Thursday, September 30, 2010
Problematic Mentor Figure, known to many RantWoman readers needs to be held in the Light. He needs all the healing energy the universe can send him in whatever languages Friends deliver it. Last week he had two detached retinas, one that could easily be repaired with a laser pulse and one that sent him to the hospital overnight for the kind of treatment that mashes all the tissues around the eye, inserts a silicone band, blows in a gas bubble and will require him to keep his face down as much as possible for a couple weeks so the gas bubble will paste the retina back where it goes.
Mentor Figure can already read out of the lasered eye, and the gas bubble eye is doing about what is expected at this point. Mentor Figure definitely does not have the lifetime of eyevexations RantWoman has accumulated. RantWoman thanks a Friend she emailed with a separate question about service animals for pointing out that for the unitiated, this sort of experience is probably terrifying; RantWoman admits her own terrify-o-meter may be seriously out of kilter compared to others and some of the time manages to sit respectfually with this point in terms of what she expects of others. Some of the time, at least. RantWoman knows several people who have had very positive experiences with the gas bubble. Mentor Figure got help immediately instead of cluelessly walking around for weeks as RantWoman did and much looks positive, but in the meantime ....
RantWoman has been struggling some about how much elaborate detail to write of others' medical issues. Here, although RantWoman seriously means it about holding said Friend in prayers, RantWoman is basically self-centered and means quickly to resume examination of her own spiritual state with hopes that greater clarity for herself or something of value to others might emerge.
RantWoman has been there and done that, TWICE, once in each eye with the gas bubble thing. RantWoman has had a "Fire Photon Torpedoes" experience with opthalmological laser beams for soemthing else. All RantWoman wants to say is "OWWWWW!" or :Yuuuuccccck!" Unfortunately, the Owwwww comes freighted with a whole bunch of "can you top this?" narrative elements such as temporal juxtaposition with key roles in Quaker events, caregiving for ailing relatives, and assorted other familial and interpersonal super dork moments.
Even thinking about these past events makes RantWoman tired and they are really, really probably not what someone else wants to think about in the midst of a very bruised up face and vertigo from a gas bubble bouncing all over the place. This would be one reason to dump such in a blog to share with such as might interact and not necessarily drop them in the lap of any specific person. RantWoman supposes she might also be expected to summon gratitude for having come THROUGH all of these events. RantWoman is definitely not overdoing it on the Quakerly centeredness and gratitude front, though readers may be forgiven for stopping here and skipping the rest of RantWoman's excursion. It's not that RantWoman thinks the excursion is unimportant, but RantWoman will definitely find more occasions to get in people's faces.
RantWoman is going to take a slight break from digesting generalized Imago Dei thoughts over at http://walkingthesea.blogspot.com/ RantWoman is still banging at the peanut M&M metaphor where the peanut is the kernel of God within all of us. RantWoman's experience is that peanuts send some people she knows into anaphalactic shock. RantWoman means at some point to cavil elsewhere about the chocolate in this metaphor. In fact RantWoman is giving herself the option eventually of ditching the peanut M&M metaphor like a pair of rejected shoes at the shoe store. For now, RantWoman has decided she can go with the peanut thing for a bit: RantWoman is aware of many studies showing that blindness and vision loss are the most feared form of disability for many, many people. For instance RantWoman recently read an item noting that people in the US fear vision loss more than heart disease.
RantWoman has decided that she, speaking only for herself has no choice but to embrace this inner peanut, this nugget of god delivered in the form of realities fearsome enough to terrify many around her. For RantWoman's trouble she is getting to have lots of conversations of the form "This conversation is not about (a certain problematic mentor Figure). It's about RantWoman and RantWoman's realities. LISTEN TO ME!" Lonnnnng stupefied, very occasionally worshipful silence. "Ohhhh!"
Sometimes this is followed further by some other form of cluelessness or other circumstance sufficient to try the souls of much better Quakers than RantWoman. Sometimes RantWoman suspects she may have been doing too good a job a faking it about some or another problem or hiding the trial and error nature of her quest for the role of "well-adjusted blind person." Sometimes RantWoman gets to be grateful for direct unmediated cluelessness rather than third parties' patronizing speculations and pronouncements. Sometimes RantWoman would so like a different basket of gratitudes!
RantWoman is also still sitting on some opinions for which she has not come up with adequate English to Quakerese blogworthy formulations.
There remains a whole festering stewpot of personal and community life ISSUES RantWoman is poking through with due deliberation, definitely choosing to stay in the game which is probably incomprehensible to some observers.
But for now, there is the River of Peace. The river of peace in the title is from this entry http://forusa.org/blogs/leila-zand/river-peace remember the 30th anniversary of the Iran / Iraq war with a boatload of schoolkids full of hope for something better and in any case borne forward by a Spirit stronger than any single person's inner peanut alone.
Here is a direct link
RantWoman is interested. RantWoman is definitely interested. Perhaps that is enough said for now. RantWoman hopes everyone close who is interested will hurry up and get themselves signed up. This is because RantWoman considers Seattle sort of the far outskirts of "the Portland region," but RantWoman will happily work on the how of getting to take up a seat if there is space still available....
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
RantWoman recently returned from the fall session of the Pacific Northwest Quarterly Meeting. RantWoman is grateful for respectable but not unlimited levels of sunshine, for flowing streams and clear air and gentle pace, and for many ways to renew and deepen ties among Friends. RantWoman has a lot else to say, but one thing at a time.
One of the items on the agenda at Meeting for Business was whether to change the name of this body. There are questions of geographical and temporal precision, as well as multiple pathways to confusion with other Friends bodies both in RantWoman's Yearly Meeting and another geographically overlapping but theologically distinct Yearly Meeting. The agenda featured only initial reports from Monthly Meetings but to say the least there is NOT unity:
Begin with the question of meeting frequency. Some Friends have no problem with the term Quarterly: while there are only two plenary sessions, fall and spring, each year winter adnd summer also involve a Continuing Committee meeting. Any darn fool who does not already have enough meetings in his or her life is welcome at Continuing Committee. RantWoman for instance is more than satisfied that these meetings add up to Quarterly sessions.
Some Friends note only two actual plenary gatherings per year and suggest calling ourselves half- yearly, a concept which could lead to confusion with parallel usage in Western Canada.
Some Friends who are distressed by the term Quarterly and what they view as only two meetings / year suggest terms such as Regional Gathering. This usage has legs among unprogrammed Friends in MT and AZ. RantWoman could live with this if there is a groundswell in this direction but is amused by terms that do not make any reference at all to frequency of meetings, a point RantWoman files under "not cultivate unreasonable expectations."
Next comes the question of geography. Pacific Northwest is too large and also conceivably confused with Northwest Yearly Meeting. Some Friends like "Cascade." Most of the Friends who like this live west of the Cascade mountains; this label has no appeal for Friends in ID who live hours away from the Cascades. Other Friends note that the Cascade mountains actually extend all the way into northern California and some north into Canada and thuse the term is unhelpful in the current context.
Next we learned that, while RantWoman for instance thought the Quarter include all unprogrammed Friends in WA and ID, in point of fact around the southern edges there are Meetings and worship groups under the care of Willamette Quarter to the south. At the moment, the option RantWoman likes best is completely unadorned: Most of WA and ID, either Quarterly Meeting or Regional Gathering.
RantWoman expects to learn more of usage and custom and history among other Friends. RantWoman also expects more practice with shared discernment. RantWoman may also be bringing sewing to Meeting for Business to help keep idle hands and idling soulds out of trouble during the process.
Monday, September 27, 2010
RantWoman, as her readers can attest, seldom has trouble going on and on at great length but was surprised at the ease with which words assembled themselves and fell into line in the space available. Okay RantWoman cheated SLIGHTLY. RantWoman needed to be able to complete the form with help from Mr. JAWS and wound up making a document that approximated the form she received and was one page in length but might have had a bit more space for leadings than the actual form. RantWoman does not even apologize.
RantWoman in all humility might or might not pick herself knowing of the variety of weighty and interesting Friends in her Yearly Meeting. Suffice it to say, RantWoman is glad not to be on the selection committee and also interested, regardless, in tending to matters of Salt and Light.
Are you a member? Yes or No YES Since what date? 1996 / 1997
Will you be between the ages of 18 and 35 in 2012? NO
Have you ever attended an international Friends conlerence before? If yes. Please tell us when and where:
FWCC Section of the Americas Peace Conference, Guilford College 2003
FWCC Section of the Americas Annual meeting, Canby OR, 2009
Please describe in the space below the leading that has prompted your interest in attending the Sixth World Conference of Friends in 2012.
On many occasions I have recommended that Friends from wealthy countries ought to travel to the countries where Friends are most numerous simply to bring Friends events to the largest number possible of Friends. I would be honored to help carry out this recommendation.
I am proud of the theological diversity of North Pacific Yearly Meeting and I would be honored both to share the gifts and challenges of that diversity and to experience others’ understandings of the Divine, of worship together, and of blessed community.
I was born in Billings, MT toward the eastern edge of NPYM and have been a lifelong activist for peace and justice. Though I was not raised a Friend, today a quest for prophetic vision and the spiritual work to realize it are central to my life. I would be honored for the connection to my birthplace while representing NPYM at a gathering like this and very happy to share my experiences across NPYM upon my return.
As someone who has become legally blind as an adult after a lifetime of vision issues, I have come, not entirely willingly, to carry a concern about access, participation and inclusion for people with a variety of disabilities. I never know what form that might take in different situations but am led to call it out and to be open to where it goes in a given situation.
I have travelled among Friends and overseas in several contexts and would be glad both to be an elder for Friends new to international gatherings and to share the joy of others’ new experiences.
I speak English, Spanish, and Russian. I interpret English <>Russian much more often than English<>Spanish. I have received feedback that I hold my own in Spanish and would want to pray hard before taking on bilingual word smithing of minutes in plenaries but would be glad to contribute something because of my language background.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Meaning or not meaning commentary, here is a topicla piece by Emily Dickinson:
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant
---Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
The Truth must dazzle gradually
or every man be blind.
RantWoman's Sunday worship discussion experience began with queries as to what we mean by "Honest to God." RantWoman when asked was seasoning one of her trademark metaphor manglement messages. RantWoman suspected her message was too much for the moment. RantWoman does not actually think, as one responder suggested, that this reticence reflects her own fears of being unlovable. RantWoman is quite certain God can handle matters; If anything, RantWoman's reticence reflects cavils and quibbles and possibly patronizing thoughts of protecting those around her.
RantWoman's metaphor manglement also was not fully assembled at that moment: RantWoman's experience is that God sometimes shows up, craps all over her floor, presents indications that there is no HazMat / Biohazard team any more adept than RantWoman available, and demands that RantWoman figure out how to make compost--Safely. RantWoman feels no obligation to explain how a non-personified / post personified God / vague and nebulous Divine presence with or without sandals and robes can crap all over anyone's floor. RantWoman simply gets to be true to her experience that such occurs--and not even necessarily to sugarcoat it in treacly Quakerese. Furthermore, RantWoman is sure enough of the God presence part that she has given up even trying to filter the muddle of what at first frequently looks like incompatible or outright noxious components, RantWoman is not quite to total surrender to circumstances but at least some of the time manages to let herself just be guided even when she herself cannot see where the heck something is going.
RantWoman found a few nuggets among others' messages but RantWoman's suspicions about the topicality of others' self-protection took spectacular shape in reactions to a pair of quite self-declaratory messages from Friend Poet. Friend Poet lives considerably closer to even more challenging circumstances than does RantWoman. Friend Poet struggles with more poetic excess than needed for his poetry; Friend Poet also has life themes, living close to homelessness, that he regularly and faithfully summons Meeting closer to God about.
Friend Poet's first dollop of Truth for Sunday's community conversation was something in passing anyone who listened closely to might think both "oh my God," and "I would like to ask more in private but if I ask more, how likely am I to collide fast with more than should be tried without the right letters behind one's name?" This just got cut off and bounced past, which may or may not have been reasonable in that large a group.
Friend Poet's second dollop of Truth arrived in the form of an Honest to God busborne interpersonal meltdown with fisticuffs and flailing limbs and falling underwear and 3 cop cars. This dollop of Truth was getting told in a way that was making RantWoman nod repeatedly in recognition of the story's versimilitude. Were it public radio, laughter would be occurring in spite of the theme. RantWoman expects that many of those assembled might have found the story just TOO MUCH and it abruptly got cut off cliff-hanger-style without any information about events after three cop cars!
RantWoman, thinking of a God who surely already knows of the fisticuffs aboard the bus, found herself wondering what Flailing Friend / Friend Poet needed of those who heard his tale. RantWoman's life aboard the bus has never taken her close to fisticuffs but she can definitely understand the concept of "anger management moment." RantWoman also knows that sometimes people lose it around the edges when some or another aspect of their lives comes under stress and has made mental notes to probe further about Friend Poet. RantWoman has no idea what even to wish of others assembled who also heard the tale.
BusBorne Flailing Friend left quickly after Adult Ed, before we heard the whole story. RantWoman can imagine that the most topical question she can ask is something along the lines of "How can I walk alongside?" or "How can I help you carry what you are carrying?" RantWoman means to, HAS TO ask.
But at the time, RantWoman just headed off to Worship, and to Truth in other channels.
RantWoman notes that Eye Roller Friend was more prescient than usual this week: RantWoman detected audible eye rolling as soon as anyone got up to speak, before they even spoke. RantWoman means to inquire of Eye Roller Friend exactly what constitutes good Meeting for Worship for Eye Roller Friend and how he knows in advance a reaction to the message, and RantWoman means beyond reacting to the fact of the message. RantWoman is vexed to remember only the eye-rolling and not the essence of most messages, except that RantWoman remembers the overall flow as meaningful, connected variously to Truth. homelessness, integrity, and to calls to service outside our walls.
RantWoman is proud actually that some in our Meeting feel called to help churches near us discern about participation in local efforts to support the homeless. RantWoman is further pleased that, though Friend Poet frequently summons us to interact with the topic, this time the call came from more than one other direction and RantWoman herself has even offered to attend topical meetings and uphold the discernment.
Here we come to more theological hiccups. The title of this message has nothing to do with the fisticuffs on the bus. Instead it is from one of those endearing gardeners' messages Inveterate Gardener Friend offers about divine dirt therapy. On Sunday, Inveterate Gardener Friend had been out tending to something fall-related and her mind wandered to rutting season among such as moose and elk in places such as Alaska or Montana. This is a peculiar excursion for RantWoman because mention of such animals and reproduction sometimes summons for RantWoman images of shotguns and their role in respectable wildlife management, not particularly what RantWoman expects out of Meeting for Worship. Mercifully Inveterate Gardener Friend did not linger long with rutting among large animals; she merely announced that for anyone who cares, it's also rutting season among slugs and snails.
RantWoman will come back to our sex-crazed slimy things; the message stream flowed from there to the discernment previously mentioned and then to a wonderful message from a young Friend speaking of how she talks to her friends of silent worship: a time when she feels / lets herself be vulnerable both to God and to others.
RantWoman would have been very happy to leave things therel God had other ideas. Shortly a Friend rose to speak of his struggles with homelessness and of camp, "the lie that tells the Truth" and then a Meeting closer elected himself. RantWoman actually thinks that is fine: her thoughts wandered, categorically NOT to any messages for Meeting but to two women who used to live in RantWoman's building and all the ways they can try RantWoman's sense of integrity.
The two women are both deaf-blind enough to need interpreters in large group situations but they sometimes came over to RantWoman's to drink tea and gossip. If we all arranged our seating and lighting very precisely to maximize visibility and minimize glare and an outside observer did not notice one of them signing to the other, the observer would hardly notice anything unusual. That means RantWoman got to collect lots of their nightmare stories about trying to get medical care without appropriate interpretation.
RantWoman a time or two had occasion to get services from the same organizations who serve her former neighbors. RantWoman's former neighbors have some spectacular dyysfunctions, but as with the fisticuffs on the bus, sometimes the story can be really, really funny, wrapped in the tenderest most respectful cheer one can summon. RantWoman of course knows that other service providers will not even be able to acknowledge that specific spectacularly recognizeable people are clients and has evolved a whole bouquet of pseudonyms and circumlocutions so that topics can enter conversations without violating anyone's confidentiality.
RantWoman has no idea what to do with an even more earthshaking fact of her former neighbors' lives: one of RantWoman's former neighbors is transgendered. Being transgendered and poor means that all kinds of facts most of us take for granted are stuck permanently in forms the transgendered person knows do not reflect her truth. However, the fact that some of these details are stuck in undesirable states ALSO means that sometimes one can finesse rules about services available to opposite sex couples but not to same sex ones. RantWoman has surmised all of these points from conversations over time. RantWoman's biggest problem with all this experience is that she has no idea what her former neighbors want to be called when we run into each other on the bus.
Perhaps it is just as well that so far all of this has not yet collected itself clearly enough for messages in worship! Perhaps given all the conversations RantWoman also gets to have about relationships and sex not happening among people definitely interested, we should all just have a wild full moon celebration of rutting season among slugs.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
wherein RantWoman walks all over hard conversations about ableism, processes more of her fixations related to a certain problematic mentor figure, and, should she call attention to the subject, poses challenges others have not even detected about the line between personal presence in a conversation occuring across miles and modes of interaction and responsible participation in processes that involve shared discernment and are supposed to involve some degree of confidentiality--and all this before midafternoon tea. RantWoman wishes to be very clear: the views here are her own and RantWoman can make no promises about whether anything different may come out of shared discernment. Given the differences in timeline, geographical and thematic span between live meetings and the internet, RantWoman does not even promise that some of these points will imediately register in certain parts of the conversation, possibly still another problem.
RantWoman first notes that she thinks the two posts below both refer to the same interest group at a recent NPYM Annual Session.
RantWoman remembers Friend With A particular Ministry's ADA problem, but until today when RantWoman read this Friend's blog post, it had not even dawned on RantWoman that finding a way to avoid vile dry erase markers or to move the Interest Group to a space not reeking of new carpet chemicals would be one more responsive way to address the ADA issue. RantWoman has enough trouble articulating her own needs in different situations that she can summon a measure of sympathy for Friend With... Ministry's inability toformulate that exact request at the time. Also RantWoman feels no inclination to apologize on behalf of everyone else who did not think of that solution either. Perhaps RantWoman can at least file the thought that Friends who raise such concerns can be asked what might help, something else which did not occur, though at least no obviously untenable or irrelevant alternatives to staying were proposed either.
RantWoman mentions irrelevant, hopelessly well-meant but clueless alternatives because of once at a public event being asked THREE TIMES whether she wanted to move closer to a screen to appreciate Powerpoint. RantWoman has a long and tumultuous, moderately dysfunctional relationship with Powerpoint anyway. In that situation RantWoman was stayed from full public vituperation by other considerations. The Powerpoint wound up not getting projected anyway and RantWoman once more demurred about any need to inspect things up close. Now RantWoman is trying to get someone's attention about the topic and trying NOT to line it up with TOO many other parts of patterns, or at least trying to have a conversation about one thing at a time.
But RantWoman digresses. The opening go-around at this Interest Group identified a number of conflicts in Friends' different Meetings. One point that struck RantWoman was that over the course of the workshop several of those present mentioned conflicts that could in some way or another boil down to ableism or how respectfully to relate to people with differing abilities, To be clear this is not merely appreciation of different gifts; this is situations that challenge even very, very centered Friends desiring to discern that of God in some or another situation.
Time ran out without opportunities to explore the point in any depth but it definitely stuck out to RantWoman. RantWoman regretably did not have a chance to follow up about her impressions with anyone present. Other themes arose as well as one might expect at a workshop about helping Friends talk more easily of conflicts among ourselves.
The previous RantWoman blog item addresses part of RantWoman's experience including RantWoman's perspective on her own issues, an area where RantWoman has no problem thinking exhorint herself about "room for improvement" and "roll with it," along with some generalized and still inchoate ranting about a desire to have more Quaker reading materials in formats accessible to RantWoman and a lack of enthusiasm for having to dig up the HOW of bringing that about herself. A couple more points specifically from the Interest Group stick out in RantWoman's mind.
First, at one point Problematic Mentor Figure made a comment in passing as part of a go-around calling out something about conflicts. The comment was about sexism sometimes being a factor in conflicts. MAYBE RantWoman is being oversensitive, but the way it was delivered came across to RantWoman not as an invitation to candid discussion but as a way of paying lip service and otherwise blowing off any further discussion of the topic.
To say the least, RantWoman finds this brush-off kind of problematic and, with an eye toward opportunities for different senses in the future, RantWoman is seasoning how first to get Problematic Mentor Figure's attention about the issue and second what might be done to make more space and openness for conversations that sometimes need to happen. Perversely, though RantWoman is hypersensitive about the topic, RantWoman is also unclear whether this exact concern registered with any of the other participants in the Interest Group. This point is important: it's not like RantWoman has NO expectations about further occasions to call out the issue. Rather, RantWoman's life is so overendowed with reasons to be outraged and opinionated that much just has to wait in line, the way an overabundance of messages during Meeting for Worship also gets filtered and tested and prioritized with RantWoman open to the possibility that shared discernment may go different directions in a given moment than what is urgently exercising RantWoman.
RantWoman may be seasoning ways to keep openings to talk about sexism for awhile because conversations with Problematic Mentor figure already got stuck for now on something else mentioned in RantWoman's previous blog post. Interestingly, at least some of the time Problematic Mentor Figure can admit that an interest in conflict resolution does not automatically mean that conflict resolution is always necessarily easy for him either.
As long as conversations are already stuck anyway, RantWoman has the following further comments: Problematic Mentor Figure is not the only person in RantWoman's experience who makes mistakes related to ableism and RantWoman is seasoning ways to have more discussions in community terms rather than necessarily singling out a specific individual. RantWoman also has a rich life beyond her Meeting and is amused to note many opportunities in these spheres to be vexed in presentations by "this one here and that one there." RantWoman would not mind in the least not having to accumulate so many spectacular holy and unholy examples of this mode of vexation.
(Presentation modes aside, RantWoman is also close to formulating the view that Problematic Mentor Figure could HIMSELF benefit from having an elder or two and / or a support and accountability committee to nurture his work. RantWoman is prepared for grumbles to the effect that she has a lot of dang nerve to be wanting to get in Problematic Mentor Figure's face about this, but tough! RantWoman thinks she may not only get in Problematic Mentor Figure's face but, horror of horrors, suggest that the term "elder" might be highly compatible with someone younger chronologically. Stay tuned.)
As long as RantWoman is trying to get Problematic Mentor Figure's attention anyway, RantWoman is going to TRY to talk to him about his practice of writing on boards in small letters. RantWoman of course is supposed to be exempt from any expectations that she will be able to read the board but RantWoman noticed enough about this to suspect that others in the room would also have trouble reading the board. Plus, RantWoman is so sensitized about the topic that she writes on whiteboards and chalk boards and flip charts in the largest preposterously large letters she can manage. That is RantWoman's experience though of course that does not imply that this must also be Problematic Mentor Figure's experience. RantWoman, when she manages to be fair or further to muddle matters also notes that depending on one's vision loss issues, bigger is not necessarily better, for instance if one has normal acuity but big holes in one's visual field. Siggggh. As noted in RantWoman's post cited above, RantWoman herself would be happy with slightly different explanatory notes in the oral presentation about the content of the white board, another theme she gets lots of practice articulating. Siggggh.
At the moment RantWoman finds herself simply having to breathe with another point: the practicalities of dealing with all our differing abilities are at least as complex as our theological diversity. Or, to paraphrase another Friend from RantWoman's meeting about "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," But what if I don't WANT the same things as you do?" Ask me what I like or what would help!
RantWoman: "I do not see well, so if I don't recognize you please don't take it personally. I am interested in getting to know you..."
RantWoman herself generally appreciates more personal space than average in group circles and hugs. RantWoman was next to someone in a circle this summer who, RantWoman realized, despite being considerably smaller than RantWoman would probably like at least as much personal space in the circle as RantWoman can take up. Recently RantWoman has heard a number of Friends express pain about musculoskeletal issues alongside FIRM requests not to hug without warning or to grab arms or hands.
"RantWoman, please do not be offended if my hearing loss means I need to move to avoid the audio distraction of your noise taking notes in Braille."
"Sure, please, RantWoman does not mind in the least exchanging opinions about your eyeglasses options. RantWoman is happy actually to know something about the issues behind your concerns and is not bothered in the least that your concerns are, at this point, irrelevant specifically to her. RantWoman finds she not only can but frequently must be quite self-centered about articulating her own concerns; RantWoman recommends that all around her really take advantage of those moments when RantWoman manages to be more broad-minded."
An old item on ableism just to recycle
Meanwhile, accounts of nonviolent civil disobedience frequently include the terms "trespassing" and "international law" or "justification defense" in the same sentence. Judges frequently try not to have to hear such comvinations of terms; activists typically persist in demanding that these very words be heard together. Here is an item by Fr. John Dear from the National Catholic Reporter about a recent trial for activists arrested at Creech AFB in Nevada protesting the use of drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. RantWoman considers all that was heard a victory already.
At the start of the trial the judge stated that he would not allow testimony on international law, the necessity defense or the drones. He only wanted to hear about the charge of “criminal trespassing.”
While the defendant were expecting that the judge wouldn’t allow their expert witnesses to speak, the proceeded to call on Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general under President Lyndon Johnson; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army colonel and one of three former U.S. State Department officials who resigned on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq; and Bill Quigley, legal director for the New York City-based Center for Constitutional Rights to testify. To their surprise, the judge let them all speak, and their testimony went on for hours.
Here is an excerpt from a powerful, spontaneous closing statement made by Brian Terrell of the Des Moines Catholic Worker:
Several of our witnesses have employed the classic metaphor when talking of a necessity defense. There’s a house on fire, and a child crying from the window and there’s a no trespassing sign on the door. Can one ignore the sign, kick down the door and rescue the child?It was a great privilege for us to hear Ramsey Clark, a master of understatement, who put it best. “Letting a baby burn to death because of a no trespass sign would be poor public policy.”
I submit that the house is on fire and babies are burning in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan because of the activities at Creech AFB.
The baby is burning also in the persons of the young people who are operating the drones from Creech AFB, who are suffering from post traumatic stress disorder at rates that even exceed that of their comrades in combat on the ground.
RantWoman recognizes that there are some theological conundrums behind the two usages here. RantWoman feels no need to address those today.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
First, RantWoman is supposed to support the DREAM act with its promise to youth whose parents brought them as children / illegal immigrants. The youth are to be offered citizenship in connection with military service or college education. RantWoman thinks our country needs all the bright motivated bicultural and variably bilingual young people it can get and RantWoman thinks the DREAM act is a wonderful part of comprehensive immigration form. RantWoman just cannot under any circumstances blindly exhort her Senators to glibly and unthinkingly endorse the Defense Authorixzation act no matter WHAT parts she likes.
Call RantWoman a cynic, but she almost reflexively suspects that the DREAM act is probably cover for a whole bunch of things RantWoman under no circumstances wants anything to do with. Here is a countervailing view:
Ditto for the proposed demise of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, also dangling off the DoD authorization. RantWoman suggests putting either the phrase Arabic linguist or Maj. Margaret Witt into the search engine of one's choice for all kinds of illustrations of the absurdity of this policy. RantWoman does not have high expectations that the generals RantWoman wrote of last week will see the absurdity of their concerns about troops morale any more than they do about drones. RantWoman is just saying.... probably just enjoying the sond of her own voice preaching to the choir.
RantWoman favors demands: get our legislators to actually legislate and not just kick partisan footballs back and forth!
Friday, September 17, 2010
The author writes about his male colleagues whose first question about a woman pastor is "Is she attractive?" RantWoman is amused by this evidence that such male pastors do not discriminate between women of the cloth and laity in this regard. RantWoman has to agree actually: good for the senior pastor for being upfront about the issue, but how come the guy writing about it never mentions male responsibility?
RantWoman is not familiar with any other items of this author's work; for all RantWoman knows maybe he has written whole volumes addressing RantWoman's concerns. Well, this author notes mention of the Association of Christian athletes and the observation that the disciples all complain when Christ empowers women. RantWoman would never mind thoughts from a male perspective about the dynamics of male status-seeking, including put-downs of "the Other."
On the other hand, for tips about how to handle sexual harassment, consider this item:
RantWoman meant to find an item on this blog about a woman of a different generation upbraiding the blogger because young men have trouble controlling themselves when women dress as if they have womanly features, but somehow RantWoman rather better likes this item for taking on the apostle Paul and articulating positive ways for men to support women's ministry.
Set RANT off.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
RantWOman means to do this, but her list of things she means to read is always longer than her list of things she actually gets read. RantWOman's point is more of an inquiry: RantWoman wants to know, are there other Friends who are engaged with this specific line of Christian theology-based inquiry? Are there good discussions somehwere that RantWoman might draw on for help digesting this?
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friends at RantWoman's Meeting also were grateful and a net of messages came together. Then as messages are wont to do, other threads entered the fabric: when a Friend offered a message about early Friends being a persecuted religious minority, RantWoman's wanderings in the blogosphere crystallized rather faster than RantWoman thinks is popular in a message during Meeting for Worship:
RantWoman spoke of the early Friend she read of recently who wrote of speaking to that of God in Oliver Cromwell, one of those classic "love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you" moments.
Then RantWoman was led to confess that she personally would have had no idea where to begin to speak to that of God in Pastor Jones. RantWoman is abidingly grateful for all the people who have.
Then RantWoman, ever the overachiever mentioned all the generals who have been on one hand telling Pastor Jones that burning a Q'uran will outrage Muslims and endanger US troops and on the other hand ordering the use of unmanned drones to burn live civilians. RantWoman naively supposes this probably outrages Muslims worldwide. RantWoman understands the generals' "logic" about the use of drones sparing the lives of US forces. RantWoman however is unclear about why she feels more able to dialogue about drones than about burning the Q'uran.
In fact, after worship a Friend asked RantWoman, "so what is your position on the generals?" All RantWoman could tink to say "hold them in the Light." Will RantWoman be signing up for more direct dialogue anytime soon? Uhhhhh....
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The quote in the title is from another Friend in RantWoman's Meeting also commenting on the events described in RantWoman's letter linked above.
RantWoman notes with amusement in the interim several international banks' capacity to run off with billions of tax dollars and other species of financial malfeasance orders of magnitude more odious than anything mentioned in these news items. Word?
Friday, September 10, 2010
RantWoman remembers a number of points.
--RantWoman heard of the first plane hitting a tower as her alarm clock clicked on the radio. RantWoman thought she must be dreaming, but when the news was repeated a little while later, RantWoman mumbled something like "Holy Cow" and summoned the cat to go turn on CNN.
--RantWoman had employment that one might not necessarily expect of such as RantWoman as a systems programmer contractor for a certain large local aircraft manufacturing entity. RantWoman told the person who interviewd her that as long as she understands what she is to count....; RantWoman hired on with absolute clarity that she would only work on civilian projects; when the civil aviation market slumped after September 11, it appeared that the company might get a contract to build fighter planes and that the group RantWoman worked in might get assigned to the fighter contract. At that point, RantWoman and the long commute and the sclerotic relations between longtime staff and contractor initiatives parted company; the fighter contract went to someone else and RantWoman has only her experiences on September 11.
On Sept. 11, RantWoman remembers blindly thinking she should still go to work; RantWoman remembers the bus tunnel just being jammed with people who usually ride commuter buses: many buildings downtown closed and everyone who usually rode peak-hour buses was trying to get home on the regular routes.
It was a great comfort actually to be at work. It was not a great comfort to experience every second of some co-workers' views, but RantWoman found it quite easy to unite with those who wer appalled that a product they were proud of had been turned into weapons.
RantWoman remembers checking the news updates for names of friends, friends' parents, people she knew in the Pentagon. RantWOman remembers sparkling clarity about the appropriateness of a special called Meeting for Worship. RantWoman expects she could say more; more now RantWoman is grateful for the words she was given in the interview.
but Literature Brain is demanding RantWoman go the roundabout way, via RantWoman's initial encounter with the writings of Lloyd Lee Wilson.
In the movie Annie Hall, there is a scene where Woody Allen, pointy hair, nerd glasses, rumpled sport coat and all is at some uber trendy NY party. Woody Allen gets offered a line of coke on a mirror and immediately sneezes, blowing the whole affair away in a cloud.
RantWoman, more's the pity, is no good at substance abuse either. RantWoman also suspects that if holy books provoked the same tantrums in RantWoman's youth as they do now, RantWoman never would have made it through adolescence, but RantWoman is clear that the only way out is through! RantWoman thinks that falling asleep THREE TIMES while attempting to have Mr. JAWS read a Lloyd Lee Wilson item on Gospel Order is perhaps the Quaker equivalent of Woody Allen sneezing in the cocaine.
Okay, RantWoman can be a little bit of a philistine and a skeptic. RantWoman consistently fell asleep at about the point where, in many contexts that to some degree or other trend toward utopian, RantWoman starts to wonder how the children get watched and the dishes get washed. It did not help either that RantWoman, though spiritually hungry was feeling as if she was having Lloyd Lee Wilson crammed down her throat. To make matters worse, this was in connection with someone else's inability to hear what RantWoman needs. RantWoman was feeling like someone else's spiritual plaything in connection with said Friend's parallel need to impose spiritual needs he had already been told multiple times that RantWoman could not specifically minister to at that moment and that involved more of the community than 1 Friend and RantWoman. RantWoman is still fitfully seasoning the question of whether she is somehow being called to more than her initial estimation in connection with this topic, but let us stick to Lloyd Lee Wilson.
Starting off with humor is always a great way to draw RantWoman in and the Pendle Hill podcast does that.
Jesus to Peter: "who do you say that I am?"
Peter: "the escatalogical.. (mumblety mumblety mumblety--about 5 more words of academic theology.)"
Jesus: "Say what?"
Well, yeah, but then a RantWoman tantrum also kicked in. RantWoman has very limited experience with frat boy hazing, but somehow the whole exchange sounded a little like Jesus as frat boy hazing a pledge. RantWoman expects she should interrogate this idea a whole lot more thoroughly before running with it. Or maybe RantWoman is just missing the whole point of people, like Peter, coming to God as they are and being received and loved in that condition.
RantWoman is not accustomed to hearing Friends discuss the exact interval when Christ was most divinely blessed and was amused to hear Lloyd Lee Wilson have an excursion on this topic but RantWoman was more struck by thoughts on the atonement, universal redemption, and hints that what works for Lloyd Lee Wilson might not work for others. RantWoman found herself deeply appreciative of several comments that boiled down, basically, to "Your mileage may vary!"
THAT, more than anything is why RantWoman is a Quaker.
RantWoman has been catching items out of the blogosphere that speak in various ways to the experience and integrity of this point even though the blogosphere brings things from all kinds of directions.
(Both the items on Core Truth of Quakerism and Transformational Experiences especially speak to RantWoman.)
Still, RantWoman is going to refrain from a temptation to break out in a chorus of "You can get anything you want at ...." but RantWoman is going to play out a few categories of Friends drawn out of RantWoman's interpretation of "your mileage may vary."
-- A friend who feels no compulsion to resolve the theological controversies behind dueling versions of Kumbayah at a women's music festival http://rantwomanrsof.blogspot.com/2009/06/god-gender-torture-creation.html but whose attention to equality means telling all the mainstage acts to keep their coffee cups off the soundboard
--Friends who need strict limits and splendid certainty. RantWoman has been listening deeply to one Friend and has concluded that this Friend definitely falls in this category. Unfortunately, RantWoman thinks certainty only comes from God and only if one embraces the plunge of believing ardently. In other words, it's not RantWoman's to confer, though if strict limits are comforting, RantWoman is seasoning what she can do.
--Friends who need to push limits and create space. See for instance the Musings of a Quaker Witch item above.
RantWoman is definitely also the sort to embrace a God / divind presence/ whatever who can handle the questions. This is a good thing because just now RantWoman is again seasoning a documen where some kind of unifying spiritual language is needed and the biggest point of unity so far is that people only want to season matters in person, not by email, not over the phone....
But RantWoman digresses: encounters with a whole bunch of different texts is just provoking RantWoman tantrums, but if RantWoman is going to be intentional about finding something she needs, it is going to be something about the act of choosing to believe, or if one is to embrace thea/ology about nontheist terms other than belief whatever the equivalent is. That is, the power is in the choice to embrace. Maybe if RantWoman stretches she can also get there from "Who do you say I am?"
Thursday, September 9, 2010
RantWoman notes tartly that it is these very same generals who keep ordering drone attacks on civilian populations in "the Afghan theater." If burning a Q'uran will outrage Muslims, what do the generals expect happens when they burn civilians?
The item below is what called this point to mind this morning.
RantWoman still sincerely hopes no Q'urans get burnt in FL on Saturday and RantWoman is at a loss about how she might try to speak to that of God within a pastor RantWoman herself considers deeply misguided.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Then RantWoman got all carried away and the Truth got messy and a call arose for continuing, ongoing lifelong discernment about war, Quakers' and other Christians' relation to war, pacifism among people of other faith or no faith, the imperatives of bureaucratic machines designed to fill the war machine with fresh meat as efficiently as possible and a whole welter of other thoughts.
RantWoman's basic point: sure, okay, you registered for the draft. You did a lot of discernment about the Bible and about Quaker history and your goals and the apparent consequences of your choices and you registered for the draft. You made the decision that is right for you.
Maybe, though, that is not the end but only the beginning of discernment and work and conversations about testimonies against war and about traditional Quaker witness such as conscientious objection and how to keep the concept and practice alive in our communities, on the internet, among other Friends and among all our other communities.
Sure, it would be nice if the Selective Service registration system made provisions for people to pre-emptively register as conscientious objectors. But the goal of the Selective Service system is to get everyone registered as quickly and efficiently as possible. In its own way, there is a certain egalitarian logic, both in terms of basic function and in terms of the wide variety of religious and belief system bases for conscientious objection claims.
More to the point, sure the registration system has no provision for your first amendment freedom of religion issues. Neither does the tax system. But you still have your first amendment rights to speak and write and publish, and there should be plenty of opportunities to exercise that!
1. Become more informed about Quaker practice and experience during different recent time periods.
2. Continue to promote discussion amoung your age group peers, both Friends and others about opposition to war an d conscientious objection issues including both concerns and misinformation. For instance a few years ago RantWoman attended a session with some high school age youth from North Pacific Yearly Meeting. RantWoman was surprised by a perception that all CO's necessarily go to jail when in fact lots of individual circumstances affect what happens.
On the other hand, RantWoman also heard a speech by Beyond Joy about his experiences and recommends checking that out:
3. Become informed about different proposals for universal service where military service is only one of several options. What issues and tradeoffs do you see for different choices being discussed.4. What other choices do you feel about how to live with integrity in occasion to oppose all war in our current society?
RantWoman below includes a couple other iternet items she dug up in the course of compiling things above.
The item below is part of an oral history project about other events but about 2/3 of the way through, Karen mentions two topical points.
First, for a few months when the most recent registration system was first being discussed there was talk of requiring women to register. RantWoman had forgotten that. (RantWoman was in college at the time and remembers a couple years simply refusing to sign the statement on financial aid forms)
Second, Karen mentions the case of Andy Mager, one of the few prosecuted for openly refusing to register. Whatever choices individuals are led to, it's important to understand history and background for different choices.
RantWoman found this item while searching for Beyond Joy's item above
RantWoman is noting it for discussion of saints, martyrs, Orthodox tradition as well as conscientious objection, topics about which RantWOman's knowledge is highly uneven at best.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
RantWoman would absolutely prefer that no actual books get burned and RantWoman hopes that fire codes or hate crime statutes or some other measure might be invoked if even remotely applicable. However, if Q'urans do get burned, RantWoman is happy to pledge some amount per book burned and to contribute to some cause as described above.
RantWoman is having an attack of excessive candor, but RantWoman is going to go all Captain Picard on a suggestion. Identifying a channel and setting this up is beyond RantWoman's Light and capacity, but if someone else will "make it so," RantWoman will happily contribute.
Meanwhile, another link from the Fellowship of Reconciliation:
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
RantWoman is observing Ramadan, culture wars about the "Ground Zero mosque," and the circumstances of her daily life in the sort of seething stew that only RantWoman can cook up. Let us begin with daily life.
For instance, RantWoman currently has a number of Muslim neighbors in the building where she lives. RantWoman was asking annoying questions of staff about why our building picnic got scheduled smack in the middle of Ramadan when many neighbors will not be able to participate. RantWoman of little faith was delighted to realize that not only did some of them participate, one helped with shopping and several brought things from their homelands to talk about during the international festival. Silly presumptious RantWoman even to think she had a handle on the problem.
One of the bus grumblers in RantWoman's life has, um, rather vehement things to say about Muslim men, in particular two variants conected with public transit. Sometimes RantWoman and this bus grumbler will notice a clump of people including man, woman in some form of Islamic dress, and several children. In contrast to this Bus Grumbler's expectation that the man should stand and let the woman sit, it frequently is the case that the man sits with the woman and children standing around him. RantWoman notices this and has not felt led to comment. This is one of many topics RantWoman just listens to Bus Grumbler about, preferably in private. RantWoman gives this Bus Grumbler credit for bravely taking a multicultural plunge late in life, and RantWoman would not mind smoother dialogue as a result.
This Bus Grumbler has even more piquant opinions about the Muslim men who drive the paratransit this person sometimes uses. Bus Grumbler's complaints when phrased in behavioral terms are entirely appropriate: drives around for 25 minutes getting lost and making passengers late before calling in to ask for direction, being rude verbally, being inconsiderate and impatient when picking people or droppping them off. RantWoman's call to dialogue is to talk about the behaviors, not the ethnicity or faith references. RantWoman supposes that wearing another of her hats, RantWoman is going to have to speak more of cultural issues in another context as well.
Speaking of transportation, RantWoman's life involves one more opportunity for radical dialogue related to taxi drivers, very often immigrants and very often from Muslim countries, and seeing eye dogs. RantWoman actually is glad to get around with only AMbassador Thwack, but RantWoman knows many stories in Seattle of blind people having trouble with cab drivers because of seeing eye dogs. RantWoman knows that the Taxi cab commission conducts periodic intercultural training about this. RantWoman is aware of big culture issues, and RantWoman still has to be present in a lot of conversations about the topic.
Apparently RantWoman is not alone. The item below from the Washington Post illustrates the problem in our nation's capital. It has been a long time since RantWoman has taken any cabs in our nation's capital, but RantWoman does not expect the ethnic mix of cab drivers there has changed much and therefore RantWoman imagines there just might be the same cultural issues going on.
In study,half of D.C. cab drivers pass by blind people with guide dogs The below article appears in today’s Washington Post. ACB is proud to have provided all of the testers for this study and looks forward to continuing our work with the Equal Rights Center. Eric http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/01/AR2010090102344.htmlBy Henri E. CauvinWashington Post Staff Writer Wednesday, September 1, 2010; 10:04 AM In a study by a civil rights watchdog group, taxi drivers in the District often drove past blind people who were trying to hail a cab while accompanied by guide dogs. This StoryIn study, half of D.C. cab drivers pass by blind people with guide dogsShedding light on sidewalk safetyThe Equal Rights Center, in a report released Wednesday morning, said it conducted 30 tests earlier this year and that in half of the tests, drivers passed a man or woman with a guide dog to pick up a person who did not have a guide dog. In three of the cases where the taxi did stop for the blind person, the driver attempted to impose a surcharge for transporting the dog, the Equal Rights Center said. Under local and federal law, businesses, including taxis, must make reasonable accommodations to blind people and their service dogs and may not impose surcharges for transporting a service dog. But blind people in the District have complained for years that some taxi drivers flout the law. Prompted by such concerns, the Equal Rights Center, which is part of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, undertook an investigation, assisted by the law firm Hogan Lovells. In each of the 30 tests, which were conducted between March and May, the Equal Rights Centers placed a blind person with a guide dog and a sighted person on a high-traffic thoroughfare in the city. The blind person was placed about 100 feet closer to oncoming traffic so that he or she would be the first prospective passenger a taxi would encounter. With a video camera rolling, the Equal Rights Center recorded 15 taxis bypassing the blind passenger for the sighted person standing farther away. Video clips of some of the encounters can be seen here. In its report, the Equal Rights Center said its findings made clear that more needs to be done to ensure that the rights of blind people are protected. Taxi drivers in the District and elsewhere have long faced scrutiny for passing up prospective black passengers, and several years ago, the D.C. police conducted sting operations intended to deter discrimination by taxi drivers. The Equal Rights Center said that the police, the D.C. Taxi Commission and the D.C. Office of Human Rights need to adopt a more aggressive approach to addressing taxi-driver bias against the blind, stepping up both education and enforcement. "The law is in place," said Ashley N. White, outreach manager for the Equal Rights Center, "but no one is really enforcing it."
Compared to all the dialogue in RantWoman's daily life, checking in on recommendations by FCNL is EASY.
We Stand with American Muslims
Between now and the September 11 anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, there will probably be another outpouring of bigotry and misplaced anger at the proposal to build an Islamic cultural center in downtown New York City.
Our country needs this cultural center and the public discussion that it is generating. The proposal for this Islamic cultural center can be transformed from an ugly controversy into perhaps the most important public opportunity in this decade to celebrate and exercise the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion.
Write to your senators today to ask them to speak out publically in favor of the Islamic Cultural Center in Manhattan.
Take action now - use the Friends Committee on National Legislation's website. http://capwiz.com/fconl/utr/2/?a=16364531&i=82815342&c=