Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Popcorn Factory Minority Report

Note: RantWoman reminds her readers of her past as a Russian Literature major; this entry refers to at least two characters written about in other contexts. RantWoman has a number of reasons for not wanting to make the identity links here.

Maybe it was the brilliant sunshine and RantWoman's eyeballs fussing slightly over all of RantWoman's input management options. Take the glasses off. Put the sunglasses on. Take the hat off. Put the hat on. Squint at something up close to cut the annoyance of trying to focus into the middle distance... Maybe it was the lingering effects either of the lively George Fox themed discussion hour or of the caffeine at social hour. Either way, RantWoman was probably not as distressed as many by the distractions of last Sunday's preposterously popcorn Meeting for Worship.

Popcorn, for those of you new to Quakerese, means one vocal ministry, either sung or spoken, after another with barely a break to breathe between. Popcorn meetings for worship usually are considered by seasoned Friends to be distracting, disrespectful, uncentering, and for various other reasons undesirable. RantWoman respectfully and with careful caveats dissents, at least very occasionally, as a severe abberration from decent spells of better centered worship!

RantWoman took glad note of many visitors and relative newcomers even though they were noticed because of contributing thoughtlessly to the popcorn. RantWoman would never want a steady diet of that much popcorn but is quite willing to cut newcomers SOME slack. RantWoman also finds herself seasoning the peculiar insight that perhaps it was the popcorn, the mindless children frolicking in the springtime way messages flowed which made it safe for Friends riding the tide of popcorn to offer the messages they did.

Here's the deal. RantWoman does not want too many Meetings in a row where there are several spoken and sung messages, at least two big themes, and all kinds of things including 4 important pastoral care items tumbling out. Those 4 items: a Friend thanking Friends for previously helping her joyously remember her late husband near the anniversary of his passing, a Friend whose very much alive husband is having more medical problems, a Friend with a friend going through DT's and substance abuse recovery, and a comparatively young Friend whose brother had just died in a distant place.

RantWoman thinks people's joys and sorrows most explicitly do belong under the care of worship, in Meeting for Worship. RantWoman thinks this thought has its limits, but RantWoman also thinks Friends at her Meeting should darn well feel flattered actually that a number of newcomers chose to unburden themselves in Meeting for Worship. In fact, RantWoman keeps testing the hypothesis that newcomers felt free to share specifically because of the level of popcorn. RantWoman has more mixed feelings about some longer-time presences.

RantWoman's specific beefs:
--Two of those providing serious sorrow messages, both newcomers at least to our Meeting, got yelled at to speak up. They did speak up and RantWoman is glad others could hear their message even though she herself was close enough to hear both. RantWoman appreciates the need for Friends to hear in order to respond to messages, but the yelling felt unwelcoming.

--One of the Friends who got yelled at to speak up offered something about deep concern for a friend going through DT's and detox. He also offered an item about a scruffy Christ figure not being recognized at a country church. Considering he had just gotten yelled at, considering thoughts RantWoman has about the spiritual work of presence, accompaniment in difficult circumstance, RantWoman could see why the unrecognizable Christ theme might come up.

--Friend above was immediately rewarded by two things, one Friend who immediately stood intending it turned out just to hold the silence for a long spell. That may have been Standing Friend's intent. Another Friend, a nonagenarian relative of someone in Meeting who has probably visited very intermettently for a long time, seized upon the unrecognized Christ point and plunged immediately into something to do with George Fox before sitting back down.

--Standing Friend continued to stand, for a LONG time, while RantWoman was seasoning a message related to her experiences of what God looks like when around people dealing with substance abuse. Standing Friend was still standing, and standing, and standing and standing. Then he offered a tirade about leaving decent intervals between messages and other usually reasonable standards and then finally sat down. RantWoman has been reflecting on ways divine messages get muddled and dealing with thoughts of leadings, of needing to elbow her way into some conversations and she ALMOST, skin of her teeth, almost immediately stood to reply.

--Standing Friend's tirade might be characterized as marginally helpful to the churning popcorn, but the torrent of messages continued steadily enough that RantWoman's message about accompaniment never had enough silence to coalesce coherently.

RantWoman arrived home with at least half of Friends' messages having all but vanished from RantWoman's consciousness. This is clear indication at least to RantWoman that those messages were not necessarily meant for her. RantWoman sort of remembers a George Fox Study War No More thread. The George Fox part was delivered hot on the heels of one of the pastoral care messages and RantWoman cannot even remember it's sequence with the Study War No More message. The Study War No More sung ministry also struck RantWoman as a non sequitur. Perhaps a bigger problem, in presence of this particular hymnody, RantWoman frequently finds herself fretting about one interval she herself can never hit and annoyed when others who also have trouble offer the tune anyway.

RantWoman is filing the thought that guidance about how to season messages during meeting for worship is not necessarily delivered along with newcomers' eagerness, even just after arriving late, to experiment with Friends' worship. RantWoman thinks some subtle guidance: wait a decent interval between messages to allow the holy spirit to work on one message at a time--and speak up when called to vocal ministry--could be rotated in our list of standing announcements at the end of our weekly bulletin. However, RantWoman is conscious that we have other ways of communicating this and our weekly bulletin sometimes reads more like a grocery list of activities than something centered in spiritual life.

RantWoman also thinks that tirades during Meeting for Worship are a lousy way to have conversation about what it might mean that we are all ministers of god and how to manage so we don't drown each other with our ministries.

RantWoman is pretty sure many Friends already burdened by daily dramas were less than charmed by this flood of suffering. Again, RantWoman also would opt not to overdo if offered a choice. However, sometimes RantWoman guesses we are supposed to feel grateful that our general ambiance is centered enough to invite Friends to talk of the hard things that spilled out Sunday and to help us season how to respond from worship and individually.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Practical tips for working with controversy

RantWoman is going to plunge in to the query at http://qqqqanda.blogspot.com/2010/02/help-we-are-target.html . RantWoman is a bit of a practical girl so what follows is a mix of nuts and bolts and more spiritual concepts.

RantWoman heartily applauds this Meeting's initiative and has greatly enjoyed the variety of comments offered by others. RantWoman also deeply appreciates the reminder that some questions are considerably more present in public discussion in other places than in liberal, supposedly tolerant Seattle.

RantWoman has a good deal of life experience helping organize controversial events. RantWoman is humble about the degree to which every event is different, every combination of people and groups in need of individual thought and preparation. RantWoman is glad the Meeting organizing the speaker series described wants to prepare in advance; RantWoman also suspects that the Meeting in question is its own best teacher. RantWoman nevertheless offers the following comments:

Things that might help
--Ask your moderator / facilitator what help he or she will need to stay grounded and centered and then pay attention to those requests. RantWoman has written before of an event at her Meeting connected with the Middle East. The event opened with prayers, but it took a whole hour for those leading prayers to come to formulations they could all live with just to pray. RantWoman was very humble about the scale of her relief not to be facilitating that discussion and had alss she could do to uphold the process in expectant silence.

--Some Quakers are so grounded and centered on that of God within everyone that they find it easy to pray equally for all sides. RantWoman always recommends deploying these Friends even if some of them are simply sitting in rocking chairs miles from the main events.

RantWoman only very, very, very occasionally manages to meet this Quakerly standard. A lot, lot, lot of the time RantWoman has to keep eyes and ears open and delegate this work to Friends who seem more able. RantWoman heartily recommends making connections with people like this and learning from the focus they offer as the events go forward.

In this vein, RantWoman remembers one summer during the time of NPYM annual session. That year Annual Session was in Spokane; Friends from north ID had been laboring all spring and summer about a proposal by the Aryan Nation to hold a march in one of the cities in Kootenai County ID; RantWoman suggests the search engine of your choice for actual citations.

The march actually occurred during the time of Annual Session and many Friends drove over to attend. Also attending were some more confrontational groups from Seattle as well as a huge network of human rights defenders from all over the county who had been energized in the leadup to the march. RantWoman herself had personal reasons not to want to add more psychic challenges to her spiritual landscape and, in contrast to her own past, was quite happy to remain in Spokane and pray. Those who attended reported that it was a wonderful event.

--Do not wait until the events to begin building connections with your neighbors. RantWoman heartily concurs with the thought that the proposed lecture series is creating mental space for conversations among the 90% of the population who are unclear about their positions or whose positions fall between those one can at first glance attribute to the different parties. RantWoman notes that the Aryan Nations march mentioned above had a long leadin time and that provided a lot of time for people with different views to mobilize, find each other and strengthen ties which supported each other's work for years afterward.

--Do not underestimate the relevance of the fire code, parking lot management, other mundane details. Someone will want to keep your aisles clear in the event of an emergency; you will also want to do your best to keep outside travel paths clear so people can come and go. Tending to these points can create physical gaps to help channel different groups in different directions. It also provides any peacekeepers or Friendly Presence some details to attend to even if everything seems to be going smoothly. Consider what meetings, nonviolence training, or other preparation those attending to these details will need and be sure to allow adequate time in advance for this work.

--Consider whether you also need to become familiar with applicable laws about disruption or impeding pedestrian traffic or trespassing. Public events are difficult realms for trespassing and in general. RantWoman advocates this only in an abundance of caution, "just in case." RantWoman attends frequently to thoughts of trying to expect the best of a situation, but sometimes it is easier to anticipate the best or at least better if one has mental concepts about much worse than desirable and then can cultivate a shared vision of success.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Open source spirit

Rantwoman's morning bout of following links yielded the following


RantWoman thinks anyone who mentions both the Reformation and open source principles in the same post is someone she may come back to.

RantWoman also notes

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


RantWoman has taken note of the fact that it's Ash Wednesday. This taking note is sort of comical. Nowhere in RantWoman's past is there any tie with anything so imbedded in a liturgical calendar as observance of the occasion.

RantWoman is touched by http://gatheringinlight.com/2010/02/17/ash-wednesday-prayer-service/ well, at least some of it.

RantWoman half suspects she should just give up fretting with her Compost melodrama for Lent. RantWoman is nowhere near that self-disciplined. However RantWoman has decided that communications with Dear Friend being basically a mess right now, and a mess with adult email supervision to boot, RantWoman will when addressing the topic be very clear about appreciations and aggravations, never send more aggravations than appreciations, pray, and be grateful for others' praying too.

RantWoman has taken note of other matters on the theme, conversations to be had with others, and points all over her spiritual landscape where much in evidence are the kind of exuberant, well-meaning and not quite seasoned beginning oboe players who long greeted RantWoman on Saturday mornings in childhood.

RantWoman apologizes for leaving the metaphor hanging like the last notes of a concert in the hall, without the flesh of full detail. No, RantWoman does NOT even apologize. It's just that words are coming slowly. There is energy there, and yearning and inquiry and...and words are collecting slowly, haltingly, wandering in several diretions and unpredictably being corraled by one voice and then another.

Sometimes RantWoman is humble about feeling quite held. Other times, RantWoman is inclined, even worse than usual toward three-year-old envy, thoroughly unseemly envy of the license, albeit limited, small children enjoy about really spectacular tantrums. RantWoman would so like to expect better of herself. RantWoman would also so like it if some voices around her hit different notes too. In other words, RantWoman is a demanding bitch who nevertheless is dust no less than anyone else around her.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Twittering Quakerism

RantWoman has done it. She has invited the NEYearlyMeeting Twitter
feed not only into her muddled mishmash of entities she follows online on her Twitter account but all the way into her very own 500 text messages / month cellphone.

RantWoman considers herself very lucky to have a phone that produces a font she can read and to still have enough eyeballs to read the text without more elaborate software and hardware interventions. RantWoman could easily become annoyed about other mechanics, but RantWoman these days is STRIVING to stay in a positive, realistic but faith-centered space, and to bite things off in small workable bits. Anyone nostalgic for RantWoman as Bitch Goddess is invited just to wait a bit for RantWoman to lose her grip again. Meanwhile let us take advantage of what we have.

RantWoman realizes she could feed some bits from the Twitterverse into her blog. RantWoman is going to consider this. However, RantWoman thinks her blog is already cluttered enough with blogroll and keywords that maybe more input streams are gratuitous. Well, RantWoman is thinking about this.

But now to the real point: two messages Rantwoman IS going to reproduce

Embrace the truth that you are abundant, eternal, fearless and worth being loved. Have the courage to let it all in. #TDL

Time to apply for the Young Adult Leadership Development (YALD) program: http://pendlehill.org/introduction If... http://fb.me/5pUW50q

Since this last comes via Pendle Hill, RantWoman assumes it is not limited only to NEYM youth and supposes there might be others interested locally. RantWoman says this not having punched through links to check but inviting others to go to town.

Hot fresh compost

RantWoman SO hopes after the February Meeting for Business that the Compost melodrama does not have to come up ANYMORE for awhile. This would GREATLY please RantWoman.

RantWoman in fact feels she has plenty to do in the life of her Meeting and more broadly in her life as a Friend. RantWoman would not mind in the least if Dear Friend would actually ask her opinion about something or other, but RantWoman expects that will happen or not and in any case not on any timeline of RantWoman's. RantWoman is quite on strike about some concerns of Dear Friend's which RantWoman definitely thinks worthy of seasoning but which need to be seasoned by more than just RantWoman and Dear Friend.

RantWoman has formed and further refined some opinions about ferment and shifting of many threads in the life of Meeting and people therein; RantWoman thinks some of this may eventually bubble into her blog but has no intention of hurrying. RantWoman is more certain than ever both of a number of basic leadings as a Friend and of needing to deepen her own spiritual life, but RantWoman is also on strike about trying to solve everything at once let alone in Business Meeting!

RantWoman continues to subject many things, friendship with Dear Friend, his and numerous others' pronouncements about many topics, basic community awareness of many traditional Quaker practices to ruthless tests and checks. In short, service on a specific committee or no, RantWoman is clear about much to do--besides having to be present with all that is still unfolding.

RantWoman also takes note of some questions of ministry and other matters and has decided she darn well needs a support committee to help about her blog. RantWoman has dutifully written an email about this topic and is now trying to walk this request through the process a certain committee requests. RantWoman is giving herself the option of being peeved that her request is going to be handled on Quaker time, at least another month out because of the press for said committee of other matters, a RantWoman commitment in the coming month, and general grinding of process wheels. RantWoman also recognizes that in order even to season her request, Friends are going to need education about many points of blogosphere life that RantWoman sort of takes for granted. RantWoman will write separately about why she plans in the meantime to continue filling the interwebs with her journal-like efforts to deal with her inner volcano / compost heap / choose your favorite metaphor for inner light in serious need of tending.

RantWoman felt her heart sink over the minutes early in the week and has written of that elsewhere. February Business Meeting also featured another item from a specific committee which caught RantWoman (and all the more so probably Dear Friend) off guard. RantWoman would NOT have minded if that one had been to a threshing session first instead of Business Meeting, but no one asked RantWoman or the one ask got quite muddled.

The ask RantWoman speaks of: Dear Friend does not include the text of emails he is replying to AND changes subject lines so RantWoman frequently has to guess what he is referring to. RantWoman awhile ago emailed several Friends in topical positions a request for a threshing session. Dear Friend wrote RantWoman an email which RantWoman took to be about the threshing session, putting RantWoman's request for a threshing session in a negative light. RantWoman wrote back trying to deal with the negative light by joking about something flip to do with our cats' different behavior issues.

RantWoman certainly could have picked up the phone to someone and tried harder. RantWoman also regrets omitting something she thinks she came to after the cats email about a time when she was very new to Friends and found a threshing session to be the coolest experience for ways to discuss emotional or unclear matters under care of spirit involving views or experiences of many people without expectations of any set outcome or decision. RantWoman finds herself wondering whether she had unrealistic thoughts about the number and variety of threads she might have wanted to touch in such a meeting. Anyway, no threshing session happened and it seems unlikely for the time being now.

RantWoman decided all that is needed for the time being is a request to have materials due to be handed out in Business Meeting in advance by email. Well, not quite all: RantWoman wrote an email to a limited number of Friends in topical positions with the thoughts above about Business Meeting and a threshing session, as well as a couple personal experience comments and an observation: RantWoman is no great scholar of early Friends' spiritual journeys, but if half the Quaker blogosphere writes of getting dragged kicking and screaming into spiritual transformations, RantWoman gets to concede the concept might be topical. RantWoman could complain yet still of many matters, but RantWoman's complaint queue is already quite full.

RantWoman initially thought to make another phone call, to articulate to yet another Friend a point about amateurs and pastoral care and the spiritual dimensions of sharing life experience that does not belong in raw form in a blog--or, apparently, in public chatter in Business Meeting; for now Rantwoman included some sketching of the point in her last email and will listen for ways to have actual conversations.

Meanwhile, some thoughts about things that mean a lot:

--RantWoman really appreciates our Adult Religious Education program. It has been well worth RantWoman's time to get her sorry self on the bus three weeks in a row, both for the content and also the range of new voices and for the vigorous sense of both fellowship and inquiry that prevails there.

February as featured George Fox as presented by Friend recovering from Stroke, muddled with references to isometric exercises as an aid to worship (?!?), with a speaker's wish that George Fox had just made little asterisks and notes about his views about oaths, and with some historical howlers that was making a much better historically versed Friend roll her eyes next to RantWoman. RantWoman did get that 17th century London was a dire place and that George Fox was kind of histrionic and nervous. Who needs nuances? Sometimes one just runs with the nuggets one gets.

Too much George Fox cut a little into RantWoman's pre-Business Meeting worship, but a message during worship about faith bearing one forward and our clerk's reading from Sandra Cronk spoke to RantWoman's condition--besides the part about wanting to be able to read Quakers her own darn self, another topic RantWoman is seasoning next steps about.

RantWoman has been taking stock:

--Adult supervision over email with Dear Friend seems not so bad and RantWoman has come to appreciate the person offering such supervision. RantWoman is conscious of the number of messages she sends and is unclear whether they are helpful but RantWoman is clear to send the hints and helps she sends, as well as bits of humor. Dear Friend uses email an hour a day at the library and has many things he needs to tend to. RantWoman pointedly does NOT razz him because he can go to any branch of the library; RantWoman can go to exactly TWO branches that have the tools she needs to use the computer if away from her beloved albatross of a laptop and we are both SUPPOSED to count our blessings.

--RantWoman appreciates different voices who have read some of RantWoman's email temper tantrums and offered insightful interactions.

--RantWoman appreciates a "don't take it personally" aspect of another Friend's list of gripes with Dear Friend, significant overlap with RantWoman except a couple specific to eash one's lives but even those have proceed with caution elements.

--RantWoman has to offer appreciation for a couple voices saying in different ways "Earth to RantWoman..." If RantWoman is going to have trouble maintaining contact with Planet Earth, she guesses it is a VERY good idea to have trusted Friends who will remind her of this when she cannot detect the problem herself.

--RantWoman offers appreciation for a couple voices who have just been witness and said things like "holding you in the Light." This was RantWoman's request when one of the voices was trying to figure out why Dear Friend had included her in the conversation. Thinking about this person, a small local remembrance time she held for her father and some psychic themes still getting tuned, RantWoman realizes there is another reason to be glad of her presence. But at the time, RantWoman said, well. you don't even have to read the emails; just hold us in the Light when you see it in the inbox

--Appreciation for some messages from others that are parallel to some of Dear Friend's concerns but MUCH easier to hear not freighted by other baggage.

RantWoman suspects, that hard as actually talking still seems, the right conversations with the right people would be a gift. RantWoman is glad to have some George Fox language to use when speaking of other's traits.

RantWoman is pretty clear there is an aspect of needing to elbow way to space for own stuff in more conversations. Whine. Moan. RantWoman would so like mindreaders instead.

RantWoman admits that midlife efforts to clean up psychic detritus SHOULD at least be easier to deal with than all the various circumstances that created the psychic detritus in the first place. Well, maybe.

RantWoman still thinks Dear Friend was seriously out of line about numbers of points, but RantWoman cannot even finish either her emails or blog posts detailing exact offenses and RantWoman is more clear about focusing on things she can actually do something about.

--RantWoman is VERY grateful to have access to official via the mental health system professional counseling. RantWoman's counseling professional asks decent cogent questions which RantWoman gets to talk of mostly not anywhere near Meeting. Counseling professional laughed for 10 minutes when RantWoman said she thinks she keeps counselor in business because every once in awhile she hits a string of issues that no amount of antidepressants by themselves would resolve. (This wisecrack is RantWoman penance for previous employment-related familiarity with trends and tendencies about anti-depressants.)

Counselor recently gave RantWoman a metaphorical pat on head for doing her work and not flaking out of (too many) appointments. RantWoman has just been on hold at the crisis clinic for someone else and therefore RantWoman is not willing to risk crises of her own. But regular worship also HELPS.

Finally, RantWoman has been turning over another reason to TRY to extend grace about the situation. Besides miscommunications, another Friend's concerns about someone's housing issues caused RantWoman to remember that at the time of the onset of the compost melodrama, Dear Friend was also moving and unhappily so. Even now, when considering Dear Friend's challenges in the realm of paid work, RantWoman HAS to count her blessings about many things even as she also also pokes and prods at some Very Big Questions about Friends are called to do, called to be in the times of today's crises.

RantWoman will tell the Friend concerned about the housing matter of the resources she knows and the approaches she recommends. Maybe RantWoman will NOT go into all the reasons she sometimes feels quite hard-nosed. RantWoman had to throw her very own RantBrother out of her household two different times because of drugs and unaddressed mental health issues. RantWoman had to help RantMom get TWO years worth of restraining orders to throw the RantBrother out of RantMom's house. Then there was a spell of emails from someone else unsure whether the RantBrother was living in his shrubbery. How, HOW can someone not know anyone has been living in their shrubbery, in January, in MT? RantWoman has seen this shrubbery.

During this time, winter in MT, RantWoman had conversations with the RantBrother about the gift of a pair of longjohns. Years later, the RantBrother is housed and stably employed. He still makes odd purchasing choices and consumes frightening quantities of alcohol and RantWoman even allows him to be a snob: if he drinks high-end booze at least he can afford less of that than the cheap kind. RantWoman sometimes allows herself to grieve that RantBrother is not really available for many conversations, but he is enough of a horticulture guru, MAYBe he would at least appreciate some Compost associations.

News to make one smile

This item has been lurking in RantWoman's Drafts for months. RantWoman decided just to publish it as part of the whole story of Jana's accident.

Sent: Sat, Feb 13, 2010 2:24 pm
The good news continues. Jana and Warren have been taking longer walks, including a walk all the way around Green Lake with a refreshing break for tea and a rest. Physical therapy told Jana to put her crutches away for good, though Jana may use trekking poles on longer walks if she wants. And Jana has been discharged by speech therapy.

Jana and Warren have also had some fun. In addition to visitors at their home, they visited friends in Port Townsend for the day and stopped at some favorite places on Bainbridge Island on the way home. Jana commented that it was nice to be out and see the Pacific Northwest. And Jana and Warren walked to the bus and took Metro to downtown Seattle. This was the first time Jana has taken the bus since the accident. Jana and Warren ate lunch in the Pike Street Market and admired the Calder exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. All very normal Seattle activities!

RantWoman adds:
RantWoman mentioned to Jana how much fun it is to hear about all these normal activities. Jana said she planned their trip using the Metro trip planner . RantWoman mostly highly approves of the trip planner but can sometimes find some or another feature an intellectual challenge, so Go Jana.

Jana had a so-so assessment of the Calder exhibit. RantWoman is inclined to like Calder and stored the remaining dates of the exhibit anyway.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell Valentine

What on earth is a a cranky same-sex marriage supporting pacifist opposed to mayhem everywhere supposed to make of the proposal to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell? Do it, NOW. Just don't ask RantWoman to endorse the wars the troops will keep getting sent off to.

RantWoman has a gay friend, by now RantWoman thinks Colonel A, who has served in the military for over two decades. RantWoman first met the future Col. A under a female pseudonym in correspondence with a fellow student on a study abroad program. Half the students on the program were pining away for correspondence from home, and a friend of RantWoman's was getting a steady stream of letters, much to the envy of others. Then one night drinking and a game of Truth or Dare occurred and numbers of stories came out, as it were. These included the gender of the friend's correspondent, the fact that both the male and female designated student spokespeople were attuned to our program directors' religiously based discomfort, nay unto hostility toward anything to do with homosexuality, and numbers of soap operas within our group.

All that was decades ago. Over the interval, RantWoman has learned of Col. A's pride in his family's military service. His father fought with US troops in the South Pacific and two of Col. A's 5 siblings have also served. RantWoman greatly appreciates Col. A's genial capacity to interact with almost everyone, his pride in his heritage, his love for all his nieces and nephews, his big heart, and his fascination with the more baroque end of Catholic iconography.

The original relationship where Col. A masqueraded on envelopes as a woman is now painful sad history. Col. A now has a very sweet kind partner. Col. A has a medical specialty so with the current stop loss regime, he is likely to be in the reserves until he's 90 or something. Colonel A has served most of his career at the same base where Greta Cammermeyer formerly served. Based on the number of gay guys with the same specialty who have appeared in social clumps with Col. A over the time RantWoman has known him, RantWoman thinks people at this base must be either blase or willfully clueless, and RantWoman is not even going to go look up any topical statistics about discharge rates.

Last year, Col. A got called up, ordered to leave his practice and put his local life on hold, like thousands of other troops. When he demurred about domestic service, the threat of getting sent to Iraq caused him to reconsider swiftly and Col. A spent 3 months practicing his specialty in a distant state.

The military abounds with pomp and circumstance. RantWoman has been watching the productions local TV stations make of deployment ceremonies for years: many people in desert camouflage. Much tromping around carrying flags in formation, hugs, cheers from family left behind--except of course that Col. A does not get to hug his partner!

Instead, Col. A and his partner, both Catholic boys, invited RantWoman to a special flag ceremony at the "open and affirming" congregation" they sometimes attend. RantWoman was mortified to screw up the address in her head, have to look at her calendar, backtrack and miss the presentation of the colors. RantWoman was blessed though at the end of the service to watch the pastor hold a special blessing of Col. A's and his partner's relationship separate from the presentation of the colors. Afterward there was a potluck, complete with one of Col. A's favorite heritage dining options.

Col. A and his partner live in the same part of town as RantWoman so they offered a ride home. RantWoman was blessed to hear a sigh of agreement when she expressed the thought apparently on everyone's mind. The ceremony was a nice gesture. The people were nice enough. And the whole event felt a little too much like pep rally for God, a meme that works really well for some people but not for RantWoman. When Don't Ask, Don't Tell finally bites the dust, RantWoman so hopes Col. A will be able to hug his partner at ceremonies just like everyone else!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tax resistance season?

A recent email from Dear Friend reminds RantWoman of an important traditional form of Quaker witness, war tax resistance, lately written up in an article RantWoman is unlikely to read in the print issue of Western Friend and generating a topical letter in response from Dear Friend.

RantWoman finds herself thinking a few, typically for RantWoman contradictory thoughts.

First, RantWoman is all for the power and integrity of individual witness. RantWoman is proud to know a number of individuals who have managed to structure their livelihoods in ways that keep them present to the necessary extent in economic life but also allow them to live this powerful witness. RantWoman extends her heartfelt gratitude for such witness--and RantWoman thinks the numbers of dollars actually diverted from the war efforts in this way are miniscule compared both to the level of personal aggravation sometimes involved and to the vast sums the average steely-eyed tax-minimizing corporate accountant will be keeping from the federal treasury as a matter of course. This causes RantWoman to call upon all conscientious stewards of our nation's wealth to re-examine all the fully legal, entirely within the bounds of sensible mainstream culture options for re-orienting our national priorities!

Second, RantWoman bets almost every Friends Meeting on the planet or at least every one in the US has some kind of minute on war tax resistance. RantWoman predicts that these minutes give explanations of various length in florid Quakerese of the xxx-hundreds of years of Friends tradition about opposition to war followed perhaps by exhortations to query ourselves as to what our taxes are doing, what is our right relationship to the government. If we are lucky, such minutes might also address approaches to fair taxation and stewardship of resources. There will then follow some statement of corporate support for all individuals to act as led on this subject.

There might be other elements. The minutes migt be addressed in various ways. Most to the point, there is an excellent chance that any such minute is lying in a drawer or stuck on a shelf somewhere with numbers of other historical minutes of exercise. Well, perhaps RantWoman is generalizing inappropriately from her own Meeting.

RantWoman is highly certain, given what she knows of the cantankerous testimonies of previous generations of members, that her Meeting has exactly this sort of minute; it has probably been missing in action for a good long time. RantWoman has also taken note of a number of new faces in Meeting. RantWoman suspects many of the new faces may never even have thought of the issue or not thought of it since membership discussion might have bumped past it during the full disclosure, beware what you are getting into part of the membership talk. RantWoman already took steps urging that we dig the minute out of the drawer, perhaps reprint it in our newsletter during tax season, and begin dialogue about this subject.

Next, RantWoman got a headache on behalf of her own Meeting and some months ago who apparently thought RantWoman too much of a tiresome political activist to be effective on a certain committee. One vexatious and so far poorly articulated aspect of RantWoman's Compost melodrama has been some absolutely appalling individual and corporate process screw-ups. RantWoman has, alas, been a party to several though definitely not all of them.

Here Rantwoman finds herself in a bit of a quandary. She has no problem writing in extravagant detail of her own failings, but has not quite come to a centered framework for writing frankly of some kinds of matters in her own meeting including for instance the exact details of the screwups. RantWoman thinks she should speak of her concerns to someone in person before writing them in detail in her blog. However, RantWoman is a night owl, many in her Meeting are early-to-bed, early-to-rise sorts who are not available by phone at the moment. RantWoman has rediscovered that she sometimes writes a lot while organizing her thoughts, seasoning what needs to go further, and letting matters ripen. RantWoman thinks that sometimes getting matters into community discussion from several directions can enrich any resulting community process. All of this is how RantWoman rationalizes going further.

The point: if RantWoman's Meeting is being flabby and wishy-washy and sloppy, sloppy, sloppy about process around comparatively mundane matters like a simple nomination, it will be completely at sea when it is time to season matters involving more profound witness, potential support for civil disobedience, or other more controversial and confrontational forms of witness! In other words, another dang topic where there is even more work ahead than RantWoman initially understood.

For now, for the information of Friends who have not thought of the topic lately and do not read Western Friend in print, a number of sources of information:
including a link in Spanish

That old faithful secular standby
War Resisters' League

an article from 2003

another article from 2004

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nonviolent resistance to muggers?

RantWoman is probably going to double-post or crosslink.

RantWoman is horrified by the following story.
Warning: the video is GRAPHIC and the text is more than adequate for the issue.

RantWoman wishes first to note that the Metro Bus tunnel is located entirely in Seattle. Living wage in Seattle is somewhere over $14 / hour. The security guards in this story are paid around $11 / hour. RantWoman thinks expecting security guards to uphold public safety for 20% below a living wage is an act of violence itself.

RantWoman is appalled that our local officials would shell out a lot of money for a contract that basically buys no security.

RantWoman definitely thinks better training and a payraise would be obvious. RantWoman does NOT necessarily think she wants only to rely on Metro or the county. RantWoman notes in the video lots of people just standing around besides the security guards. RantWoman has LOTS of experience going to political protests and she has experience a few times where alert, proactive peacekeepers and protest participants well-grounded in nonviolence just massed in focussed ways or circled problems and very distinctly diverted really dangerous moments.

RantWoman KNOWS that physical intervention is not obvious. RantWoman also once read an article about an urban street where a guy on his porch saw a young man beating the young woman he was with. The guy on the porch just yelled that the mugging was being watched and pretty soon other people came out of their doors and also yelled that the mugging was being watched and the guy doing the beating just ran away. RantWoman thinks there must be other examples of such things and she wishes someone with an internet search bit and a thing for nonviolent approaches to terrible situations would go looking and see what turns up.

On the way to trying to find the article about the power of witness to stop a mugging, RantWoman found this great interview with George Lakey


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leadings Still

(RantWoman is not sure how the date stamps on blog entries look to others. This item was begun in Feb 2010 and does not speak to an item on the Feb business meeting agenda which RantWoman will write of separately.)

RantWoman is sometimes feeling better and sometimes not about her Compost matter. RantWoman thought she might be able to let it rest after last month's Business Meeting. WHAT was RantWoman thinking?

RantWoman thought that relegating things to "Shut up and Pray" at the silent retreat would let her do the Baptist Sunday school thing and give it to God. God kept giving it back though God was still not getting RantWoman clear what to do. RantWoman will write separately of one request.

Then along came MINUTES, first the summary in our newsletter and then at RantWoman's request an emailed copy of the minutes. This led to more email and a phone call from our clerk and maybe a conversation RantWoman needs to have with someone who has since been out of town. RantWoman at first look had a strong leading to urge the clerk away from wording that seems to sweep many questions under the rug. RantWoman, though still "shrekked out" about personal matters, NOT actually a Dear Friend problem, that continue to refuse to simplify, to quote a Dear Friend expression, is clear that it seems totally fair to the truth to say that there is no shared understanding of many questions and the matter is being deferred without expectation of resolution on any set timeline. RantWoman knows perfectly well what she wrote last month. RantWoman means it to the nth degree about not wanting the clerk to keep nagging anything before every Business Meeting. RantWoman is totally unclear at this moment why it seems so important to speak also of broader truths now in the minutes.

The minutes wound up not being perfectly to RantWoman's taste but RantWoman wound up having very little leading to object further in Business Meeting.

Mainly because of the item RantWoman will write of separately, RantWoman followed up from Business Meeting with a blanket request to committee clerks to have items due to be handed out at Business Meeting emailed to her in advance. RantWoman got back several replies asking to be reminded every month. RantWoman will of course issue such reminders, at least until another project she is involved with gets around to seasoning a more general recommendation about making such services available to anyone with email before Business Meeting.

RantWoman will be glad of a possible general recommendation if only because it will spare her any need to be annoyed that others around her interact less than satisfactorily about her vision realities. It's not like this flavor of Friends has a long history of faith healing or like RantWoman expects the hand of God to magically undo what DNA lotto and medical science have already wrought. RantWoman in fact would be really grateful if Friends could just bear her realities in mind. Apparently, RantWoman is relieved for the time being of much need to be grateful--and obliged to be humble about a further point: Dear Friend while recently recording clerk, DID in fact email RantWoman many kinds of things and RantWoman had to lecture him a couple times about bad process because of just doing it and not recording / seasoning the action with anyone else. Who says RantWoman even knows how to be properly grateful!

RantWoman learned that work is occurring around some questions on her mind, besides the eldering ones previously mentioned.

Communications between RantWoman and Dear Friend have deteriorated further. Dear Friend has decided to block RantWoman's email There was more said than that, but enough. Adult supervision with a member of Oversight for an intermediary will have to do for now.

Sometimes RantWoman is sorry because Dear Friend can be a hoot. Sometimes RantWoman reads message after message that feel to her like she has to fight for space in the conversation and does not mind a break.

RantWoman reads a wonderful piece by Liz Opp about stewardship of a leading.


There is great quoted material from Lloyd Lee Wilson, but unfortunately the link to the http://www.quakerbooks.org/essays_on_the_quaker_vision_of_gospel_order.php

page caused RantWoman a rant she has been trying to postpone about Quaker presses needing to get with the 21st century. RantWoman wants to READ; she does not even want to try to read print. Have y'all heard of e-books???? When RantWoman is feeling calm and centered, she knows perfectly well that she can work with a leading to keep speaking up about access like this and maybe even secure a minute of support from her Meeting. Who said RantWoman is doing very well about calm and centered, let alone focused about requesting such a minute?

FGC Travelling Ministry Anchor Committee Page

RantWoman is filing this here to increase her odds of finding it again when she wants it.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Lunch Counters

"Sometimes it's not about marching. It's about sitting and refusing to move."
W, a volunteer at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing, talking about something in connection with the 50th anniversary of the lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro NC.

RantWoman was, um, taken aback. First, she was trying to exhort W to participate in an opportunity we all have to practice conflict resolution. RantWoman admits she is considering taking the class at the alternate location so she can practice first on people she does not have to see every day. W, on the other hand, is quite happy to practice close to home. He is just reacting badly to RantWoman being too insistent. RantWoman can handle that. Well, she THINKS she can.

The conflict resolution moment was, though, a distraction for what RantWoman is about to say. RantWoman does not have a lot of time at this second to do a lot of research. RantWoman is simply going to note a couple facts and then ask her readers to weigh in.

The celebrated sit-in occurred in Greensboro NC. RantWoman has been to Greensboro NC. RantWoman formed two impressions. The first is about how southern cities deal with snow, with not quite as much distress as Seattle but close.

The second is of a community at the junction of several strands of US Quakerism. RantWoman is cautious about making too many inferences from the tourist level intro blurbs. RantWoman also knows of other moments when Quaker good intentions and capacity to think highly of themselves on social justice grounds far exceed actual facts on the ground, so RantWoman is posting this observation in a spirit of inquiry, query, seeking Light:

If Greensboro is such a Quaker mecca, why the heck did the place have segregated lunch counters in the first place?????

What say ye all?

Silent Retreating

RantWoman was offline for almost TWO WHOLE DAYS. The horror.

RantWoman was not completely without literary devices though. Here reprinted are some middle of the night emanations to the Twitterverse via RantWoman's cellphone while she was at the PNWQM silent retreat:

#haiku twittering worship?
bad friends association
signing em up fast!

#haiku the silent retreat
coworker used to call it
silent seminar

#haiku rantwoman offline
twittering incessantly
stop! no retweeting

#haiku Can you see the sky?
cloudy night tall trees slight breeze.
river running by

#haiku Rantwoman at camp
sleeping dormitory style.
more like not sleeping

#haiku Three in the morning.
boxing nun exercises!
do them silently?

#haiku silent seminar
angelic troublemakers
discerning leadings

RantWoman was gratefully attending the annual Silent Retreat organized by our quarterly meeting. RantWoman has attended this before twice, over a decade ago. RantWoman learned that by finding traces of herself from the journal kept in the dorms where people stay.

RantWoman notes that in the interregnum, at some point there was a MASSIVE flood with the nearby river carving out a whole new channel. Between the river reroute and some subsequent massive landslides, quite a substantial chunk of former camp property has basically fallen or drifted away. This sort of massive divine relandscaping frequently fills RantWoman's heart with awe even when it results in much greater pains for people using something such as trails.

RantWoman is not sure what to make of the journal, but there it is, now with extra enhancements including entries signed in retrospect and not just in scribble font, but now also in extra large scribble font. RantWoman frequently loses patience with the electronic universe and growls something like "what happens if the power goes out?" RantWoman freely admits her own handwriting is a good argument for not overdoing that line of thinking. Well, RantWoman can read it. Other people is another problem.

(RantWoman guesses she is SUPPOSED to be glad she can figure out something written pre-vision-meltdown in ballpoint pen was written in her handwriting. RantWoman does not automatically manage everything she is supposed to; she will however admit to being too narcissistic even to attempt to read more than a tiny bit of anyone else's handwriting besides her own.)

RantWoman sort of kind of thought of taking along her laptop and making Mr. JAWS scream through some of the cool Quaker stuff she has been downloading all over her hard drive which is about to melt down. RantWoman even ASKED permission in advance, which she noticed a different laptop user did not. RantWoman is glad she did NOT push herself--any more than she did.

Before leaving, RantWoman looked at the pile of reading she was taking:
--An NIV Bible in large print. RantWoman likes the large print and two-column format. She decided she is not so crazy about the NIV but it is better than the Good News, the other thing she has in large print and in a weird wide format that does not work for the holes in RantWoman's visual field. RantWoman at some point over the weekend wondered what ever happened to the Rant GrandFather's large print Bible which she suspects was probably KJV.

--One article, in tight multicolumn format, off our Meeting's literature table. Article was written by Dear Friend and had a thread related to RantWoman's compost melodrama. RantWoman scraped her eyeballs over the entire survey of world religions to strain at some point which needs more expansive elucidation. RantWoman even looked up a Bible verse the article mentioned.
Then RantWoman read the next verse besides the one referred to in the article and discovered it mentioned something sort of important to one of RantWoman's points in the whole melodrama, exactly what Dear Friend has not so far done. Then there was a reference in a footnote to something in Deuteronomy that segued in close succession to something about stoning adulterers. At this point, RantWoman threw up her hands, went back to Acts and the Psalms and resumed her "I don't want to think about it" stance about numerous topics.

--The rules of linear literary braille: about the right length of anything RantWoman might get read in two days.

--An issue of Science News in Braille, already overkill on the quantity front.

--Some minor sewing projects that RantWoman thought she might be tempted to do even in bad light without enough table space.

--writing supplies in both pen and stylus form.

In short, RantWoman brought plenty she could have done. What RantWoman actually did:

hike a little, over to the labyrinth
sit outside in various places and listen and stare into space
worship some more.

RantWoman most assuredly does not apologize and feels MUCH renewed.