Thursday, December 31, 2009

Absurdly Happy, Entirely Fearless, Always in Trouble

RantWoman is SO happy. RantWoman has a Pendle Hill Pamphlet she COULD scrape her frazzled eyeballs over in print. RantWoman went online to see whether that pamphlet is available on the Pendle Hill Pamphlets page

Um, no, probably because it is too recent, but RantWoman's heart is so FULL from all the things she has found. Douglas Steere Prayer in the Contemporary World

The title of this post is from one of the prayers. It is a state of being RantWoman sometimes flirts with.

RantWoman still has to figure out some things about pagination and Acrobat and which version she should download, but then RantWoman always, always needs more technological adventures and even SOMETIMES manages to be a plucky trial-and-error kind of gal.

One of the vexations Dear Friend seems not to grasp about his interventions in the compost matter: right now he uses the internet for an hour a day at the library. RantWoman is TRYING to formulate her urges to problem-solve about that and some related topics in Quaker terms, but that is a separate problem. The point is that Dear Friend seems certain he is supposed to be playing some kind of role even though things like the disconnect about relative access to and importance of computer media make his essential position less than obvious and even problematic to RantWoman.

Probably RantWoman should accept the gift with the same attempts at gratitude she used to lavish on the sweater from Grandma and other holiday festivity other than what a much younger RantWoman wanted. RantWoman feels very very blessed to have all-day internet access at home, but the rotten truth is that she needs it, both for work and for this sort of study. Apparently RantWoman also really needs more and more fully realized prayer too.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chronicle of Compost Retold

RantWoman has been reading Ashley W's Welcome Prayer and the comments accompanying it. Sometimes RantWoman ALMOST gets there. To be honest, finding something to welcome at least works a lot better for RantWoman than endless contemporaneous incantations in other blogs of the word "surrender." RantWoman is trying to welcome and just be present with anger, confusion, hurt, impatience with both her own and Dear Friend's different extended and contentious dialogues with the Divine.

Thanks to a visitation to an old conversation over at the Association of Bad Friends regarding a Friend from NY, (RantWoman HATES FB because it is so hard to post links and click back and forth between FB and other parts of the E-verse.) RantWoman has further come to realize she also needs to welcome some messy complicated thoughts about how Dear Friend and others in our community deal with each other. This has to do with prophetic voices and mystical traditions, inconvenient interactions with accepted realities and a whole raft of the usual contradictions of life in modern consumer society.

Sometimes RantWoman can say Poor Dear Friend. RantWoman has indications he thought his interventions regarding RantWoman's nomination would be a simple walk in the park and chat about Faith and Practice. Well, RantWoman is giving him the benefit of numerous doubts. Our first Clearness Committee meeting tried to get at reasons, some longstanding this was not the case. We need to try again.

Meanwhile, both RantWoman and Dear Friend in different degrees wish some of the public parts of the situation would just GO AWAY. Alas, it is clear at least to RantWoman that, while some of the problem unquestionably needs community help, there is total lack of clarity about numerous points:

What is community and what is matters between Dear Friend and RantWoman? As with the matter of exactly where a process problem arose, RantWoman suspects she and Dear Friend would not agree about where to draw that line. RantWoman has become very very clear that there are numbers of issues where Dear Friend's voice is important to community discernment, but RantWoman really, really wants to formulate problems in terms that are not personalized specifically about Dear Friend.

Is the working out of things between Dear Friend and RantWoman a stop to other parts of service on said committee? RantWoman would say no, absolutely categorically not for two main reasons. First much of the conflict between RantWoman and Dear Friend is unique to our situations. Second, the fact that RantWoman really, really cannot minister to Dear Friend alone is neither here nor there as far as RantWoman's ability to minister to others. RantWoman is still having a serious dialogue with God about what she is supposed to do with respect to Dear Friend and the rest of our community: some circumstances keep pointing at the possibility that there is something RantWoman specifically is to do. RantWoman so wishes the words recalcitrant and impervious to ordinary sensible suggestions did not leap so quickly to her mind when she thinks of Dear Friend, but perhaps RantWoman is simply again supposed to exercise her well-used gifts of phlegmatic accompanyment.

It seems even MORE conversations and discernment are inevitable. Ugh! Sigh! Moan.

Tonight RantWoman had such a conversation. Thinking about this conversation is what crystallized RantWoman's thoughts above about shiftng the conversation to problems / concerns of the community rather than RantWoman and Dear Friend.

Last night RantWoman had another such conversation with a certain topical committee responsible for helping set tone about what gets seasoned in Business Meeting. RantWoman thinks she did okay about making clear some concerns though she wishes she had been more nuanced about a couple points. For instance, RantWoman gets so exasperated sometimes with Dear Friend that when he says "water is wet" RantWoman wants independent confirmation. RantWoman wishes she had phrased that point in terms of ongoing process integrity not specific to Dear Friend even though there unquestionably are Dear Friend-specific concerns. RantWoman supposes she needs to think more carefully about general points that are bothering her and how others can help monitor / uphold the process / ... This would be PART of a process of RantWoman testing whether her specific concerns have resonance in things she observes of others and then focusing about what is important specifically to RantWoman as far as vision loss issues and what she needs from her community in that regard. More on that separately.

The second point RantWoman brought up as a trial balloon. RantWoman and Dear Friend either need to decide to stay out of each other's work lives or to have better dialogue. Some of Dear Friend's comments about RantWoman's work situation have been, um, unhelpful. On the other hand, RantWoman realized while massaging some of the data from Dear Friend about his personal situation that Dear Friend should seek released Friend status--which would have to be seasoned by the very committee at issue regardless of what happens to RantWoman's nomination. Can you say recipe for further interestingness?

RantWoman has identified another similar issue deriving from our Year of Discernment and from RantWoman's quest for topical documents. Dear Friend will already be working this topic for another reason; RantWoman thinks she and Dear Friend between us have plenty of history about our Meeting to add some generalizing extensions to what the topical committee already did, extensions that coincidentally would also respond to what the YoD steering committee seemed to RantWoman to be asking for. So....

RantWoman supposes one person who is in a position to know of the reindeer droppings email will be stunned that RantWoman opted not to mention it last night. RantWoman thinks there is plenty else to talk about and dwelling on that will be unhelpful. Plus in seasoning a response, all RantWoman is coming up with is sarcastic and less than Quakerly. We may have to start from the truth behind the sarcasm, but... RantWoman admits to being peeved that one Friend thinks acting on the situation awaits the outcome of the clearness process. RantWoman refuses to speak for Dear Friend and in fact would most like to have conversations about some community matters where Dear Friend is one voice among our community RantWoman thinks the clearness process needs to address personal matters and that is going to take how long it takes.

RantWoman herself is seasoning whether the clearness process is too much and is in the way of other effective participation. So far, RantWoman thinks the personal matters are likely to take awhile. On the other hand having the nomination tied up in that will just make some of the personal matters worse and will not necessarily speak either to RantWoman's spiritual growth or to community needs!

So recounting from the beginning:

--Just getting Dear Friend's walk in the park scheduled proved a pain. One reason is that RantWoman has ruthlessly been in "Make your own Job" mode and that just takes time. RantWoman considers herself VERY lucky that her circumstances align so she can meet many basic needs through these efforts and thus does not have to endure all the travails Dear Friend endures. To make time crunch matters worse, Dear Friend is one of the worst offenders on RantWoman's list of friends who are LATE to EVERYTHING on the bus.

--RantWoman half suspects that one of her ministries in the walk in the park phase of the matter was just making Dear Friend wait his turn. RantWoman again notes that she failed to detect any crisis larger than average and the above phrasing MAY be reading more into Dear Friend's point of view than is appropriate.

--RantWoman has noted the possibility that Dear Friend is particularly prone to having his need to elder others crystallize in connection with nominations processes. RantWoman is simply filing this point for context. RantWoman hopes Dear Friend might be open to new revelations about this tendency, but perhaps it is others in the community who need newly to discover the point and figure out ways to interact with this.

--Communications between RantWoman and DearFriend have been heavily impacted by issues to do with computers, when email gets read, documents that send RantWoman's screen reader off to foreign lands, RantWOman's need for documents she can read and Dear Friend's severe time constraints about interacting with the online universe, other people's preference for paper or email.... At one point, RantWoman and others now clearly admit we also both should have picked up the phone yet again.

--RantWoman is TRYING to welcome the caring and presence behind Dear Friend's ill-received interventions. It is one thing if RantWoman asks Dear Friend for something or other. It is quite another if Dear Friend dumps it in RantWoman's lap unsolicited. RantWoman KNOWS that Quaker history is full of Friends dumping concerns in others' laps, but RantWoman most assuredly demurs from a peculiar personal attack as pedagogy aspect of Dear Friend's interventions.

--Dear Friend plowed into some of the reasons RantWoman finds him not necessarily the easiest person to have dialogues with. RantWoman throughout this whole situation has been accumulating some really harsh "I feel" items in draft mode in both blog and email about a sense of feeling hemmed in without space for different views or room for different conversational dynamics. RantWoman has experienced this in pretty categorical and controlling terms even though around the edges when RantWoman manages to dialogue sometimes interesting exchanges occur.

--Dear Friend plowed into some of RantWoman's insecurities about vision loss. Some of these most assuredly are not Dear Friend's problem. Nor, for personal reasons of his own is he the best resource for RantWoman to rely on for some kinds of help. However, Dear Friend's general tendency to plow first and reflect... unquestionably do not help in this context. Sigh.

--Dear Friend keeps talking about his leading which he has seasoned with no one that RantWoman can tell and keeps plowing into RantWoman's old father stuff and wondering why RantWoman is emitting howls of pain.

Now, as RantWoman has been slowly speaking about the matter to others, RantWoman herself is rapidly getting sick of several topics even though merely speaking about the matter is also making RantWoman more resolute that the problem involves both matters RantWoman needs to try again about talking to Dear Friend of and things RantWoman would like others in her community to figure out and get its collective act together about.

For the record, RantWoman has been reading some but not with fanatical discipline from items available online about Eldering. RantWoman notes that this is highly topical to the Pacific NW Quaker Women's Theology conference. This would in various terms also be highly topical to RantWoman's compost thread, a zone where RantWoman is spending FAR too much time and emotional energy. RantWoman does not want to argue eldering wit Dear Friend alone, but RantWoman would like conversations where Dear Friend is one part of the community work. RantWoman wants to help people find the tools they are looking for.

Merry New Year renewal, revival, revisitation...

Open Worship

Sunday brought a magnificent blessing: Jana closed worship! For a Friend who was very, very banged up in the ICU bare weeks ago, it was so wonderful to hear her voice clear and articulate and focused.Probably all of the many post-holiday visitors unfamiliar with how she has spent her fall hardly noticed anything unusual.

RantWoman notes that frequently post-holiday worship includes many Friends visiting from out of town. Often introductions will include quite a range of home monthly and yearly meeting connections. RantWoman is amused about what she is going to call the Quaker begats, an account at the beginning of the NPYM Faith and Practice about the provenance of Friends on the West Coast. When RantWoman hears visitors' introductions, she sometimes wonders what the visitors think of our Meeting, what sticks out compared to practices they are used to.

RantWoman also realizes the greater or lesser presence of truly open worship in different Friends' meetings is deeply interwoven with strands of the Quaker family tree, a topic about which RantWoman feels less than easily able to comment about at will.

On the other hand, RantWoman deeply appreciates the sense of dialogue with and through the divine in this discussion of open worship:

RantWoman notes that this is part of a thread on QuakerQuaker

RantWoman means to write more in a focused way about this topic, but she has been surprised recently reading some other religion-themed commentary about how clearly her adult self has internalized specifically Quaker forms of dialogue with God, both in corporate worship and sometimes when presented with needs for worshipful attention in other life circumstances.

Monday, December 28, 2009

When is a Dove ad not an ad?

RantWoman punched through to the following item.

For RantWoman's trouble she is perplexed by the juxtaposition of the Dove ad-not-ads and the pastor's reflections about himself. Is RantWoman just having one of her massive stupid attacks and missing the point entirely?

RantWoman decided to test this by punching through the link for a related sermon Commodity, Consumer, Creation and for the Quest Church homepage .

RantWoman is not patient enough to listen to the entire sermon, but notes the local church as a curiosity.

In light of RantWoman's compost thread about elders and eldering, not to mention the theme of the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's theology conference, RantWoman is filing the following for comparison purposes:

Bringing the World not to its knees but to its senses

RantWoman clearly needed this thought today:

RantWoman once caused chagrin by suggesting that a Berlin-Wall-style collapse would be a desirable thought for Israel's apartheid wall. After others in attendance picked their jaws up off the floor, RantWoman promised not to be signing up for any Middle East peace delegations in that exact frame of mind.

RantWoman another time simply sat in mute admiration as another Friend spent a whole hour helping Jews and Muslims figure out how to pray together before the beginning of a dialogue about the Middle East.

These days, RantWoman confines a lot of peacemaking energy to exuding a caring responsible adult presence among the wannabe gangbangers she often meets on the bus and leaves the Middle East to....

RantWoman is inspired.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

All RantWoman's latest in E-Book matters

RantWoman is collecting just for edification and note:
RantWoman has not looked at barriers to entry for small presses / self-publication. RantWoman suspects she would become grumpy if she did look.
Short version: Amazon deserves to get sued. They deserve to have whole universities refuse to consider them. The Kindle CAN be made accessible. RantWoman realizes there is still a copyright issue. Silly RantWoman thinks that should be solvable and the sooner the better.
RantWoman will buy! She will buy!

Kudos to Pendle Hill for things available in PDF.

RantWoman is still trying to figure out FGC stuff.

Then there is the time question....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Bungee Cord Angels and Dinopoly

RantMom is a genius, but more on that in a moment.

RantWoman awoke on Christmas Eve to much family email. RantWoman responded to the most idiosyncratic one and got an earful of Little Sister's current, er recurring tale of woe. Little Sister had finally sent out an email saying due to serious health matters she and household do not feel up to holiday meal at RantMom's or to planned expedition to church. There was various family fluttering about by phone with different expressions of expectations, desires, and familiar familial melodrama. RantWoman was feeling a SLIGHT pang about not intervening more forcefully days earlier; usually when RantWoman feels such pangs, she reminds herself that other people are also grownups, that she has no capacity even to try to play fairy godmother, and increasingly that some parties are more able to manipulate situation than RantWoman might initially give them credit for.

So it was with what started out in email as a huge expedition to family Christmas Eve service at church Little Sister and Irrepressible Nephew attend. Little Sister now wanted to beg off. The out-of-family contingent dropped out as RantWoman had predicted. RantMom had already booked paratransit and did not want to unbook. RantWoman thought 3 pm was too darn early for a Christmas Eve service, especially on a rare sunny winter day. RantWoman was also peeved with Little Sister for making everyone make plans to suit her and then flaking out. Than RantMom called back to see whether RantWoman and Little Sister could, if Nephew were interested, work it out so Nephew could meet Auntie on the bus. Duh! We have done that handoff many times, though this time Nephew at first claimed not to want to come.

Anyway, Nephew changed his mind as soon as RantWoman spoke directly to him on her cellphone from her bus stop. RantWoman and Nephew had an easy just hang together ride to the church. We found RantMom without having to resort to cellphones. Although the church would eventually fill with hundreds of perfume-drenched Presbyterians presbyteriating, RantMom landed an aisle seat and everyone sat down for a good 40 minutes of expectant waiting. Well, it was expectant, but the sheer volume and exuberance of those chattering around her made RantWoman less than sure it would be a GOOD 40 minutes.

The church sanctuary is cavernous with blue-themed enormous stained glass windows and an enormous pipe organ. Okay, let's just admit it: God speaks to RantWoman through pipe organs, and RantWoman does not even consider this evidence of any kind of psychiatric disorder. RantWoman concedes that if George Fox had had this problem, a lot of history might be different. Alas, the holiday pageant would not require a single note from the pipe organ.

The pageant did include a cherub choir as well as some slightly less cherubic angels with glowstick wings doing a musical number. Next came some shepherds and their humanoid-sounding flock who talked about being asked to visit the Baby Jesus even though they are low-level night shift shepherds, and smelly ones at that. Three funky rocked-out wise men followed and on their heels an appearance by King Herod, the holy family themselves, and more carols. The pageant culminated with the obligatory mass lighting of candles and singing of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and Silent Night. RantWoman found herself wondering whether the concept of Inner Light arose just because anyone was terrified of whole houses of worship full of people toting lit candles.

To RantWoman's great relief the program did not call for those assembled to attempt anything very complicated with lighted candles. People at the ends of the pews were expected to have their candles lighted and then to hold them steadily as their neighbors lit candles from their flame and then passed the light down the pew. The congregation endured only a few minutes of whole pews full of blazing candles. Then practicality and a desire to safely get out of there took over, and the mass extinguishment happened much faster than the lighting.

RantMom waited at the church for her paratransit. RantWoman and Nephew just missed a bus home as we emerged. Nephew was not the least displeased to be offered pizza while we waited for the next bus. On the way home, boring pedantic Auntie who has no idea whether the stained glass actually has any more formal narrative that multicolored mosaic asked The Boy whether anyone has ever explained to him any meaning for the stained glass. RantWoman explained that in some churches, stained glass windows contain things like images of saints or other visual aids so people who cannot read can remember different Bible stories.

Nephew did not know a thing about stained glass stories. Instead he wanted to talk about 1. being on the roof and seeing his mother on the sidewalk below. 2. bungee-jumping off the roof for Cub Scouts. 3. Somehow getting to play an angel for something involving flying around on bungee cords inside the sanctuary. RantWoman is debating whether to discuss the theology of bungee cords with Nephew's mother.

Nephew and RantWoman made our way to his house where, for the first time in years Little Sister put up a Christmas tree. This year, RantWoman helped RantMom but did nothing this year on her own behalf except a door swag. RantWoman was just to happy for vicarious tree at Little Sister's.

RantWoman not only wound up hanging out a very good while just to gawk at the tree, RantWoman also assented to a festive holiday evening of Dinopoly. What is Dinopoly? Dinopoly resembles Monopoly in a very large number of respects as far as basic rules except that one buys Dinosaurs, time periods, Fossils, bones and Museum exhibits instead of property. One also answers Dinosaur trivia questions and endures other random events typical of an archeological expedition. For example, RantWoman was able to buy the Triassic and Jurassic periods but had to pay fees to get elected the head of an expedition. RantWoman does not remember what other time period Nephew bought besides the Cenezoic era.

RantWoman counts it as some kind of holiday miracle that her overwrought eyeballs made it through a serious spell of Dinopoly. Nephew also did remarkably well as the banker: RantWoman ruthlessly made him do LOTS of subtraction and practice making change multiple ways. In consideration of the holiday, RantWoman decided not to hurry about teaching the boy quite all the machinations of game board capitalism. When recounting all of this to another Friend, RantWoman learned that, according to this Friend, Monopoly was named by Quakers! RantWoman already knew about the Atlantic City connection; for the time being RantWoman is stashing the Quaker connection as an odd gift of trivia for the holiday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Composting the Christmas Spirit?

RantWoman and Dear Friend have been doing too much seasoning of the Compost matter by email, and RantWoman admits that ruminating in her blog may NOT be an improvement. Dear Friend is also recalcitrant about issues to do with even scheduling a next Clearness Committee meeting. Meanwhile, RantWoman has finally assembled several topical resources from her Meeting in electronic format and is looking for topical info from other websites. RantWoman is also TRYING to take a holiday. Well, RantWoman is trying about something but perhaps she should not overspecify what she is trying about.

Dear Friend was previously, months ago the one with bad timing and a spirit of insistence, now it is RantWoman's turn. RantWoman is beset not only by recurring waves of peevishness and vexation, but also by the accumulated fury of the things she has figured out, the burdens of having to relive old hurts from someone else that Dear Friend kept plowing into. Dear Friend FINALLY more or less STOPPED when RantWoman could gasp enough to articulate the problem in those terms. Then there is the tediousness of repeating parts of the story to others for the part of the conversation that involves bigger circles than just RantWoman and Dear Friend, and RantWoman's peculiar general holiday grumbles.

For RantWoman's trouble, RantWoman has an acute sense from conversations with others of the extent to which Dear Friend is probably mortified. RantWoman is also starting to get a sense of reasons this problem is likely to take on telenovela elements regardless of what happens with RantWoman's nomination alone. For the record, RantWoman was JOKING when she previously mentioned telenovelas. On the other hand, episodic, frequently larger than life: if we're all for the spiritual gifts of conflict, are we supposed to LIKE the telenovela meme?

Dear Friend is currently off for several days with his new "in a relationship" companion and RantWoman sincerely, with all her heart, wishes the newly coalescing couple well. RantWoman is seasoning responses to a still steaming shipment of what she characterizes as "reindeer droppings for the spiritual compost heap." On top of this the steaming reindeer droppings are especially redolent and RantWoman cannot quite figure out whether they are serious or some kind of weird joke.

A couple bits of humor from recent emails have landed very oddly, so RantWoman is using her sarcasm filter scrupulously. Well, there is the matter of a parallel universe where RantWoman might refer to her Flogging Bureau, a hypothetical guide called S&M for Dummies possibly being more likely to be available as e-book than some kinds of Quaker literature though for group scenes we probably still definitely need to stick to Faith and Practice, or someone's personal Antichrist. Communications from this universe will have to be available upon request, but RantWoman is trying really, really hard to be centered and prayerful. Well RantWoman is trying.

Dear Friend suggests RantWoman just visit Faith and Practice; RantWoman thinks that is a depressing prospect since what she expects to find is a spectacular list of ways both she and Dear Friend have fallen short. RantWoman still means to visit our book of discipline, but maybe she will cross link with blog items and especially look for language of transformation, something she suspects her Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice may be thinner on than others'.

RantWoman is detecting evidence of a psychiatric issue that RantWoman REALLY does not have the right letters behind her name to apply correctly but does find herself wondering about based on experience with others. This causes RantWoman a pang; RantWoman has NO problems admitting this is as much for her own flair for attracting such folk as for all the pangs Dear Friend is probably having. When RantWoman manages to be grounded and centered, the possible psychiatric issue makes it much easier not to take some things personally. RantWoman is not doing so well about grounded and centered. Ewwww.

Add to this some other gender-based conversational dynamics RantWoman is glad to see seasoned in the more generalized case on another blog. RantWoman suspects based on numerous communications that Dear Friend will not necessarily get the point on his own behalf. However, RantWoman is enough of a feminazi busybody to think it would be ducky if Dear Friend at least tiptoed near associated topics on behalf of his own maturing daughter.

Other circumstances aligned to cause RantWoman to offer another Friend some info related to the compost matter and specifically the numerous ways both positive and extremely difficult that Dear Friend reminds RantWoman of her long-deceased father. RantWoman is feeling her guts churn about the ease with which Dear Friend plowed into the topic when 5 years of work with mental health practitioners has gotten nowhere near it. Double Ewwwww. Triple Ewwww if you count what to RantWoman at least seem like multiple clear messages to Dear Friend about considering whether he is the right messenger and whether others might convey his messages with less baggage.

RantWoman is all for continuing revelation and being careful of the reputations of others but another Friend is actually quite scathing and categorical about recurring elements on one side. This Friend does not know RantWoman well enough to recognize recurring elements for RantWoman too. On the other hand, RantWoman freely admits a certain "mad at God" aspect of her own reaction. RantWoman KNOWS she is supposed to count her blessings on MANY fronts including trauma history, but RantWoman thinks she keeps trying to tell God that her own miseries are already more than enough for her. The mad at God part comes with the persistence of several interactions.

Merry Blipping Christmas all!

Come be born?

One Christmas RantWoman was home visiting MT and attending the church where her father directed the choir. During the adult Sunday school hour, a professor of art history was going on about how when images of Joseph appear in a lot of art about the Nativity, Joseph frequently does not look terribly exuberant or even happy. RantWoman remembers whispering to her father, well, how does anyone expect him to look if God has been messing around with his wife?

RantWoman remembers a message somewhere by John Calvi about moments when Christ is reborn within us and moments when Christ is crucified within us. RantWoman profoundly appreciates that duality.

RantWoman is having a harder time with

RantWoman thinks if a typical radio broadcaster said something like the first quote, it would be far too easy to construe it as some kind of equivalent to "just lie back and enjoy it." RantWoman is nowhere near current about current women-centered writings on this topic.

There were not yet any Quakers at the time of Christ's birth so RantWoman wonders if a "punch God in the face" reaction would be more forgiveable. RantWoman wonders if she would have less of such a reaction if an image of the Divine included one or two people even RantWoman might have flung herself at with offers to bear them a child.

RantWoman has absolutely no alternative concept of how a living God gets born into the world, but she's just sayin....

Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hannukah gift?

Dear Friend has been reviewing the evening program list for FGC 2010 and forwarded the following:

Dear Friend (overlap with above pseudonym accidental; RantWoman thinks she also received the same item but just has not read it yet) ,

I am excited to announce evening programs for the 2010 FGC Gathering, July 4–10, in Bowling Green, Ohio. And later in this email, you can find out how to sign up for the Gathering Newcomers’ Discount for you or a friend.

Evening Programs
George Lakey, “Conflict as a Gift of the Spirit”
George is a lifelong Quaker non-violence activist who has led workshops in conflict areas on several continents. He currently does conflict research at Swarthmore College.

RantWoman hit Reply/All and wonders whether others will think she was too flip.

What? You think I have a shortage of meshugahs in my life already? What if I want the telenovela version instead? Happy Hannukah to you too!

Peace and Love Always
The exchange that followed brought news of a member of our Meeting leading a weeklong workshop. RantWoman will do a fan post with some VERY humble confessions separately!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Composting Business Meeting

RantWoman wishes to reiterate, emphasize, underscore... the following comments are her own efforts to season events of yesterday's Business Meeting. They may or may not intersect meaningfully with the actual minutes and should be assumed to reflect RantWoman's views alone, not necessarily those of anyone else and certainly not any recorded position of her Meeting.

First two announcement reflections:

Nasturtiums in Salad Friend announced that the composting toilet has at last officially been installed. CONGRATULATIONS!

Next, one of our most stalwart and to RantWoman's mind inspiring older members announced that the last surviving founding member of our Meeting has entered hospice. RantWoman recognizes that the mere phrase founding member speaks volumes compared to other parts of Quakerdom. RantWoman has actually met other founding members, now deceased and will hold in the Light the passing of the departing one. RantWoman will also do her best to carry forward our founders' project in this still new century, though she will also admit with only the slightest prodding a "not very good" feeling about the future of the RSoF being on her shoulders. RantWoman supposes she is just going to have to let God handle some of that for now.

Lead me not into temptation. RantWoman left her Sudoku book in the coatroom in her second bag for the ENTIRE day. This did not improve RantWoman's experience of Meeting for Worship for Business. It caused her simply to fixate on a whole list of kvetches and vexations which she now needs to season appropriate responses for. Alas, for a number of reasons it is also clear that merely kvetching in a blog is NOT always appropriate. Sigh.

RantWoman has given herself permission to note the obvious: noisy rooms and crowds of more than about 20 people stress her out--unless RantWoman is at a podium or something. RantWoman will try at some point to reflect about ways she can live with this point and still interact effectively with what needs to be interacted with. In this case that meant banging around alone in the kitchen when she was done eating helping get cleanup started and then retiring to the Worship Room for blessed silence and maybe missing some great buzz from the energy released by The Year of Discernment Final Report

RantWoman wonders whether someone has been reading her blog about overdoing the xerox machine. Past practice has been to make more or less enough copies of our minutes for everyone present. Of course this results in lots of copies left over or thrown out. This time, RantWoman did not even think to check herself, but conversation indicated that people were to share during the review of the minutes. RantWoman APPROVES, though it does occur to her to want to check whether insufficient numbers of minutes copies were a factor in the precipitous drop in attendance after compared to before lunch.

(As far as information access, RantWoman is also reflecting on a large number of laptops in attendance at plenaries at her yearly meeting's last annual session. RantWoman thinks she would prefer NOT to have endless laptop proliferation in Business Meeting, but she is wondering whether not having anything to review would be as disconcerting to others as it sometimes is to RantWoman and how that would affect the progress of business.)

Lots of people liked The Year of Discernment Final Report . Six people volunteered to help organize the recommended two retreats / year for the next year. RantWoman herself offered her services in connection with one of the recommended task forces. RantWoman has NO interest in clerking or convening. RantWoman also wishes the Year of Discernment committee had spelled out a little better what they want the task force RantWoman volunteered for to do. Unfortunately the clerk of the Year of Discernment Committee sent a job description that seemed, based on RantWoman's previous professional activitiy inadequate. Possibly the lack of scope definition is an opening. RantWoman still does NOT want to convene anything.

RantWoman is amused to note that the Year of Discernment steering committee has the same problems finding topical documents as RantWoman. RantWoman cringed when she saw a bit asking the committee which is the topic of the compost thread to do something RantWoman knows it already did. RantWoman felt a pang on behalf of Dear Friend, who RantWoman knows was centrally involved in drafting and seasoning said minute. RantWoman would be less vexed if the results were easily findable by members of the public, but for the time being RantWoman has just added the findability point to her list of compost-themed kvetches.

RantWoman also noted one concern which RantWoman very loosely paraphrases as "why are we spending all this time on committees when there is a world to be saved?" RantWoman understands the point. For some, committee service, community IS the way to peace; others simply cannot do all that peace stuff without deep spiritual centeredness. Still others might also, despite the other two points, grumble "That Friend speaks my mind."

Next came laying down the Year of Discernment steering committee--after 18 months of work. One Friend suggested alternate phrasing: "relieved of service" except that sounds like a cross between an Alka-Seltzer ad and a euphemism from one of those work record documents RantWoman occasionally translates for being forcibly retired or fired.

RantWoman made the mistake as one of her activities after Meeting for Business of going to another event involving several Friends and wanting to debrief instead of attend to the other matters. RantWoman supposes she could have worse problems.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happy Nobel Peace Prize

RantWoman wishes to congratulate President Barack Obama for simultaneously picking up his Nobel Peace Prize and spearheading multinational escalation of war against the poorest country in the world outside of Africa.

RantWoman sincerely laments that she has nothing concise, centered or culturally competent to propose as alternatives.

However, RantWoman is profoundly reverential about the military's prowess in augmenting the numbers of people with newly acquired and horrendous disabling conditions. RantWoman also responds to the military's need to get even severely injured troops back onto the battlefield as quickly as possible.

Thus the RantWoman Department of Unholy Endeavors proposes to team up with the crack assistive technology resources at the Research and Development arm of the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing. RantWoman proposes to seek funding from the Department of Defense for a whole new category of weaponry: weaponry with enhanced accessibility features: rocket launchers that can be operated by eye blinks, one-handed M-16's, a sip and puff interface for grenade launchers. Whether your AT product of choice is word prediction, switch-scanning, a screen enlarger to manage pilotless drones, voice-activated controls for Bradley fighting vehicles. RantWoman is certain the possibilities are endless and with all these hot new gizmos, our wounded troops will be back in line for traumatic brain injury and other boons of the battlefield in no time!

Nasturtiums in Salad

RantWoman gets giddy when it's very cold and dry and SUNNY. This goes back to RantWoman's childhood in really cold climates, climates where there might be more than one wintry spell where the daytime high never rose above zero. Today's cold and dry and sunny in Seattle is nowhere near that cold, but it's cold enough that clouds of heating system steam just hang over their spouts. RantWoman also notes weather reports of blizzards and deep freeze across the rest of the country and is very grateful for SUN.

Okay, so RantWoman is also still stuck putting into bloggable words her latest struggles on her Compost drama and is going to come at this very indirectly by writing of summer potlucks and nasturtiums in salad. When RantWoman first started attending summer potlucks, worldly gourmand that she is, she had never encountered nasturtiums in salad. In fact, RantWoman thought nasturtiums in salad were really weird. RantWoman thought this even when she met the cheerful generous gardening soul who most frequently put nasturtiums in salad.

Things went back to weird for a spell when Nasturtiums in Salad Friend was clerk of a committee and would regularly bring the committee's overflowing load of incoming fundraising solicitations from outside to Meeting for Business and ask the community for guidance about which ones to summarily roundfile. Sorry, world, it's TRUE. All those well-crafted letters and solicitations thinly disguised as newsletters, especially the non-Quaker ones, the overwhelming percentage our Meeting just roundfiles. By the time RantWoman was clerk of the same committee our Meeting had evolved a practice of dumping such correspondence into a box and having a special short-term committee winnow once a year. Perhaps the painful collective efforts requested by Nasturtiums in Salad Friend were a big factor in the later evolution.

RantWoman is writing of Nasturtiums in Salad Friend both for some further vexation and for appreciation. First a vexation: RantWoman frequently finds the vocal ministry Nasturtiums in Salad Friend offers in Meeting for Worship, well, not to put too fine a gloss on it, DIPPY. In fact, these ministries are part of a vague and to RantWoman's ear overly gushy contentment stream that nearly always causes RantWoman to start seasoning contrarian messages about how an awful lot really SUCKS and gosh dang it we need to talk about that stuff too, not just the fine okayness. Okay, RantWoman is used to living in her own skin and how her faith language talks about this stuff; it is probably an act of Divine mercy that the messages RantWoman channeling Eyore starts seasoning like this seldom make it out of her mouth.

Today as RantWoman thinks about many kinds of listening and being listened to, she suddenly uncovered another blessing. RantWoman like many less-than-schooled orators who offer verbal ministry among unprogrammed Friends will sometimes drop the tone of voice or start to mumble part way through. RantWoman thinks she should count it as a blessing that whatever she starts to say is interesting enough that Nasturtiums in Salad Friend very frequently comes over after worship and asks RantWoman about the end of a message. RantWoman finds this question a cognitive challenge because sometimes messages are terribly ephemeral, in the moment rather than in longterm memory, but she finds herself so grateful to see a smiling Friend up close that she always manages to recover at least some small distillation.

RantWoman also deeply admires Nasturtiums in Salad Friend for:

--a very sweet 50+year marriage to Mr. Nasturtiums in Salad.

--multi-year persistance in a project RantWoman learned of outside meeting about helping the community garden near where she lives build a composting toilet.

--long and faithful support of our QUEST program, the small Americorps program that ensures a steady flow of new faces and new energy who always enrich our Meeting's community life whether or not they linger after the end of ther internships.

--a wonderful arts and crafts ministry that Mr. and Mrs. Nasturtiums in Salad always bring ample supplies for to Quaker gatherings. RantWoman used to be the sort of grumbler who would not even have thought to do such things. Now she is always just in AWE about this Friend's patience in explaining things to total novices and about how the simple act of creating space and activity also creates amazing openings and connections.

Here RantWoman might consider an excursion about language for transformation, especially among those who talk about faith so may different ways in her Meeting. RantWoman might consider this, but she has a better idea: all these reflections sound like the kinds of things people say at a memorial and RantWoman realizes it would be much nicer to say all of this to Nasturtiums in Salad Friend while she is still alive.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Discernment Rocks

RantWoman is temporizing about anything to do with Compost. To assist in this procrastination and as a way of upholding the efforts of the people writing the actual Year of Discernment committee's report, here is RantWoman's two kopecks for the day on the topic:

What to call it.
The Year of Discernment began life as a year of respite or some darn thing. At the timeRantWoman was co-clerk of Hospitality committee and a year of respite did not in the least sound like it would mean respite for the dish cleaners and child care and floor sweepers among us. As soon as the phrase Year of Discernment came up, RantWoman was all over it. There was a little while where people planning the retreats were trying too hard about food to the point of asking people to sign up in advance. To RantWoman's view, just doing potluck is so much easier because needed increments of food tend to come with additional clumps of people. Looking back, RantWoman's one regret is that she did not insert some sort of statement about renewed energy for coffeemaking into the goals of the Year of Discernment. Well, PERHAPS that would have been overspecifying something that is supposed to be automatic. Well, it's supposed to....

MiniClearness Committees
Before launching into the Year of Discernment, someone on Oversight committee had the bright idea that Friends should all be offered the chance for a mini-Clearness Committee that would meet once and introduce anyone who had one to the miracles of Quaker care. A whole bunch of people went through training about this concept.

RantWoman does not remember really being asked whether she would be interested in being a facilitator. RantWoman also remembers that even if she had been asked, her life was full. RantWoman already had sufficient experience with simple questions turning emotionally complex. A one-time event sounded really prefunctory and RantWoman would certainly have begged off for fear of wading into more than she could handle. Now, thinking about her own Clearness Committee as well as all the things RantWoman manages to wade into without any guidelines, RantWoman thinks begging off was a stupid idea.

RantWoman briefly thought of having such a clearness committee as well. RantWoman thought about it and even talked to a Weighty Friend about it but never went further. RantWoman confesses she was sufficiently clear about some questions and sort of dubious about the concept for other reasons.

RantWoman has been thinking about this lately for two reasons. One was her quest for guidelines and guidance while organizing a clearness process for herself and Dear Friend and the Compost matter. RantWoman at last, multiple weeks after her first inquiry got copies of the guidelines and another article. RantWoman had asked for them in electronic format but got print, print of a form that suggests that someone somewhere has them in electronic format. The guidelines actually to RantWoman's ear had very nice tone, but also had nothing helpful about RantWoman and Dear Friend being clear to try to deal in a Quakerly way with Conflict.

The second reason RantWoman has been thinking about the mini-clearness committees is that RantWoman did actually have a very positive experience participating in a different project with someone very skilled and centered about Compassionate Listening. The guidelines were very nicely done; other things were done with plenty of attention to depth and emotional safety. The scope of the themes to be listened about was definitely not boundless. When RantWoman participated as a listener, she found the experience VERY powerful and rewarding. For now she will park that thought and see what to do with it at some point soon.

Generational shifts:
Many of our community have retired or passed away. A large clump of working age adults and youngish families mainly participate in a preparatory meeting under our care. There are many Friends who have been about for a long time but have not been as visible and who might, at least based on things RantWoman heard be called to greater commitment. There are also different age cohorts of newcomers: university students and young recent graduates, people who come to Friends as adults, retirees. All of these different cohorts have different needs and levels of experience with Friends. Some of the Year of Discernment exercises elicited info about these groups' different needs; RantWoman will be curious to see what makes it into the final report in this vein.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Ambassador / Correspondent

In connection with:

--RantWoman's extreme delight at the variety of spiritual connections, rich theological discussion and all-around spiritual sustenance she is finding online in the Quaker blogosphere

--RantWoman's concern for connections between generations of Friends who never touch email or any of that e-stuff and Friends who cannot live without Twitter, the iPhone, and the cloud and Friends at many points of availability and interest in between.

--Points which have emerged with the unfolding of RantWoman's compost thread

RantWoman is seasoning a leading to appoint herself ambassador between the blogosphere and her Meeting. RantWoman is going to consult with the editor of our monthly newsletter about space considerations. Then RantWoman proposes to do a spell of short monthly excerpts from her favorite blogs in our newsletter. RantWoman promises to ask individual bloggers whether they mind being reprinted in this way.

RantWoman supposes this may draw new readers to some blogs. RantWoman supposes she ought to include offers to print whole articles if Friends who never touch the e-stuff express an interest. RantWoman is considering what else she ought to take into account. Stay tuned?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent / Apocalypse

RantWoman is the daughter of a church choir director. RantWoman will at some point perhaps rhapsodize about music bringing people to worship, to encounters with the Divine in ways that words just don't. Today though RantWoman is thinking of Advent.

A Friend had a lovely message at Thanksgiving about the rightness of a season of thanksgiving before Advent, the time of expectant waiting for the Light to return to the world.

In RantWoman's childhood, Advent often meant special music at church; as an adult, RantWoman, cough, cannot really rely on her beloved Meeting to meet her musical needs and always has to make an extra point during this season to fill up the tanks of her soul.

RantWoman is feeling extra focus about tending to her own needs this year. RantMom is still laid up from badly needed knee replacement surgery and RantWoman cannot even rely on RantMom's accounts of Advent services at her church for vicarious Advent revivals.

RantWoman is thus especially taken by today's God's Politics entry Many years running, RantWoman's father, call him RantDad got quite upset with the pastor of the church where he worked. Dad would always prepare lovely Christmas-themed programs and the minister every year without fail would also have to launch into long discussions of the crucifixion on top of the baby Jesus. Pastor never got to Revelation which considering the time conflations of the above post may or may not be a good thing. In any case, RantWoman finds herself delighted to look at the matter in a completely different light.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Muse?

First RantWoman wants to exclaim about being proud of the World's most Irrepressible Nephew. Nephew who will shortly turn 9 wanted to come to worship on Thanksgiving. With both his parents laid up, RantWoman well supposes he was glad just to get out of the house, but he explicitly asked to come to worship, rather different from his usual church.

RantWoman is proud that he made it all the way through Meeting for Worship. He has a medical excuse for one trip, made as unobtrusively as possible, to the restroom. Mean Old Auntie made him put away the cellphone with the video game on it before worship. He had one spell of doing something that made a clicking sound several times, but he stopped it immediately when asked. In other words, considering his Auntie's sudoku struggles, he did better than his Auntie who will perhaps at least revisiting the Bible passage about entering the kingdom of heaven like a child.

Or perhaps Auntie RantWoman will simply be speaking again and yet again with EyeRoller Friend. Today's complainer was an Elderly Friend who said that EyeRoller Friend's writing and drawing was distracting. RantWoman told Elderly Friend that she cannot see far enough across the room to know what EyeRoller Friend is doing. RantWoman was stayed in a SLIGHT inclination to tell Elderly Friend he should be glad Eye Roller Friend's behavior is the worst problem of his day. RantWoman considers that listening to Elderly Friend is part of a ministry in its own right regardless of what happens with EyeRoller Friend. RantWoman now wishes she had asked Elderly Friend whether he was also bothered by Friend Who Sews During Worship who was in attendance today as well or only by EyeRoller Friend.

One of EyeRoller Friend's admirable qualities is that he, like RantWoman can talk and deal with dirty dishes at the same time. RantWoman and EyeRoller Friend were busy with dishes after worship before a pending memorial and RantWoman asked EyeRoller Friend what he was working on during worship. EyeRoller Friend is self-employed in a creative line of work. It turns out that the muse had struck during worship and EyeRoller Friend was seizing the moment to get a handle on a considerable spell of intended output.

HELP! RantWoman has sometimes been visited by the muse during worship, though such visitations are usually quite brief and contained. RantWoman can well relate to those moments when one MUST write something down. RantWoman's visitations by the muse tend to be short, the sort of thing that can be written down BRIEFLY , typically jottings on the bulletin,before returning to worship. RantWoman suspects that Elderly Friend did not have in mind something short but compelling.

RantWoman had been celebrating that EyeRoller Friend made it all the way until announcements without any sound effects. Okay, so RantWoman had been seasoning ministry about the 10th anniversary of certain events in Seattle and the role of faith-based activism of all stripes in the US compared to ...; RantWoman is certain that message would have caused EyeRoller Friend to roll his eyes and the message did not happen for other reasons. RantWoman is also thinking of telling EyeRoller Friend that he should not distress Elderly Friend as karma investment for when he is as old and has as many problems as Elderly Friend. Alas, besides the temptation to provide inappropriate detail, Do we suppose...?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Jana Thanksgiving

RantWoman is stashing excerpts from the latest email update here just as markers over time:

Jana had a whole house full of friends and relatives for Thanksgiving. Knowing in advance of the full house plans, RantWoman noted that Warren also came to Thanksgiving worship before the feast at home.

"Jana's summary of the day: "I really enjoyed preparing a couple of our family Thanksgiving recipes together with Rosa. Felix helped us by setting up the table. We also enjoyed everyone visiting after the meal. We benefited from tasty dishes from all!" Lots of good food, lots of smiles, lots of catching up and reminiscing - and a feeling that we all had lots to be thankful for.

Jana has started to put more weight on her left foot, and this has made it much easier to generally get around. Physical therapy has given Jana the OK to graduate from using a walker to using crutches, which Jana has just acquired. The thought is that stairs might be easier to navigate with crutches - but there will be a new learning curve on walking with crutches."

The current crisis

RantWoman has really heterodox reading standards and has an abiding interest in economics.

The item here is an economist's account of his own intellectual history. RantWoman is stashing it here both in hopes that she herself might have time to read some of the items cited and with a thought that perhaps others will as well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

War, Peace, Meeting History

Today in worship Friends were full of remembrances generated by a historically themed adult discussion hour. RantWoman felt vexed not to have had more detailed advance notice of who the featured speaker was, but the brutal reality is that getting to 9:30 discussion hour is darned difficult for RantWoman no matter what.

RantWoman, for her part, was worshipfully seasoning thoughts of what level of cantankerousness is needed for this generation, whether and how to join the cantankerous pantheon of difficult and challenging personalities who founded our Meeting and wove a community out of many clashes and collisions of character. The message thread eventually turned to more outward-oriented customary Quaker meditations on war and peace, but not without a RantWoman mental excursion related to sudoku.

It was cloudy and there was a lot of glare, so RantWoman was definitely feeling proddings in the direction of sudoku or at least messages about sudoku. The latest thought exercising RantWoman is that she has been doing sudoku sometimes in Meeting for Worship for probably close to a year at least. No one said anything--until RantWoman got nominated for a certain committee.

RantWoman remembers a certain uptick in her sudoku habit after an eye procedure basically did what it was intended to do but also added and enhanced some of the annoying visual effects RantWoman deals with all the time. Okay, so enhanced light trails and even bumpier double-vision are not necessarily the first thing it occurs to one to share when someone asks "how are you?" RantWoman can certainly also articulate reasons sudoku helps her center, but RantWoman is meditating about options for more verbal communication.

RantWoman today also found herself wondering how many others around her have things on their minds that they do not know how to share. RantWoman finds herself ambivalent about even wanting to know. A few weeks ago, a Friend offered a message about someone she knew who, when faced with expenses for an upcoming trip decided to double her contribution to her faith community and then never wound up worrying about money on her trip. RantWoman wishes that were feasible for her on the financial front, but RantWoman realized doubling her outlay of compassion MIGHT be achievable, at least part of the time. RantWoman is pretty sure that would not suffice for everyone around her, but she darn well supposes others could do their part too....

By this time, the last message was pointing out that the state of WA contributes 10 times the projected state budget deficit to certain war efforts. That is, programs that aid the most humble of people in the US are being gutted to buy bombs for... Well, you get the idea, and RantWoman is already trying not to gallop any further ahead of her Light. In a similar vein, warning: the following item is chock full of frank and unQuakerly language, but then that would be exactly the sort of material that RantWoman would rabidly recommend


Congratulations to Twin Cities Friends Meeting for coming to unity about aminute on same-sex marriage.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Will of God

RantWoman is so engaged by the discussion at mapHead about theists and non-theists submitting themselves to the will of God through group discernment that she just went and added mapHead to her blogroll.

RantWoman is adding it with a number of questions but no answers:

What is it about the process of worship, corporate worship that creates dynamics where the whole group submits to the direction a process takes even if individuals feel out of unity?

Consider a small example: RantWoman apologizes to the world for being stuck on her compost thread. However, as long as she is stuck there, she must see what it feeds. Both Dear Friend and RantWoman think what actually got written in the minutes of the October business meeting regarding a certain nomination much discussed but not yet acted on are an abomination unto all standards of concise expression. We heartily concur with the Friend who said so when the minutes were reviewed in November. Both RantWoman and Dear Friend have nevertheless submitted to the Meeting's lack of inclination to better distill the issue. As RantWoman read said text for the umpteenth time, she also came to think that the point of the lengthy text is partly to help her figure out a number of points that several people, not just Dear Friend see.

This point is a peculiar moment: RantWoman has had strong indications that many Friends would simply move on and let Dear Friend be recorded as out of unity. RantWoman could find herself aggravated to the point of distraction and could be first among those willing to move on. RantWoman is thus aware that further dialogue and discernment about Dear Friend's concerns is kind of optional.

Yet RantWoman is aware that for better or worse, Dear Friend knows her as well or better than almost anyone else in Meeting. If anyone is going to help RantWoman find either better connections with her own inner teacher or things standing in her way spiritually that she cannot detect for herself, a good case could be made that Dear Friend is the person. RantWoman still has a long and lurid list of beefs and quibbles related to this point and will undoubtedly be seasoning further

But back to mapHead

If one speaks about the theists and nontheists submitting themselves to the will of God, then two possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the non-theists are submitting themselves to the possibility of God. Is it equally possible that the theists are submitting themselves to the possibility that God is nothing more than some warm fuzzy manifestation that somehow has rational benefits? RantWoman once explained to her nice Presbyterian mother that Quakers at least think God can handle the questions.

This point came up on a bus, while RantMom was still living elsewhere and coming to Seattle to visit children. RantMom had come to worship with RantWoman. One message full of questions, querulousness, bordering on despair had particularly concerned RantMom. RantMom said in her church, if a person offered such a message (RantWoman would say, if a person managed to cram such a message into the few minutes allotted for prayer requests), one of the deacons or elders would be certain to speak to the person afterward. RantMom was wondering what our Meeting does in such situations.

RantWoman was a bit taken aback. For one thing, she was already on a bus away from Meeting. For another thing, the Friend who offered the message has a master's degree in theology and taught our Bible study. This was when RantWoman made the point that at our Meeting, Friends who can talk in God terms definitely think God can handle the questions. Well, RantWoman did not really explain about Friends who are not sure about God but come to worship anyway; RantMom still allowed as how she is glad RantWoman found Quakers.

Once or twice recently RantWoman's Meeting decided we could agree about something or other but that we did not have to agree about the why of the matter. To cite the example of chemical sensitivities and fragrance-free, RantWoman could be predicted to generate a whole tirade about the oppressive patriarchal nature of the beauty and cosmetics industry. RantWoman might toss in rhetoric about some rationalist throwback to earlier ages when fragrances were intended to mask certain facts of hygiene. Or perhaps the ability to scent oneself pleasantly is one of those markers of positive social and personal capacity that the evolutionists among us would cite as beneficial to individual and group survival. Other Friends might be clear that they simply do not want to cause attenders asthma attacks, a point RantWoman can also easily unite with.

Fish and Salt

In addition to some but not all of the Quaker blogs RantWoman looks at, RantWoman's blog includes blogroll from several strands of RantWoman's faith-based politics history as well as items that for example help her have interesting dialogue, well sometimes, with family members who worship rather differently. RantWoman supposes considering where she worshipped as a teenager she should look for blogroll related to that denomination as well. Let's just say it's on the to-do list.

Today's Our Daily Bread item is an interesting example. RantWoman has not yet digested the Bible verses. She got stuck on the teacher at the Christian college trying to interest his students in heaven by asking them to think about the Pacific ocean.

RantWoman grew up in Rocky Mountain states. RantWoman's childhood experiences with vast bodies of water tended heavily toward the lakes behind the dams a favorite great uncle did engineering work for. These lakes tended to have pretty definable shores and certainly never subsumed the whole horizon, nothing like the ocean.

RantWoman first saw the Pacific ocean during a high school Spanish club trip that included a few days in Mazatlan. RantWoman's overwhelming impression of the place, besides the vastness of the horizon and the relentless lapping of waves, was the smell of fish and salt and wild teenage enthusiasms. RantWoman supposes she could think of worse places to spend eternity, but she is more grateful to have the choice about visiting many more places as well.


RantWoman has meant to write a few thoughts of the clearness committee for herself and Dear Friend. Don't worry, RantWoman is NOT going to get carried away about some parts; for one thing there is more than enough to say in the parts RantWoman DOES want to write about.

First was the question of who to ask to serve. This was a walk down a list of names with Dear Friend. We came up with a considerable list of people to ask. RantWoman at least was very gratified by the large percentage of Friends who responded. As RantWoman has previously written, our list should have included one or two Friends under 40 and did not. Sigh. RantWoman is actually not displeased with the group that wound up meeting on the best date for everyone even though RantWoman does not know all of them well. They are all seasoned Friends and asked enough perceptive questions for RantWoman to get something out of the process, but more on that shortly. (RantWoman has since learned that, predictably, Dear Friend also has grumbles and RantWoman needs him to articulate the grumbles for others besides herself to season.)

Next came the matter of RantWoman's quest for some guidelines about process aspects of a Clearness Committee, and preferably materials in a format that RantWoman can read on her own. RantWoman, besides her growing impatience on environmental grounds about xeroxing everything, gets mildly grumpy to be handed xeroxed lists of queries or guidelines that she has to interact with visually. (When RantWoman thinks about it even a little bit, this question wanders into lots of general questions about the internet age, relative costs and availability of digital services, the costs of publication and print, RantWoman's seemingly endless need for more gizmos to accomplish things others take for granted, and other Big Issues. RantWoman does not want to go there today.)

RantWoman really wanted guidelines in advance so she could think about them more meaningfully than if she just wings it. RantWoman wanted advance thought but also did not want to deal with the logistics of trying to meet with someone to have things read aloud. In the end RantWoman opted just to trust the Friends assembled. This would not be the first time RantWoman has just had to wing it. But RantWoman is getting ahead of herself again.

First RantWoman looked at her yearly meeting's faith and practice, online. There was lots of distinctly unhelpful material about clearness for marriage, definitely NOT what RantWoman and Dear Friend need. Dear Friend just changed his Facebook status from "it's complicated" to "in a relationship," an evolution RantWoman has been delighted to observe. RantWoman, for her part, briefly listed her relationship status on Facebook as "it's complicated." A friend wrote and asked what RantWoman meant; this friend already knew all the salient complications and RantWoman decided she did not want to answer more questions so she deleted any mention of the topic from her profile. Anyway, the point is the situation with RantWoman and Dear Friend is a bit complicated, but impending marriage to each other is definitely NOT one of the complications.

RantWoman put the term Clearness Committee into the search engine of her choice. RantWoman got a fair number of hits, though about the first three screens of search results relate to Parker Palmer. Parker Palmer writes about a model of a circle of close persons who only ask the focus person questions and help him or her uncover an inner teacher. This model did not to RantWoman's mind speak to the problem of how to help RantWoman and Dear Friend explore the things we needed to explore: some painful personal dimensions of circumstances around her nomination, as well as what we now need to ask of others.

Next, RantWoman looked specifically among materials on the FGC site. Here RantWoman found more that seemed topical reading about conflict and eldering than specifically whatever the Clearness Committee material spoke of. At this point, RantWoman wrote up an email to her committee reporting on her quest and asking for thoughts, especially thoughts about how to handle the dynamics of two people needing to ask things of each other and relying on the clearness committee to listen and ask questions of either or both. (RantWoman has since had phone conversations enough to wonder whether phone would have been faster than email. Well....)

One of RantWoman's questions at this point related to a period just before our Meeting's Year of Discernment. A Friend on Oversight committee had the bright idea that Friends should consider kind of a mini-clearness committee. Friends were offered training. Well, RantWoman does not remember who the training was offered to. RantWoman specifically now wishes if she had the chance that she had signed up and is pondering what would have made her overlook such an opportunity at the time. She also suspects at the time that the prospect of such a mini clearness process would have seemed either prefunctory or high risk of more emotional content than RantWoman would know how to handle. In phone conversation after the committee for RantWoman and Dear Friend met, RantWoman has learned that there were guidelines developed at that time, but RantWoman has been told they do not necessarily relate to RantWoman's situation either. RantWoman was also happy to learn at least some of the committees that met then were quite meaningful for participants and one even just threw out the guidelines.

RantWoman eventually got emailed back some material one of the members of the committee had been scanning from some archival work for Oversight Committee. This material was from the long-deceased and fondly remembered Friend. It also ran heavy to clearness on marriage or to what our Meeting now more commonly calls care committees, committees formed to help a person draw on community support during a wide variety of life difficulties. RantWoman has powerful experience with care committees, both giving and receiving; perhaps that needs to be another post. RantWoman also notes that a later booklet about care committees is also out of print, but she is trying to stay on task about clearness committees anyway.

RantWoman is not certain the concept of Care Committee is completely inapplicable here. Dear Friend has one and RantWoman supposes there are some topical questions she could consider asking him about that. RantWoman used to have one; it sort of dissipated after RantWoman solved some but definitely not all the big questions of her midlife visual de-evolution. One time a member of RantWoman's care committee listened to some or another iteration of RantWoman's interactions with allegedly helpful bureaucracies and asked with trademark deadpan delivery, had RantWoman ever considered having "an anger management moment?" Uhhh, RantWoman is not sure she needed any incitement in that direction.

Back to clearness committeess: The main point, though: the small excerpt emailed to RantWoman and Dear Friend said nothing about process for the situation with RantWoman and Dear Friend. RantWoman wondered whether anyone would come to the meeting with more thoughts than came through in email. Um, no. Since the committee has met, RantWoman has chatted with a couple other Friends who said they have this or that pamphlet or that our Meeting often uses this or that pamphlet though not necessarily applied to RantWoman's situation either. RantWoman has also run a couple weighty Friends' names through her preferred search engine. This caused RantWoman to tromp--again--into the realm of electronic publishing and accessible content. But again RantWoman is getting ahead of herself.

Our committee picked a date, time, location. Everyone but Dear Friend made it on time; Dear Friend was snared in some or another of his endless bus vagaries. RantWoman is meditating about whether she needs to suggest to Dear Friend RantMom's approach to the bus. RantMom's approach is always to leave preposterously early for bus trips, to stand around stomping her cane until her children arrive at the agreed time and then still frequently to arrive places even earlier than RantWoman does. RantWoman somehow is not sure her advice would be helpful, but Dear Friend's interactions with the bus are a continuing vexation when he and RantWoman try to meet. Dear Friend is not, alas, the most vexatious user of transit in RantWoman's life.

While we all waited for Dear Friend, first we chatted about the new Light Rail and then settled into chit chat about our cats. RantWoman is often chit-chat challenged, but the cat chatter helped settle some of RantWoman's nerves.

RantWoman briefly considered being fairly adamant: RantWoman sometimes facilitates meetings, sometimes interprets, sometimes is just a participant in conversations. From painful experience, RantWoman knows she should ONLY ever try to do one role at once and monitoring the flow or proposing guidelines was way more than RantWoman wanted to do in this situation. RantWoman was still seasoning what to say about all this when Dear Friend just plunged in.

RantWoman thought of deleting the following; she definitely feels no need to specify or craft further:

Some points vexing RantWoman that she just wanted to tell Dear Friend, again, this time in front of others.

Some points of misunderstanding from months ago that it now seems pointless to try to reconstruct.

Dear Friend had previously hit an emotional landmine of RantWoman's that he had no idea even to look for. RantWoman was pretty adamant about making the point of not necessarily having to or being able to talk about details to recognize signs of tender points and to think about working around them.

Somewhere along the line, RantWoman got the idea that Dear Friend felt that RantWoman considered some of his view unimportant. "Unimportant?" Unusual for Dear Friend? Unusual for the wide range of characters RantWoman lives and works among? The point possibly most topical for the Clearness process: How specifically related to Meeting?

RantWoman has in mind a few topics she will try to talk with Dear Friend about by phone. There was a sense of being done for the evening if not necessarily for good. RantWoman frequently has to go away from conversations and think things over and season and come back to topics. That might mean meeting again though we are unclear. If we do, RantWoman is going to ask the committee to pay attention to one dynamic. A couple times, one of the two focus people would speak, members of the committee would ask questions and the other focus person would not get asked whether there was anything to add before the conversation moved on to something else. A couple times RantWoman felt like there might be more to explore.

RantWoman is also seasoning some other points about what she has gotten out of dialogue with Dear Friend. The gist of that is like her experiences during worship: some messages for herself alone, some messages for others or the Meeting community but not necessarily during Meeting for Business, some diplomatic formulations about Meeting for Business...

At one sitting at her keyboard, RantWoman felt she lacked sufficient functioning brain cells to write of her own clearness committee and instead was going to see what some other Yearly Meetings have to say about such things. However, RantWoman allowed herself to be led instead to a couple blogs,

The above is an explanation of quakerism as the practice of business meetings and potluck regardless of what words one does or does not use about what RantWoman calls God. RantWoman remembers getting a similar idea somehow from something her junior high Sunday School teachers said. RantWoman is pretty sure her teachers would have been more certain and even patronizing about the point that somehow one must still accept Christ eventually, but in the meantime God could be taking a good long time laboring with the soul of the unbeliever.

Given RantWoman's quest above for materials online and therefore accessible to her, RantWoman thinks it could be funny to be reading the items below from Thomas Kelly back translated from a Russian translation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Altruism and Reputation on the Internet

RantWoman is posting this reflection in connection with themes about how to talk about difficulties and how to care for one another's reputations in the internet age.

RantWoman is not really posting with any concern to specific Friends' testimonies though if she thinks about it, she might get there. RantWoman is posting this with her usual caveat that people, even Friends are not necessarily all sweetness and Light, and even at our best are works in progress, which is one reason for need of continuing revelation and continued practice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bad Auntie

RantWoman's sudoku thread has a new twist which can only be called Bad Auntie. Bad Auntie refers among other things to things that adults who do not have children of their own sometimes do intentionally or not to set less than preferable examples or to subvert some or another standard imposed by parents.

Bad Auntie has a relative, Sensible Auntie, a caring, conscientious adult who can support the difficult job of parenting while also reflecting examples slightly different from parents. The first Quaker RantWoman ever knew could certainly be called Sensible Auntie, at least in societies where any woman might be called an Auntie. Today's situation is definitely a Bad Auntie moment though.

RantWoman's nephew, sister, brother-in-law live right next to a big park where political marches sometimes start. One time RantWoman went to a march at that park. For some reason the number for the legal contact for the march was being announced over and over so RantWoman wrote it down in very large numbers in fat pen along her arm.

RantWoman was on her way to babysit Irrepressible Nephew and in fact was going to miss a good bit of the march due to babysitting duties. Alas, Bad Auntie the babysitter with the phone number written along her arm showed up just the very week when Irrepressible Nephew had been having lessons about not writing all over himself.

What do you know? Sister went out, Auntie was doing something on the computer and Nephew was watching television. (One downside of being Auntie is not getting much say about the television rules. Sigh.) Then the level of TV-related giggling dropped off suspiciously:

Auntie: What are you doing?

Nephew: Nothing!

Yeah, right. Auntie discovered that Nephew had gotten out a purple marker and had made himself a seriously purple arm so that BOTH Auntie and Irrepressible Nephew had to shift immediately to serious arm scrubbing practice.

RantWoman was reminded of this last nigh talking about how one of those concerned about her Sudoku habit was a child bristling at having to do what one's parents say regardless of what other kids or adults do in the child's presence. RantWoman had exactly that sort of parents herself. RantWoman thinks it might be way too much to talk much about the intentional reasons RantWoman can cite for Sudoku, but she is wondering whether it would be appropriate somehow sometime to talk to such a child herself.

RantWoman will season the following thoughts before taking more steps to talk with the child:

It's definitely appropriate for parents to say " do as we tell you, regardless of what other kids or adults do." As previously mentioned, RantWoman had such parents herself.

RantWoman has been thinking about having to be told several times by different people about Sudoku. RantWoman thinks she knows both children and adults who sometimes also have to be told more than once about a problem. RantWoman bets a child MIGHT relate to that and to the idea that we can always continue growing in Light or faith or whatever word falls into place.

When RantWoman is feeling most charitable she has come to feel a certain amount of gratitude to Dear Friend for getting in her face. RantWoman is also still sitting with aggravation, frustration, confusion, and RantWoman definitely does NOT waht to overdo it.

One of the things RantWoman likes about the best of how Friends inter
act with children in Friends' Meetings, though, is that adults do a better job of listening to children than in the churches RantWoman attended as a child. When RantWoman is feeling most gracious, she would say Thank you to the child, thank you for speaking up, thank you for exercising inner Light, thank you for getting grownups to talk about some hard stuff. RantWoman is not going to hurry into this, but...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Time for Silent Seminar

RantWoman took note yesterday of the announcement that it is time to register for the Pacific Northwest Quarterly Meeting Silent Retreat. The forms are in links on the top page; RantWoman hates getting PDF documents without knowing in advance which is why she is listing only the home page link.

RantWoman used to have a co-worker who called it "silent seminar," a business lingo formulation that continues to crack RantWoman up. Whether you call it silent retreat or silent seminar or a cheap way to get out of town for a couple days (and possibly to be glad of living in a city when one gets back), RantWoman has always found the silent retreat amazingly nourishing, both for the company of other Friends and for the ambivalence of rustic lifestyle in the middle of winter.

There is always common space for worship and a place and centered Friend to talk with if one needs to talk. After a short intro and questions, the intent is to spend the weekend mainly in silence. People read, write, knit, worship. Food is prepared; fires are tended, hikes may be taken. RantWoman highly recommends the Silent Retreat.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sudoku and

RantWoman has a bitchin' hard sudoku book right now. RantWoman does Sudoku in the kind of fat pen she can see and RantWoman has been messing up too many of her puzzles even when she is paying full attention. When RantWoman is not paying full attention, one of RantWoman's biggest errors, or the biggest one she recognizes, seems to be bad eye-hand coordination, writing the number in a box other than the one she intends, possibly due to multiple vision, possibly due to inattention. (RantWoman also suspects that others much more quickly size up the rotations and inversions that are part of the puzzle than RantWoman does.)

RantWoman mentions this point just in case anyone gets the idea that finally having a number of different people talk and listen to her about Sudoku is the ONLY thing that settled all the nerves behind her Sudoku habit. Lately, RantWoman also sometimes just takes her glasses off. This does not solve all the problems the sudoku does but often enough seems to take enough edge off RantWoman's frenzy.

Today in the category of peculiar blessings, RantWoman also counts the kink in her bus schedule that forces her to leave home 15 minutes earilier than she would prefer: RantWoman now gets to try to get acquainted with but without running into both coffee drinkers from early worship and people from the discussion hour as well as other newcomers. Now if RantWoman can learn to schmooze her way out of a paper bag, and in a noisy environment to boot...

Okay now, between these experiences and goading caught along the way while RantWoman was looking for other material about speaking directly to people one has a concern with, RantWoman herself spoke to EyeRoller Friend. EyeRoller Friend laughed about RantWomans thoughts on the accessibility features of his, uh, problematic ministries and then conversation turned to a message from Friend Political activist.

Friend Political Activist had diverged from his most common themes and offered ministry that in RantWoman's estimation crystalizes the theology behind Friend Political Activist's usual ministries: we are all angels. RantWoman does not remember the exact formulation, but she was conversing with Eye Roller Friend about what it means to be an angel, direct relationship with and embodiment of the divine. Yeah, so we all embody the Divine. What the heck does that solve about our individual lives or about how to be divine together?

Here EyeRoller Friend rolled his eyes in the direction of Dear Friend. Let us first note here that RantWoman knows both from talking to EyeRoller Friend and from Dear Friend, that Dear Friend has been in frequent conversation with EyeRoller Friend. It is obvious to RantWoman from conversations on both sides that the message just has not taken and EyeRoller Friend at least is peeved about this. EyeRoller Friend's, um, ministries aside, RantWoman felt called to point out that merely embodying the Divine, not to mention rousing certainty that one is embodying the Divine correctly can be a tough row to hoe. It's not just all the personal upheavals needed to align oneself with some kind of understanding. It's also the slings and arrows of others who remain willfully oblivious or unenlightened as to the precise nature of one's divinity. RantWoman speaking only for herself is having more than enough trouble getting a handle on her own divinity and, possibly for obvious reasons, did not feel obliged to go on at TOO much length about the divinity of others such as Dear Friend!

Eldering rules for the new millenium

One of the early emails in RantWoman's compost thread mentions a principle propounded by the late author of our Meeting's most current statement on how to do Clearness Committees: in her day, which was decades ago, Friends were only allowed to elder others if they liked the person. This is one principle behind Dear Friend's interventions on the matter of RantWoman's nomination. RantWoman is reserving judgment on Dear Friend; this entry is a more general point.

RantWoman has a concern that perhaps the level of evident likability may not always be easily discernible and the need to elder before one likes the person very profound. RantWoman thus proposes a couple new principles, updated for the current millenium:

--Friends wishing to elder someone must find at least ONE thing to like about the person for each eldering encounter.

--Friends obliged to elder someone more than 5 times about the same topic are allowed to substitute appreciation for the opportunity to practice eldering skills for any additional likability factors PROVIDED they also consider the possibility that if 5 efforts have not worked, perhaps they need to seek new Light on the matter. Remedial Eldering anyone?

Angelic Troublemakers

RantWoman is taking time off from other fixations for a small secular celebration. RantWoman has been involved intermittently with the Committee to Establish a Seattle Disabilities Commission. With a newly elected mayor who endorses the Commission, and PERHAPS due to brilliant birddogging of the issue, there was a unanimous vote of the Seattle City Council Budget Committee on Thursday in favor of establishing the Commission.

RantWoman is thinking of the item on A Passionate and Determined Quest for Adequacy about Angelic Troublemakers . RantWoman is thinking that angelic troublemakers are a great thing, but sometimes a change of teams in the nation's capital, including a Justice Departmet with backbone on related issues, as well as credible capacity to generate lawsuits and sit-ins does not hurt either. Well RantWoman is definitely not upset not to need either lawsuits or sit-ins yet, though MAYBE the Commissions can fix a few things BEFORE suits have to happen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Email: Oh Dear!

There are two emails from RantWoman to Dear Friend the beginning of the Compost conversation that RantWoman uncharacteristically did not cc to anyone else. As RantWoman and Dear Friend get ready for our Clearness Committee, RantWoman has had to revisit them. At this point, RantWoman is likely to print one copy of each and bring it along to her Clearness Committee meeting.

RantWoman also decided they needed to be forwarded to the Meeting Clerk and the clerk of Nom Comm. One reason is that the second of the emails references something unrelated that RantWoman hopes but is not sure she has discussed with those people previously.

In RantWoman's even more outspoken youth, she used to be able to get herself into trouble with email any time of the day or night. RantWoman has mellowed considerably and acquired at least a SMALL measure of self-discipline. Now, MOST of the time RantWoman KNOWS she has to send anything she writes after 10 pm to the drafts folder overnight. One of the emails in question was sent at 10:02. RantWoman does not ENTIRELY regret sending it the way it went out anyway and at this moment is glad it exists as a point of departure for other conversations. This does not mean it is a brilliant example of Spirit-led communication, open-hearted seeking, conflict resolution--on either party's side, but since the conflictants were miles away from each other and venting, RantWoman considers that said email is healthier than many alternative scenarios.

RantWoman is quite clear that some questions about how her nomination unfolded are a matter for Nominating Committee. Since Nominating Committee at this writing has not grappled with RantWoman's latest questions and comments, RantWoman is going to delegate matters to them. RantWoman during this interval had several good helpful conversations about her Sudoku habit and other things. Dear Friend also kept asking RantWoman to go for a walk to talk about things to do with her nomination. Actually Dear Friend ONLY wanted to go for a walk. RantWoman's schedule did not easily accommodate that at that point and RantWoman kept trying to talk to Dear Friend by phone.

The first email documents RantWoman's frustrations about how Dear Friend was interacting with the phone at that point. Something else caught RantWoman up short the first time she reread it. What the heck did she mean? RantWoman was willing to have a conversation with Dear Friend. Even though RantWoman and Dear Friend go for walks together all the time and RantWoman really enjoys that, going for a walk did not sound appealing at that point and the word that caught RantWoman up short has a red flag aspect that now gets fed into our Clearness Committee. Oh Boy.

On a different topic, RantWoman this morning realized a couple more problematic points.

First there is the part about how recognizable different characters are. RantWoman realizes the Compost thread includes enough information that a large number of people can probably identify Dear Friend. How many of them could easily identify RantWoman without knowing more of the situation is a different problem. RantWoman is struggling about two contradictory standards. On one hand is our YM's query about being careful of the reputations of others; on the other hand is the question of struggling with difficulties in a spirit of love and truth. RantWoman is simply noting the struggle at this point.

The second problem is that a couple of recent entries include conclusions RantWoman has drawn from conversations with Dear Friend. RantWoman has communicated to others why she considers the conversations problematic and probably needs also to communicate that point to Dear Friend. RantWoman is also quite comfortable that her Meeting may take such facts as they get offered and draw other conclusions. That, one supposes, is discernment. For now RantWoman has other things ahead of that on her problem list.