Saturday, November 27, 2010

Keeping the "Y"

Memorializing our loved ones who have passed on is part of our gratitude for their lives and continued presence among us. This is what the worship-sharing group RantWoman was called to at our Meeting's workshop on Death and Dying wanted the large closing worship to hold.

RantWoman would especially note that those being memorialized are not a one, known to anyone else in Meeting except their loved ones who came to RantWoman's worship sharing. RantWoman has no freaking idea what that memorializing is supposed to look like specifically in her Meeting. RantWoman is simply going to start with Blind Roommate and in passing, since Blind Roommate went and got run over by a bus on the late Rant Father's birthday the RantFather as well.

RantWoman, who seems really a lot of the time to experience God deeply in interactions among people, with human strivings as measure of Spirit is finding herself led in unpredictable directions about the topic.

First, Blind Roommate at the time of her death was a PhD candidate at Rutgers with a fellowship in gay studies. If RantWoman had wanted to get an early start on her annual spell of reflection on Blind Roommate, bus accidents, and other interweaving threads of life, certain events at Rutgers the beginning of the school year would have been plenty of reason.

RantWoman thinks Blind Roommate would probably find sex advice columnist Dan Savage as obnoxious as RantWoman sometimes does. However, in lieu of total funk and in solidarity with people young, gay, blind, RantWoman here presents the It Gets Better Project. not particularly crash-tested for accessibility issues and Blind LGBT Pride International

RantWoman expects both resources have gender balance issues but recommends starting there anyway. RantWoman also recommends that readers who want to come pick up some resources and not meander among RantWoman's peculiar reminiscences might at this point want to click back to other social networking or weightier Quaker options.

For some reason the following item also called Blind Roommate to mind. Aliens vs Predators defense of immigrants in public schools

Blind Roommate was a graduate of NJ public schools. Her father was an immigrant from Turkey. RantWoman thinks based on some of Blind Roommate's other views about oppressions, racism, sexism that she would likely be all over the issue of immigrant children in public schools. If not, RantWoman still thinks the nonviolent activism angle is highly topical.

Blind Roommate's first name is Sara. For eccentric reasonsRantWoman will probably keep using a pseudonym. Despite Blind Roommate's death predating the arrival of the worldwide web by several years, RantWoman was led to put Blind Roommate's full name into the search engine of her choice and was touched actually at what turned up, an obituary on her HS alumni site with college Princeton references and a tender comment from Blind Roommate's sister whom RantWoman remembers as very different from Sara.

Sara loved singing in the Princeton Glee club and went to way more Princeton sporting events than one would predict from her evolving politics. She had amazing mobility skills and other skills of blindness, but she hated trying to get around the parts of campus covered quaintly in cobblestone with her white cane, especially in the snow. Sara's work study job was at the Women's Center. RantWoman remembers helping with research assistance about the red hot question of whether or not to have a pro-life task force there. Uhhhh...? RantWoman also remembers the director of the Women's Center telling Sara once to "get some guys" from our co-op house to help move a television for some event. RantWoman knows exactly why Sara asked RantWoman and a male housemate now turned famous astronomer. RantWoman did not even complain very loudly: RantWoman is noticeably taller than Famous Astronomer and weight distribution in RantWoman's experience almost never works well when two people of different heights try to move something together.

Next RantWoman decided to subject a few topics near and dear to Blind Roommate to the search engine of choice:

Womyn's Braille press

RantWoman supposes she just gets to be present with general crabbiness about various subpopulations such as Quakers and Gay / Lesbian / Feminist readers having to be very intentional about access others take for granted to books in forms accessible to blind people. Oh boy is RantWoman present with this, but RantWoman is also nostalgic.

Blind Roommate was a very big supporter of Womyn's Braille Press. In fact, at one point the press was going to change its name and drop the y. RantWoman happened to be passing through Princeton the summer this was being discussed. RantWoman and Blind Roommate spent a whole afternoon in the reference section of Princeton's Firestone library playing amateur historical linguists. Blind Roommate made a whole bunch of notes from what RantWoman read and sent them off: the press kept the y. Unfortunately, the Press folded a few years later for economic reasons, but RantWoman is grateful to read that materials can still be requested via the National Library Service of the Library of Congress through interlibrary loan.

References to Womyn's Braille Press showed up in two other channels with interesting content even though RantWoman is in no position to comment about accessibility issues for other interesting content from these sources.


Women in Print

RantWoman is unclear why this item got noted here but is leaving it anyway: History of National Braille Press

One example of Sara's political passions:
The Women's Pentagon Action Unity Statement, served up with links about counterterrorism and global security which RantWoman peculiarly imagines have in mind something different from the content of the WPA statement
Also, that great standby, the War Resisters' League

Singing was a huge passion for Sara and she had a wonderful alto voice. She favored a lot of folk music including Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs and others. One of Sara's claims to fame was that she was the only or at least the first woman ever to win the Bob Dylan sound-alike contest a a club in NY called Folk City. Like the Womyn's Braille Press, Folk City lives on only in history: Gerde's folk city

RantWoman has no idea what Sara would have thought of Bob Dylan's spiritual evolutions. RantWoman herself remains colossally ignorant of "later Dylan" and is not feeling particularly led to remedy this gap. Instead RantWoman wants to mix in Edith Piaf!

Sara visited the RantFamily one Christmas; MT sounded much better to Sara than family issues in NJ. Sara and RantWoman did the Great Bowling Alleys of North Dakota cross-country road trip aboard Greyhound. Sara had been reading Abbie Hoffman's Steal this Book and was virulently allergic to paying to use the restroom. RantWoman is going to leave to her readers' imaginations the plethora of strategies Sara devised to avoid the need to do so. When at last we arrived, warmed up, washed away 3 days worth of bus grime, Sara and RantDad immediately connected about music. Sara always treasured an Edith Piaf album RantDad gave her before we headed back to college, and when RantWoman needs to describe Sara's voice, somewhere between Edith Piaf and Bob Dylan is what comes out.

The other memorable Sara and RantDad moment was a couple years after the Christmas visit. Sara and another classmate, Leo hitchhiked from NJ to ID to attend the Rainbow Gathering,

RantWoman pleaded work or insufficient zeal for that particular form of be-in or RantWoman is really not sure what. For one thing Hitchhiking did NOT sound like fun to RantWoman. RantWoman did volunteer the RantParents' front yard if the hitchhikers needed a place to camp and their travel arrangements aligned with the right interstate. When the travellers reached MT, their transportation settled on the northern route., by passing the RantParents. Sara called the RantParents to say thanks but no thanks. Sara's quote about the conversation "your father gave me such a lecture about hitchhiking that it kept me awake all the way across MT and that is a LONG time."

On that note, RantWoman will close for now. RantWoman is sifting through her firehose delivery of memorial minutia meditating about more focussed memorializing. RantWoman also needs to follow up on one moreexcursion to the search engine of her choice, but this posting is convoluted enough that for now RantWoman is just going to STOP and keep remembering.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ahead Dork Factor Green

RantWoman is striving to weave gratitude--APPROPRIATELY--into Thanksgiving reflections.

Take Conflict is a Gift of God Friend's current need, due to retinas gone wacky, to go about with one dark green lens and one clear one in his glasses. For starters, RantWoman gets to be grateful that she has never had to endure that exact measure, though the eye patch she was supposed to wear for lazy eye after on operation comes close.

Conflict is a Gift of God Friend says actually wearing such glasses is keeping whatever is going wrong with his retinal recovery from getting any worse. However, Conflict is a Gift of God Friend is seriously put out--to the point of resisting being photographed--by the visual dork factor of it all. RantWoman is thinking, Friend, does thee think God loves you any less because of this? God of course is not necessarily the point though the following item is somehow a topical digression:

RantWoman was also thinking of making a point of photographing RantMom several different ways at the end of RantMom's last chemo. RantMom had one passable wig, one really awful wig, a number of turbans and scarves, and a time or two just her bare head with only a little fuzz coming back. RantWoman found RantMom beautiful no matter what was on her head. Well, RantWoman did not recommend overdoing the really awful wig and generally was very glad this phase of headgear was TEMPORARY. RantWoman deeply hopes for similar transitoriness for Conflict is a Gift of God Friend's green eyeglasses and thinks that photos as tracks in time should sometimes be borne in spite of vanity.

Conflict is a Gift of God Friend evoked entertaining remembrance of Founder of Entire State Program Blind Friend who went about with her glasses the same way at some point in the arc of her vision decay. Conflict Is a Gift of God Friend complained that he had once printed the Meeting newsletter in his best stab at large print format for the late Blind Friend but that she was never pleased.

RantWoman does not know how to break it to Conflict Is a Gift of God Friend, but the right way to do large print is what will work for the person who needs large print--and sometimes the fact that large print will not work is the POINT. RantWoman does not recall whether Conflict is a Gift of God Friend mentioned even asking Blind Friend about her preferences. Some people can read print of 14 or 16 point; others will need 24 or 28 point. Some people will be fine with large print spread across extra large paper. Others would much rather have their large print in compact columns that they can skim in whatever constrained visual field they might have. RantWoman can guess at any number of things that might have gone wrong.

Well, RantWoman can easily make many guesses, but since conversation is bumpy anyway, RantWoman instead sent the following link off to Conflict is a Gift of God Friend.

RantWoman also refrained from recounting an anecdote she encountered recently, possibly over at Our Daily Bread. A man was in his house when a flood arose. The waters came up to his first floor and someone came by in a canoe offering to carry him to safety. The man said, "No thanks." He was waiting on God. The flood waters rose to the second floor. Another canoe appeared. Again the man said no thanks, he was waiting on God. The waters rose some more so that the man was clinging to his roof. Along came a helicopter, but again the man said no thanks because he was waiting on God. Finally God spoke out of the storm and said something along the lines of Friend, I have sent three different ways out of there. What are you waiting for?"

RantWoman is finding herself grateful recently to have connected specifically about visual issues with two people in her Meeting who have blind relatives: RantWoman finds these Friends experiences especially credible, like she can probably rely on these Friends to tell her when she is doing something too dorkily or out of the realm of acceptable.RantWoman is unclear why these two Friends' experiences carry more weight than those of some others in her Meeting whom RantWoman knows to be dealing with vision challenges. RantWoman has decided not even to probe the whys of this and for the time being to shut up and be grateful.

Then there would be the holiday buffet line. RantWoman can darn sure tell anyone who asks that she is grateful to manage the buffet line on her own--mostly. Some in RantWoman's orbit are more attuned than others to the why of RantWoman asking what is in this or that bowl than others. This time around RantWoman was grateful simply to find the serving utensils--and even better the right end of the utensils. RantWoman does admit, she likely missed out on some salad and green vegetables because of not asking what the green things before her were. RantWoman will worry more about greenery at other seasons!

RantWoman would also note, she emphatically is NOT tethered to RantMom. RantMom only very occasionally exhibits signs that she finds RantWoman's vision issues a little disconcerting. For instance RantWoman is grateful that when RantMom came to lunch recently at RantWoman's., RantMom managed to watch the entire prep from a safe distance and only comment when asked, did RantMom remember where RantWoman had put some kitchen item or other. RantMom did. She said so and let RantWoman take it from there. THANKS MOM.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Gift of Prophesy: Worship as Soap Opera

In case y'all have not noticed, this "love one another stuff" is not automatic. Blame RantWoman's current attack of frankness about the matter on the unholy interaction of Seattle and snow. RantWoman feels blessed to be warm and dry with a stable internet connection and more groceries than she can eat. Still, a meeting where RantWoman was going to get to season some of what was on her mind got cancelled and RantWoman's inner volcano is in its usual agitated state. This may or may not bode well for spiritual coherence, but let us begin where we are.

RantWoman's Sunday tending of her spiritual life included lively discussion catalyzed by Unconditional Love Friend during Adult Education. If RantWoman had been more attentive she might have an author to attach to Unconditional Love Friend's line of thinking. RantWoman instead latched onto energetic comments from Righteous Anger Friend.

Righteous Anger Friend is Friend in the process of Being Convinced. This means he often has great and provocative questions. Plus he came to the west coast from New Jersey so RantWoman finds him somehow easy to relate to. Plus RantWoman definitely hopes to still be banging away at big questions as energetically as Righteous Anger Friend does by the time she gets to be his age. This week Righteous Anger Friend was exercised about something he had read in the New York Times of Mormons' treatment of native American children.

Careful, thought RantWoman, them's mah peeps you talking about. Well, them's a lot of RantMom's Mormon cousins. RantWoman actually has no basis for any opinion about her distant relatives' views. Also, RantWoman figures Mormons probably do NOT have a monopoly on ill-treatment of Native Americans, but the clock ran out on Adult Ed before that thread went anywhere.

Righteous Anger Friend demurred seriously about unconditional love in this situation. Friends spoke of Rufus Jones' party meeting with Nazis in the 1930's and immediately settling into worship after the meeting. RantWoman remembers reading also of an early Quaker speaking to that of God in Oliver Cromwell. RantWoman is doing well to stay centered in connection with Meeting for Worship.

The star of RantWoman's current ruminations: Eye Roller Friend. Eye Roller Friend currently has a very badly seasoned gift of prophesy: the second almost any Friend rises to speak during Meeting for worship, Eye Roller Friend begins to clear his throat, fidget, and roll his eyes so loudly that a legally blind RantWoman can detect it from across the room.

RantWoman admits she SOMETIMES finds this gift helpful in summoning attention to an impending message. RantWoman considerably more frequently has the same experience lots of other Friends have: Friend, how on earth is it that you know the message will distress you even before a word is uttered? Friend, could you possibly be any ruder if you tried? Friend, could thee please, pretty please pray to whatever you call the Divine for concise words to substitute for the out-of-control behaviors and name your distress, preferably AFTER others have delivered of their messages? RantWoman knows that when you and the Divine get actual words lined up, there is much interesting seeking, much to be esteemed, but your other out-of-control behaviors are blowing away all of that. We value your presence; we are decidedly do NOT unite with your behavior and we grow tired after years of laboring with you about it!

Okay, RantWoman gets to be true to the Light she is given: some Friends DO tend to receive the same message repeatedly with only slight variations. RantWoman, speaking only for herself finds her reaction to this phenomenon highly variable. For instance, RantWoman forgives one of Meeting's gardener Friends of this sin on a regular basis.

RantWoman occasionally feels fed by messages from this Friend, and greatly esteems this Friend for other reasons. What makes RantWoman able to forgive really a lot, though, is the way Gardener Friend speaks of RantWoman's own occasional messages: Gardener Friend regularly complains that she has trouble hearing RantWoman but that she usually likes and really wants to hear RantWoman's messages. RantWoman is so humbled by these words that she takes in all such comments and summons every whisper of elocution practice she has ever encountered AND refrains from grumbling about worship room acoustics and all the Friends among us dealing with hearing loss.

RantWoman is also meditating about a conversation she had in the Feminazi Bitch subdialect with one Friend about repetitiveness in another's ministry. RantWoman notes that the most recent occasion when the latter Friend offered spoken ministry, there was substantial to RantWoman's ear improvement. RantWoman historically has found rather a lot of said Friend and rather less of God in that Friend's messages. RantWoman found herself grateful both for the Feminazi Bitch to Quakerese translation that finally came to her and for the appearance in that Friend's message at last of elements where, what could be predicted based on past messages notwithstanding, RantWoman could hear the workings of God. In other words, despite intermittent quest for concepts such as prophetic vision, too much prophesy in Meeting for Worship can be, well, too much of a good thing.

This week's attack of Eye Roller Friend prophesy was followed by another message of the form "Who am I to judge?" from Friend who not long ago spoke of logs and specks in people's eyes. This time Who Am I To Judge Friend spoke of feeling judged from many directions. She did not specify which--besides Eye Roller Friend's anticipatory rumblings. Her Bible passages were of the adulteress and "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Who Am I to Judge Friend noted that in the story all the would-be stoners dissipated but there was no mention of forgiveness. To RantWoman's ear that indicates that SOMEONE is judging, though RantWoman supposes one can go find other passages for apologizing before God.

RantWoman does not remember other spells of Eye Roller Friend prophesy THIS time. Still, RantWoman is seasoning how more clearly to invite Eye Roller Friend into the community dialogue with the Divine that is well-covered worship. RantWoman is not doing so well about suggested role models. Consider:

Seriously Weighty Friend, deceased a few years. Seriously Weighty Friend said sometimes in worship her mind was "like a hummingbird on a holiday" even though seriously weighty things regularly emerged from such holidays.

RantWoman, aka the clerk of the Committee on Doing Sudoku in Meeting for Worship Committee over at the Association of Bad Friends. Enough said?

Then there would be Scoreboard Friend. Scoreboard Friend has confessed to RantWoman that he and a long deceased companion used, after worship, to rate messages as if there were a giant stadium scoreboard. RantWoman has not ascertained whether the scoreboard was one of those Home / Away displays or whether the effect was more like Olympic skating where there are marks both for technical execution and artistry. RantWoman here imagines phrasing such as "Friend, thee was favored, thee was faithful--and WE COULD HEAR YOU." Alas, RantWoman will not be proposing installation of any such anytime soon.

Scoreboard Friend also happens to be Conflict is a Gift from God Friend, only one of several weighty Friends who complain loudly of Eye Roller Friend and cluck of feeling judged in private but who cannot find it in themselves to speak to Eye Roller Friend themselves! RantWoman is seasoning a leading about such Friends. These Friends are well-spoken a good deal of the time. They are weighty presences in our community. And they cannot summon enough centeredness, unconditional love and reverence for that of God in Eye Roller Friend or focus in discerning what Eye Roller Friend's ministry is trying to teach to go speak to him their own darn selves! RantWoman is seasoning leadings about a whole list of people to whom she might make suggestions along this line. Perhaps it is just as well that the RantWoman School of Tact and Diplomacy will be subject to more shared discernment first.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Faith and Spiritual Struggle Amalgamated

RantWoman is celebrating another round of doing battle with Barclay's Apology in a most eccentric way: RantWoman is collecting several seemingly quite disparate links full of language about different moments of faith, spiritual life, life as the early Christians lived, Anabaptists and Lutherans apologizing for maltreatment of Anabaptists, and spiritual struggle. If RantWoman gets especially organized she will try to lay out some stepping stones among this exercise in free association. RantWoman does NOT promise to be that organized.

The (little-known) Mennonite Menace as reported in Sojourners

Really excellent invective from the American Spectator with even better invective in the comments. Note 1. Guys outnumber women by about 10 to 1 in the comments and the dialogue style reflects this. However, the dialogue style is also refreshing for anyone who manages "love one another" a little more smoothly when it occasionally comes with preposterous verbal broadsides. Note 2: RantWoman means to check out a couple interesting sounding links in the comments. Note 3: Time was, RantWoman used to have to totter off to the library and drag actual issues of the American Spectator off the shelves with the rest of her very heterodox Saturday night reading list. RantWoman is VERY grateful to get excerpts delivered live to her very own desktop with only an electronic click.

From FOR on spirituality, religion, faith

A meeting of historic peace churches in Latin America

And now for spiritual work from a Pagan perspective.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Local, Unresolved

Memorializing our loved ones who have passed on is part of our gratitude for their lives and continued presence among us. This is what the worship-sharing group RantWoman was called to at our Meeting's workshop on Death and Dying wanted the large closing worship to hold. RantWoman was very grateful to be able to help with that, but getting there had some, um, zigs and zags.

RantWoman is also trying to figure out how much space she needs in her Meeting to memorialize loved ones no one in her Meeting has ever met. RantWoman is tender as an anniversary draws out moments of affection for someone from Meeting that RantWoman never knew. RantWoman is separately working on a post weaving the life of Blind Roommate into several important strands of history and current RantWoman fixation. For now RantWoman gets to be tender with the topic's importance to herself and to let its importance to others work itself out or not in the fullness of time. Meanwhile...,

No, No, No, God, No! RantWoman actually did NOT necessarily want to lead a session at the Death and Dying Workshop. RantWoman wanted there to be space explicitly in the text of the announcement and the program to acknowledge that death sometimes comes in sudden and traumatic ways and that our loved ones sometimes linger especially close at anniversaries or other moments. RantWoman was willing to put her name on this thought but definitely not attached to being the one to do so .

The first draft of the program attached RantWoman's name to "unresolved grief," which RantWoman really, really did not want to promise anything meaninful about. In fact, RantWoman really wanted one of the other presenting Friends, perhaps someone with actual counseling credentials to highlight her sudden death and anniversaries concerns in a session title.

After words about the announcement and more words after the first draft of the program in email, RantWoman had felt more strongly led to restate the item in the program. RantWoman is going to have to inquire carefully why her point about possible help was missed; a different topic had also formed: The members of Oversight committee who planned to attend wanted to attend sessions, not for instance to lead something on planning memorials at our Meeting. RantWoman, being sometimes a fidgety, socially awkward, not to mention twitchy, idiosyncratically reflective and irreverent sort, thought perhaps it would be helpful to do something alliterative about Managing Memorial minutia and What to feed the Mourning Masses, but Unresolved Grief is still what wound up in the program.

Apparently Unresolved Grief had more traction that RantWoman anticipated. Two Friends besides RantWoman showed up. Everyone shared the moments of sudden death, our anniversary months, and the absence / presences that brought us together. Words flowed back and forth of each person's individual concerns. RantWoman feels VERY tender to have gotten to know newcomers to her Meeting in dramatic new dimensions. Still, God / Goddess / some Divine presence bigger than Rantwoman alone is just going to have to help RantWoman tend the revelations she received and the walking with these Friends!

RantWoman's sense of being rightly led solidified as a need to move large muscles and bang things found form during event cleanup. RantWoman also declined two different rides home. RantWoman walked out of Meeting into much more cold than usual and immediately got a bus, a local well-heated to hold RantWoman in extra moments of blessed warmth while RantWoman discerned whether or not to attempt yet another meeting. The answer turned out to be No, according to RantWoman's rule about choosing sometimes among destinations based on which bus arrives first. Blessed!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


One of the tasks not specifically described in the committee job description for Worship and Ministry committee members is from time to time as needed to give a good accounting of Quaker practices to for instance eager young college students doing homework for their Christian Formation class. Some of RantWoman's readers may be forgiven for the catty observation that the thought of RantWoman doing this could be sort of frightening. RantWoman takes seriously being entrusted with this duty; she and God are also still working things out, in both the Readers' Digest /elevator speech increments and in more conceptually dense theological elaborations:

RantWoman has, um, flubbeed a proper account of herself--Twice. The first time was in Russian which either is worse or worth extra credit, depending.

RantWoman occasionally interprets for a multilingual community who were at one point so badly mistreated by the entity administering their low-income housing community that they sued and won funding for interpreters to help them talk to one another. Many of them are Baptists. Russian-speaking Baptists are more sincere and New Testament than the American Baptists of RantWoman's teenage years. RantWoman is nearly always deeply humbled when she works with the group. The people rantWoman interprets for are of quite modest means and are always concerned for those worse off than they. RantWoman's heart is always deeply fed which helps with the sense that God is also probably handling the life issues fret list that sometimes forms in RantWoman's mind on her clients' behalf.

The group works with a Romanian interpreter who also speaks Russian. The last time we were together she was quizzing RantWoman about baptism. Uhhhh. RantWoman hopes she explained a little about Rev. RantGrandfather and getting baptized as an infant without any choice about the matter.

RantWoman has been thinking about the suppositions behind the practice of baptizing infants as she and a valiant flock of readers slog through Barclay's apology and the radical for the time thought of God reborn within everyone without need to get original sin washed off to get into heaven: lots of cultures have rituals welcoming new babies. If one lives in a time or a society where there is lots of legitimate fear about a child not surviving until an age when the child can make a choice on his or her own, infant baptism serves the dual function of welcoming the child and seeking Divine protection. Baptism is perhaps the least peculiar of several family gifts that RantWoman has come to accept as a starting point with a muddle of hopelessly well-intentioned parental making things up as they went along.

As a result of that baptism though, the Baptists of RantWoman's youth decided that somehow the gift of RantGrandfather's ministrations would wash off if they made the Rant Family get dunked to join the church and we happily remained what one of the pastors called "dry-cleaned Baptists." In Russian, RantWoman left out the part about the dry cleaning as well as her visceral rebellion against the customary phrasing used for the customary immersions, "buried with him in Baptism and risen to walk in newness of life." RantWoman supposes she should check up on the baptisms both of John the Baptist and whatever happened to Jesus. RantWoman just never heard or read of Christ and any larger volume of water than footwashing and was quite intemperate in her discomfort with mangled metaphors. To say the least though, RantWoman needs to brush up both on her Quakerism and her modern Russian theology vocabulary. Stay tuned.

The second flub was last week when it fell to RantWoman as a member of Worship and Ministry to answer questions from a contingent of students from one of the local universities doing their assignments for Christian Formation by attending silent worship at 9:30 worship. Here is what RantWoman wrote in email about details of students and RantWoman connecting with each other.

Traditional Quaker worship is about waiting in silence on movements of the Holy Spirit. Among people who regularly worship at 9:30. the HolySpirit tends to take many weeks or months between vocal ministry,spoken messages but this is unpredictable.

This week, our 9:30 Adult Religious Education is actually people talking about their experiences of silent worship, how they prepare or center, experiences during the silence, leadings to speak, the effects of others' messages. I think either silent worship or a discussion centered on the thought that we are all ministers of God would be good ways to learn about Quaker
worship, but it is up to you what will speak best to your interests and the terms of your assignment.

RantWoman guessed from a line of shapes in a part of the worship room not usually populated during 9:30 worship that the students had chosen worship. The Holy Spirit showed up in worship--TWICE. The first time was a newcomer offering a memorial for someone for the sort of odor enhanced challenging presence whom many Friends undoubtedly wish God would lead to bathe. The memorial called him a teacher and did not offer further commentary on matters of God and bathing. A good while later came a message about God loving everyone in their own way and undoubtedly loving the Unwashed Teacher just as the visiting speaker unquestionably did.

A message began teasing around the edge of RantWoman's mind about recent ministry offered by Friend Poet during Adult Education: there had been discussion in small clumps of queries something to do with feeling the presence of God among other people. Two Friends in RantWoman's small group offered thoughts related to their station and education and presence in specific communities. RantWoman does not remember what Friend Poet said in the small group but was entranced with what he said when Friends were asked to reflect thoughts back to the larger group.

Friend Poet is among the vast fellowship, people of every station who make all their fashion choices at Value Village and Friend Poet spoke of feeling the presence of God in whatever other people had worn and handled his clothes before they came to him at Value Village. RantWoman suspects that several of those assembled just brushed this off as more randomness from Friend Poet, but this specifically spoke to RantWoman's flair for the physical. Worship closed before all of these thoughts settled into spoken words and RantWoman had to attend to finding the students and answering their questions.

Turns out, a big part of the assignment was to learn Friends' views about baptism and communion. RantWoman was blessed to recall some blog entries about silent worship as communion, what someone RantWoman knows refers to as direct relationship with the living body of Christ.

RantWoman found speaking of baptism a lot harder. To make matters worse, RantWoman was seized by an uncharacteristic attack of more or less proper comportment and somehow neglected to mention either boy baby fountains or the accidental convention in her Meeting of dishwashing as baptism, especially for newcomers.

RantWoman found it difficult to say more than "we don't do that here." RantWoman notes that she did not register any comments her companion from Worship and Ministry either. Rantwoman hopes the students can find some of what they need for their assignment other ways and is still seasoning a leading about emailing a link to this blog post. Did RantWoman go read up on baptism at or wikipedia? She did NOT but she did poke among selected blogs in her bookmarks, to idiosyncratic effect:

Vegan chocolate cake: reference in passing to a baptism in the family and comments about faith along with the cake recipe.

Julia Ward Howe in connection on baptism of water or tears and mothers' day.

RantWoman's thoughts wandered to a message she heard once in worship, a wonderfully grounded and alive message in spite of the blood sacrifice imagery that started it off, about "washed in the blood of the Lamb," blood sacrifice coexisting in the part of RantWoman's brain that also stores slogans related to war as menstrual envy. RantWoman suspects that if she went down this path early in conversations with impressionable youth, she might be eldered severely. RantWoman is to be true to the Light she is given, but RantWoman does get to insist that the Light be pretty tightened before she actually speaks.

Two items from

The ambiguity of Jesus, John the Baptist and Epiphany / Baptism puts RantWoman in mind of a question she once read on a Russian > English translators' discussion board. The proposed variants all made a point of literally translating Epiphany even though the context was ecological and RantWoman figured for an ecological context many English-speakng readers would not at all get the reference behind "Epiphany" and suggested Festival of Immersion as the title of an ecologically themed event. RantWoman in retrospec does not even want to think of how much greenwashing might be involved in word choice.

Wonderful stuff from The Good Raised Up about the absence of outward sacraments with some links for further reading.

RantWoman's basic point: Your mileage may vary, and it's your duty to tend and refine your own views based on the Light within you. There is no single Quaker position: if you want literal baptism, either immersion or "dry cleaning," that's not going to happen among Quakers. A few of us may be able to help you shop for baptism options, and we would be happy to help with a clearness process so that you can figure out your own Inner Light about the matter!

RantWoman also means to formulate some queries about how Friends experience openings, cmings of age, welcoming of new babies, the wide range of events that baptism metaphors collect around.

A late-breaking addition, baptism as conversion and footwashing mixed with reconciliation:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Worship beyond words

RantWoman quite likes this item for its thoughts on silent worship and worship beyond words.

RantWoman quite likes the item and RantWoman thinkings worship beyond words is not necessarily automatically the best way to help people talk about things we really need to talk about. Rats!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Those Quaker Chocolate People

RantWoman is filing this book review about the Cadbury chocolate empire just so she can find it again.

RantWoman would not mind if this post also over time attracted other materials about economics as if everyone matters.

Reading is SUCH a pain for RantWoman and RantWoman's mean-to-read list is perpetually overflowing. What RantWoman REALLY hopes will happen is that one of her various Quaker book-digestion services and provide RantWoman the high points, perhaps in exchange for a meal chez RantWoman or some other gesture of appreciation.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!

The readers Digest version: RantWoman HATES all those automated ways for one's social networking activities to generate messages about newborn baby animals needing to be fed and chunks of buried treasure needing tending. RantWoman HATES these things with a purple passion--EXCEPT when they come from Youngest Cousin. In Youngest Cousin's case such missives indicate that Youngest Cousin is alive and well enough to cause social networking applications to emit automated email. This would not automatically be assumed without these heartwarming and thoroughly aggravating reminders!

RantWoman apologizes for not getting her act together in time to post this on a more appropriate date. In any case, Youngest Cousin is not technically a veteran yet. She is presumably off in harm's way somewhere in parts likely not chatted of via social networking. Well, RantWoman might know more of what is going on if she actually interacted with social networking, but let us start with what we have.

RantWoman feels her heart skip a beat every time she visits Youngest Cousin's social networking page. Youngest Cousin's picture shows her in uniform, looking proud and erect. Her face looks so much like her father and our grandmother and a much younger RantMom that RantWoman's heart almost skips a beat every time she looks.

RantWoman wants both to express heartfelt best wishes for Youngest Cousin's safety, as well as that of Youngest Cousin's husband and stepdaughter, and to deal with RantWoman's own blistering views of whichever zone of harm's way Youngest Cousin has been deployed into. RantWoman really does not know any other way to do both than to celebrate electronic aggravation!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


RantWoman heartily applauds this treatment of Advent. RantWoman particularly appreciates that a meditation about the peculiarities of Quaker traditions with respect to anything that might hint of a liturgical calendar appears now, before the red and green sugar and ktischy jingle bells supplant orange and brown sugar and the plastic witches and goblins on RantWomans rant prop list

RantWoman dawdled about posting this and red and green sugar are all about. RantWoman is feeling she is supposed to be grateful for nearly unending caloric excess in this season. RantWoman thinks, in light of certain pickup events this year, that she is supposed to be especially RantMom's presence among us. RantWoman IS deeply grateful for both and would absolutely love to be grateful for RantMom even without caloric excess and without, at every familial round of caloric excess having to plan the next of the birthday / holiday / more birthdays / more holidays circuit. Right now RantWoman is praying for the right words about this!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Shameless Holiday Promo: Friends House Moscow

RantWoman is a Friend by convincement. Among other things that means that RantWoman definitely interacts with Christmas seasonal fluff more than some steeped longer in historical Quaker austerity. RantWoman for instance sincerely celebrates the fact that she has not observed any red and green sugar until after Halloween. RantWoman's holiday shopping plans are pretty spare. However, in case anyone RantWoman knows needs festive greeting cards to mark the season, RantWOman recommends a peek over to for their holiday card selection

Friday, November 5, 2010

Micah Bales on Ministers, Elders, Overseers

RantWoman is storing this partly for its links to statements from several Yearly Meetings and partly for the depth with which concepts are articulated.

RantWoman is meditating about how to re-articulate the meat of these concepts in ways that speak both to their historical Biblical roots and to the spectrum of terms people in RantWoman's Monthly Meeting and Yearly Meeting use about movements of spirit and the work of ministry in their lives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Look world, RantWoman is definitely a Quaker in progress. RantWoman is already well peeved in advance, which may or may not be the first reaction one would expect to a workshop on Death and Dying. Originally this was billed as an event on grief. RantWoman does not have a negative opinion about the expansion. She DOES have an opinion about an omission:

This special workshop on Death and Dying": Caring for Ourselves and our Loved Ones When They Die is an opportunity for in-depth consideration of the effect of others deaths on our lives. Held
November 20, 12 noon – 4pm.

Every few years University Friends have gathered for a work-shop on concerns about Death & Dying. Our Faith & Practice re-minds us: "Death often faces us with the most difficult of questions. Although life instinctively avoids death, death is not the opposite of life; it is essential to the ongoing, changing nature of life." Again this year we will gather, on Saturday 11/20, to worship and share as well as to look at several topics that arise when a family member or loved one ages or has a life-threatening disease. Please join us for a lunch at noon (brown-bag or potluck), leading into focus groups on Caring for Aging or Ill Loved Ones, Forming a Care Committee, Making End-of-Life Decisions [Wills & Health Directives], Caring for the Caregivers, Letting Go, Hospice, and Grief and Time for Mourning.

Adult Religious Education Committee request you sign up on the table outside the Office, or call xxxx to ask him to add your name.

RantWoman tried THREE TIMES (enough said?) in response to specific public invitation for input to have a conversation with the clerk of Adult Religious Education about anniversaries and unexpected circumstances and space in the workshop for such. RantWoman would characterize the best of these conversations as dismissive!

RantWoman has stumbled onto a recurring theme: a thought in passing as she writes: if this Friend had asked RantWoman her opinion, RantWoman MIGHT tell him to give himself space for still actively grieving what RantWoman thinks must have been a very difficult person and MAYBE supplying more than one name in case someone were uncomfortable with a specific name and a sensitive topic.

RantWoman has in fact had the unexpected circumstances conversations on topical timelines every year for several years running with the very same Friend though they seem not to have registered. That would be another reason to advocate better self-care in the form of MAYBE letting God and one's community carry part of the matter.

By unexpected circumstances RantWoman means things like

a bicycle accident


a bus accident

or another Seattle bus accident that RantWoman pretty much cannot avoid regular opportunities to think about

or a bus accident and another Seattle bus accident ... that both fall on the same late November date significant to RantWoman for another reason

or things like suicide, violent crime, stillbirth, miscarriage....

Based on the non-conversations and the omissions, RantWoman is meditating about who she might call to disabuse herself of not very high expectations about the workshop for any circumstance but the well-planned march of aging. RantWoman expects God will show up regardless. God is not the problem. RantWoman is debating whether she will be led to attend. RantWoman admits a certain morbid fascination about another topic but RantWoman needs to discern whether morbid and centered are going to be incompatible in this situation.

And speaking of not planning to die, RantWoman again calls to mind the accidental inquiry from the summer
Do we ask Friends to remember our Meeting in their wills?

Okay, RantWoman admits another morbid tinge to the inquiry right above. Recently RantWoman spent a couple days hanging with RantMom after a RantMom vs Pickup encounter. RantMom was singularly unamused by a distinctlhy ill-timed call the day after her accident from her college alumni association inquiring whether RantMom was interested in a legacy donation. Uh, NOT TODAY!