campaigns with dark money. The identity of the big donors? A deep dark secret.

Once the nominee is on, the same business front groups, with ties to the Koch Brothers and other funders of the Republican political machine, file “friend of the court,” or amicus briefs, to signal their wishes to the Roberts Five. Who is really behind those “friends” is another deep dark secret.

It has gotten so weird that Republican justices now even send hints back to big business interests about how they’d like to help them next, and then big business lawyers rush out to lose cases, just to get them up before the friendly [Supreme] Court, pronto. That’s what happened in Friedrichs and Janus.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the biggest corporate lobby of them all. It’s the mouthpiece for Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Guns, you name it—and this year, with Justice Gorsuch riding with the Roberts Five, the Chamber won nine of the 10 cases it weighed in on.

The Roberts Five since 2006 has given the Chamber more than three-quarters of their total votes. This year in civil cases they voted for the Chamber’s position nearly 90 percent of the time.

People are noticing. Veteran court-watchers like Jeffrey Toobin, Linda Greenhouse and Norm Ornstein describe the court as a delivery service for Republican interests:

Toobin has written that on the Supreme Court, “Roberts has served the interests . . . of the contemporary Republican Party.”

Greenhouse has said, “the Republican-appointed majority is committed to harnessing the Supreme Court to an ideological agenda.”

Ornstein described, “the new reality of today’s Supreme Court: It is polarized along partisan lines in a way that parallels other political institutions and the rest of society, in a fashion we have never seen.”

And the American public knows it, too. The American public thinks the Supreme Court treats corporations more favorably than individuals, compared to vice versa, by a 7-to-1 margin.

Whitehouse shows that the public is catching on to the “corporate capture” of the Supreme Court.

Now, let’s look at where Judge Kavanaugh fits in. A Republican political operative his whole career, who’s never tried a case. He made his political bones helping the salacious prosecution of President Clinton, and leaking prosecution information to the press.

As an operative in the second Bush White House, he cultivated relationships with political insiders like nomination guru Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society architect of Kavanaugh’s court nominations. On the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh gave more than 50 speeches to the Federalist Society. That’s some auditioning.

On the DC Circuit, Kavanaugh showed his readiness to join The Roberts Five with big political wins for Republican and corporate interests: unleashing special interest money into elections; protecting corporations from liability; helping polluters pollute; striking down commonsense gun regulations; keeping injured plaintiffs out of court; and perhaps most important for the current occupant of the Oval Office, expounding a nearly limitless vision of presidential immunity from the law.

[Kavanaugh’s] alignment with right-wing groups who came before him as “friends of the court”? 91 percent.

When big business trade associations weighed in? 76 percent. This is what corporate capture of the courts looks like.

There are big expectations for [Kavanaugh]. The shadowy dark-money front group, the Judicial Crisis Network, is spending tens of millions in dark money to push for [his] confirmation. They clearly have big expectations about how [he]’ll rule on dark money.

The NRA has poured millions into [his] confirmation, promising their members that [he]’ll “break the tie.” They clearly have big expectations on how you’ll vote on guns.

White House Counsel Don McGahn said, “There is a coherent plan here where actually the judicial selection and the deregulatory effort are really the flip side of the same coin.” Big polluters clearly have big expectations for [him] on their deregulatory effort.

Finally, [he] come[s] before us nominated by a President named in open court as directing criminal activity, and a subject of ongoing criminal investigation. [Kavanaugh] displayed expansive views on executive immunity from the law. If [he is] in that seat, the White House has big expectations that [he] will protect the President from the due process of law, that should give every Senator pause. [But of course, it didn’t.]

Now, from me, not Whitehouse, a word of advice: don’t try to absorb all this in one gulp. Let it settle; bookmark the Whitehouse background papers (and maybe this blog post), and come back to them.  After all, all this — all this! — is in addition to preserving rape culture, and shoring up the Elite Boys-Will-Be-Boys Protection Plan, and reinforcing the precedent that telling lies under oath by guys with the right skin color & connections are okay.

It’s a lot to take in. If you add up the agenda that Whitehouse has sketched out, plus Kavanaugh’s vow of revenge (“what goes around comes around”) it amounts to a full-fledged counter-revolution. Catch your breath. Let this settle for a bit. (But don’t forget the midterms.)

Then we better get down to the business of figuring out how to fight back and preserve as much as we can in the meantime. It will be a long slog. Big protests in Washington, though they will have their place, will not get it done.   Meaningful resistance will take thought, homework, expertise, creativity and planning.

UPDATE: News reports indicate that Kavanaugh was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts shortly after the Senate voted. This suggests that with The Roberts Five now reconstituted, the notoriously workaholic jurist can get down to work on their lengthy agenda.

Either that, or he may be off to have some beers, possibly too many, with his almost as notorious friend Ralph.

If this post is of value to you, please pass it on.

The post Post-Confirmation: Our World Won’t End Right Now. (But you can see the clouds gathering.) appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

“Two Faces of Liberty,” by Lilith Quinlan

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 9:42am

Quaker Universalist Fellowship has reprinted a 1984 Friends Journal article by Lillith Quinlan that sounds way too contemporary despite the three and a half decades:

While school children in New England are selling candy to rebuild the Statue of Liberty, we have a large and quite different project going on here in Louisiana: the “alien detention center” in Oakdale. This $17.1 million facility with a projected budget of $6-$7 million per year will be able to imprison 1,000 “aliens” initially, then 2,000.

It has been described by Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) officials as a longterm holding facility and is the first such prison administered jointly by the unholy alliance of the Bureau of Prisons and the INS. A new center is also being built in Alexandria to train 1,000 people for the border patrol, doubling the present capacity.



“Two Faces of Liberty,” by Lilith Quinlan

This piece was first published in the August, 1984, issue of Friends Journal. We republish with permission. Given…

Quaker Universalist Voice
Categories: Blogs

Are You Salty Enough to Overcome this Age of Darkness?

Micah Bales - Sun, 09/30/2018 - 7:26pm


This is a sermon that I preached on Sunday, 9/30/18, at the Washington City Church of the Brethren. The scripture readings for this sermon were: Numbers 11:4-6,10-16,24-29, James 5:13-20, & Mark 9:38-50. You can listen to the audio, or keeping scrolling to read my manuscript. (FYI, the spoken sermon differs from the written text.)

Listen to the Sermon Now

I never knew how attached I was to the United States of America until I saw it being destroyed.

I’ve always been critical of this and all empires. Every empire of this world stand under God’s judgment, and as the most powerful empire the world has ever known, the United States of America most certainly stands judged by God.

America has a lot of blood on its hands. The rulers of this land have done what empires always do. The United States is founded on exploitation, slavery, and genocide. It is a society built on patriarchy, racism, and economic injustice. Like all empires, the United States is a social and political order founded on fear and violence.

But that’s not all the United States of America is. This country is a continent. A society that contains multitudes – every kind of diversity you can imagine. It’s a nation of more than 300 million women, children, and men. People of all ages, ethnicities, national origins, and languages. America is our home. It’s where we live. Where we raise our children. Care for our neighbors. Worship our God.

For those of us gathered in this building this morning, America is where we are called to be the church – a community of disciples that reflects the character and will of God on earth. The life and struggles of this American empire is the context in which we are given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. To share his love.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to be aliens and sojourners in this and every human empire. This world is not our home. We are to be a colony of heaven in the midst of an evil and violent age. This demands a certain degree of separation from the mindset and logic of empire.

Yet this call to separation and distinctiveness is not borne out of a sense of self-righteousness. Like every calling that comes from God, this one is rooted in deep love for the world. It is because God truly loves the people of the United States of America that we are called to come out of this empire, to be separate, to turn around and think and live differently.

As the people of God, we are called to be salt and light in the midst of this flavorless darkness. We are called to seek the good of the city and nation in which we have been placed by God. We are to be patterns and examples. A new society – the empire of heaven – being birthed in the midst of the old, dying ways of this world. Like Abraham, we are called to come out of all that is familiar and comfortable so that we can be a blessing. We are to be a blessing to the world, even when that world hates and slanders and abuses us.

There’s a lot of hatred, slander, and abuse these days. There always has been, of course – but now more than ever, it’s out in the open. It’s impossible to ignore any longer. All the ugly things about the American empire – the racism, the greed, the violence, the misogyny – it’s all gushing to the surface now. The veneer of order and civility – the norms and expectations that we once took for granted – are being swept away.

We live in the age of late capitalism, an age of growing barbarism. It’s an age that our grandparents or great-grandparents would have recognized from their youth in the 1930s. We live in an age of fear and twilight. The sun is setting on the social order that we knew, and all the night creatures are slithering out of their burrows.

We are living in times that demand a savior. These are days that preachers like me have been warning us about for generations. Days when our faith will be put to the test. Days when all the deeds of darkness will be brought out into the light. Days when we will have no alternative but to make a choice – clearly and definitively – between the empires of this world and the empire of our God.

These are days when people who seemed good and respectable will reveal themselves to be moral cowards, accomplices to evil, and violent tormenters. And then there will be others, some who we never paid much attention to before, who will be revealed as the fearless and loving children of God.

In days like these, we may be surprised by which group it is we ourselves fall into. These are days of testing for those of us who would be saints. These are days that call for patient endurance. We must wake up, and stay awake.

In these days, we should expect and welcome miracles. That which is hidden will at last be revealed.

The false church – the church of empire, the church of greed, misogyny, racism, and domination – is already revealed. This is the false prophet that we read about in the Book of Revelation. The fake religion that sells its soul for a seat at Empire’s table. We know all about this kind of religion – prosperity gospel and cheap grace that has bankrupted the church’s moral influence and put a stumbling block before millions who might otherwise turn to Jesus and be healed. Jesus says in our reading this morning that it would be better for false teachers like these to have a millstone hung around their neck and be thrown into the ocean.

But we know the darkness. I want to talk you this morning about miracles. Miracles of hope.

The greatest miracle of all will be the revealing of the true church of Jesus Christ in the midst of this empire.

It won’t be who most of us expect. This moral and spiritual revival won’t find its epicenter in echoing cathedrals or mega-church stadiums. It will come from the margins. It will come from those who have been crushed and humbled. It will come from those who have been abandoned and neglected by this empire, and by those who choose to turn away from our privilege and align ourselves with God’s poor.

It our gospel reading this morning, Jesus is clear with us that we don’t get to choose who God uses for his miracles. The Holy Spirit is wholly sovereign. She moves where she will. She chooses who she will. She breathes life into the body of Christ; all we can do is open our mouths and pray to receive this breath and new birth.

In these times of darkness and violence, we don’t get to choose who our friends are. There are no human rulers in the kingdom of God – only King Jesus and the spirit of love and wisdom that he sends us. This spirit is raising up a new generation of disciples. Young and old, male and female, poor – and yes, perhaps even rich. The Spirit of God is gathering a people to endure and bring light in these dark times. Will we be part of this people?

It is time for the disciples of Jesus to be revealed. It is time for the elders to prophesy in the camp. Whether or not you showed up for the meeting, you’ve been called. The Spirit will find you.

What God tells us in the dark, we must say it in the light. What you hear in whispers, proclaim it from the rooftops! In the words of the Amos, “The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

It’s a time for prophecy – yes, indeed. But it’s not a time for grand-standing. It’s not a time for pious and exciting words that make us feel better about ourselves but which fail to heal the sick, bind up the wounded, and liberate the oppressed. It is time for us to become prophets of love – demonstrating in our own lives what the empire of heaven looks like – a world beyond domination, hatred, and fear.

To be this kind of prophet may mean that some of us will get quieter. I know I’ve been getting quieter. I’ve been saying less. Writing less. Making less of my own thoughts and seeking to open myself more to God’s thoughts. In times like these, maybe talkers like me need to focus on speaking less and loving more. Practical deeds of mercy and justice.

That’s what we get out of our reading from James this morning: A vision of the church as a place of healing, reconciliation, and transformation.

Are any among us suffering? We should pray. Are we cheerful? We should sing songs of praise. Are some sick? Let the elders of the church anoint them with oil so that we may be healed. Confess your sins to one another. Pray for one another. God will bring healing.

The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Are we becoming people of prayer? Are we willing to slow down, to take time for all the people and situations that call for prayer? As this dying society moves faster and faster, are we choosing to live in God’s eternal now?

The miraculous church of Jesus Christ is marked by the acts of care and accountability that James talks about. Now, more than ever, we must have the courage to watch over one another. Because many of us are wandering from the truth. Many of us are losing our relationship with Jesus and his spirit as we are sucked into the vortex of the news cycle. Many of us need a friend’s hand on our shoulder, calling us back. That’s what the church of Jesus looks like according to James.

The church of James, the church of Jesus, the empire of God is a place of healing and reconciliation. It is a community where real courage and sacrifice become possible precisely because we know that we can count on the friends of God to act like friends to one another.

In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus tells us in the most graphic terms possible that we will have to give up everything to follow him. If your eye is causing you to lose sight of what is real, tear it out. If your hand or foot is causing you to side with the empire of this world rather than the empire of God, cut it off! Better to enter into the empire of God blind or lame than to stick around and go down with this sinking ship!

This sounds impossible to the ears of those who do not know the true church of Jesus Christ. Without the fellowship of disciples that James describes, who in their right mind would follow a man who tells us to chop off hands, eyes, and feet?

But the church of Jesus is a place of healing and reconciliation. It’s a place where wounds are bound up and made whole. It’s a place where we don’t have to be afraid to be blind or lame – because ours is a God who makes the wounded whole and restores sight to the blind. The empire of God is a community where real healing is possible, where the supposed “wholeness” that is offered to us by this world looks like a cruel joke.

As friends of Jesus, we die to be resurrected. We are defeated, only to discover that death is swallowed up in victory.

Hear this:

Be not afraid.

Remember this:

It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the empire. He has promised us everything! No matter what it may cost us, God is faithful, and his way is worth it.

Only, have salt within yourselves and be at peace with one another.

Related Posts: Without the Spirit, The Body of Christ Is Just a Corpse! In this Age of Darkness, We Need the Prophets

The post Are You Salty Enough to Overcome this Age of Darkness? appeared first on Micah Bales.

Categories: Blogs

Evangelical University loosens its ban on same sex relationships. Oh wait — No, It Didn’t.

A Friendly Letter (Chuck Fager) - Sat, 09/29/2018 - 5:51am

In its September 20 issue, Christianity Today magazine [aka CT] reported that Azusa Pacific University, or APU (a southern California school that evangelical Quakers founded), had changed its behavioral rules to permit same sex “romantic” relationships (if they did not include sex; APU forbids sex to all outside marriage, and does not recognize same sex marriage).  The shift was featured in a  September 18 APU blog post with this graphic  header:

— OOps, no it didn’t. APU’s policy change only lasted a few weeks. As word of the change went viral in the evangelical world, criticism poured in, and the APU Board of Trustees quickly stepped in to overturn the change and reinstate the original rules.

The Christianity Today report includes the text of the original rules and the now discarded revision.

The original rules were summarized by CT thus:

““homosexual acts” (among others) are “expressly forbidden” by Scripture; “heterosexuality is God’s design for sexually intimate relationships”; and “humans were created as gendered beings” in order to be fruitful and multiply.” The original policy concluded that:

“Azusa Pacific University pledges to guide the university community toward understanding and embracing their God-given sexuality as reflected in this statement. Any deviation from biblical standard of sexual behavior is sin and therefore is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”

The revised rule replaced “sin” with this reformulation:

“Any deviation from the biblical standard is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”

APU’s September 18 blog post stated:

“This change is a result of much dialogue between students and administration. For years, LGBTQ+ students at APU have run an underground support group called Haven. However, because they weren’t endorsed by APU as an official club, they couldn’t gather on campus or advertise their meetings.

The group met in apartments around APU because members only knew about Haven by word-of-mouth. Members of Haven were motivated to have their voices heard after an APU faculty member was the target of a hate crime on campus, where LGBTQ+ slurs were used against him.

Last year, with help from LGBTQ+ organization Brave Commons, Haven members started discussing this topic with administration. Erin Green, co-executive director of Brave Commons and recent APU alumni, coordinated much of these conversations.

Premature.

“We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor [whether other students are remaining abstinent],” Green said. “Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code used falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith.”

The students spoke, and the administrative board listened. Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala, Ph.D., said that as the board evaluated their code of conduct, they wanted to be attentive to equity.

“The changes that occured to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups,” Fiala said. “The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”

The Los Angeles Daily News reported on APU’s policy change and its abrupt reversal, which was announced  in a Board statement on Friday, September 28. The statement said, in part:

“We remain unequivocally biblical and orthodox in our evangelical Christian identity. The Bible serves as our anchor.

We stand firm in our convictions, never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social. . . .

Last week, reports circulated about a change to the undergraduate student standards of conduct. That action concerning romanticized relationships was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated.

We see every student as a gift from God, infinitely valuable and worthy in the eyes of our Creator and as members of our campus community. We believe our university is the best place for earnest and guided conversation to unfold with all students about every facet of life, including faith and sexuality. We embrace all students who seek a rigorous Christian higher education and voluntarily join us in mission.

We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waiver in our Christ-centered mission. We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”

The Daily News noted that advocates of the change feel betrayed by campus officials:

“For Erin Green, who graduated from APU in May and is now co-executive director for Brave Commons, a national organization that looks to support LGBTQ students specifically at Christian universities, the reversal is a disappointment. Green, who participated in the discussions last year with university administrators that led to the policy’s removal, went so far as to describe it as a betrayal because the administrators were the ones who reached out to her and other students.

“We poured our hearts out, were vulnerable and relived our trauma telling our stories, telling stories of previous students who were damaged or hurt in some way by the institution, which had action taken against them for being gay or being in a same-sex relationship,” Green said.

“They looked us in the eye and said this policy is harmful, it’s discriminatory, it’s stigmatizing and we’re going to get rid of it,” she said. “And we trusted them.”

Brave Commons: Sadder but Wiser?

APU board member Albert Tate insisted that

LGBTQ students will not be forced back underground and that they will be able to continue having conversations with one another on campus.

“How we structure, support and come alongside that group is secondary to the goal of the group, the goal of gathering together and having all students know they’ve been seen, heard and loved by us,” Tate said. . . .

Tate said he hopes they will continue to meet with university support staff, administrators and board members to craft a policy that is both consistent with the university’s core values and removes language that makes LGBTQ students feel persecuted.

“For anybody on our campus to feel persecuted in any way, shape, form or fashion obviously is not what we want,” Tate said.

In the meantime, Green said students will go back to feeling just that — persecuted.

“They said we could put our trust in them, and we did that,” Green said. “And this is how they treat us, an already marginalized community — push us back down into the fringes.”

APU has a seminary, which includes a “Friends Center”, which offers  courses in evangelical Friends history & theology.

The post Evangelical University loosens its ban on same sex relationships. Oh wait — No, It Didn’t. appeared first on A Friendly Letter.

Categories: Blogs

Self-reinforcing Cycles

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 09/28/2018 - 7:52am

Gregg Koskela, the lead pastor of Newberg (Ore.) Friends Church until last year, has a heart-felt piece about learning how to listen to abuse stories:

For us who’ve walked this road (ourselves or with others), it all fits with the world we now live in, the one where our eyes have been opened and our hearts are filled at times with despair. This is the world where abuse happens, where perpetrators so often get away with it, where it’s so hard to risk revealing it, where we see with crystal clarity that if you do disclose, the questions and doubts and the character assassination will overwhelm.



Self-reinforcing Cycles

(Content warning: description of disclosure of sexual abuse.) Her words hung there, between us, naked and vulnerable, the…

Gregg Koskela
Categories: Blogs

Ben Woods; Liberal Quakerism and the Need for Roots

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 09/21/2018 - 1:18pm

On our relationship with Christianity:

In this vein, for early Friends, ‘being a Christian‘, was more than simply assenting to theological abstracts. To live as a ‘Friend of the Truth’ was to experience directly the claim that God loves the universe perpetually in Christ. In this respect, ‘Quaker’ Christianity is more than a theory or philosophy of things, but a practical relationship with a living person. To walk with Jesus of Nazareth meant to live with the same mantle upon one’s shoulders, to teach, to heal, and to restore.



Reflections on Liberal Quakerism and the Need for Roots

British Liberal Quakerism appears to be in a state of radical transition between a complex past and an…

The Armchair Theologian
Categories: Blogs

MOTIVES

Quaker Mystics - Mon, 08/06/2018 - 11:16pm

Dearest God
my motives are never pure

I want so badly
to serve
contribute

Yet I’m so limited

I see my efforts
ignored

indifferent surroundings
unchanged

Direct me
Teach me

Comfort me
as I look at myself

So I can
keep going

Imperfectly
Impurely

Your
old fool

Categories: Blogs

MY PRAYER

Quaker Mystics - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 10:32pm

Help us

Forgive us

Use us

Categories: Blogs

SEEING

Quaker Mystics - Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:33pm

Wind blown
seed

Falls on far side
of the fence

and flourishes

Turning each day
in delight
to face

glowing globe
source of all warmth
Life

Seeing differently
from separate vantage point

Some would say
Wrong
Terrible

But seeing
is more than believing

Knowing
personal truth

Perhaps
if spoken
may entice others

For there’s no need for
redemption

All are born innocent
Lovely
Free to choose

Wallow in this world

Or die to self
and dance on cloud tops

Categories: Blogs

DRENCHED

Quaker Mystics - Wed, 07/04/2018 - 7:06am

Oh God who watches every wave
and is with each blade of grass
let me know you’re here

The world holds me blind and deaf

Let me hear the whisper of your breath
in the sighing of the wind

Feel the brush of your robe
as you come to me

I lay my heart in your hands
and long to throw my body
in your arms

Gleaming rose
glowing sunset
pale before your glory

Focused on your work
twirling in ecstasy

Categories: Blogs

Continuing the Conversation

What Canst Thou Say - Mon, 05/07/2018 - 8:34am

A conversation was begun in the May issue of What Canst Thou Say around a submission from William Shetter, A Milestone Birthday, his thoughts about his ninieth birthday. Here is the continuation of the conversation and one response. We encourage Friends to continue the conversation continue the conversation by commenting to this post.

February 15-16, 2018
Two quotes from William Shetter’s answers published in the WCTS print edition caught Guest Editor Rhonda Ashurst’s attention:
“I’ve come to feel that like each of us have one life that is composed of two dimensions, one in time and the other untouched by time.
“Living in these two inescapable dimensions, time and timelessness, sets up the enormously creative tension we call “our journey”—our human adventure of discernment and discovery.” —William Shetter
Rhonda: At this stage in your life, do you have a sense of your timeless Self returning again into time and the physical body to create another human adventure?
William: No, I’ve never had any sense other than a single dependable ‘me’.
Rhonda: Do all our adventures “in time” really happen at once?
William: For me, just the opposite. That’s the part of my life that is “strung out,” giving me the sense of time in the first place. My challenging quest is for that hard-to-reach timeless part of me, not part of my everyday experience.
Rhonda: Is there some kind of progression, or is that only a human illusion? Or, perhaps it is a both/and? It is all happening in the now, and there is a progression…
William: The hesitant nature of these questions somehow signals that you’re as much baffled as everyone (at least since St. Augustine including me) is who has ever tried to understand what TIME is! …

by Jessica S.

A strong image of color came immediately to mind when I read the opening lines “the day is past and gone / the evening shades appear …”. Instead of grays and black representing the foreshortened time ahead, I found myself thinking of rich shades of blue and violet and purple. Yes, they ultimately shade into black, but before they do they are vivid and bursting with richness and unexpected beauty. I encountered these colors again when William Shetter asks “shall I endow these evening shades with a deeper, newly richer, vibrant life …?” His clear answer is “yes”, reaffirming that the evening shades are indeed saturated with intense color before they fade to black – if we strive to peer beyond.

Categories: Blogs
Syndicate content