Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly)

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An Email Newsletter & Blog from Martin Kelley
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Traveling in the ministry in the “old style”

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 2:31pm

Wess Daniels on Lloyd Lee Wilson’s traveling style

Most folks can guess what it means to travel in the ministry. You visit different churches and meetings and share gifts of ministry with the community there. “In the old style” is a reference to how many early Friends would travel, by sensing a call to go and worship with Friends in other parts of the country and world, with no clear outcome or goal, and only trusting that by showing up and worshiping with Friends “something divinely good would happen.”

On Traveling in the Ministry

Learning How to Travel in the Ministry: The Past Bears Weight on the Present This is a post…

Categories: Blogs

UK Quakers will not profit from the occupation of Palestine

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 11:57am

British Friends become first church in UK to pull investments in companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine. From recording clerk Paul Parker:

As Quakers, we seek to live out our faith through everyday actions, including the choices we make about where to put our money. We believe strongly in the power of legitimate, nonviolent, democratic tools such as morally responsible investment to realise positive change in the world. We want to make sure our money and energies are instead put into places which support our commitments to peace, equality and justice.

As you’d might expect, there’s been backlash. The Board of Deputies of British Jews has condemned Britain Yearly Meeting’s decision as a “biased and petulant act.”.

Quakers will not profit from the occupation of Palestine

Quakers in Britain has today become the first church in the UK to announce it will not invest…

Categories: Blogs

Genesis: Outer Space and Inner Light, by

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 11:57am

John A. Minahan has written this week’s featured Friends Journal article, a nicely paced exploration that touches on personal memoir, human milestones, cultural memory, and the Book of Genesis:

Now the astronauts had used that same rhetorical strategy but on a planetary and even interplanetary scale. Speaking the words of Genesis, they sent a message of healing to a wounded world; they expressed a certain cosmic humility about our place in the universe; and, most of all, they shared goodwill, jaw‐dropping in its simplicity, with “all of you on the good earth.” A moral and existential vision took hold of me in that moment and has never let go. Though I couldn’t have articulated it as such then, it was a realization of original goodness.

Genesis: Outer Space and Inner Light

Outer space and Inner Light

Friends Journal
Categories: Blogs

New eBook “Remixing Faith” Now Available

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 11:15am

From Wess Daniels:

I have put this talk together in ebook form complete with lots of pictures and illustrations and formatting that adds to the reading experience. I wanted to share this with all of you and make it as accessible as possible, so it is free to download. It should work with most modern-day eBook readers and apps. If that doesn’t work for you, I have also turned the talk into a downloadable .PDF.

New eBook “Remixing Faith” Now Available

My new eBook “Remixing Faith: Seeds of Renewal” is now available for (free) download as an eBook or…

Categories: Blogs

Reddit: Quakerism without Jesus

Sun, 11/18/2018 - 8:57am

Two much-discussed threads on /reddit/Quakers, the first pondering Quakerism with Jesus, and the second—a response—arguing for Jesus’s centrality. Both original posts are perhaps a bit predictable but the conversations go into interesting contradictions and dilemmas.

Also, an early plug that the December Friends Journal will focus on Quakers and Christianity.

r/Quakers — Quakerism without Jesus

12 votes and 42 comments so far on Reddit

Categories: Blogs

Kindertransport survivors call for routes to sanctuary for child refugees

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 12:53pm

At an 80th anniversary of the UK kindertransport program (which we read about a few days ago), survivors and Friends call for wider support for today’s refugees and asylum seekers:

Helen Drewery, Head of Witness and Worship for Quakers in Britain, welcoming all to Friends House, said, “We are pleased to be hosting an event which honours all those – including Quakers who put the Kindertransport into effect. Their endeavours are being echoed today by nearly 100 Quaker meetings across Britain which have identified themselves as Sanctuary Meetings and are supporting people who have fled from danger in their home countries. We are glad that these Meetings and the people they are supporting are represented at today’s event. We join them in pressing for more safe passages.”

Ekklesia | Kindertransport survivors call for routes to sanctuary for child refugees

Categories: Blogs

This Couple Had a “Kitten Hour” at Their Wedding

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 8:31am

This story needs no clever introduction:

“We wanted our guests to have something to do as they arrived [while] we took pictures with our families, so we planned a kitten hour,” Colleen told POPSUGAR. “We did a cocktail hour with cocktails named after our cats for the reception, but the Quaker meeting house we used for the ceremony doesn’t allow alcohol on premises. I wanted a wedding falcon, but Iz vetoed that, and so we compromised on kittens.”

This Couple Had a “Kitten Hour” at Their Wedding, and Yes, It’s a Cat Lady’s HEAVEN

This is probably the best idea ever!

Categories: Blogs

Kristallnacht, Kindertransport, and help for refugees

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 7:03am

Quaker refugee work circa 1933:

The reports gathered from the Jewish community in Germany by Quakers were of influence when Quakers accompanied the Jewish delegation who went to see Home Secretary Sir Samuel Hoare to plead the case for allowing immigration of children into Britain without the usual visa restrictions. They swayed the government and this planned immigration of German and Austrian Jewish children became known as the Kindertransport. Around 10,000 children were evacuated from Germany and Austria to Britain between 1938 and 1939.

What I find most fascinating is the detail that the Friends library in London doesnt have a lot of records of this work. It was so much in line with other refugee assistance Friends were doing in Europe that they evidently considered it just another day on the job, so to speak. I shared a piece on the related Quakerspeisungen a few days ago.

Kristallnacht, Kindertransport, and help for refugees

Last week saw the 80th anniversary of the November Pogrom in Germany and Austria, now known as Kristallnacht.…

Quaker Strongrooms
Categories: Blogs

Mike Shell reviews book reviews

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 10:23am

Okay, it’s not quite so referential: Mike’s lifting up three books in September’s Friends Journal book columns that “help ‘white’ readers go deeper into self-awareness about the hidden dynamics of racism.” He also tells a little of his own story of color-blindness.

When my “white” friends said I couldn’t bring my “black” best friend to their lunch table, I shrugged and sat with him at a “black” table. On the minus side, when someone in the school parking lot shouted nigger lover, and my friend wanted to fight, I just told him I didn’t mind the insult. That was probably my first seriously hurtful act of “white color-blindness.” It took me decades to realize, to my shame, that it was he who was being insulted, not me.

Three books for “white” people

The Books section of the September 2018 Friends Journal includes reviews of three exemplary works to help “white”…

Quaker Universalist Voice
Categories: Blogs

Quakerspeisungen and an Oscar Schindler connection

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 9:19am

This week marks the hundred-year anniversary of the end of the “Great War,” World War I, branded as the war to end all wars. Our annual commemoration of the armistice in the U.S. largely went by the wayside in 1954 when Congress changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Instead of marking the end of a horrific war that literally consumed much of European resources and people for years in trenches that never moved, we now spend the day filling lectures with cliches of military service.

But the hundred year anniversary also means we can start remembering the aftermath of the war. The First World War set up the second. We largely think of the mistakes and half-efforts of the victorious powers but Quakers were part of more righteous storyline:

Even more food was sent by American Quakers under the leadership of Herbert Hoover, providing daily meals for 60,0000 starving Berliners for five years. The Germans labelled this massive effort, Quakerspeisungen: “Quaker Feedings.” It saved thousands of lives, including those of the family of Oscar Schindler who famously went on to help 700 Jews to escape the gas chambers at Auschwitz in the Second World War. Schindler’s sisters spent six months recuperating with the Hall family and one even attended Thirsk Grammar School for a term.

Friends Journal Bonuses: Quaker work in Germany in the 1920s and 30s was the subject ofQuakers in Germany during and after the World Wars from 2010. Relief efforts in Spain were part of a more recent story that tied it to present-day refugee assistance in Gota de Leche.

Heroic Quakers and a fascinating link between Oscar Schindler and Thirsk

A FASCINATING link to Oscar Schindler via a Thirsk family of Quakers is being celebrated in the North…

Darlington and Stockton Times
Categories: Blogs

The gray wave that wasn’t

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 6:25pm

Back in March, Friends Journal and the Earlham School of Religion co-hosted an online discussion with six Quaker candidates for congressional seats. The idea and coordination came from the awesome Greg Woods. I went to see just how high the 2018 “gray wave” had crested.

Spoilers: no wave. Four of the candidates didn’t make it out of the primaries and a fifth was running as an independent in a long-shot candidacy. The one candidate to win major-party primary was the awesome Shawna Roberts1 of Barnesville, Ohio. Shawna’s one of the most down-to-earth, real, people I know and it was a lot of fun to follow her campaign. Her twitter feed has been a hoot:

Last night, at the BPW forum, my opponent’s statement said his childhood home “didn’t even have indoor plumbing.”

Oh, Bill. Indoor plumbing’s still pending at our old farm house.
You can’t out-hillbilly me. Unless you eat squirrel brains. I draw the line at squirrel brains. pic.twitter.com/hGMJvQ8Yhq

— Shawna Roberts (@RobertsOhioD6) October 20, 2018

Unfortunately Shawna only got about 30 percent of the vote yesterday. This election was not kind to Democrats in rural districts like southeast Ohio’s 6 and she was running against an incumbent. From my vantage point 30 percent seems pretty good, though as my seventh grade math teacher used to intone in his weary baritone, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. traced it down (Popik was an essential source tracking this Quaker bumpersticker).">2 Still, the prospect of a Mrs Roberts Goes to Washington win had me hoping against the odds. I’d love to see her continue to be involved: 2020 is only two years away.

Stats on everyone’s results are at the updated Quakers in Politics page. For anyone wondering about Quaker politicians, Paul Buckley had a nice overview of our complicated relationship to voting a few years ago.

2018 Quakers in Politics Web Panel (Updated Nov 2018)

The upcoming U.S. Congressional mid-term elections already have at least seven Quaker candidates for office. How does their…

Friends Journal
Categories: Blogs

Looking outside the meetinghouse (FJ call for submissions)

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 3:25pm

Let me give a plug that Friends Journal is looking for articles on the topic of “Outside the Meetinghouse” for the March issue. The deadline is a little over a month away. Here’s a little bit of my write-up for it, as a teaser:

There is a long history of Friends preaching and witnessing outside of the confines of the meetinghouse. George Fox’s Journal is full of unconventional worshiping; he had a particular penchant for preaching from any bit of high ground he could find, like a tree or rock outcropping. His contemporary James Naylor is most remembered for re‐enacting Jesus’s Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem by dramatically riding a horse down a main road into Bristol. Modern‐day Friends continue to find unconventional places to worship…

Also, I’ve just set up a form to get on the email notification list to get pinged when topic write-ups get posted. It’s very low-volume, as we only write these once a month. There’s only two subscribers. For the time being, I’m just keeping the emails in a list and sending personalized emails.

Writing Opp: Outside the Meetinghouse (due 12/10)

Information about our upcoming March 2019 issue, “Outside the Meetinghouse.” Feature submissions are due December 10, 2018.

Friends Journal
Categories: Blogs

Political queries from an almost-Quaker

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 2:27pm

Timothy Taylor on radical objectivity:

But near what feels like an especially divisive election day, it seems worth posing his insights as a challenge for all of our partisan beliefs. While I am not a member of the Religious Society of Friends, I attended a college with Quaker roots and married a 22nd-generation Quaker. The Quakers have a term called a “query,” which refers to a question–sometimes a challenging or pointed question– that is meant to be used as a basis for additional reflection.

His list isn’t really in the style of classic Quaker queries (surprise). It’s the modern style of leading questions that get called queries. Too often this form ends up being a rather transparent attempt to impose a kind of political orthodoxy but Taylor’s questions feel refreshingly challenging and useful for whatever side or non-side one takes in politics. Hattip to Doug Bennett for the link.

Clifford Geertz and Radical Objectivity

My current office sits near the anthropologists, who have posted this comment from Clifford Geertz on the departmental…

Categories: Blogs


Fri, 11/02/2018 - 1:03pm

Mike Farley, of Silent Assemblies, writes of an early Quaker interpretation of anoiting:

I have been struck by the word “anointing”. Elizabeth Bathurst (as quoted by David Johnson) wrote: “But I brought them the scriptures, and told them there was an anointing within man to teach him, and the Lord would teach them himself.” We are not very used, I think, to the term among Friends today. Among charismatic Christians it is much more common, and seems to be used in both the sense of being given spiritual gifts… But I think Elizabeth Bathurst, following the apostle John, as she says, is using the word in a slightly different sense to either of these, and it is a sense we as Quakers should recognise.


As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone…

Silent Assemblies
Categories: Blogs

The Doctrine of Discovery, white guilt, and Friends

Fri, 11/02/2018 - 10:10am

Johan Maurer starts with “it’s complicated” and goes on from there. A passage I find particularly interesting is his explanation of why looking at large-scale state-level atrocities like the stealing of native land or the kidnapping of millions of Africans is not just something to be done out of guilt:

Whether you believe in an intelligent Satan (along the lines of Peter Wagner’s ideas) or a more impersonal mechanism of demonic evil (Walter Wink), we shouldn’t pretend that such nodes just go away. Their evil persists. The basis for apology and repentance is not white guilt or shame or any form of self-flagellation. Instead, it is to conduct spiritual warfare against the demons of racism and oppression and false witness, to declare them off-limits in the land that we now share, so that we can conduct our future stewardship—and make our public investments— in freedom and mutual regard.

I’m drawn to the old notion of “The Tempter” as a force that leads us to do what’s personally rewarding rather than morally just. I think it explains a lot of internal struggles I’ve faced, even in simple witnesses. As Johan says, these massive injustices can’t just be undone but they need to be recognized for the immensity of their scale. I’ve also seen this weird way in which progressive whites can blithely disregard Native American perspectives on these issues. Listening more and waiting for complicated answers seems essential in my opinion.

Another good deep-dive for Friends interested in this is Betsy Cazden’s Friends Journal 2006 article, Quaker Money, Old Money, and White Privilege. It’s one I turn to every so often to remind myself of some of our monied Quaker norms. Johan gives a pass to William Penn but I think it’s important to remember that his colonial ambitions were deeply enmeshed in at least three different wars and conveniently served the political calculations of two empires, the perfect storm of an opportunity for a group of pacifist idealists.

Quakers and Native Americans: It’s complicated

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

Categories: Blogs

The freedom to seek sanctuary

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 7:36pm

From Lucy Duncan at the American Friends Service Commitee:

What if, instead of characterizing folks seeking home as “threats” or “invaders,” we understood them to be our neighbors, that our futures are interlocked and that how they are treated is connected to the well-being of us all? What if we understood love as not constrained by borders or walls, but abundant, and that caring for one another and those most violated by systemic oppression is the pathway toward liberation for us all? What if we, as people of conscience and faith, greeted the migrants at the border as our brothers, sisters, and kin, opened our homes and communities to them, and greeted them as resourceful contributors to figuring out the planetary threats we currently face together?

The freedom to seek sanctuary: A Quaker perspective on the migrant caravan

“Underlying the complexities of sanctuary’s evolving role within civil society, the sanctuary covenant that gathers us into a…

American Friends Service Committee
Categories: Blogs

Origins of the Check-In (Quakers)

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 10:11am

Over on Medium, consultant Jim Ralley looks to Quakers for the origins of the facilitator’s check-in:

The ‘check-in’ is a fundamental element in the repertoire of a facilitator. There’s no better way to start a session and get everyone present, and there’s no faster way to discover what’s going on under the surface of a group. It’s such a simple an effective process tool that I figured it must have a rich and well-documented history. But it’s proved quite tricky to research, partly because its name is shared with the hotel and airline industries, but partly also, I suspect, because of its simplicity.

Where to start? With such a basic human process, the line through history will surely be tangled and confused. But, for the sake of starting somewhere, I’ll start with the Quakers.

I’ve left a comment on the post with missing links. I’ll leave a version of it here. Regular readers will predict that I’ll start with Rachel Davis DuBois, the New Jersey-born Friend who put together racial reconciliation groups in the mid-20th century. She later turned some of the process into “Dialogue Groups” in the mid-1960s and traveled the U.S. teaching them; these evolved into modern Quaker worship sharing and clearness committees.

Those late-60s processes were picked up by the younger Friends, who (no surprise) were also into antiwar activism and communitarian politics. They were codified and secularized by the Movement for a New Society, which started in Philadelphia in the early 70s but had communities all over the Western world. Much of their work was focused on training people in their style of group process and a lot of our facilitator tools these days are disseminated MNS tools. Many MNS’ers were involved with Quakers and many more filtered back into the Religious Society of Friends in later years.

A lot of this relatively recent history has been forgotten. Many Quakers will tell you these things all date from the very start of the Friends movement. There’s definitely through-lines and echos and inspirations through our history but I’d love to see us appreciate Rachel Davis DuBois and the people who made some very useful adaptations that have helped Quakers continue to evolve and (almost) thrive.

Categories: Blogs

In the New Yorker, an article on atheism leads with a Daniel Seeger’s 1965 Supreme Court case

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 10:13am

A review of two books on atheism starts with the take of Dan Seeger, who’s landmark Supreme Court case extended the right to conscientious objector status to agnostics and atheists:

Daniel Seeger was twenty-one when he wrote to his local draft board to say, “I have concluded that war, from the practical standpoint, is futile and self-defeating, and from the more important moral standpoint, it is unethical.” Some time later, he received the United States Selective Service System’s Form 150, asking him to detail his objections to military service. It took him a few days to reply, because he had no answer for the form’s first question: “Do you believe in a Supreme Being?” Unsatisfied with the two available options—“Yes” and “No”—Seeger finally decided to draw and check a third box: “See attached pages.”

Seeger’s victory helped mark a turning point for a minority that had once been denied so much as the right to testify in court, even in their own defense. Atheists, long discriminated against by civil authorities and derided by their fellow-citizens, were suddenly eligible for some of the exemptions and protections that had previously been restricted to believers.

Daniel Seeger has written for and been featured in the pages of Friends Journal many times over the ensuing decades but last year he wrote a great feature for us about the court case, An AFSC Defense of the Rights of Conscience. A tip of the hat to Carol Holmes Alpern for sending this New Yorker article way!

Why Are Americans Still Uncomfortable with Atheism?

Two new books explore what unbelievers actually believe.

The New Yorker
Categories: Blogs

Letter of condolence from Friends General Conference

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 10:20am

FGC’s Central Committee is meeting this weekend and wrote a letter of condolences to Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, site of the recent shooting

We are deeply saddened by the brutal slaying and injuries to members of your community and the law enforcement officers who intervened in the attack on your congregation on Saturday.
That this violation occurred during your worship together is especially distressing to us. We stand united with all people of faith in praying for everyone affected.

You can read the full piece on Facebook

Friends Committee on National Legislation is also sharing their Principles for Gun Violence Prevention backgrounder, a document that I wish wasn’t newly relevant every other week.

Categories: Blogs

Being God’s Hands

Fri, 10/26/2018 - 1:01pm

A sweet interview this week over on QuakerSpeak, an interview with Carter Nash:

I believe that people will respond to love, because I believe people respond to God. And if God is love, that is what people will respond to, is love. I think that’s the key to a lot of things and to a lot of problems in the world, because if we truly believe in God and we truly believe that God is love as we were taught, and we act on that–and I believe that we are God’s hands here–then everything we do needs to be rooted in love.

Being God’s Hands

If God is love and we are God’s hands, what does that mean for how we should show…

Categories: Blogs