Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mission and Ministry

RantWoman is dealing with leadings that have arrived with all the body-slamming subtlety of special effects on the original Star Trek, occasionally with double spritzes of fog and flashing lights to boot. This would be lovely except that said leadings are a little bit getting in the way of some other commitments. and RantWoman has come to suspect that some of the mission to explore strange new worlds are just more tiresome iterations of her own struggles to staypresent, wonky eyeballs and all.

RantWoman promises eventually to get to some thoughts and queries fairly specific to one ministry and whether it and its current care arrangements are working for the focus person, the support committee, and, individually and collectively for Meeting. RantWoman is going to get there by a slightly round-about route. RantWoman is pointedly not identifying the ministry in order to keep the conversation generalizeable and to leave space off-blog for ongoing discernment and other work.

RantWoman needs to be clear: RantWoman is speaking for herself! RantWoman had occasion for one set of inquiries because of an activity outside Meeting. RantWoman came into another role related to the general question of ministries midstream with additional bumpy circumstances involving the clerk of the support committee and general mentoring issues. RantWoman is seasoning some questions about lines among roles including individual Meeting member and person with other responsibilities. RantWoman has a sense of need for shared discernment and has only limited sense of which of several threads most need attention and from which groups from the community. The mere fact that some or another issue wanders across RantWoman's mind may or may not mean anything about what comes out in shared discernment.

RantWoman is also meditating about expectations of released Friends and other waves of community life. For instance, RantWoman has detected a number of crosscurrents related to the differing capacities of different Friends in her Meeting to listen and to hear about different matters, and to who gets heard. RantWoman is pretty sensitive to a feeling of being told from more than one direction to shut up and to some indications that some or another point might not get heard in certain conversations.

RantWoman is also colliding with certain realities about remnants of good Quaker process and may even get to important openings if she just rides the points on her mind. Sigh! The internet also creates whole new vistas for interaction and blurring of lines. Perhaps not all of these challenges have to be addressed instantly, but it might be fair to identify and call out issues.

RantWoman supposes one point of being a released Friend is that one is liberated of obligation to interact with some of these matters or to make selected inquiries if some or another topic seems to be lapping at the work of a ministry. RantWoman also thinks that the mere fact that a matter involves challenging matters of listening and being heard may or may not mean something is not working for a community. In some cases the point of the matter is that either party may really need to hear the challenging issues but the question of how to do this under current geography and time conditions arises.

Digression vaguely topical: RantWoman was reading of the problem of many young Friends not feeling at home in any Meeting. RantWoman remembers her twenties. RantWoman was not yet a Quaker but was connected with Quakers involved in some other activities. RantWoman remembers needing and being greatly steadied by good elders when she found them and sometimes when they inserted themselves into matters of RantWoman's life. RantWoman is thinking about this as part of the picture of supporting young adults or even slightly older but mobile or intransition who may be called to ministry but not living near the Meeting where they grew up or hold membership. RantWoman wonders whether the narrative below might seem topical for young Friends and Meetings considering such connections.

RantWoman is also thinking of history and current practice around ministries far away from her current Meeting.

RantWoman's meeting was originally an outreach project of a Friends Church which in turn began life as a mission of Indiana Yearly Meeting. RantWoman is comparatively unschooled in the history and family tree of west coast Friends but RantWoman imagines that 100 years ago contact with the home Meeting was a lot more challenged than now. RantWoman expects that the mission was alive in the community's mind through letters and reports and occasional visitors but that there were considerably fewer ways for interactions to mushroom than, for instance, all the peculiarities of internet conversations.

RantWoman has been thinking about historical examples of RantWoman's Meeting supporting ministries at a distance. RantWoman's Meeting has provided support and oversight for many worship groups and preparatory Meetings under its care. The only other longstanding ministry in RantWoman's memory carried out at a distance from Seattle was a project working with street kids in Nicaragua in the 1990's. RantWoman remembers support of this project involved some connection to Peace and Social Concerns and frequent appearances of pamphlets and handicrafts at the crafts sale. RantWoman also remembers the project required tending to some questions related to the technicalities of how Meeting accepted funds but by the time RantWoman entered the picture this ministry was on its way to independent nonprofit status.

RantWoman has been thinking about all this history with an eye toward a current ministry of her Meeting, one where the person with the ministry lives a great distance away and a lot of the most visible work occurs through the internet, and at various gatherings.

RantWoman has been thinking about the questions of whether the ministry is working for the focus person, the support committee. RantWoman expects both of these can speak for themselves. RantWoman has been thinking most about the question of whether the ministry is working for the Meeting and to some degree how is the ministry alive in Meeting life. RantWoman thinks she has a lot of darn nerve even to be trying to formulate questions here, but since when has that stopped RantWoman.

RantWoman is aware that an annual report is overdue. No one to RantWoman's ear is particularly clamoring for the report, but RantWoman is aware of a number of issues and also of a concern she would like to have space for in conversation. Conveying the concern to the support committee has been done and may intersect well with another thread of support committee work. However, RantWoman has a sense of need for shared discernment either of a specific proposal that would incidentally address RantWoman's concern or in the absence of a proposal specifically about RantWoman's concern.

RantWoman is aware that everyone connected with the ministry, the focus person, her wife, and all the members of the support committee have over the last year experienced significant medical and life issues and sometimes more than one apiece and RantWoman is humble simply to hold them in the Light on that score.

RantWoman has at one gathering heard several Friends independently with no prompting speak of the topic of the ministry as very important to their own experiences of and language for talking about the divine.

RantWoman likes the ministry much better since she has gotten to read the topical blog. The ministry in question is one of those Quaker-hypen conversations. RantWoman especially likes that the blog frequently includes links to the hyphen part and topics of interest to Quakers such as nonviolence and prison ministry. RantWoman herself has had little time to visit the links but likes the feeling that she would have a place to start if more need or interest from someone else arose.

RantWoman likes that this ministry overlaps with experiences of an earlier phase of RantWoman's life and that dialogue feels to RantWoman more feasible through this ministry than with many people connected with the previous experiences. RantWoman is not sure whether this feeling of accessibility relates only to the gifts of the person with the ministry, to testing through Quaker process or to the passing of time in RantWoman's thinking but RantWoman quite appreciates it.

RantWoman likes the sense the ministry's blog offers of being connected to other Quakers through both geography and mention of specific gatherings. RantWoman's Yearly Meeting for instance maintains connections to but not affiliation with FGC, RantWoman thinks for good reason actually even though she values the presence and connections fostered by this ministry and other activities.

RantWoman also finds one thread about cross-meeting accessibility both interesting and useful in its own right and helpful in stiffening RantWoman's spine about asking systematically for what she needs of a different accessibility issue. RantWoman has used queries from the blog and forwarded blog items to others in her Meeting.

RantWoman had one exchange with the focus person about something from her Meeting's support letter. The ministry was approved well after RantWoman had been making standing requests to have ALL materials to be approved in Business Meeting emailed to her in advance for accessibility reasons. RantWoman had a standing request but it was a request. RantWoman is not sure this is a document that would be routinely distributed anyway and RantWoman remembers having a question about the point she eventually inquired of; RantWoman is not sure why she did not ask when the letter first came up in Business Meeting.

If RantWoman had interacted with the document she read on the web she would certainly have asked the question she had in Business Meeting. The question relates as much to a personal twitch of RantWoman's as to anything about the ministry. RantWoman was more than satisfied by the response and half wonders whether the details might make interesting reading for others. RantWoman supposes she could also have inquired of the support committee instead of the focus person. RantWoman further supposes that if a person with a ministry were expected to field questions from every member of her Meeting, the focus person might never get anything else done; RantWoman thinks someone can speak up if that is an issue here and RantWoman is adding the accessibility issue to her already copious stores of points pointing to need to keep on keeping on about her concerns!

RantWoman has had conversations about the ministry incidental to other discussions with two members of the support committee. One member raised an issue that RantWoman would actually predict based on geography, education, and family background. The issue came up in passing in a context where RantWoman was not being asked her opinion. RantWoman supposes she could follow up and inquire whether that Friend wants RantWoman's opinion. At this point though RantWoman is inclined just to see what comes out of the next phase of process and perhaps to listen and attend to evidence of the issue being a problem.

A second Friend spoke of a matter RantWoman assumes the support committee might be tending to. To RantWoman's ear, based on reading blog entries, the ministry's thinking and practices are well within the bounds of discussions occuring across Meetings across Friends traditions about the topic. RantWoman has no opinion about whether anything from this area is or should be slated to appear in the report which is due though it might be interesting to hear whether and if so how the support committee has interacted with the concern that came up in conversation with RantWoman.

RantWoman does not think it's exactly reasonable for random members of Meeting to suggest "homework" for the ministry, but RantWoman is thinking about how the ministry's blog marks different times of the year and is kind of curious about the evolution of historical and modern Quaker practice around cycles of the year. How is the Quaker part of practice different from or intertwined with how this is organized? realized for the hyphen part?

But this is all RantWoman's opinion. RantWoman supposes one sort of logical option would be to back up and just focus on what is needed to frame the "is it still working?" phase of Meeting's discussion of something it has already approved. RantWoman is pretty sure Meeting is not even going to register all the points on RantWoman's mind and RantWoman thinks some of the points are more for the focus person than the rest of Meeting anyway, at least for the time being. Others of the points are for RantWoman to work, not for the focus person of this ministry. Stay tuned on that score....

Reformation and Chocolate Eyeballs

RantWoman must spare her readers the various excursions in her own spiritual life and the life of her Meeting that have summoned possibly unfinished or recycling Sudoku conversations back to RantWoman's consciousness. Perhaps there is somehow a shortage of scariness about despite the holiday and the midterm elections. Somewhere in here maybe there are some "let us see what love can do" moments, but there are also chocolate eyeballs, memorials in RantWoman's memorials tag to which she means at somepoint to add a ramble about mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, and reverberations from Meeting for Worship.

Dear everyone in RantWoman's Meeting who cannot handle RantWoman's (QUIET) Sudoku in Meeting for Worship habit, How about instead I jot down notes in Braille?????? If anyone asks, for instance about the noise, RantWoman is likely to say DEAL WITH IT. RantWoman also promises not to poke out a rewrite of War and Peace during Meeting for Worship, but DEAL WITH IT! RantWoman has a whole lot of practice dealing with eyeball topics and for some reason she feels called sometimes to share the wealth. Deal with it!

(RantWoman's eyeballs regretably seem not to be up to Sudoku anyway right now but that is a different problem. Sigh.)

RantWoman found herself really glad her orange turtleneck was clean. It's the perfect thing to celebrate the collision of many occasions on the calendar: Samwain, which RantWoman knows of only vaguely, the Day of the Dead with a lot of gooey sugary skulls and skeletons, Halloween with its orgy of orange and black sugar, goblin children, and this year electoral scariness, and Reformation Sunday with screeds for All Saints Day visit to the church reliquary which RantWoman will feed somehow into Barclay-induced examination of early Quaker history.

RantWoman can probably think of some other worlds in collision besides a certain spell of political activism which always seems vivid to RantWoman in the fall but RantWoman's knowledge of history runs more toward works of classical music, who was paying whom to compose them and scientific discoveries than toward nuanced commentary about politics, economics, philosophical concepts.... Maybe it is sufficient also to say RantWoman's experience of the Divine is pretty insistent sense of divine presence, but lacking in some dimensions of depth. For instance, in the Rant Family household of RantWoman's childhood, what would pass for nuanced conflict resolution would be a circumstance, entirely external of course, like the very Catholic concertmistress in the symphony of RantWoman's youth consenting to perform the Reformation Symphony.

For now, RantWoman is going to leave to guesswork where she is headed with the above thoughts. Instead, with chocolate eyeballs on her mind from a little pouch of Halloween candy RantMom gave RantWoman, RantWoman is off to Meeting for Worship.

RantWoman admits to a serious bout of eye-rolling about one Friend's vision of disassembling the Meetinghouse plank by plank and building a path to Afghanistan to bring about peace. If funding for the bombs starts in the US, why do we have to go all the way to Afghanistan?

The next message somehow got from a Catholic childhood to eternal life and then there was radical reconciliation with some conflict resolution involving victim and perpetrator years after some horrible politically-motivated mass killing, the sort of occasion that is supposed, perhaps, to make one grateful for only high volume shrieking in election commercials.

Next a young man came to live with his grandmother and changed schools in the middle of the year. For his trouble he got bullied mercilessly until his grandmother admitted he might have to fight back. The next day the boy told the worst bully that they would have to fight, at his house after school, but first they would have to have milk and cookies. This message was from Seriously Weighty Friend, whom RantWoman completely loves with total affection and humility and reverence for his unending groundedness. Probably this Friend could talk about the phone book and something weighty would come out.

At this point, after all the words about vision and the rest, RantWoman was seasoning a clear message about things where reconciliation is not really the point like wonky eyeballs that cannot just be fixed. RantWoman was all about just embrace and eal with it and have some chocolate eyeballs for Halloween. Instead along came a message about two cases of breast cancer, one that was fatal and one gone two years after, about the whys of this being all about God. Breast Cancer Friend, the survivor typically offers messages at the end of the hour; RantWoman was still seasoning the chocolate eyeballs message when someone closed Meeting. RantWoman decided the breast cancer thoughts were not a terrible stand-in and that chocolate eyeballs would have to be private chocolate eyeballs or blogosphere chocolate eyeballs, at least for now.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Artifact and Torah made by women

RantWoman thanks RantMom for calling this item to RantWoman's attention:

This item is about a group of women in Seattle who produced a Torah. This involved subterfuge to buy the paper, women learning to transcribe, sewing it with special needles and probably a bunch of other measures RantWoman is completely unequipped to comment about.

RantWoman is tempted to wander into all sorts of reflections about what people will or will not put up with in the name of faith, but perhaps RantWoman should stick with the artifact behind the title: RantWoman met for Pho and then a short pedestrian adventure to RantMom's house. While RantWoman was visiting, RantMom handed her a newspaper clipping about this very topic.

Ordinarily RantWoman is the sort of ungrateful grouch who might grumble about not needing one more dang piece of paper to collect dust in her apartment while RantWoman decides whether or not to go to the trouble of reading it. The clipping is lurking in one of RantWoman's bags, but it did serve to remind RantWoman to go look the article up online.

Whatever works!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Supporting and Grounding one another: the event

(Warning, there is a certain Quaker Magical realism aspect to the narrative below. RantWoman has already received feedback that her blog needs an editor. She knows and the editor is unavailable at the moment. Come to think of it, MAYBE RantWoman needs to revisit a topical request from a few months ago.)

Supporting and Grounding One Another In Our Ministries
On October 23, Marge Abbott led a one-day workshop called Supporting and Grounding One Another In Our Ministries: Committees for Clearness and Support, Peer Groups, and Spiritual Friendships at the Multonomah Meeting house.

When RantWoman first heard of this workshop, she was clear she needed to be there. One reason is questions related to a new role in her Meeting and a sense that mentorship in this role seems like a really basic way to build community capacity. Another is, cough, RantWoman's experiences related to the topic. RantWoman is really grateful that registration and a ride from Neighbor Friend lined up.

Part of RantWoman's preparation, unintentionally had been internal monologue in such acid terms that RantWoman was praying for the right Quakerese if she needed to talk about her experiences over the workshop. RantWoman is very grateful for the miracles of good Quaker listening on both sides during the car ride to Portland and grateful for other threads that came up instead of RantWoman's twitches.

RantWoman had a few experiences with Quaker pastoral care / discernment practices long before she was a Quaker. Examples came from one of RantWoman's Sensible Auntie figures from childhood, her f/Friend who worked in the library in college and someone RantWoman knew from a life experience she keeps meaning to link into discussions. When done well, RantWoman finds these practices to be WONDERFULLY freeing and centering.

RantWoman's readers who want RantWoman's take from her own Meeting are invited either to click on the Clearness tag or use the search bar. Things did not get off to a good start when the clearness committee for RantWoman's membership lost RantWoman's letter and asked her to write another one and then found the first one. At the time RantWoman was also considering a life decision that, in retrospect, in addition to questions of Meeting capacity, RantWoman is clear she did not want to be talked out of. This does not mean a clearness committee would not have been a good idea; RantWoman does not regret a large percentage of the resulting experiences but is humble about her steps at many points. Alas, that is narrative for another day.

Here with some more RantWoman interjections is what RantWoman wrote for a certain committee; RantWoman is VERY grateful someone else took notes about some themes and content RantWoman missed but RantWoman is clear not to reproduce those very helpful notes here.

My first observation: people seem to be hungry for information about this topic. The original publicity listed a limit of 25; almost 50 ultimately attended and it was strongly suggested that if any more people from the Puget Sound than the 5 who attended are interested, we should invite Marge for our own workshop.

My second observation is that the materials suggested to help prepare were helpful, and thanks to Note Taking Friend listed here:

Materials provided to participants
· “The Truth Beneath My Fear” – chapter from A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer
· “Thoughts for Beloit Meeting on the Peer Group Process”
· “How to Be a Spiritual Friend.” – chapter from More Than Equals by Trish Roberts, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #345
· Answering the Call to Heal the World – Patience Schenck, Pendle Hill Pamphlet 383
· Expectant Listening: Find God’s Thread of Guidance – by Michael Wajda, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #388
· The Care Committee: A Ministry of prayer and learning devoted to the School of the Spirit

Only part of the materials were available in electronic format, my preferred mode of access. This also reminded me that there are good reasons to be insistent in a focussed way about systematic efforts to improve accessibility options for Quaker materials. That will require a whole support and accountability committee so it's a problem for another moment. (RantWoman would also note: RantWoman COULD figure out how to be proactive and maybe ask someone to read materials onto a tape for her or get her own dang scanner or.... RantWoman could figure that out, but so far she has not. RantWoman could even start, after the fact, by having someone read the items she has not interacted with yet. RantWoman COULD do that.)

My third general observation: since UFM has been struggling about remodel at the same time as Multonomah, it was really fun to see how the Multonomah remodel turned out. Both their downstairs room and their worship room have been upgraded with more light and other enhancements. There is a new stairway and new elevator and I think also enhancements to upstairs classrooms. I had two small disappointments though: lighting in the worship room would work better for different seating arrangements if the long sides had one more overhead light in each. Also, this is the northwest. There is a lot less mold in the worship room than there used to be but there is stilla bit in places. Nevertheless it was heartening and even exciting to see light out the other side of someone's remodel.

My fourth observation is that the workshop was VERY tightly run withclear timelines and good food including bagels and fruit and pots of homemade soup for lunch. I especially appreciated just being a participant and not having to worry about the details of putting on an event.

The workshop included a large group presentation of many concepts,I was taking notes in Braille which is not as fast as handwriting. Many items from the discussion wer recorded on flip charts which I also do not read and therefore cannot refer back to to catch up. A suggestion was made to type up the content of the flip charts and distribute that to those present. I expect to follow up and ask about that.

Another suggestion was made afterward about cellphone photography. RantWoman's thoughts are

(Still another suggestion would be for RantWoman to get her act together and use one of her multiple tape recorders. RantWoman's well-adjusted blind person act is definitely still a work in progress and RantWoman would not mind in the least a sense of better mentors in this area than she has found, or else more backbone when her own inner mentor falters WHINE!)

The next session was an interactive opportunity for the whole group to try the concepts, a monster clearness committee with a volunteer focusperson and a sort of typical pastoral care concern. The room was a mixof concerned laypersons and people such as teachers or social workers with specific legal mandated reporter obligations and mental framework which might have been applicable in the situation offered. It was interesting to see how requests for clarification were formulated. It was also interesting that a relatively small percentage of questions were phrased in terms of soul or Spirit. RantWoman is also reflecting on how difficult some of the questioners found it to formulate neutral, evocative, non-prescriptive questions; this observation caused RantWoman to feel more forgiving of her own, uh, room for growth in this area.

Despite various awkward moments of language and presentation, the volunteer focus person said the exercise was very helpful and powerful. The whole group debrief afterward also brought the wonderful observations that the soul issometimes timid and that sometimes people initially cannot even articulate what they need. (RantWoman editorializes: sometimes Friends face life issues about which it may be difficult to find Friends with enough background in some or another area to help hold a Friend accountable.

The first afternoon session featured small groups about clearness committees, being a focus person, an overview from a Meeting perspective and two others whose titles I do not remember. I went to the one about a Meeting perspective. This one involved a number ofpeople from comparatively large meetings such as UFM, Multonomah, andBridge City as well as people from small meetings and worship groups.One practical point to take away and follow up with: Multonomah MMOversight Committee says they have all their various Meeting documents related to such committees in electronic format with a pending request to put them on the NPYM website. Stay tuned.

The group considered a number of queries. However, I contributed my notes to the leaders and have a brain cramp about a couple points I meant to remember better. One query I wish had been included is howMeetings distinguish between ministries of individuals and ministries of a whole Meeting.

Others talked about people resources: in large meetings support committees tend to involve about the same 20% of the people. To say the least, this is not really treating support of ministries as if we are all ministers of the Divine. (RantWoman tartly observes that last year a certain clearness committee was convened with comparative alacrity and only minimal involvement from the clerk of Oversight Committee. This year, RantWoman finally became clear about something where a clearness committee might help and asked the clerk of Oversight for help. A key step took over a month, partly but only partly because one potential member was out of the country. This is causing RantWoman to meditate about Quaker time and bureaucracy and a wish for more capacity and more automatic thoughts of such service to the community.)

In smaller communities, there just are not the same people resources in the first place. In all cases, support committees have a concern to limit what is offered to spiritual support and to be able to make referrals to appropriate resources such as legal resources or outside social services.

RantWoman subsequently remembered a thread similar to her own bus eldering: a Friend talked of someone in his Meeting who shares his disability and plays the situation rather differently than the speaking Friend, something someone unfamiliar with the disability might not even detect. RantWoman thinks this is somewhat comparable to her eldering of Friends who cannot get places on time on the bus. Bus randomness happens, but people who are consistently late for God frequently have problems in other areas of their lives--besides straining the Wonder Quaker limits of those they are close to.

The whole exercise was valuable both in terms of working with the concepts and int erms of people's actual experiences. There was closing worship which I may remember more details of Afterward though several of the people I was sitting near talked again about how sometimes language of spirit and spiritual transformation was less evident than we would like. Not every situation is like Alternatives to Violence work among equal numbers of perpetrators and survivors of genocide in East Africa, but perhaps some of us need more practice speaking specifically in terms of spiritual transformations, openings, movements of the Divine.

Coincidentally, RantWoman notes this item from another blog and speaking of many of the terms used in the workshop.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just ASK!

RantWoman is missing ALL the most out-of-the-ordinary verbal visitations by the Divine! Not only did RantWoman miss out on vocal ministry from Eye Roller Friend, lately identified as a message about democracy and the Kingdom of God. RantWoman also missed a m-m-m-Message at our 9:30 worship.

A Friend who used to worship mainly at 9:30 liked to say "we like to season our messages, sometimes for months." Recently another Friend offered comments to the effect that the expectation seemed to b that God was to show up and shut up like everyone else. This time God did not shut up. In fact God appeared in a form that Just Is Not Done: reading aloud, and reading aloud for a quite extended interval!

RantWoman heard about this second hand. In fact, RantWoman is supposed to pretend in public that she has not heard of this occasion. RantWoman might as well pretend to be Tinkerbell. RantWoman has heard nothing about the theme of the divine verbal visitation. What is perplexing RantWoman though is that the account RantWoman heard does not include ANY reference to anyone asking Reading Aloud Friend why on earth he did that. RantWoman knows Reading Aloud Friend and knows he is not in the least any kind of fearsome personage. RantWoman can hardly imagine someone fearing to approach him, though RantWoman supposes that almost anyone can be seized by unintentional spasms of reticence.

RantWoman is meditating about a visiting Friend who spoke of someone from her church who stood up for three weeks running and read multi-chapter passages from Ephesians, not among visiting Friend's biblical favorites. Finally, someone was moved to ask, "Friend, why did thee do that?" Friend simply replied that he had been led to do so and everyone burst out laughing.

RantWoman cannot really pretend to be Tinkerbell. This is one reason RantWoman is now pondering how she might induce Friends simply to talk to one another. Considering RantWoman's naturally ebullient personality (NOT!), something Divine is going to HAVE to show up to help too. RantWoman supposes that she or others of our diverse and able elders could also be recruited to uphold the conversation, but really RantWoman suspects that a Concerned Friend's Inner Light might be stronger and clearer as to the issues than anything elders could do. Okay, ways to clear up mysteries of inquisitiveness would deprive RantWoman of things to be perplexed about, but RantWoman is a flexible girl and can probably find a stand-in. Just ASK!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Let us Talk

RantWoman was not intending to make a pun, only to connect links for two items about nonviolence and reconciliation.

Now RantWoman will seek guidance about the sarcasm reflex that rears its head whenever someone thinks RantWoman is too much of a tiresome political activist. Says WHY?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Worship programmed and less so

RantWoman is collecting these two, seemingly worlds apart items about worship partly so she can find them again and partly to meditate about movements of spirit in crowds of different sizes and complexity.

RantWoman is struck by the language quoted from representatives of different faiths about worship. RantWoman also reflects on what happens when Quakers propose silence at such mass gatherings; sometimes words just hold the space better.

Here is worship of a different flavor:
This item is mainly about worship and RantWoman finds herself deeply grateful, decades after she needed them for words she migth have said to RantDad the choir director when he would get his underwear in a wad, excuse the description, over the pastor doing some thing or another to disrupt RantDad's programming of music for the Baptist service: let God be n charge and see where things go.

RantWoman means to write more of worship and of Brent Bill, but this is enough here.

Doing Battle with Barclay

RantWoman does not in the least apologize for using the word "battle" in reference to the hardy and intrepid Quakers' whacking our way through Barclay's apology. This entry was begun in October 2010.

In hindsight RantWoman is reflecting about the stark contrast between Barclay's strident denunciations of on one hand people connected with other views of theology along with the adherents to same and on the other hand and the relentless submission to Quakers' understanding of what God requires of them. How can one be both so arrogant and so humble?

Reading Barclay, RantWoman finds it annoying that Barclay uses terms like Papists. RantWoman heard grumbles of but cannot herself identify anti-semitism or at least ignorance as well.

Barclay to RantWoman's ear comes across like any average talking head. RantWoman thinks the only saving grace is that in those days there was no Talking Head TV. However this makes it even more astounding that people would journey long distances to be lectured to.

RantWoman decided to celebrate Barclay's mental dialogue between his Calvinist teachers and his Jesuit ones by going to the most Jesuit place she knows, the camput of Seattle University for a walk instead of another nip at the Barclay bottle. RantWoman thus arrived less than completely encumbered by encounter with the text. Oops, well.

Chronically Tardy Friend arrived on time.

This month we stuck better in the vicinity of Barclay than the wanderings from our last session.

Bible Study?
RantWoman was reflecting on the different translations of the Bible in circulation and in process at the time including Tyndale and the King James Version. RantWoman herself indulged in a digression in the direction of St Jerome, the patron saint of translators. RantWoman realizes it might be problematic to invoke the name of any saint in the presence of Barclay ranting about Papists and idolatry, but since when does RantWoman shy away from the problematic?

Margaret fell quote: What canst thou say? Echo of Christ to Peter: Who do you say I am?

RantWoman appreciates the radical for Barclay's time idea that Spirit matters more than exact words. The discussion wandered into the winnowing that resulted in what is the Bible today and how that has subtracted some writings compared to earlier centuries.

Rantwoman also scribbled something about Romans and transformation, but she has no idea where THAT was going.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Condolezza, Condolezza

RantWoman is accumulating a backlog of themes needing thorough rants. Unfortunately these themes need thorough, coherent rants. Even RantWoman has her standards, so RantWoman's readers may be perplexed to realize that this item from Waging Nonviolence about Condolezza Rice's new book What Condolezza Rice Learned From her Father's Aversion to NOnviolence leapt ahead of all the other topics churning in RantWoman's febrile soul.

In the first place RantWoman finds Condolezza Rice a fascination. One reason is her speech pattern. Half the time Dr. Rice sounds like all of RantWoman's relatives from Colorado; this nasal accent weaves in and out of a lilt worthy of any daughter of the Confederacy.

RantWoman finally put together the speech pattern issue one day at her eye doctor's: RantWoman remembers one time during her summer of her worst ever eyeball horrors being ecstatic simply to be able to read the Large Pring Readers' Digest which had an article about Dr. Rice's childhood. RantWoman thinks she remembers one of her eye care professionals giving her a hard time about her choice of reading materials. If it's in Readers' Digest, it has to be true, right. The article was actually decent and spoke of Condolezza losing her best friend in the Birmingham church bombing. That would be an odd topic for RantWoman to be ecstatic about being able to read, but there it was.

Condolezza Rice further fascinates RantWoman because she is one of those women like Jeanne Kirkpatrick or Madeleine Albright who achieve prominence in foreign policy despite being really, really different from the women as intrinsically more wholesome and peaceable ideology of some a younger RantWoman hung out with.

RantWoman would now say that making women responsible for all the peacemaking in the world lets men off the hook to an entirely unwholesome extent. The maturing RantWoman has also collected enough thinking about catfight-style argumentation and girls' forms of peer pressure, that the women as intrinsically peaceable thing does not even get out the door with RantWoman anymore. RantWoman has further spent enough time in meetings with skewed gender balance to relate easily to Jeanne Kirkpatrick's grumbles about rooms full of testosterone, but that is entirely another problem.

RantWoman finds herself peeved actually about the blogger's analysis of Condolezza Rice's father Rev. Rice and Rev. Rice's views about nonviolence. RantWoman exactly understands the point of people being easily able to do the same things everyone in their circles are doing but also to know their own limits about some or another specific tough point, in this case nonviolence.

Could Rev. Rice's position have evolved through dialog wihth others? RantWoman specifically does not have an opinion about Rev. Rice's position but would pointedly note the length of time John Woolman labored with Friends over slavery. Aside from vast cultural gaps between Southern Baptists like Dr. King and Presbyterians like Rev. Rice, the tradition of laboring with one another over difficult issues is, in RantWoman's observation not as well developed among Presbyterians as it is among Friends and RantWoman would simply note that the family's move to Colorado introduced other, um interesting themes.

Matters of race and privilege are alive and well among westerners, but they play out differently. For example, one can always find matters involving people of Hispanic or Native American heritage, but there is sometimes a pretense that being African American is less of a problem or that racism is somehow less pronounced or less corrosive. Perhaps this point is one of the factors that created space for Condolezza Rice to excel at her studies, to find mentors, and to fall into line with a certain blase realism about geopolitics. RantWoman would like to save all the acid things she can further think of to say about Dr. Rice's career for another time but would like to close with a tart comment that she seldom is comfortable with anyone telling a person of another race how they shoud live in their own skin.

On the other hand, consider this extremely heartening example of nonviolence at its most powerful:

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Queries that Resulted

What emerged from the friends planning the Retreat:

What do I have in overflowing amounts, fullness or magnificence; life, hope, joy, money, connection to the Spirit? How do I come to have this abundance?

What do I have in abundance NOW, and how can I save, and share, the fruits—but, more significantly—the seeds from that bounty? Is that how we see ministry?

How can I recognize my rich gifts of Spirit and use this knowledge to forge a stronger connection with the Divine?

Psalm 65 (New International Version)
1 Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.

2 O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come.

3 When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.

4 Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,

6 who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.

8 Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.

10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.

In calm and cool and silence, once again
I find my old accustomed place among
My brethren, here, perchance, no human tongue
Shall utter words; where never hymn is sung,
Nor deep-toned organ blown, nor censer swung
Nor dim light falling through the pictured pane!
There, syllabled by silence, let me hear
The still small voice which reached the prophets ear;
Read in my heart a still diviner law
Than Israel's leader on his tables saw!
here let me strive with each besetting sin,
Recall my wandering fancies, and restrain
the sore disquiet of a restless brain;
And, as the path of duty is made plain,
May grace be given that I may walk therein,
Not like the hireling, for his selfish gain,
With backward glanced and reluctant tread,
Making a merit of his coward dread,
But, Cheerful, in the light around me thrown,
Walking as one to pleasant service led;
Doing God's will as if it were my own,
Yet trusting not in mine, but in His strength alone!
John Greenleaf Whittier

October 9 2010 UFM Retreat
QUERIES the way they started from Worship and Ministry Committee

What do I have in overflowing amounts, fullness or magnificence: life, hope, joy, money, connection to the Spirit? How do I come to have this abundance?

What have been my experiences of sharing my abundance, or of others sharing their abundance with me?

What might I now choose to do to share abundance?What do I have in abundance NOW, and how can I save, and share, the fruits--but, more significantly--the seeds from that bounty? Is that how we see ministry?

Some trees are already beginning to shed their leaves. What do we shed with the coming of winter, so that we don't waste energy bringing it through the cold, and so we have energy and room for new gifts?

How can I recognize my rich gifts of Spirit and use this knowledge to forge a stronger connection with the Divine?

Okay, um, God, RantWoman is unclear how we all get from A to B here, and SOMETHING in this realm is going to have to get worked out by the time the retreat starts.

Fortunately (?) today RantWoman is blessed by abundant clarity that her Rant du Jour is about a generalized technical issue and therefore belongs in her other blog.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Compassion Fried

Voice of the Day: John E. Biersdorf08-19-2010
Compassion is expressed in gentleness. When I think of the persons I know who model for me the depths of the spiritual life, I am struck by their gentleness … They are gentle because they have honestly faced the struggles given to them and have learned the hard way that personal survival is not the point. Their caring is gentle because their self-aggrandizement is no longer at stake. There is nothing in it for them. Their vulnerability has been stretched to clear-eyed sensitivity to others and truly selfless love.
- John E. Biersdorffrom Healing of Purpose

RantWoman started this post a very good while ago and has NO idea where she was being led with the title; RantWoman feels called to leave it as originally written.

RantWoman is going to leave the title as is and include a reference to an article called "Survival of the Kindest" in a local Buddhist publication called Shambala Sun.

RantWoman recommends her readers put the strings here into the search engine of their choice. RantWoman is also interested in the article but when she went looking, her trail took her to some internetnetherworld: RantWoman can tell there is content there but RantWoman in the time she had at first read could not tell whether her problems interacting with the content are because of bad accessibility practices on the website or because RantWoman is a bit of a cluck, an enthusiastic practitioner of trial and error but basically a cluck about many features of her accessibility software. Sigh.

Doing Good IS worship.

RantWoman loves her Quaker meeting.

RantWoman also thinks it's REALLY important to have connections with people who look like the ones in her neighborhood.

RantWoman means to check out the Christian Community Development Association some more but is filing this here for future reference.

The title is a quote from one of the video links.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010



Okay, RantWoman is twitchy about things that in some way suggest applauding God, but RantWoman makes exceptions:

God and Friend with the Ministry of Audible Eye Rolling, between them got actual words lined up and delivered a whole entire vocal ministry MESSAGE Sunday during Meeting for Worship. By multiple accounts it was quite trenchant, motivated from a recent visitation by members of one of the sects who prosletize door-to-door.

RantWoman in passing wonders what would happen if more Quakers went door to door more explicitly about our faith instead of just with all the petitions many of us are so fond of; perhaps RantWoman should chase that digression in a different post. If RantWoman gets all carried away, maybe she can tack this into the blogosphere's discussions of "revitalizing Quakerism."

But back to Eye Roller Friend. RantWoman sincerely hopes that the several bursts of positive feedback she heard will enable God and Eye Roller Friend to get words lined up more often.

RantWoman especially hopes this because RantWoman was not in the room for this momentous occasion: RantWoman has some kind of respiratory crud and it took her three tries to get seated, never mind settled in Meeting Worship with a nasty cough under appropriate control. RantWoman thanks the Friend who teased her about"stifling the word of the Lord;" it seems the words got handed to someone else this week.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bringing Down Slobodan Milosevic

RantWoman is storing this here so she can find it again and also because Stjopa Popovic, leader of the nonviolent Otpor.

RantWoman is also struck by mention of a study by Freedom House about how over the last 35 years nonviolent movemeents far outperform violent ones in terms of producing stable peaceful and democratic outcomes.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bounty Abounding

RantWoman is helping some queries coalesce for an upcoming retreat. The theme of the retreat is Bounty, and RantWoman supposes not the paper towel brand. RantWoman's first response to the request was bountiful grumbles about the form of the request. With seasoning and contributions from other Friends, other thoughts emerged.

RantWoman cautions that except for blog and Biblical quotes below, the opinions here are RantWoman's something quite different may emerge from community discernment.


Happy Fall Equinox and Witches' Thanksgiving
Day and night are in balance; Fall Equinox is the door to the dark time of the year.This is the second harvest festival. What are we storing away for the winter? What foods don’t store well, and so we eat them now?Some trees are already beginning to shed their leaves. What do we shed with the coming of winter, so that we don’t waste energy bringing it through the cold, and so we have energy and room for new gifts?In many traditions, the Goddess, or one of Her faces, begins a journey into the Underworld at Fall Equinox. What will we lose in our journeys? What will we find? What abundant gifts of Mother Earth, tangible and not-so-tangible, carry us through the coming dark and cold time of the year?What gifts do fall and winter bring?

Older translations of the Bible, such as the Revised Standard Version (1946 and 1952) use the words "abound" and "abundance" often. Later translations, such as the Revised English Bible (1989) never use them, substituting instead the terms overflow, more than enough, greater measure, and fullness. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, "the abundance of revelations" even becomes "the magnificence of such revelations"! Below are two other well-known verses."And may God, who is the ground of hope, fill you with all joy and peace as you lead the life of faith until, by the power of the Holy Spirit you overflow [abound] with hope." Romans 15:13"I have come that they may have life, and may have it in all its fullness [abundantly]." John 10:101.

What do I have in overflowing amounts, fullness, or magnificence: life, hope, joy, money, connection to the Spirit?

How do I come to have this abundance?2.

What have been my experiences of sharing my abundance, or of others sharing their abundance with me?

What might I now choose to do to share abundance?

RantWoman was led firmly in a different direction.

Greta Garbo I think said "too much of a good thing can be wonderful." However RantWoman REALLY likes the part of the query off the blog about what do we need to trim or store up for cold and darkness.

It's already past equinox and talking about Witches' Thanksgiving may be a little TOO much just here even though RantWoman personally is curious. RantWoman is curious but looking it up is down a ways in queue.

--It will be OCTOBER when Seattle heads into cold and dark and rainyand lots of us need to store up physical and psychic reserves for the winter.

--NOTHING good is going to be coming from city, county, or state budgets and lots of people are going to be feeling more pain from that.

--LOTS of people are struggling economically or facing serious health issues

--Our country is in the throes of two wars far away as well aswhatever we want to call the narco mess in Mexico (no we have not annexed Mexico, but longer tirade possible)

--Our country has food that is artificially cheap and fuel that isartificially cheap and then we spend all our money building roads and sitting in our cars, and it's way to easy to get overweight because no one walks and there is no place to walk and... Some people get overscheduled trying 3 times as much as RantWoman can even attempt.the thought that there might be too much of the wrong things crosses RantWoman's mind. RantWoman would like to see queries that make space for hard realities and focus our minds and hearts on spirit and community. RantWoman also like the thoughts of pruning and jettisoning and being intentional about what she leaves space for.