Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly)

Syndicate content Quaker Ranter Daily
An Email Newsletter & Blog from Martin Kelley
Updated: 7 hours 8 min ago

Syncretism, dilution, and the drawbacks of cultural appropriation

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 9:59am

Syncretism, dilution, and the drawbacks of cultural appropriation

At first blush, such a process might be celebrated as a process of enrichment: Quakerism version 1 turns into Quakerism v2, now new and better because it has bells or outward sacraments or what-have-you. But note that this kind of change is not just a matter of simple addition, because elements drawn from various other traditions are themselves embedded deeply in some culture, and so they are clothed round with meanings and nuances that are implicitly adopted along with the idea or practice that has been explicitly imported.



Love, judgment, and the “inner critic”, pt. 2b: Syncretism, dilution, and the drawbacks of cultural appropriation

In previous posts in this series, I did some preliminary work by way of detours into the nature…

Amor vincat
Categories: Blogs

Group decision making and moral disengagement in the context of yearly meeting schisms

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 8:34am

Group decision making and moral disengagement in the context of yearly meeting schisms

This is an aspect of group discernment and consensus decision making rarely discussed among Quakers. Likely this is because the presumption is that in worshipful business meetings the presumption is that decision making is Spirit-led. It is a noble ideal and one that I have seen in action. And yet, it is also a dynamic that can be subject to abuse and as such ought to prompt some self-examination and possibly some intentional safeguards into meeting processes.

Categories: Blogs

Legacy or burden?

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 7:14pm

Legacy or burden?

One issue to which I am particularly sensitive is how our obsession with the past comes across to newcomers. Some people (especially those with Quaker ancestors) are excited by our history, while other people are turned off or simply puzzled by Quaker jargon and Quaker genealogies, which they experience as a serious barrier to being included.



Legacy or burden?

Quakers are particularly good at raising up voices from the past – from the lives and ministry of…

arewefriends
Categories: Blogs

Make Quakerism Militant Again

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 3:59pm

Make Quakerism Militant Again

Quakerism is designed for disruption. Actively stirring up trouble, causing a scene, shedding Light on oppression. Following Christ calls us to be outlaws, to defy the powers of this world. To simultaneously break into and out of the state and extend the Kingdom. We are called to create and live into a new society.



Make Quakerism Militant Again

Martin Luther King, Jr. argued that nonviolence “is an imperative to action.” That’s why King’s Poor People’s Campaign…

Friendly Fire Collective
Categories: Blogs

Introduction to “The Christian Universalism of George Fox”

Sat, 06/02/2018 - 11:51am

Introduction to “The Christian Universalism of George Fox”

Since Benson’s time, denominational-mindedness has gained ground among Quakers, and a diversity of philosophies is now seen as valid not only for those outside of the Society but for those within. A tightening conformity to the doctrine of individualism has accelerated the proliferation of ideologies within the Society. Resisted by most is the observation that human nature is intrinsic and universal, the same in every time and place, and that Jesus Christ speaks to this universal condition.



Introduction to “The Christian Universalism of George Fox”

When I began to concentrate my studies on all the writings of George Fox more than forty years…

Abiding Quaker
Categories: Blogs

The Rise of Liberal Quakerism, Part 7

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 7:51pm

The Rise of Liberal Quakerism, Part 7

This was the first direct Quaker confrontation with the state in more than 200 years. The absolutists went to jail. For a while, Wormwood Scrubbs prison was the largest Friends meeting in London. The experience also turned Friends against solitary confinement, which they had originally pioneered.



The Rise of Liberal Quakerism, Part 7

The Great War Britain Yearly Meeting was not truly unified against the war. Almost 1000 Quaker men served…

Through the Flaming Sword
Categories: Blogs

Spirit-Led Evangelism

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 8:41am

Spirit-Led Evangelism

Adria Gulizia guest posting on Johan Maurer’s blog: It is hard to talk about God, Jesus and the spiritual life in this moment in American history. Many of our non-Christian neighbors find the little they know about Jesus to be attractive or intriguing, but they know enough about the failings of the church to have very negative opinions about actual Christians. If we do have non-Christian friends, it may be despite our Christian faith rather than because of it — we may be seen as the exception that proves the rule.



Adria Gulizia: Spirit-Led Evangelism

Political and cultural observations in light of Quaker discipleship. Recurring themes: Russia, peace, evangelism, blues.

blog.canyoubelieve.me
Categories: Blogs

Spirit-Led Evangelism

Fri, 06/01/2018 - 8:26am

Spirit-Led Evangelism

Adria Gulizia guest posting on Johan Maurer’s blog: It is hard to talk about God, Jesus and the spiritual life in this moment in American history. Many of our non-Christian neighbors find the little they know about Jesus to be attractive or intriguing, but they know enough about the failings of the church to have very negative opinions about actual Christians. If we do have non-Christian friends, it may be despite our Christian faith rather than because of it — we may be seen as the exception that proves the rule.



Adria Gulizia: Spirit-Led Evangelism

Political and cultural observations in light of Quaker discipleship. Recurring themes: Russia, peace, evangelism, blues.

blog.canyoubelieve.me
Categories: Blogs

President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminiary on Simon Jenkins article

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 4:03pm

Chalk this one up as another whisper-down-the-lane. As readers will probably remember, a few weeks ago, non-Friend Simon Jenkins wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian about the possibility of British Friends dropping God from their Faith and Practice. There were a lot of exaggerations in it; the yearly meeting session was mostly deciding whether it it felt led to start the long process of revising the document of Friends’ belief and practice. Many yearly meetings do this every generation or so. AFAIK, there was no substantive discussion on what the revisions might bring. At the time, I speculated that “Jenkins is chasing the headline to advance his own argument without regard to how his statement might polarize Friends.”

Now we have another headline chaser. The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary more or less reads Jenkins’s piece aloud on his radio show (hat-tip havedanson on the Quakers subreddit). He lightly skips over the fact that Jenkins isn’t Quaker and admits to limited experience of Quaker worship. The SBTS president, Albert Mohler, repeatedly calls the Guardian article a “news report” even though it is clearly labeled as an opinion piece. If any publicity is good publicity then it’s good that non-Friends like Jenkins and now Mohler are talking about the decision-making process of a Quaker yearly meeting, but this is stupid piled on stupid.

From a media perspective, I get it: Mohler has a daily 24-minute podcast to fill. He has interns who scan buzzy news items. They rearrange the text with interstitials like “he continues, and I quote” and “he goes on to say” so that Mohler can spend five minutes reading an article without sounding like he’s just reading an article. But seriously, how does the president of a major seminary have such disregard for anything approaching academic rigor? Also: how much regurgitated junk is on the internet simply because people need to fill time? The Quaker caution about giving ministry just because you’re paid to give ministry and it’s time to give ministry seems apt in this case.



Monday, May 14, 2018 — The Briefing

Daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview

albertmohler.com
Categories: Blogs

Making meetings simpler

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 2:44pm

British Friend Helen Drewery writes about what might be a universal desire to make Quaker organizational life simpler

How can we achieve a flexible simplicity – living by the essence of the Quaker approach but not treating old habits as sacrosanct? Early Quakers saw simplicity as stripping out of their lives the superfluous activities and things – John Woolman called them ‘cumber’ – so that they could more fully follow the leadings of the Spirit.



Making meetings simpler

Helen Drewery introduces a new project that will support growing Quaker efforts across Britain to find ways to…

Quakers
Categories: Blogs

Foxy George

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 2:40pm

Reader Carl Abbott of Multnomah Meeting in Portand, Oregon, wrote in with a bit more context about the local public school that’s shedding it’s Quaker mascot:

The Franklin High mascot  issue was very low profile here in Portland, basically raised and advocated by one person. Individuals in our meeting signed her petition, but the question did not rise to formal consideration ( I think also the case with other area meetings and churches). The question of Native American names used by schools around Oregon HAS been a substantial and difficult public issue, and I suspect that the Portland School Board was looking to avoid a quagmire. I’m supportive of the change, although it seemed to me that there have been much more important things to worry about.

Meanwhile, for your entertainment I dug out this old press release from George Fox University (whose date I can’t read). I do agree that Bruin is better than Foxy George.

Mascot press release.pdf

It looks to me like the handwriting reads Fall 70 to me. Am I going to be the only one to think that Foxy George is pretty creative in a charmingly obvious way?

Categories: Blogs

Barking up the family tree

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 6:16pm

There’s a number of common gateways for seekers to discover Quakers–activism is a common one (see last week’s QuakerSpeak interview with Lina Blount), as is plain dress (my posts on the topic are my most popular), as is childhood experiences at Quaker schools.

But a big gateway is genealogy. Over the years I’ve gotten countless emails and phone calls from excited newcomers who start off the conversation with details of their family tree (when I used to answer the Quakerbooks phone, I would let these folks go for about two minutes before gently interjecting “wow that’s fascinating!, do you wanna buy a book?!?”)

One fascinating factoid in this week’s QuakerSpeak video comes from Thomas Hamm:

If your family arrived in the United States before 1860, there’s probably a 50–50 chance that you have a Quaker ancestor somewhere.

Quaker Meetings shouldn’t try to be the gathering spots for prodigal family reunions. The early Quakers were strangers to one another, joining together because of the fire of their convictions. Ours is a living, breathing, ever evolving spiritual practice. Still: we are also a grouping of people. We look for belonging.

The longer I’m with Friends, the more I think ours is a religious community that draws strength from the tension of paradoxes. I have a soft spot for the old Quaker families. If Jesus brings some of the new people in through Beliefnet quizzes or Ancestry.com search results, well, maybe that’s okay.



How to Research Your Quaker Ancestry

How do you know if your ancestors were Quakers? Here’s how to research your Quaker ancestry.

QuakerSpeak
Categories: Blogs

Photons Don’t Phail

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 5:51pm

A few weeks ago I wrote about a New England Friends meeting that was working to share the electricity generated by its solar panels with its neighbors. In response, one of our longtime blogging Friends Doug Bennett, now of Maine’s Durham Meeting and formerly president of some college somewhere, wrote me about lyrics that its former pastor Doug Gwyn (this guy) wrote. I love both of these Dougs so of course I’ll share the link with you all, including this first stanza of “Photons Don’t Fail Us Now”:

it would be foolish to vote on the nature of a photon
as Quakers we simply approve
you can argue to the grave it’s a particle or wave
we just want to let it hit our roof



“Photons Don’t Fail Us Now,” Song Lyrics by Doug Gwyn

April 30, 2018 Former Pastor Doug Gwyn writes, “I’ve been reconnecting with First Friends Meeting in Richmond, where…

Durham Friends Meeting (Quaker)
Categories: Blogs

Words and Wounds: Reflections from Britain Yearly Meeting

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 7:32am

Words and Wounds: Reflections from Britain Yearly Meeting

I was particularly moved by the presence of our international Quaker visitors. To travel all that way just for our little gathering! It struck me that, when we say ‘our diversity is our strength’, this must include all the ways that Quakerism is expressed throughout the world. It must even include those expressions of Quakerism that make us uncomfortable. For our diversity to truly be our strength we must pay a price, and that price is the need to have deep and difficult conversations with each other, face to face, about what we hold most dear.



Words and Wounds: Reflections from Britain Yearly Meeting

Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) has discerned that now is the time to begin revising our book of discipline,…

Jolly Quaker
Categories: Blogs

Portland, Oregon high school ditching controversial ‘Quakers’ mascot

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 9:32am

On the list of religious problems, the use of “Quaker” by non-Friends is more mystery than problem. There’s the multinational giant Quaker Oats Company of course, periodically making tone deaf statement with its name. Friends of a certain age might remember 1989’s rebranded Popeye the Quaker Man and every eighteen months the laugh-out-loud Quaker Oats threatens to sue us story goes re-viral on Facebook (the page is undated and so always feels new; the incident is at least 15 years old).

There are also various schools who brand their sports teams with the Quaker name. But a Portland, Oregon, news station says that list is getting a bit smaller: Franklin High School ditching controversial ‘Quakers’ mascot

An assistant principal and another teacher told FOX 12 they shifted away from branding the school as “Quakers” several years ago. Several students also said they don’t know much about who Quakers are or the religion. Several seemed to think Benjamin Franklin, who the school is named after, was a Quaker. Franklin was not a Quaker. FOX 12 also spoke to Kelly McCurdy, who put three children through Franklin High. He said he believes the district is making a mistake and erasing tradition. “I think it’s silly, personally,” McCurdy said. “It’s not racially insensitive.”

It seems that the Fox affiliate went out of its way to find a cranky person to deplore a point no one was making. Of course it’s not racially insensitive. But these appropriated names are always… well, weird. No public school would call themselves The Jews or The Muslims or The Catholics or anything else smelling of religion. It’s a sign of how dismissed Friends are as a actual living religious movement and denomination that our nickname is considered fair game. We must turn to the local newspaper to get the real background:

Lisa Zuniga told the board that in 2014 she met Mia Pisano, a fellow Franklin High parent who is a member of the Quaker faith, and the pair started an effort to change the name. The name, they argued, violated the separation of church and state. The district, they said, should never commandeer a religious symbol or connotation for a mascot. Despite interest in the name change, Zuniga said, parents met stiff resistance from the district. It was hard to even get anyone to explain what the process would be to bring about a name change, she said.



Portland school board finds Quaker mascot name discriminatory

Franklin High’s mascot, The Quaker, is an offensive appropriation of a religious faith and must be changed, the…

OregonLive.com

Franklin High School ditching controversial ‘Quakers’ mascot

Portland Public Schools’ Education Board unanimously voted Tuesday night to ditch Franklin High School’s controversial mascot, The Quakers.

www.kptv.com

Popeye Quaker Oats Commercial 1989 80s Commercials

Popeye Quaker Oats Commercial 1989 80s Commercials

YouTube
Categories: Blogs

Quaker Abolitionist Benjamin Lay Remembered

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 3:02pm

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting has published a piece on the rehabilitation of disowned seventeenth century Quaker rabblerouser Benjamin Lay

On Saturday, April 21, 2018, Abington Monthly Meeting unveiled a burial stone for Sarah & Benjamin Lay. The event which featured opening remarks by author Marcus Rediker and local resident and Quaker Avis Wanda McClinton was followed by a gathering in the meetinghouse in the manner of a Friends Memorial Meeting.

Abington was the first Friends meeting I ever visited and I’ve loved the story of Lay since the time I first stumbled on it (even as a kid I was enough of a local history nerd that I might have read of Lay’s antics before I ever met a Quaker). I’m personally so happy to see him get this wider recognition. The PYM piece is all-text but much of the grave marker ceremony has been posted to YouTube.



Benjamin Lay Grave Marker Ceremony

YouTube
Categories: Blogs

Fired teachers sue Quaker school

Tue, 05/08/2018 - 11:45am

Well, it’s in the courts now. The Philadelphia Inquirer headline reads Former Friends’ Central teachers sue school after firing over Palestinian professor invite while the PhillyVoice has an article on the discrimination case filed by two teachers fired by Friends’ Central School last year and the

Ariel Eure and Layla Helwa allege the Quaker school violated their civil rights by suspending and terminating them last year for supporting student protests to permit the Palestinian professor [Sa’ed Atshan] to speak. Additionally, they claim school administrators conducted a smear campaign after they were fired.

Friends Journalcovered the incident last year, as did multiple news outlets. It also came up in an interview I had with Sa’ed Atshan a few months ago. When we contacted Friends’ Central to fact-check Sa’ed’s account, the school couldn’t point to any inaccuracies but still said “we disagree with the fact pattern, including the timeframe, as described.” I still not sure what that’s even supposed to mean.



Former Friends’ Central teachers sue school after firing over Palestinian professor invite

In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, ousted teachers Ariel…

Philly.com

Fired teachers sue Quaker school for discrimination, defamation

Lawsuit claims Friends’ Central wrongfully dismissed teachers who invited Palestinian speaker to address students

PhillyVoice
Categories: Blogs