Friday, April 30, 2010
--RantWoman is the designated recipient for the reflection papers for the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference . RantWoman thanks everyone for the stream of papers arriving in her inbox and is quite looking forward to worship and sharing with everyone at the conference. RantWoman heartily exhorts everyone else to do as she is trying to do and finish their papers.
RantWoman is deeply touched by several writers' simple clarity. Simple clarity is eluding RantWoman. In fact, RantWoman is doing really well trusting the part about fanning flames and rebelling about points that seem to get the self-discipline part wrong. Unfortunately, if RantWomen herself does not always know what to do with the torrents erupting from her soul it is not necessarily reasonable to expect anyone else, even the best mentors to know either. So we continue to sit with...--and to EDIT.
--RantWoman has a thread in her email about "plain text." This is a computer reference highly topical for blind geeks, not for instance more blog roll about Quaker plain dress.
--RantWoman has commitments at Meeting both Saturday and Sunday. RantWoman means to keep them even though these events conflict with events outside Meeting related to RantWoman's bent toward peace testimony, radical equality, nuclear disarmament, justice and equal rights for immigrants. Under the circumstances, RantWoman is just meditating about "the Light and Power that takes away the occasion for war" and all the cross currents coming in, out, and through Meeting life.
--RantWoman continues to find herself not only inadequately versed in the history of splits among Friends but pulled more toward the frontiers of relationships among many different faith traditions, Friends and otherwise. RantWoman supposes this makes her somewhat ill-equipped even to hear the language of different traditions; sometimes RantWoman wonders whether she just handles the importance of such questions differently in the first place.
--RantWoman came to Friends from peace and justice activism and a lifetime of mainline Protestantism of various flavors. RantWoman is so grateful over time as her experience of the life of silent worship has deepened; RantWoman feels a lot less certain and experienced about Quaker practices such as clearness processes and even queries. RantWoman feels considerably less than well-steeped in these traditions. There is a "peace begins at home" aspect of this uncertainty that makes the theme of the conference feel very real but the whole of RantWoman's thoughts and experiences is not fitting into only two pages.
--RantWoman is having the umpteenth conversation with herself about the "why meet as women?" Over her life, RantWoman herself has been all over the map about this question: taking a lot of science and match courses at a university which, at the time was about 1/3 women, women-only political activism, plenty of mixed-gender activism.
RantWoman recalls being touched a few years ago when a Friend from her Meeting said an older rather academic Friend thought RantWoman came on a little strong. In RantWoman's more outspoken youth, she would have said "Kind of?" At the time she was touched when younger Friend just said RantWoman is nice about it at least.
Anyway, RantWoman has been on the planning committee a couple different times with a gap between. The question of mixed gatherings keeps coming up and there are less frequently regional mixed gender FWCC gatherings, but the leading to preserve the women-only space for this conference has been clear and strong and expressed very distinctly in several ways. Guys, if you want to get together and do narrative theology, there's absolutely nothing stopping you!
--RantWoman is still working on her reflection paper for the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference . The morning's first mental hiccups have to do with the title, "Walk With Me, Mentor, Elder, Friend."
RantWoman has not yet digested some comments from a Friend about the book of Job and the "walk with me" part. What the heck does that mean? The subject is highly topical in RantWoman's life right now and the reflection passages are not doing much to help. "Don't try to play God, get out of the way and let God work" is the thought coming to mind, but even that needs details to flesh it out. RantWoman's research geek instincts want more reading at least and the paper is due....TOMORROW.
RantWoman's other mental hiccup about the title has to do with the word "elder." RantWoman understands that the word is probably meant in the church tradition sense. Even that has a certain "what the heck do we mean" aspect, but RantWoman also notes the march of time the problem and some signs around many edges of the difficulties that come with aging. In fact, RantWoman should quit procrastinating and do something work-related about that topic. Instead, RantWoman is cross with a peer in her Meeting for being unwilling to face the "walk with me" part of being present about this even if it means being both observant of and a little forgiving about some lapses that probably need quiet watching.
--The reflection paper is only TWO pages. It does not have to be everything, as Russians say, from Adam and Eve to the crucifixion. In fact that won't all fit. So back to editing!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
RantWoman hereby collects assorted ways to get the Bible in accessible formats. RantWoman will dump out Quaker bookmarks in a separate entry at some point.
Downloadable files. Lots of format minutia which also means lots of detail about what formats work with what tools.
Searchable, multiple versions accessible. Plays well with RantWoman's screen reader.
charming info for readers like RantWoman who have neither the patience, the Braille fluency nor the funds for some of those spiffy Braille devices, this site includes helpful info such as one version of the Bible requires 60 inches of shelf space.
Monday, April 26, 2010
This was when RantWoman was still clerk of Hospitality committee. RantWoman had been seasoning the idea of promulgating a policy that children must be at least as tall as the counter to be in the Meeting kitchen without one of their own grownups in very close proximity.
RantWoman is all for children and all for children participating in various kinds of life and duties in kitchens. However, kitchens, particularly semi-commercial kitchens are full of sharp objects, hot things, and containers that challenge some who would move them. Furthermore, sometimes the problem is not the child, it's the grownups. RantWoman sees very badly. RantWoman had another committee member who due to age and stature also was cautious about the kinds of carafes full of hot liquids and trays full of crockery involved in social hour at our Meeting.
Much as RantWoman loves to cultivate children's love of kitchen matters in household kitchens, not every child should get mixed up in kitchen matters at Meeting. RantWoman intended to be present with these realities and to have uniform basis for evoking safety standards in an industrial kitchen. In any case, Very Young Friend was not yet as tall as the counter, but he had both his parents in tow, so what could RantWoman say?
RantWoman does not remember the beginning of the conversation; she suspects it may have involved a gentle request that Very Young Friend move because RantWoman needed to carry something and does not see well. Very Young Friend, in the matter-of-fact way children have, looked at RantWoman and said "You should get your eyes fixed." RantWoman heard both of Very Young Friend's parents gasp. RantWoman herself felt a couple tears but tried to smile and explain about things that cannot be fixed and much to be grateful for. Looking back, RantWoman wishes she had the wit to say a sincere "Thank you for noticing. Thank you for acknowledging! You're way ahead of...."
Saturday, April 24, 2010
--trying to write her reflection paper for the Pacific NW Quaker Women's Theology Conference on the theme "Walk with me, Elder, Mentor Friend." This is a tougher exercise than its length might suggest: RantWoman has several tales of mismatches between what would-be elders can deliver and what is needed, several tales of missed connections when she really needs mentoring, correction, steadying, several tales of mentoring coming not in pleasant well-intentioned forms but rather in awkward stumbles and breakdowns of various sorts.
RantWoman is seasoning a list of her preferred qualities in elders / mentors though RantWoman also freely admits sometimes she is so in need... that she gets to take what she gets and just run with that. And this does not even begin to speak to the "just walk with me" task. RantWoman also has assorted flip and sarcastic observations that she needs to distill into one exercise for the conference and perhaps more than one contribution to the blogosphere.
RantWoman is also thinking of quoting Bob Dylan, "Ah, but i was so much older then, I'm so much younger than that now." Either that or an airplane-like announcement, bear in mind the best elder for your situation maybe younger, less experienced, less completely crystalized, ...
--Meditating about themes in a separate post about how people with differeht theological / spiritual orientations frame the experience of silent worship. RantWoman is having such fun collecting different references to such in her blog.
--thinking with great affection of a Friend on the planning committee for a previous Women's theology conference. This Friend has a wonderful ministry of quilting which she has carried to many places and circumstances. At that conference, women spent considerable time reflecting on a labyrinth that another group at the retreat center was using as part of their meditation process and whether walking a labyrinth is a form of idolatry.
RantWoman has surprisingly to her strong reactions sometimes regardin idolatry, but the question would never have occurred to her about a labyrinth. One of the miracles of the Women's theology conferences for RantWoman is sharing the evolution of women's thinking as they grapple with different questions. RantWoman is also feeling grateful on total tactile grounds that after the conference, the Friend with the quilting ministry sewed RantWoman a wonderful hand-sized labyrinth that RantWoman sometimes runs her fingers around as a way of calming at least some of her many twitches, a way of centering, breathing, rooting in gratitude.
--checking up on another blog she reads with some followup comments about Biblical grounding for "an Anabaptist rosary."
One of the things RantWoman enjoys about blogging is the sense of extended conversation, extended worship as different themes. RantWoman was the first but not the only one to point out that the original poster had completely deleted Mary from the new themes; other comments included a great deal of non-gender-specific praise language. This seems to RantWoman to be an interesting and not necessarily undesirable approach, but RantWoman's fast read is making her want to read and think more about carrying spiritual disciplines in tactile forms.
--Digesting some young people's efforts to grapple with privilege
and wishing her schedule permitted her to attend exercises on similar themes in person at the second Creative Resisitance Conference
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
RantWoman is interested in the book based on the author interview at www.kuow.org . However, RantWoman notes crabbily that the author is not distributing the book with audio enabled, a separate accessibility step. This oversight makes it less likely that RantWoman herself will plunk down cash to interact with the book though RantWoman might still greatly appreciate book digestion from an interested Friend.
Also mentioned in context of women especially needing respite, okay by a female author so RantWoman supposes interestd men should consider an invitation to weigh in: Anne Morrow Lindbergh The Gift From The Sea
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Gathered worship, really diverse
(RantWoman notes in passing that the whole question of a Quaker pagan ritual seems so modernist, so separated from the early Quakers' efforts to free themselves of the pagan associations of the common English-language names for the days of the week and the months. Not to mention the whole giant historical question of graphing Christian forms and terminology onto other festivals and other events deeply rooted in pagan traditions. RantWoman has NO clear thoughts about what that means for people of the current century so maybe there is just more to be written at some point.)
Announcing an International Gathering, July 12-16, 2010, Sinks Canyon Center near Lander, Wyoming, USA.
A Faith That Transforms: The Message and Experience of the Early Friends.
Come and experience the life-transforming power of being gathered and led by Christ Jesus.
RantWoman notes that living conditions are spartan and travel arduous. RantWoman for instance would not even try to stop by on the way to NPYM Annual Session in Missoula. However, Friends who really want to be there and can handle the travel costs and register early will pay only $50 for 4 days.
RantWoman has never heard of the New Foundation Fellowship and is decidedly not used to thinking of Lander WY as a hub for much of anything, let alone a Quaker gathering. Hence the resort to the search engine of choice. Here are a couple items turned up by Google
a blog entry by Martin Kelley with a link to a very geographically dispersed Meeting based out of Virginia.
A very brief Wikipedia entry referring to George Fox and Christian Quakers:
RantWoman imagines there are people this very event might speak deeply to. Hence this post.
Monday, April 19, 2010
1. A clearness committee previously written of though numbers of frustrations have been spoken of inadequately if at all in blogdom. RantWoman became even clearer than she already was about certain points; others started out frayed and went nowhere good from there, and all of this BEFORE we look at process.
2. A request for a support committee for a certain blog originally begun with a general George Fox journaling all over the medium of the age devil-may-care excess. RantWoman continues to write; RantWoman is not counting the months since she reminded someone in person. RantWoman has no freaking clue what even to expect / request. Perhaps she should request a clearness committee just to help her figure out what she wants to ask for. Or perhaps there is more issue of capacity and who is able or even vaguely has a leading in certain directions.
Theological miasma aside, RantWoman is still meditating about matters of capacity and necessity and community accountability. RantWoman expects there to be more community discussions both because of still working something that came to Annual Session a few years ago and because of something fresh she scraped her eyeballs over tonight at her Meetinghouse related to anger and external issues at an upcoming gathering. RantWoman has decided to go all elder on the latter and just shut up and pray.
In the meantime, here is this piece about Maya Angelou with wonderful inquiry / seeking reporting about Maya Angelou's experience in Africa with a community palaver before divorcing her husband. RantWoman thinks that level of community could be amazing.
RantWoman has a particular thing for multiracial, multiethnic dialogue and conversation. RantWoman has noted with interest several voices over at www.sojo.net in conversation about the worldwide emerging church. RantWoman is noting the exchange here for the sake of future findability. RantWoman MAY at some point become clearer to say more.
There is a painless subscription ahead of this article. Bear with it.
A contributor who identifies as Quaker but attends a Methodist church: I love her language about people coming together.
The allies stuff and other cool language.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Tonight RantWoman realized perhaps the reason for this leading is because the Friend in Residence is Bridget Moix, who currently works with the Friends Committee on National Legislation , where she leads the Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict program.
RantWoman has heard Bridget speak before and finds her seriously inspiring. Enough said! Register early for a discount! If you are an e-gizmo junkie and need the campus Wi-fi, don't forget to check about signing up in advance in the registration process.
PS RantWoman has not checked the registration materials for, say, an interest group about blogging, but would be happy to connect in "real space" with readers of her blog.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
From: Eduard Sanchez
Today we are all in a state of shock. Torsten Brand, Program Manager for Talks, died last night from complications during a routine operation.
On behalf of Code Factory, I would like to address my deepest sympathy to Torsten's family and friends. There are no words to express our sadness.
We have been competing with Talks for more than seven years, both of us aiming to create life-changing solutions, therefore this competition means something very special to us. Torsten Brand was indirectly a driving force for our company as well as a source of inspiration. It has been a great honor to compete with this pioneer of accessibility during all those years. As software developers we know too well the immense loss that it represents for the whole industry. Developing screen readers applications is a very difficult task that Torsten Brand was doing brilliantly. We thank Torsten for being one of the most important pioneers in accessible mobile technology, and for bringing a good product like Talks to the market.
This competition has been very healthy, and in our case we can honestly say that it made us better, forcing us to be more creative and innovative in order to compete. We met with Torsten in ATIA and CSUN this year and were discussing together the future of mobile phones and accessibility. Our vision of the future has changed too suddenly with this very sad news. We will all miss him a lot and hope that his legacy will be honored and that Talks will keep being a great product. Again all our thoughts are with Torsten's family and friends.
It is with great respect and immense sadness that we say goodbye to the man who first made a mobile phone accessible to the blind and visually impaired.
Eduard Sánchez, Code Factory's CEO,
on behalf of the Code Factory team: Jordi Sánchez, Greg Gladman, Caroline Ragot, Melanie Endres, Ferran Gállego, Wil Osberger, Jose Luis Ametller, Mukesh Sharma, Dinesh Kaushal, Aman Singer, Pilar Hualde, Charlotte Vinkel, and Franco Bellu.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
10 points to anyone who can find the grammar and punctuation issues exercising one reader of the final version.
Oops, wait, blame the technology: RantWoman found a few items she THOUGHT she corrected and now has to file the point with some other simmering technology glitches tugging at her time.
This definitely does not exclude the possibility that RantWoman will still miss something, but she is going to live it up and hyperlink a bunch of things anyway. Bear in mind, the choices of what to hyperlink are RantWoman's responsibility alone and unless specifically indicated do not reflect the official position of her Meeting.
STATE OF THE MEETING REPORT
UNIVERSITY FRIENDS MEETING ,SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
APRIL 11, 2010
In December 2009, after 18 months of work and 4 retreats, we concluded a “ Year of Discernment ” Together we affirmed UFM’s calling to be a worshipping community, to be good stewards of our resources, to help each other discern how we are led to serve, and to care for and support each other.
Worship is at the center of our community life. On First Days, we continue to hold two Meetings for Worship, one at 9:30, customarily smaller and more likely to season messages mainly in silence and one at 11:00. We continue to hold Meeting for Business on the second First Day of each month beginning directly out of 11:00 am Meeting for Worship. We are gratified to find both a greater number of Friends participating in Meeting for Business and better grounded work as a result of this practice.
Meeting for Business this year has included spirit-led consideration of some testing issues. We seasoned a minute opposing torture and found ourselves challenged to articulate shared language about our motivations. We approved membership for a Friend who identifies as Pagan , who has an ongoing ministry overseen by a committee including Friends from our Meeting, about Quaker Paganism, and who shortly after joining moved with her wife away from Seattle. We have taken a Quaker / Jewish marriage under our care. We have considered at length our expectations of Nominating Committee, Friends with concerns about nominations, and Worship and Ministry committee. We are presently reviewing how Meeting seasons ministries it undertakes as a community.
Our Adult Religious Education program provides rich choices and lively discussion. We continue to collaborate with the men and women of the UFM SHARE group who sleep in our Worship Room at night. Our worshipping community still includes an identified sex offender as well as ministries for survivors of sexual abuse and about the safety of our children. Many musicians, poets and artists in our community share their gifts at our monthly Art Salons and monthly art exhibits. 29 Friends lobbied for services for the poor and prison reform at our annual Quaker lobby day in Olympia. We have organized both small worship-sharing and Quaker-8’s potluck groups. Library Committee’s book sale, a holiday crafts fair, a New Year vision collage making time, and a plant exchange are popular annual events.
This year’s QUEST interns include two young men as well as the young women usually drawn to QUEST. We have an active First Day School program. We have adjusted our schedule so that children join us for worship at the end of the hour instead of the beginning. Last spring we asked our children to discern and recommend how our Meeting should spend a percentage of the funds budgeted for donations to outside organizations.
Our Year of Discernment generated renewed energy and restored our sense of practicing discernment with faith in the abundance of our resources and gifts, rather than fear of their scarcity. Our Year of Discernment has expanded our shared awareness of the ways in which each of our committees and individuals do the work of being a community. Many have described feeling, and seeing others, more engaged with Meeting than ever before. We have seen an increase in committee volunteerism, slight, temporary growth in donations (during hard economic times for many among us), and more attendance at Meeting for Worship.
The four day-long retreats at the Meeting House were so successful that we have decided to hold a similar retreat this spring to build community, get to know each other, and care for our physical plant.
A remodel task force has been formed to move forward on a tight timeline with details and staging of existing remodel proposals.
A communications task force has been formed to look at how our Meeting uses many different tools including both computer or online resources and a variety of practices. This task force has already begun experiments distributing materials for Business meeting in advance by email and making it easier for newcomers to be added to email distribution lists for our weekly bulletin and for our monthly newsletter.
We have also given attention to practical matters: management of Quaker House, cleaning up a basement room to provide our grade-school First Day school with its own meeting space, installing an improved sound system in our worship room, installing lighting in our parking lot.
Currently, about a dozen children, from infants through school-age, come to First-Day School. Few Junior Friends are visible at UFM, although a number enjoy Quarterly and Yearly Meeting activities. We enjoy the presence of a number of Young Adult Friends. We continue to be blessed with a rich stream of adult newcomers of all ages -- some seasoned Friends, some eager seekers -- including seniors drawn to the Northwest by family ties ("magnetic grandkids") as well as younger adults and families with young children.
We welcomed three new adult members by convincement, two junior members and two adults by transfer. Three members passed away. One Friend, noted for her own gifts and 13 generations of family Quaker history passed away in October. Another Friend passed away in February after Meeting approved but before it completed her transfer back to her family home in Maine. Our last founding member passed away in March. We also celebrated one birth. We reached out to support a Friend injured in a motorcycle accident. We witnessed, sometimes with round-the-clock hospital presence the remarkable recovery of another Friend who was struck and critically injured by a car and who, six months later has already returned to work. We offered spiritual and financial support for a longtime attender and large community presence at his immigration court hearing. We joyously unite with South Seattle Preparative Meeting’s move toward status as a Monthly Meeting and are forwarding their request to Quarterly Meeting. We are also holding a member in the Light as she clerks the FCNL General Committee. Many of our members also play active roles in the work of Quarterly and Yearly meetings, FWCC and other Friends’ bodies.
Friends have spoken often of hunger for deeper spiritual connections. We experience, again and again, times when we feel equal concern for one another, and equal appreciation for what others share with us.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
It's Nomination Season again and there seems to be a certain theme and variations resonance from last year.
This year, RantWoman learned she is not the only person who turned in a form and heard nothing or in RantWoman's case not quite but almost nothing until almost the point where the slate is first reported to Business Meeting. RantWoman is humble about ours being a big Meeting where we ask a lot of Nominating Committee. RantWoman has a long enough list of other peeves not to have time to stay peeved very long, and RantWoman has given herself permission to be present with her peevedness, as the next item on a list of MANY things to be present with.
In the course of a phone call before Business Meeting, it became very clear to RantWoman that, despite some process points previously tended to publicly in Business Meeting there are still substantive conversations to be had. In fact, the need is quite acute in spite of total lack of clarity about how and among whom to start. Such problems are definitely still flipping RantWoman out, on a nice more or less monthly schedule to boot, a dynamic which does not automatically facilitate either better centeredness or more timely clarity!
RantWoman notes today's blog roll
laboring together in love about difficult issues
about forgiveness and confession
RantWoman thinks she would like it if the Compost situation were in either of the zones above, but it's just not. In fact there are many rows to hoe and God only knows whether the compost thread is even headed there.
RantWoman has been trying to apply lessons from her conflict resolution exercises to certain complicated messy hairy multiply mutating conflicts in her life, basically to no avail. Perhaps no avail is an overstatement. RantWoman was sort of surprised when she sat down to apply her conflict resolution homework from her other class to the Compost melodrama at what came out first: a really, really, clearly formed insistent pastoral care message. RantWoman dumped this into Dear Friend's lap with a copy to the Friend providing adult supervision for email. Okay, it's a pastoral CARE message and sorry the details are NOT for the internet even though there are comments available...
Then came the call from a nice person from Nominating Committee, probably someone on the list to have more conversations with, but how? Testy email? Uh... The call did after awhile summon a nice mad at the world list which RantWoman was seasoning with satisfaction on the bus to Meeting. The mad at the world list got even clearer with an infusion of caffeine and RantWoman even poked it out in Braille so she would not forget if she decided actually to excoriate anyone. Then RantWoman sat down to the Adult Religious Ed session and was so enfolded in the energy of Friends' concern and engagement with the morning theme that the mad at the world list immediately mellowed!
The next step was two conversations almost in passing. RantWoman, upon reflecting but not necessarily with any foundation, HOPES the who of the conversations suggests that a certain really categorical message about pastoral care concerns got through.
And now RantWoman MUST do actual, non-Quaker WORK!
Monday, April 12, 2010
RantWoman suspects that if she thought about that point for a millisecond longer, she would get to a world on the edge of ecological collapse, desertification, global warming, and vast swaths of other problems traceable in some way to overconsumption, greed...
Who do we have to blame but ourselves? And how can we demand such time obligation of others?
On the other hand, RantWoman respectfully submits that anyone who does not have time to pray has not spent enough time aboard Metro. RantWoman has been trying to think of a kinder way to say this, but time to pray happens all the time for RantWoman:
--Get on a bus with Thwack the Badly-behaved white cane on the job. The handicapped section is cluttered with bags, baggage, mobility devices, immobile masses, and heaven knows what else. The space is already overflowing with some incipient crip fight turf war. It is a total dice roll whether or not one will find a seat before the driver zooms off. Time to Pray!
--Get on a bus on an unfamiliar route, even better if it's a once-an-hour bus to maximize the consequences of missing one's stop. Tell the driver which intersection one needs to get off at. Ask the driver specifically to announce that. "Where's that?" Time to pray!
--It's Sunday and the passenger loads are lighter. Unfortunately, this means the bus schedules run "hot," that is ahead of schedule. Time to pray if one is trying to catch the bus, or as another rider put it in terms of her general simplicity philosophy, "just tithe and pray."
--By the grace of God and really good bus legs, make it to a seat toward the back. This will save having one's feet walked on by everyone getting on and off the bus, but it will bring one still other passenger encounters, baby gangbangers, all youth and awkwardness and foul mouths, and awkwardness of word and action. What a perfect opportunity to practice world peace in the form of sensible and constructive adult presence! ? ! Time to pray!
Once in awhile RantWoman does rather forcefully seize time amid the hustle, bustle, clatter and weird smells to center, to be grateful, to think worshipful thoughts in the directions of multilingual family dramas going on live or by cellphone around her.
Alas, RantWoman cannot even leave the bus on the bus. One time at a retreat, another Friend meant to act out Meeting for Worship; RantWoman--and several other participants one by one joined the skit adding different bus-related visuals until the poor Friend trying to worship found herself on a bus trip she had never planned. RantWoman supposes one's faith journey is like that sometimes.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
RantWoman is not a lawyer in the first place and in the second place is unfamiliar with the statements of many current war resisters but is intrigued by frank discussion of the culture in the author's unit about sexual violence and the fact of this as a motivation for objecting to military service. Rantwoman is noting this here for future reference
Saturday, April 3, 2010
The item below does include reference to therapeutic touch, but if you would like a much more genteel corner of the blogosphere chock-full of information about that topic, RantWoman recommends:
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Redefine Sainthood
Queering Easter: By Susan Henking April 2, 2010 An order of queer nuns, founded in San Francisco thirty-one years ago, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is now a full-fledged pastoral and charitableorganization, having given away more than a million dollars. They've also raised pioneers in LGBT and AIDS/HIV rights to sainthood, creating their ownholy calendar. One of my favorite memories of gay and lesbian life was the one time I went to a Gay Pride march in San Francisco, now multiple decades ago. Among thememorable wonders was a small group who called themselves the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. On and off over the decades, I have thought of those dragnuns, roller skating along the Castro, throwing flowers into the crowd (and kisses) and hooting and hollering with the best of them. Years later, when I co-edited Que(e)rying Religion with Gary David Comstock, I really wanted to have a picture of those nuns on the cover. To me, theywere a vision of the complications of religion and sexuality. Turns out they are still out there, pushing us all to rethink what religion, nuns, charity,sexuality and fun might be — in fact, they are now an international phenomenon. They have, for some, redefined sainthood—and in the process redefined Easter. Months after Pope Benedict raised the Blessed Damien to sainthood, another figure linked to AIDS and HIV was "canonized" in San Francisco. As the Bay AreaReporter put it : “Where else but San Francisco could Irene Smith, a true pioneer in care for the ill and dying, be sainted by the Sisters of PerpetualIndulgence?” Who is Smith? Here’s what the Bay Area Reporter said: Smith, who conducts Everflowing educational programs that teach touch skills as an integral component of end of life care, is revered as one of the firstpeople to regularly massage those living with AIDS. She began her outreach in 1983, when she started going room to room offering her touch to patientson San Francisco General Hospital ’s Ward 5A (then the major AIDS ward in the city). Even before that, in April 1982, she approached the Hospice of SanFrancisco to propose what was then a novel service, massage for terminally ill hospice clients. For those who recall the early years of the AIDS/HIV pandemic, and the fear of touching accompanying the devastation, Smith’s focus on massage (and thustouch) was—and is—truly beneficent. In this season of Easter, even those of us who are secular (and I count myself among them) we might still ask: whatis sainthood anyway? Who exactly raised Irene Smith to sainthood? Who are the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence? We might ask, as well, is a secular Easterreally all that oxymoronic? Not only do the Sisters redefine sainthood, but they redefine Easter as well. This Easter, April 4, 2010, they will celebrate their 31st anniversary inDolores Park in San Francisco—with the traditional Hunky Jesus and Easter bonnet competitions. Founded in 1979, the order’s official history (aka “sistory”—see this site ) begins with their resistance to conformity within gay culture: On Easter Weekend, during the time of the “Castro Clone,” three men went out into the streets to challenge the world. They went in full, traditional habitsthrough the streets of our city and down to the nude beach. One even carried a machine gun and smoked a cigar. They were met with shock and amazement,but captured everyone’s interest. Their next appearance was at a softball game where their pompon routine all but stole the show and by the time the CastroStreet Fair had rolled around, they were ready to recruit more. In the fall of 1979, Sister Hysterectoria and Reverend Mother went to the first InternationalFaerie gathering and encountered even more men with the calling. Named the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1980, the group is much more than the gender bending, clone challenging threesome of its origin both in numbersand in intent. As many living in San Francisco know—or in the various locations around the globe to which the order has spread—the Sisters are a self-describedministerial, charitable and grant awarding organization. As they explain it , the Sisters are a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves tocommunityservice, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We belive [sic.]all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guiltthat chain the human spirit. [emphasis in original] Dancing (dare I say flirting) along the bleeding edge of outrageousness, the 70 or so Sisters, clad in elaborate makeup and habits of various sorts, are,on the one hand, a quite overt, very campy, send up of Roman Catholicism, read as mockery (and even blasphemy) by many. Perhaps, equally accurately, theSisters may be understood as the literalization of what (decades after the 1979 formation of the Sisters) Mark D. Jordan has written of as the near-definitivequeerness of the Roman Catholic Church. Combining drag with name choices that are often (as in the tradition of drag queens) quite explicitly sexual (SisterConstant Craving of the Holey Desire, Sister Chastity Boner and Sister Dinah Might [If You Ask Her Right]), political (e.g., Sister Ann R. Key) or quasi-theological(Sister Shelby Redeemed) both their outfits and their renamings nod toward (and parody) that Catholicism that renamed young women Sister Paul, marriedthem to Christ, and bent gender in a variety of other ways. Easter Bonnet contests, pub crawls and the Hunky Jesus event on Easter Sunday ritualize theparody—and remind viewers of what Michael Warner depicted (in his essay “Tongues Untied: Memoirs of a Pentecostal Boyhood”) as the homoeroticism of malepassion for Jesus. And yes, their attendance at Mass, and receiving of communion has been so controversial that in 2007 an archbishop—Archbishop Niederauer— apologized forserving several sisters communion. But beyond pointing to the centrality of gender and queerness in the Church’s historic and present homosociality, the Sisters accomplish much more. Theyraise funds for a whole raft of causes. And at least one of their means of fundraising is itself parodically Catholic: Bingo. Since their founding, theyhave given away over a million dollars, with recipients ranging from the American Cancer Society to the Gender Anarchy Project or Out4Immigration, fromthe Princess Diana Memorial Project to the Wisconsin Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. All this in the interest of their mission: double entendre-ingtheir way to a less guilty and more charitable world. Redefining what counts as Easter. And, of course, they do name saints. In addition to their December 2009 celebration of Irene Smith, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have canonizedsuch figures as Harry Hay , Armistead Maupin, Harvey Milk, and New Palz Mayor Jason West. (For a longer list, see here .) For many, their claims to doso are simply unacceptable—making fun of “The Church.” For others, they are wonderful in their rejection of the "The Church.” Perhaps more accurately,their wonder lies in their refusal of this either/or in favor of a new queer sensibility, a new queer spirituality, a new canon of hope and transformation,and a renewed notion of sainthood. Not to mention, a resurrection of fun across the decades of AIDs and HIV, across communities of color and poverty, oftrans and gay, of men and (though a tiny minority) women, an Easter bonnet contest redefining us all. For those in San Francisco, or all the other placesaround the globe where this movement has sprung up, Happy Easter
RantWoman used to have a co-worker, an Episcopalian, who refused to schedule meetings on Good Friday. He would explain "Jesus is dead and you expect me to WORK?" Quakerish calendar homogeneity aside, the sentiments seem in keeping with RantWoman's mental state, now being catalogued after the fact.
RantWoman is still digesting bits of her Compost melodrama. Today she is wondering what about the situation is still ferociously kicking at her reflexive allergy to others playing God, whether this allergy is just some weird form of spiritual asthma and oversensitivity. RantWoman would not mind further Light as to whether this is just some kind of colossal miscommunication, but every time prayers arise about it the answer is no. RantWoman has a deep sense still of some specifically personal things that need to be tried again at and community threads still getting woven as well.
RantWoman just received an emanation from Dear Friend quoting Gandhi and proclaiming conflict a gift from God. The fabulous surfeit already of conflicts in RantWoman's life on top of compost-themed ones puts RantWoman in mind of a wonderful elderly Russian friend whom RantWoman deeply admires for two reasons. First, he was as much of a religious CO about the lack of options connected with his military service as one could be in his homeland during wartime without doing the paperwork and getting to have an even rougher go of it. Second, he lived for a long time in a hard and difficult place he did not have to live except that he was in love with someone who had no choice about being there.
Russian friend would say sometimes that people are all about "Gospodi Blagoslovi," God Bless, when they really need "Gospodi pomilyi," God be Merciful. RantWoman is still having serious difficulty distinguishing between divine leading and someone playing God. RantWoman is perfectly happy to live with ambiguity about that as long as there is decent community discernment. RantWoman's meeting has been doing really well about generalized discernment during our Year of Discernment. In some individual situations, not so much; RantWoman is still meditating about her own screwups but RantWoman is also resoundingly clear about much not to regret. RantWoman is noting another new wrinkle and not being so patient with more discernment.
But back to Russian friend. If RantWoman weren't busy being allergic to anyone playing God, she might say "Enough already on the Blagoslovi thing" and toss a "Gospodi pomilyi" into the conversation. Either that, or RantWoman gets to invoke worldly and pedestrian phrases like "skill-building" and "capacity building" and muddle forward.
In the meantime, RantWoman would not want to be Pope. For instance that papal infallibility thing seems like a really tough act to maintain, no matter how much Divine assistance is involved. Considering that RantWoman is an uppity Quaker / Protestant WOMAN, personal experience with the mantle of papal infallibility is a problem she is unlikely to have in any case.
Come to think of it, RantWoman does not even think it sounds like fun to be the Pope's confessor. RantWoman thinks there are times when the Pope might really need good Quakerly eldering, it might still be way too easy to just be a "yes-man." Today's news is that the Holy Father is not having such a great week. Consider new waves of sex abuse scandal matters and whatever unfortunate comments antagonized a lot of rabbis during Passover and Holy Week.
RantWoman realized she knows at least two people for whom the latest sex abuse scandal tidings might be restimulating; RantWoman has conversational basis to maybe float topical inquiries in one case. In the other, RantWoman has two independent streams of information suggesting the strong possibility but not really any basis for bringing it up. RantWoman knows she is supposed to use more florid Quakerese, but maybe "shut up and pray" will have to be adequate in terms of those in RantWoman's acquaintance, especially since they are not Quakers.
RantWoman had a related conversation about cycles of abuse and realized that RantWoman would really, really like it if the Pope would stop hiding his head in the sand and express even the mildest capacity to speak to that problem, much to be prayed for at least. Meanwhile RantWoman will again return to tending her own moral waste heap, trying, at least some of the time, for some other model of conflict dynamics than tit for tat.
RantWoman is seasoning thoughts about Passover. RantWoman remembers for the first time really thinking about Jewish history when the Baptist church of her youth celebrated a seder. Okay, they celebrated but then Sunday School was all about how Christians were beyond all that dietary laws stuff.
RantWoman had observant college housemates whose supplies of stale whole wheat matzo went really well a time or two with PB&J for lunch. RantWoman has it on pretty reliable authority from a couple directions that peanut butter is not really kosher, or at least not in some traditions. That lovely cardboard flavor of whole wheat matzo still always makes RantWoman think of her even more impetuous youth though.
Anyway, this year's topical message is about the miracle of parting the Red Sea being followed still by a long spell of wandering in the desert; RantWoman thinks if the Jews had followed some of the message RantWoman has been encountering about "submit, submit," they never would have gotten their act together to be in the way of the parting of the sea. Wandering in the desert works great as a metaphor for a lot of things.
For peculiar reasons though this seems like not the right year for one of RantWoman's cracks: "when Baptists celebrate Passover, there's a crucifixion involved." That would be one way of phrasing the truth of RantWoman's experience, but RantWoman strives to keep the proportion of people she says this to who laugh hard at least equal to the number who choke on their tea and this year things may still be running a little ragged.
RantWoman admits to being quite peeved that it took Dear Friend 3 days to send the above-mentioned conflict document by email, particularly since one of his excuses was multiple seders. RantWoman realizes that, in terms of many Quaker timelines, three days is lightning speed, but RantWoman's brain bounced back to some emails from last year where RantWoman was needing to set very firm boundaries about others' (guess who?) efforts to assume management of her time and it seemed to RantWoman appoint himself custodian of her spiritual life and decided just to go with the peevishness.
In case her readers cannot tell, RantWoman sometimes quite resents all her vision issues. Having to wait three days for something that others got on the spot is one of those little thoughtless things that can make RantWoman feel really marginalized. RantWoman discovered along the way that of course others in her Meeting are not all that much more suave than Dear Friend. RantWoman of late has been requesting that things like Business Meeting handouts be emailed prior to Business Meeting. If RantWoman says all she can do is ask, her readers may use their imaginations; RantWoman has also become a lot more frank and even hard-nosed about just asking.
RantWoman notes this on top of a ferocious sense last year of needing to talk about her spiritual life with others, specifically more people than one person, coincidentally a Friend who was also having his own intractable life difficulties, maybe not at his best on many grounds because of that, and maybe not making full use of his Meeting's pastoral care resources.
RantWoman tried to tend to her need for spiritual conversations and diverse reading digesters by signing up for spiritual sharing but that did not happen. Then along comes Dear Friend, being rude about RantWoman's time and insistant on scheduling things RantWoman needed to put in queue. Next there would be demanding that RantWoman talk about things she already had not felt listened to for a long time about and not even getting until months later that his messages were not getting through. RantWoman by this time is getting desparate: reading is such a chore that RantWoman really relies on good discussions to help her digest multiple perspectives.
By good discussions, RantWoman means many voices. But again there is Dear Friend, jumpingup and down on another long dormant set of nerves RantWoman could barely even articulate and getting in the way of a very important way for RantWoman to participate in her community life. In other words, still more ways for RantWoman to feel marginalized and even elbowed out of very, very important conversations. Among that number some conversations that seem to RantWoman as if they may have become clear to Dear Friend but not necessarily engaged with, let alone been embraced by others.
Here, RantWoman is also still struck by how hard it has been to find the right people to have the conversations she needs to have. This is NOT, of course a problem it is reasonable to expect, say, Dear Friend to solve, and for now RantWoman is just taking note of many ways for things to be hard.
RantWoman has for a number of reasons not felt clear yet to spell out in her blog numbers of other points where things got bungled by RantWoman and by several others. RantWoman is also quite humble about not really intending just to help catalogue a large number of ways for things to go awry. In fact, the accumulated mountain of screwups is so high that at a certain point RantWoman decided she could not possibly interact about every problem going on and would just have to sit with her own spiritual mudpots and hope that God and other Friends got things closer to in order regardless of RantWoman's specific efforts.
RantWoman out of some kind of perversity helped write her Meeting's State of Society report his year; after the report is approved by Business Meeting, RantWoman may post and will allow her readers to draw their own conclusions.
RantWoman is collecting comments she may or may not get further reflection done about:
A good teacher's students better be able to grow up and argue with the teacher; a good teacher must be open to such argumentation.
Frame of reference matters:
RantWoman has previously posted about once when Dear Friend was being an interpreter and got loudly and publicly corrected for a small mistake with a difficult construction.
What RantWoman did not think to say in her earlier post: meaning no disrespect to many of Dear Friend's gifts, that sort of public correction has happened to RantWoman. RantWoman thinks it comes with the interpreter business and that if one does not grow some kind of a thick skin about such, one will just not have a very good time as an interpreter. For now, RantWoman will leave to her readers to make the leap to what in heck the public face aspects of a conflict might have to do with RantWoman's compost melodrama.
Finally, RantWoman is reading the queries in her Meeting's weekly bulletin. These are selected on a pretty particular cycle from our Faith and Practice. RantWoman supposes she can at some point formulate an opinion about this practice, but the queries are more than enough for today.
From Faith and Practice of North Pacific Yearly Meeting, printed in my Meeting's weekly announcements:
Are we prepared to let go of our individual desires and let the Holy Spirit lead us to unity? Are we charitable with each other? How careful are we of the reputation of others? Do we avoid hurtful criticism and gossip?
--Unity Schmunity: coming to unity is only required a small percentage of the time. COMmunity means a lot of conflict and diversity on the way to unity. If Quakers do not practice dealing with conflicts among ourselves, how the heck do we propose to deal with conflicts involving others.
--Reputation: RantWoman's Meeting is the mothership for half the Monthly Meetings in her Yearly Meeting. RantWoman thinks that she might wish that there would be only tidings of profoundly centered worship and miraculous unity after spirit-led threshing in Business Meeting. RantWoman thinks it is FINE to show struggles and people learning to do things that are challenging, that no one is born knowing. RantWoman will graciously note comments to the effect that RantWoman should not quit her current day job and go into PR.
--Hurtful Gossip and criticism: RantWoman again points out that for all of what is in her blog, there is A LOT which is not. RantWoman is wondering whether the blog would be more comprehensible if there were more detail. RantWoman on this score suggests her readers just turn on their favorite soap opera /telenovela, likely to have better scriptwriting.
RantWoman is stunned to have run multiple searches and not discovered anything on either of her blogs about the highly multilingual Flogging Bureau she and some of the interpreters she hangs with on the interwebs keep threatening to organize. RantWoman had to stop and remedy this:
RantWoman thinks that, while she expects this also to be a multifaith endeavor, she will have to comment specifically in Quaker terms about the Quaker version: The Association of Bad Friends has an Alternatives to Nonviolence Committee. In RantWoman's Meeting, when Friends think there are too many committees, a subcommittee is created instead. RantWoman thinks there is call for a Flogging Bureau subcommittee, but RantWoman is unclear whether to call it "Consent is Overrated / Friends By CONVINCEMENT" or just the "Flogging a Dead Horse Bureau of Mutant Miscommunications."
Resurrection arrives none too soon.