Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Committee on Conflict Transformation

RantWoman is terribly excited!

Thank you New York Yearly meeting for something called the Committee on Conflict Transformation:

No, RantWoman does not have time today to read in detail. In fact, RantWoman wants reading in detail to be a shared project. RantWoman is not sure, shared among who all exactly, but for now RantWoman is terribly excited to have the link.


RantWoman remains highly peeved about the phrase "Couples counseling" as applied to generalized conflict resolution. For details, put couples in the search baron this blog. RantWoman thinks it is PERFECTLY reasonable to expect that others in her Meeting might be able to find resources that help RantWoman tame her outrage and EVEN that others in her Meeting might be able to help find resources online so that they are more accessible to RantWoman than things in print.

RantWoman is certain the desires above are entirely reasonable. God apparently is less certain. So far what has been served up includes a 30-year-old document approved by two committees in her Meeting. Hello. That was before RantWoman even came to town. Equally important our meeting is blessed by attenders who ere not even born then. RantWoman is not even apologizing for wanting something more current and more alive among more people than just the people in an email thread. Hello, you have reached Dial-a-Tirade. Understood?

North Pacific Yearly Meeting wants to rename the committee now called Ministry and Oversight. RantWoman's soul is a simmering pot of resentments about how the renaming of what was formerly called Oversight Committee in her own meeting. In support of the NPYM effort, RantWoman has sailed out onto the interwebs to see what other Yearly Meetings call this committee. What an interesting list, just from a fast partial check so far:

Baltimore Yearly Meeting: Ministry and Pastoral care

Intermountain Yearly Meeting: Ministry and Counsel

New England Yearly Meeting: Ministry and Counsel

New York Yearly Meeting: Community Life and Pastoral Care

North Carolina Yearly Meeting Conservative: nothing helpful

Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting: Religious Nurture and education committee

Pacific Yearly Meeting: both a Ministry and Oversight committee and a junion Ministry and Oversight committee

Okay, okay, so RantWoman wants discernment about a new name for That Committee in NPYM to look at and prayerfully hold options. rantWoman would further like it if discernment did not hurry but came back to Annual Session next year.

God? Friends? Are you listening?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A New Blog in the Pantheon

Announcing: Sleep the Blog

That is all at this time, and if we are lucky, RantWoman will shortly decamp to her bed and LAY OFF THE KEYBOARD.

We should be so lucky

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Simple Path: Shameless Article reprint from Western Friend

This article came to RantWoman via a sequence of lunch conversations at Annual Session. It speaks to RantWoman's condition. RantWoman thanks the author for permission to reprint and invites comments from readers

Western Friends

The Simple Path

April 15th, 2009 · No Comments

by Miriam Bryant Lange

Silence leads to prayer
Prayer leads to faith
Faith leads to hope
Hope leads to love
Love leads to service
Service leads to peace

This is a modification of Mother Theresa’s guiding spiritual principles

I read “The Simple Path” in some book or article about Mother Theresa, years ago. It had a profound effect on me at the time I read it, and ever since. I took it in at a deep level as an essential truth. Over time, it became my core spiritual meditation and process guide, a powerful and gentle reminder of the essential nature of what I hoped my spiritual and worldly life could be–now and in the future.
The theme for my Quarterly Meeting this past fall was, “The Future of Friends.” The accompanying query was, “If Quakers had a billboard, what would it look like? How do we make being Quaker relevant?” As I prepared to go to the retreat I was struggling with my personal discomfort over the seeming contradictory images of using a traditional marketing tool to brand and sell Quakerism. Are we as unprogrammed Friends really needing or wanting to do this? Are we some sort of new or improved product that could make you instantly happier, healthier and more attractive?
Then I thought of the Simple Path–clearly laid out, and beautifully exemplified by Mother Theresa’s life and work. What if this became a spiritual process guide or message for unprogrammed Friends? Is this a path we could agree went to the very heart of the spiritual experience and service work that we are called to individually and collectively? What if this or something as clearly stated and true could be created that would essentially identify us at a core level?  Could a simplified message be of value to us as unprogrammed Friends? Could a simple message be of value to the lapsed Quakers, the young people in our meetings and others curious about or unfamiliar with Friends?
I think The Simple Path could serve as an important organizing principle —a profound spiritual guide and message for Friends. It would not be a creed, or a test to see if we are acceptable enough to participate in the life of the meeting or become members. It would not replace or dictate our spiritual beliefs or service work, nor would it replace the Quaker testimonies.
Our individual spiritual lives and work together as a spiritual community are rarely straightforward. Come Be My Light, the posthumous book about Mother Theresa, speaks volumes about her spiritual trials. Nevertheless, the Simple Path could provide a sense of the key landmarks along the way on our individual or collective journey and provide a sense of assurance that we are moving in the right direction.
Alternatively, we may wish to create our own essential simplified, spiritual process guide. This could be based on our “Faith and Practice” or Quaker testimonies. This would require intensive discussion and consideration individually, in our meetings for business at the monthly or quarterly or yearly meeting level(s).

The Spiritual Essence of the Simple Path

an essential distinguishing characteristic of unprogrammed Friends — waiting patiently for Spirit/God to move in and through us. Perhaps the single most important insight of George Fox and the earlier Quakers was the possibility of a creating a significant personal, mystical relationship with God/Spirit through silent worship. Unprogrammed Friends’ meetings for worship or individual worship are grounded in a sustained, silent practice. As we consciously seek God/Spirit through a quieting of our minds and bodies and let go of expectations for particular types of experiences, a powerful and real mystical connection may occur.

Prayer An unprogrammed Friend’s prayer and meditation is based on one’s own faith and spiritual practices. This prayer and meditation is based on one’s own interpretation of the Christian scriptures, or any of the world religions and spiritual paths. Out of the silence, prayer and meditation, leadings may emerge. Quakers have learned over time that these leadings should be tested through a discernment process, to see if they are in fact divinely ordered or not.

Faith, Hope, Love and Service 
Through the continual practice of waiting in silence, prayer, and meditation, we can experience individually and in our meetings a strengthening of our Faith, Hope and Love. We may be moved as individuals or as a group, or as a meeting to discern the right course of action(s) and turn those leadings into some sort of personal or collective Service. Service work is directly connected to the Quaker testimonies, as we may be moved by an injustice to create greater equality and work toward a more just situation. Concern for the environment may lead to conservation work and/or practices and the simplifying of one’s life.

Peace The passage through cyclical patterns of silence, prayer and meditation can reinforce and strengthen our Faith, Hope and Love. Out of this process and the accompanying leadings, discernment may follow, along with giving ourselves in some sort of service. Over time this cyclical, holistic, mystical practice can transform us and give us a deeper sense of purpose, acceptance and inner grounding: peace.
The Simple Path or other types of clearly stated spiritual, work and life—guiding principles are a map, not the actual territory. For the Christians among us, it is directly in line with Christ’s commandments and teachings. For those of us of a Universalist persuasion, there are innumerable ways of defining and practicing these steps to meet each person’s spiritual needs.

If our meetings were willing to adapt The Simple Path as a guiding spiritual and community principles, or if we created a similar type of briefly stated guiding spiritual principles, they could:
Create a powerful internal identifying message confirming who we are at our best and at the core level. It could lead to a greater sense of community and connection within our meetings. This could happen through intentional practice and (re)dedication to these guiding principles, personally and collectively.
As our personal and spiritual communities are strengthened, we may be more capable of reaching out and taking our spiritual guiding principles to others and inviting them into our communities, creating valuable connections with lapsed Quakers, young people in our meetings and other seekers.
In the final analysis, love of Spirit and God, life, and others is the essential message of Christianity. Quakerism grew directly out of this tradition. It is the practicing of that love that is the challenge.

Miriam Bryant Lange is an attender at Bridge City Friends Meeting in Portland, OR, and an alumna of Earlham College. She welcomes your comments here.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Still not home from Annual Session: the MInute on Eradicating ....

Summary queries:

What canst Thou say?

What are you / we called individually and corporately to DO?

Minutes of Record reflecting Friends Comments about the proposed Minute on Uprooting Racism

As posted to the NPYM website:

RantWoman includes the full text here with gratitude for what is recorded, humility about the task of being the recording clerk, and fussiness about meaning lost and perhaps regained with RantWoman's further reflections intermixed and below.

Readers are invited to consider the possibility that RantWoman is just being insufferable, but please read on anyway.

Points RantWoman is considering:

--details redundant to or expansive of the text.

--multiple mentions of South Africa. RantWoman in extremely literalist interpreter mode considers it important to preserve such detail. A multi-day gathering often develops both themes and memes and a common element such as mention of a specific country with all its history and associations can be an important kernel around which these constructs form.

--sense of spiritual grounding

--Reference to specifically Quaker points or the activities of specific Quakers

--importance or unimportance of details of specific events.

--Appreciation of the Ad-hoc committee members' ability to remain centered while the room offered many expansions of the initial draft  of the minute.

North Pacific Yearly Meeting Annual Session 2018
University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA
Minutes of Record, Third and Fourth Plenary Sessions
July 26, 2018; 6:45 pm – 8:30 pm
Third Plenary Session—NPYM Engagement to Uproot Racism—Presentation of Proposed Minute and Focused Worship Sharing

The following minute was presented by the NPYM Ad Hoc Uprooting Racism Committee for seasoning and consideration for Annual Session 2019. Members of the committee present were Steven Aldrich, Jonathan Betz-Zall, Rose Lewis, Bob Morse, and Merlin Rainwater. Additional members of the committee are Dove John, Laurie Childers, Sea Gabriel, and Lew Scholls.

[Editorial comment: Percentage of Friends younger than 60 on committee?]

We affirm our commitment as Friends to live our intertwined testimonies of Integrity, Equality, and Community, and we look to restorative justice to guide us in uprooting racism.

We recognize the impact of systemic racism on all people of color from overt discrimination and violence to insidious rules and mores that limit educational opportunities, economic prosperity, shared power, medical
treatment, housing security, and human dignity.

[Who do we mean when we say we? somewhere in comments below Friends also observe that white supremacy is also pernicious and damaging for people of European Descent too. ]

We acknowledge that Friends have been complicit in perpetuating white supremacy, even in our Meetings.

Under the guidance of Spirit, we are led to explore how the veiled system of white supremacy rewards people racialized as white with unearned advantages in tandem with punishing people of color with pervasive disadvantages. We seek a deepening awareness of how white privilege has manifested in each of our lives. We endeavor to use this awareness to speak out against racial injustice.

We also acknowledge theft of native lands, genocide suffered by Native Americans, cultural annihilation, enslavement of African people by European colonists, the economic benefit derived from all these actions, the racial inequity created, and the egregious lack of reparations and profound intergenerational suffering. We
acknowledge the need for institutional and personal apologies as a necessary step to healing. We also acknowledge the necessity for guidance in how to remedy any continued injustices perpetuated by systemic racism, and in the creation of improved alternatives.

Our Quaker values affirm that of God in everyone. Compassion calls us to eradicate white privilege in our individual lives, in our Meetings, and in our greater communities. We commit to taking action that dismantles oppressive societal attitudes and institutions, creates equity, and constructs multiracial movements to solve the pressing problems of our times. We aspire to a beloved community structured by equality of opportunity, respect, and spiritual and economic well-being for all.

The committee members expressed thanks that the structure of this year’s annual session has been focused around racism. The minute is a suggestion for action. On, one can also find resource lists and suggestions of activities to use in grappling with this issue.

Worship Sharing
This plenary session was then opened to worship sharing of our responses to the minute and its content.

The following are an approximate record of points people raised as their responses:
Compassion calls us to action, but the following question occurs to this speaker. Are some of the privileges that whites possess such that whites should give them up, or should whites work to make the “privileges: apply to all people?

It is said that [the work of uprooting racism] is to be done by white people, but is there work [contribution?] that also is to be done by non-white people?

The first speaker has spoken this Friend’s mind [about extending privileges broadly].. In addition, dismantling white privilege will be a long and complicated process.

[RantWoman remembers her own comments in considerably more detail.

1. The first Friend speaks RantWoman's mind. Eradicating Racism / privilege (conflating the two) is less the point that ensuring equality of opportunity and access for example to the kind of medical care that kept RantWoman from being more blind sooner in life.

2. RantWoman recalled the stories shared at a long ago Annual Session with Dudu Mtshazo, then clerk of S Africa Yearly Meeting as Friend in Residence. Dudu talked about how under South Africa's apartheid-era pass laws, it was a revolutionary act for people to cross legal boundaries and pray together. RantWoman thinks this was the context for the comment recorded as long struggle....]

Speaker preferred the wording used by the Philadelphia meeting (not clear if this meant Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting or Philadelphia Yearly Meeting). It was more succinct.

This speaker is approaching the issue with great love. She sees all the right words but does not get a feeling from the minute other than an expression of white guilt. White guilt is experienced by people of European descent. While acknowledging white guilt we should remember that systemic racism also affects people of European descent.
This Friend said that she has been ignoring the issue of racism and white privilege far too long. She sees a need to change our Ministry and Oversight Committee to a Ministry and Counsel Committee. [Clarity about the need to change this committee's name but not what to change it to came from several directions over the Annual Session]

White privilege is based on how we look and not on how we feel, live our lives, etc. It’s what is seen on the outside. This speaker is both Native American and of European descent and has been privileged because she is blond and fair-skinned. She has not asked for the privileges. In addition to acknowledging the costs to people of color, we must recognize that we need each other. We need to work so that everyone (including white women as well as people of color) receives the same deal as white men.

This work will take divine help, transformation that can only come from the Center and Source. We need to trust in this.

The speaker remembers his 30+ years of seeking the best opportunities for his children, who thus have benefitted from white privilege. What changes will uprooting racism require of us who are privileged for all to have equal access to what are currently considered elements of white privilege? What will the impacts be (e. g. education at the best colleges or universities)?

It is difficult for anyone to give up something. The minute should reflect problems that need solving, needs that we have together, and ask for a variety of insights, multiple points of view. She would push for this.

The personal gifts that leaders contributed to the civil rights movement benefitted everyone. This speaker calls for the acknowledgment of the gifts we all bring in a celebratory sense. If all persons’ gifts come to the fore, the more diverse world that results would benefit all.

The speaker’s friendships with people of color are so important to her—full, enriching, and close. She would like the minute to speak to a positive outcome.

Twice today this speaker has been moved to tears. He was reminded of the words to “We Shall Overcome.” During the civil rights movement he was convinced that he’d see lasting change within his lifetime, but this has not happened. The task before us is important, and it requires purification in our hearts as the first step. The hardest work is to reach out to those who we find it difficult to reach out to— those who don’t seek racial justice. It requires building bridges over enormous gaps that are already apparent.

[RantWoman wonders whether this was the person who mentioned the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth.]

This speaker was in a worship with Vanessa Julye last week and learned that we should specify more clearly who are the subjects of our statements—rather than using we, us, they. She is curious how people of color react to the wording in the minute. She senses that an expectation is that white people will give up white privilege simply out of the goodness of their hearts. She doesn’t fully believe that. To what extent would such acts be patronizing and paternalistic? Although we who are privileged do not want to give things up, uprooting racism would benefit us all (for example, universal health care for all regardless of race).

The minute is strongly worded. However, it should include naming of instances when we as Quakers have contributed to the racist structure. We can also emphasize co-creation and evolution in cultural ways to become more inclusive for a future in which individuals tap into multiple cultures.

This speaker hears several voices which sound as if white privilege is structured by tangible opportunities and goods. But, the core of the problem is power, the right to decide, to determine what is good. In the Society of Friends white people have made the important decisions. Abolishing white privilege means surrendering that power.

The final speaker suggested that we ask members of groups of people of color what apologies they want to hear. This will reflect a variety of issues. Quakers were involved in destroying the rights of Native Americans, Asians, Mexicans as well as African Americans. In Africa, when changes were taking place, The people of European descent who were in power did not ask what changes and apologies people of color wanted nor did they pay attention when the changes and apologies were expressed. He hopes for inclusive input.

[One speaker, Vanessa's elder spoke of attending a UN-sponsored event in South Africa about racism. People from Africa were asked whoat kind of acknowledgement and apology would matter but their recommendations were ignored by the European members of the delegation.]

Fourth Plenary Session—Singing Ourselves to Wholeness
At the close of the worship sharing session, we listened to and participated in a singing session with Anna Fritz. The chosen songs reflected the presentations and sharing we had experienced.

more ministry as filtered by a night's sleep: The evening as digested by RantWoman on Twitter. RantWoman is very grateful for the fuller minutes despite her compulsion to quibble and augment.

Eradicating white privilege ??? Making advantages available accessible to all lifted up

more remembered ministry. Praying together is a revolutionary act. honoring #Mandela100 and in gathering on racism. When acknowledge and apologize, also ask what remedy matters. Co-create a better reality

one more thought from evening worship eradicating racism means work and challenge and faithfulness

remembered ministry from evening worship. Who do we mean we? How much richer would all be without the weight of white supremacy?

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Annual Session Epistle with Epigraph.

From the many James Baldwin quotes appearing on Twitter in honor of Baldwin's recent birthday:

Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed until it is faced

RantWoman has decided to let the above quote serve as the epigraph for her personal posting of the NPYM 2018 Annual Session Epistle, also available on RantWoman is seasoning leadings about other postings, but the epistle is sufficient unto the hour.

RantWoman comments by way of introduction:

1. It is our Yearly Meeting's custom to Accept rather than obsessively group-edit the offerings of the Epistle Committee. RantWoman decided she could settle down about a need to fuss because on final reading the Epistle Committee admitted they themselves are not at unity about every word and then needed to wander off about the Oxford comma as well as Annual Session.

2. The Epistle committee promised that there should be something in here that offends almost everyone here. Good. At least RantWoman will not feel alone if called to fussiness about something or other.

3. The Epistle as drafted, to RantWoman's ear badly underplays some threads about "Who do we mean, we?"

4. RantWoman hopes separately to post some of the other threads, besides "who do we mean, we?" which emerged from worship as the group started to consider the minute on uprooting racism. RantWoman appreciates the bravery of the Ad-hoc Committee... who remained mostly centered as worship insistently wove distinct strong messages into the air for further conversation.

5.RantWoman wishes the Epistle reflected unity at the final Meeting for Business to change the name of the committee now called Ministry and Oversight. Friends are at unity to change the name but are not at unity about what to change it to. RantWoman is certain the world is entitled to another RantWoman exegesis regarding all the things that annoyed her when this name change came up in her own Meeting. But no promises.

6. RantWoman does not quite know what to make of Nominating Committee concerns, for one thing because she went to two different interest groups where people exchanged emails and committed to further connection going forward. For another thing, in some cases Nominating Committee should be helping see that Friends with beautiful powerful leadings feel well nourished spiritually, not just trying to lure them into committee work.

7. Further RantWoman pith available at using the hashtag #npym2018 .  Warning:God, RantWoman's intentions, and autocorrect in places did not play well together.

8. RantWoman is slightly cross about things she cannot find on either the webpage or the one specifically for Annual Session. RantWoman means to whine in more detail separately.

Epistle 2018

Greetings to Friends Everywhere:

            The nearly 300 Friends gathered at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA, send you our hopes for building a world where bigotry is uprooted and equality of justice is the basis of all our social relations – a Commonwealth of Divine Peace.  We have shared a taste of that under hot, sunny skies at the foot of Mount Rainier, land traditionally occupied by the Puyallup People (/spujɑɫəpabs in Lǝšūtsijd Coast Salish). In our 45th Annual Session we worshipped and shared together, while considering our role in the racism that afflicts our society.

We are grateful for the ministry of our Friend in Residence: Vanessa Julye, from Friends General Conference’s Ministry on Racism, who lovingly rebuked Quakers for upholding white privilege over the centuries up to the present day, and called our largely white gathering to undo the powerful silent forces which actively keep other Friends away.  There was an enormous range of emotional responses.  As Vanessa reminded us, “we live in a world of traumatized people, harmed by the effects of White Supremacy” – harm done to people of all colors.  We often feel anxious, powerless to respond, and baffled as to how to “do it right.”  

How do we make it right?  Our Friend in Residence warned against seeking to be comfortable: white people should not confuse discomfort with lack of safety; at this the room quaked with a gasp of recognition.  Language is often a sore point: we wish to be authentic and speak the truth of our experience, but in ignorance we use words that wound others.  We know we will make mistakes even as we go forward in a brave way, and feel exasperated by that reality.    In follow-up workshops Friends considered how to deal with the manifestations of cultural and systemic bias.  We are thankful for the Friends of color that offered resources and insights while supporting each other in healing.  We began to look at a proposed minute supporting engagement to uproot racism.    Our worship group discussions helped us look more deeply into the privileges of our educated, Euro-American majority,  and to empathize with the sufferings of vulnerable people at the corner of invisibility and exposure.

Friends considered a variety of other topics in interest groups.  Many Friends spent time discussing responses to world climate change and its underlying causes.  Other concerns and Quaker organizations also received Friends’ attention and support.  The xenophobia and racism in the U.S. immigration system seized many Friends’ attention.  We appreciate their many good actions and opportunities for our involvement.}  After laboring all day, the music ministry by Anna Fritz soothed our spirits in the evening.

Junior Friends Yearly Meeting (high school age teens) were most visible in taking part in small worship groups, and in leading a plenary session with a game to highlight the issue of privilege or lack thereof, including race, gender identity, sexual orientation and dis/abilities.  We were reminded of our commitment made last year to welcome transgender and gender non-conforming people.

In a time when the outside world’s business roils and breaks our hearts, the gathering’s business rolled out lightly and smoothly.   Our children’s program, traveling ministry program and other initiatives give us hope for the future.  The new “Pay as you are led” funding brought in more attendance and opened doors for some who otherwise might have been burdened by costs.  Overall our Yearly Meeting’s local meetings find themselves spiritually grounded, though with diminishing numbers and aging members, which leads to difficulty in Nominating Committee’s filling all 97 positions at the YM level.  This is not a new difficulty for our YM nor for other Quaker meetings;  a sign not of lack of commitment but of flagging energy and fewer new, young members.


We are challenged to make effective witness, to uproot racism from our hearts and our communities now.  This is not the time to talk about our ideals; it is the time to act to bring forth actions that manifest the ideals we cannot yet see.  The Spirit is working among our Beloved Community, leading us to recognize past failures, to acknowledge our progress, and to live up to the Light we now have.


In peace,                                                

Signed among and for Friends of North Pacific Yearly Meeting



Lucretia Humphrey, presiding clerk



Friday, August 3, 2018

Happy Birthday James Baldwin

RantWoman is exactly NO scholar of James Baldwin. However Twitter courteously informs RantWoman that August 2 is James Baldwin's birthday. In appreciation:

The paradox of one... become(s) conscious one ... examine(s) the society in which one is being educated

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Neighbors Decamping

Another one bites the dust, dang it. From a few days ago

RantWoman did you hear about Robert?

What about Robert?

He passed away we think this morning. We do not know who found him.

Robert had a daughter and grandchildren who are in touch fairly frequently. This time RantWoman will leave a note in the office with permission to pass her name along to family.

It's not like RantWoman and Robert were fast friends. Robert lived either directly downstairs or just one apartment over. The previous resident of RantWoman's apartment used a wheelchair and apparently was quieter than RantWoman.

A couple months after RantWoman moved into her building, RantWoman got to have a second detached retina surgery. So much fun (not!)  RantWoman even got to stay overnight at the hospital. Whee. No sooner had RantWoman gotten home and settled into the face down in the massage chair regimen when Robert came banging on RantWoman's door complaining about the noise.

RantWoman remembers just kind of staring bleary-eyed.

RantWoman also remembers over the years dropping lids fairly frequently and just mumbling "bless your heart Robert" every time the clatter rang out..

Robert smoked and walked his dog late at night. RantWoman and Robert sometimes gossiped at those hours. The dog died earlier this year too and RantWoman has no idea what health issues made Robert just rail thin. Robert was in his 70's. Maybe that is as much as RantWoman is supposed to know.

Bless Your Heart Robert

Priscilla Jane Foxen

Priscilla came at least once to testify about the Center Park Bus. Priscilla also loved the group outings for example to the mall. Priscilla had a sweet devoted male friend Allen from Brooklyn. Hold Allen in the Light.

Colin: RantWoman apologizes if it seems uncaring not to find the blog post about testimony before the King County Council about the Center Park Bus. RantWoman is pretty sure Colin said his last name. He gets to be remembered without it for now. Colin had been some kind of professor. Colin had diabetes and passed away in a care facility. Colin's story reminds RantWoman to Take Care of Herself.