Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A vow of mellowness

RantWoman is more of a salty salsa girl than a customer for The Ketchup Advisory Council and all those natural mellowing agents. For instance, RantWoman like as not will fly into a lather about all the corn syrup in ketchup AND cheer on her favorite brand of salsa, long ago outpacing ketchup in the national condiment face-off. RantWoman has to admit this EVEN THOUGH she really means it about trying to take a vow of mellowness for Lent.

RantWoman, being a good Protestant / Quaker would not automatically observe, say, a Lenten fast in any case. The subject came up though because Orthodox Bus Rider friend was talking about the Orthodox fast: believers basically become vegans for the period of the fast. RantWoman confessed that she does not even attempt say the Catholic practice of fish on Fridays, well at least not since the long ago days of school lunch. Orthodox Bus Rider told RantWoman about how her adult son raves about the experience, about feeling so light he is practically flying. RantWoman refrained from comments as to the effect of adding flying fasters to her bus-board faith experiences, but the vow of mellowness idea wandered into a later conversation.

The idea wandered in, but getting it to stay there may be a problem.

RantWoman recently took her quarterly trip to exotic Bellevue. Even though it is now dramatically easier to get to exotic Bellevue by public transit than it used to be and more pleasant to walk around once there, RantWoman finds it frighteningly easy to be drawn into rants about car culture and building more and more 8-lane freeways.

Some Friends from RantWoman's Meeting have also been going to some site destined soon to be covered in concrete. Friends have been taking advantage of native plant rescue opportunities and bringing the rescued plants back to plant in the grounds around Meeting. RantWoman quite appreciates the plantings and quite appreciates the love behind the gesture. Again though, RantWoman is seasoning calls to grumble more vehemently about ever expanding zones of concrete.

Finally, RantWoman has been reading Barclay. RantWoman's mellowness Light of the Day on that: I'm not just being obstreperous and single-minded and, urk, possibly self-righteous. I'm submitting to God!

Maybe it would be easier for RantWoman just to try to be vegan?

A Lenten post about sacraments, worship, children, parents

A post about joy in finding like-minded seekers among Friends

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FLGBTQC Midwinter Gathering 2011 Epistle

RantWoman is struck by the language of this item and by a sense of long steps not to be taken for granted.

RantWoman has also been hearing of Google ranking based on the number of other links to items. In that spirit if for no other reason, RantWoman adds to her filing cabinet.

Historical nonviolence in India and Pakistan

RantWoman wants to remind her readers of the nonviolent struggles of Badshah Khan. Here is an item from Truthout to get one started.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Salt and Light in someone else's sermon

(another blog as filing cabine item)

This item caught RantWoman's eye because it APPEARS to be drawn on the same passage as the FWCC Salt and Light events. RantWoman cannot find the reference, but...

RantWoman is interested in the "everything is better through Jesus" thread of the sermon EVEN though it does not articulate nearly as well as the Salt and Light event in Seattle a more universalist conception of the love of God and the power of example amid the corruption of the world.

RantWoman is also interested because:

--The blog entry is from a sermon delivered at a house church in Spokane.

--The author was a poet and interested in poetry before his conversion.

--The church website articulates a clear sense of mission outside its walls, lists organizations the church supports, AND, for the commercially-minded among us shamelessly hawks church gear.

--The author is dealing with glaucoma and if RantWoman has time maybe she will skim the blog for what threads weave in from that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sea Chantey Friend

Steve Lewis of Port Townsend Meeting was devoted chanteyman, mariner, and host of the Chantey Sings at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival. Friends who knew Steve (were) invited to a potluck and memorial Chantey Sing for Steve on Sunday, March 13th from 5 to 9 pm in Seattle.

As with any good memorial occasion, RantWoman is still fondly processing email for this recently deceased Friend at moderate remove from the dates of his passing and one or more actual memorial events. RantWoman notes that Steve had a rich life full of f/Friends from many strands of life. RantWoman expects an official memorial will at some point emerge from Steve's Meeting, but RantWoman is going to weigh in on her own behalf.

The memorial event RantWoman went to in Seattle had wonderful biography about Steve growing up in upstate New York among many figures of the local civil rights movement. There were also many mentions of Steve's interests in and teaching about matters maritime including both oceanography and the skills and crafts needed for sailing and navigation.

RantWoman grew up far inland and just is not as well-steeped in such topics as people more native to the seagoing life. For this reason alone, RantWoman greatly esteems others' knowledge and experience in this realm. RantWoman also admits that a good listen to sea chanteys from all over will quickly teach one lots about geography and trade--in forms a lot more fun than videos.

RantWoman remembers Steve's smile, clear enough that even RantWoman could see it. RantWoman remembers Steve's sly wit and grin at one of the memorials for his mother-in-law when RantWoman gently teased about cancer treatment being a heck of a weigh loss plan. RantWoman also remembers Steve's smiling admission that he and his mother-in-law both sometimes rolled their eyes lovingly in the direction of his wife. RantWoman means to borrow this eyes rolled with love theme for another post, but first Steve gets to be fully memorialized in his own right.

Finally, in memory of Steve,a TERRIBLE joke he was fond of telling:

"Let me tell you about Gandhi. You know how he went around everywhere barefoot. And he fasted a lot so he had really bad breath. So can we say he was a super callused fragile mystic plagued by halitosis?"

See, I warned you, it's a TERRIBLE joke and someone who will be much missed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Love and healing the Earth

Blogroll I don't want to lose track of:

from FOR on Disarmageddon in April

Waging Nonviolence: Reverend Billy's Church of Earthalujah

Robin Mohr on her vision and new job as FWCC Secretary.

YAR on what do we accept as real / pacifism / reconciliation

Wess Daniels on love and the encarnation

Rob Bell by blog

RantWoman's filing cabinet model of blogging:

Victoria Pearson
Evocative of Barclay plus universalism plus "feminist God-seeker"

Young Anabaptist: Rob Bell and the Anabaptists

Peggy Parsons raves

Wendy McCaig mentioning Rob Bell before talking about her experiences of Quakers

Monday, March 21, 2011

Morning Light

RantWoman is posting partly in an effort to demo some blogger features so she can explain them to other screen reader users. RantWoman promises to avoid further technical digressions, except to the extent that the technical digressions are somehow theoretically on RantWoman's path to more solid economic presence in the world.

RantWoman would like a steady infusion of tea to counter the pollen from the lovely cherry blossoms. RantWoman will settle for being glad she can detect new pink fuzz on a row of trees near her abode.

The nighttime temps are also holding steady enough above freezing that RantWoman expects very soon to succumb to temptation and GET HER HERBS PLANTED and out onto the balcony.

Yesterday was our Meeting's annual book sale. Easter is late. Quarterly Meeting is early. It's a La Nina year which has nothing to do with anything but sounds nicer than fretting about triple disaster earthquake / tsunami / nuclear power plant events in Japan. Anyway, the book sale seems early because of other schedule contortions.

Despite RantWoman's fitful efforts to avoid acquiring more PRINT, RantWoman is reflecting on two acquisitions at her Meeting's annual book sale, the Reina Valera edition of the Bible in Spanish and a first edition copy of Reweaving the Web of Life, a book on feminism and nonviolence. RantWoman has enough people in her life who care about the Reina Valera to justify the shelf space. The first printing of Reweaving the Web... has Blind Roommate on the cover and RantWoman's previous copy long ago got lost in some move. Still, RantWoman is reflecting on how differently she feels about some of the chapters now than when she first owned the book.

RantWoman is still vexed by Barclay, lately in connection with Worship. Those assembled last night like Barclay's thoughts about what actually happens during silent worship. RantWoman demurs, though, about Barclay's vehemence regarding music, forms and schedules. Perhaps God showed up more reliably for Barclay than for RantWoman; RantWoman generally has to make regular and orderly time allotments--and still sometimes needs more on top of that.

This month, RantWoman's computer is still ill. SOME of the time RantWoman is finding this good discipline forcing RantWoman to do numbers of things in more measured and intentional ways. RantWoman went back to reading visually, with a magnifier. This was painful enough that RantWoman is glad to have printed the next chapter in larger print. RantWoman still gets to whine and grumble about it being so tough to skim. Yeah, right and RantWoman gets to be happy to have enough vision both to try to skim and to have something to complain about. Or Rantwoman gets to think in terms of mobile devices...or...

RantWoman is grateful FINALLY to have hit some good conversations about things on her mind. There is more to say, but such as have already occurred also need more chewing and Quaker process is still inching along.

RantWoman MEANS to post some reflections from last weekend's Salt and Light event in Seattle. RantWoman is vexed: RantWoman offered to take notes and needs to treat the notes seriously. However, RantWoman showed up as well. Stay tuned.

The short version: RantWoman was listening to sermons on a few short Bible verses as well as stark and powerful accounts of living the Peace Testimony under VERY challenging circumstances, and RantWoman felt strongly eldered just to get over it about a whole bunch of topics not really to her taste and comfort. The topics are still not to RantWoman's taste, but RantWoman has decided just to get over it and work with who and what is available.

RantWoman is holding queries from the following post:

What signs in nature tell you we're on the balance point between Winter Solstice and Summer Solstice, between Brigid and Beltane?

What's happening in your own spiritual life that reflects what's happening in nature?

How are you still stuck in the cocoon or shell of winter?

What environment are you emerging into?

How are you transformed as you emerge from your shell or your cocoon into spring?

RantWoman has an email correspondent on a non-spiritually-themed email list whose outgoing mail has Bible passages in the footer. Today's message:

faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who
comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek
--Hebrews 11:1,6 (NASB)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Allergic to Cuddle Puddles


What helps our community nurture the spiritual development of our youth?

Do our community activities provide space for different young People to grow on their own spiritual paths.

Does RantWoman even have any business commenting since she is not a parent and only very occasionally visibly an Auntie around her Meeting?

RantWoman finds herself in a paradox: in a few short months RantWoman will pass the half-century mark. Despite an utter lack of grounding in educational practices, RantWoman finds herself lately meditating about many questions of Quaker upbringing, religious education for Quaker youth, young people's experience of Quakerism, transmission of Quaker traditions, and absorption of newcomers into the Society of Friends.

At the same time RantWoman has more than once recently found herself nearly if not definitely the youngest person in the room and strongly led to elder her elders. RantWoman will spare her readers the details of this occasion. RantWoman is not sure how she feels about these seemingly contradictory pulls but is to be true to the Light she is given.

One such recent occasion where RantWoman was nearly the youngest person in the room: Sarah Hoggatt, part of the editorial team for Spirit Rising, the book by young adult Friends from around the world, conducted a recent Adult Discussion Hour. The discussion was part narrative about the work of producing the book, part reading, and part Question and Answer. RantWoman quite enjoyed Sarah's presentation; alas RantWoman currently has a leading not to purchase Quaker materials unless they come in a format she can interact directly with and RantWoman did not buy the book. If RantWoman decides to have someone read it to her, likely there is a copy in the Meeting library.

RantWoman is substantially older than Sarah Hoggatt but except for one person RantWoman is not sure of, RantWoman was the youngest person BESIDES Sarah.

The subject of "cuddle puddles" came up. Apparently one of the hundreds of pieces submitted was an item about how to do a cuddle puddle, basically the teeming, touchy-feely mass of youth leaning against each other on the floor that occurs during many gatherings of Quaker youth. Sarah was not raised Quaker; the idea of a cuddle puddle was as foreign to her as it was to RantWoman when RantWoman came to Quakers. Sarah also said she had recent experience and really liked the experience.

To be honest, cuddle puddles are one of the things that make RantWoman glad she was NOT raised Quaker. Even at her most perky, RantWoman did not even do very well at slumber parties. RantWoman tended to, well, slumber. Besides, the thought of doing a cuddle puddle with the fine specimens of both male and female adolescent awkwardness RantWoman worshipped with during junior high and high school has an astronomical "ewwwwww" factor: RantWoman considers it a complete act of Divine mercy that everyone was way too stiff even to consider the cuddle puddle concept.

RantWoman does not even necessarily lament a comparative dearth of campfire cuddle experiences at church camp. RantWoman in fact only ever attended church camp once: she was drafted at the last minute as a counselor for a cabin full of homesick 10-year-olds who spent their whole week fretting about the remote possibility of being eaten by bears on the way to the restroom at night. RantWoman is no expert about bears, but the cabin was far enough into the middle of a well-populated camp that RantWoman is pretty sure, for better or worse, the bears would have been afraid to come near.

RantWoman came to the Baptists of her youth at a point when cliques were already well-formed. The nicest girl RantWoman's age never came to Sunday School and RantWoman found the other two most frequent girl attenders, well, tiresome. RantWoman found herself VERY grateful for a couple adults who observed the other girls being, um, tiresome and reached out directly to RantWoman. RantWoman's spiritual development definitely needed stiffer stuff than cuddle puddles!

But back to Spirit Rising: RantWoman's favorite inquiry, from Really Good Questions Friend, was "but what unites all these people in spite of all these different practices and traditions?" RantWoman does not remember what Sara H responded. RantWoman thinks it might be sufficient to say "Well, someone, somewhere, somehow has called or heard them call themselves Quaker AND they committed to dialogue together on that basis."

Meanwhile, for further heresy on the Quaker child-rearing front:

The Quaker Ranter's kid gets baptized

Why the Quaker Ranter's kid is getting baptized
(read the comments too)

Quakers and aging: topical but may or may not speak to younger Friends:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Name signs

Here is another story of abuse and abuse survivors.

The Good Raised up about Tom "Bigfoot" Tannehill, a deaf man connected with recent news of a large number of abuse cases connected with a Catholic priest in Milwaukee

Read the blog entry yourself for the details.

Read the comments for a RantWoman inquiry that is just about as far as RantWoman dares go in opining about matters of Deaf Culture, a topic of extreme importance to Ferrener Husband and therefore something RantWoman has at times wandered into just by association. Just for a teaser, RantWoman promises a bit about Ferrener Husband's name sign for RantWoman at the bottom of this entry.

Meanwhile, lest anyone try to pretend that this particular item is only about the Deaf, RantWoman means to hold the following excerpt thought:

God's love for him--including God's love through me--isn't diminished because of
his shortfalls. Maybe God's love for us, and God's love through one another,
even becomes more necessary, more warranted when we fail.

These days, when I have an opportunity to respond to someone who I'd rather view as a monster or think as someone to be fearful of, I will need God's grace to remind
me that we are each a Beloved Child of God, with a story that at the very
least might need telling, and at the very most, might need healing.

Perhaps RantWoman should stop there, but RantWoman is reflecting on various flavors of awkwardness around her Meeting about the Safest Sex Offender on the Planet, about even talking about him to the degree necessary to support our community's role in the treatment program he continues voluntarily, about the conflicting needs and preferences articulated by different members of our community who identify as survivors of abuse, and about the practical and spiritual necessity of talking about unpleasant realities, unpleasant possibilities just in the course of tending to community life.

RantWoman lately has been seasoning what if anything of RantWoman life experiences she is called to offer for further conversations on these themes in her Meeting.

Among the items currently on RantWoman's mind:

--RantWoman has previously written obliquely of a volunteer on one of her projects who one day rather flamboyantly announced that he is a pedophile. He says he has no interest in actual activity, but definitely is interested in pictures. To say the least, better grounded souls than RantWoman might Roll their eyes at such a revelation. RantWoman found herself thinking "Thank you so much for telling me, now I can cross you off any childcare list." RantWoman also figured that it is not inconceivable that he has neighbors with similar interests so instead of just bouncing him from the project, RantWoman gave him a VERY stern "For your own safety..." admonishment and landed squarely on the side of rules designed to protect everyone and coincidentally topical in other terms as well.

--When a new director of an agency serving disabled people arrived in town, RantWoman introduced her to someone RantWoman greatly esteems at another agency serving disabled people. The two of them immediately bonded and started a long discussion about sexual assault statistics among the populations they serve, in both cases much higher rates than among the general population, compounded by substantial barriers to finding help. Perhaps it is just as well RantWoman was not led to say something like "I'm so glad you two found something to talk about."

--RantWoman lately has had more than one conversation with different people who assemble one person's name, various behaviors, and the term sexual harassment. The person with the behavior issues uses a wheelchair. Everyone who complains can walk and get away, albeit in a couple cases with difficulty. RantWoman herself composed an email specifying behaviors she considers unacceptable for herself but omitting the specific term sexual harassment. However, it also fell to RantWoman to articulate to others who can help RantWoman observe the point that one person who cannot walk and get away might in fact not mind what look to RantWoman like even more egregious behaviors.

RantWoman is a little afraid that speaking of these messy Truths around her Meeting will cause some to run away screaming, almost as fast as talking about the Safest Sex Offender on the Planet himself. RantWoman is also praying for the centeredness not to lose patience with others in any conversation. To say the least, Divine Presence duty is unlikely to be dull!

Now for Ferrener Husband's name sign for RantWoman: A name sign is sign-language shorthand for someone's name. Sometimes the name sign evokes a specific physical characteristic such as a mustache; often a name sign will in some way use the initial of a person's written name.

Ferrener Husband and his parents and all his brothers are Deaf; their actual hearing ranges from nearly stone deaf to able to be helped a lot with hearing aids. At home when RantWoman visited the local sign language was used in preference to anything spoken, except for when someone wanted RantWoman to hear. Ferrener Husband was educated entirely in schools for the Deaf in his homeland.

RantWoman and Ferrener Husband have been separated for years and happily so. The separation happened before the main events of RantWoman's vision meltdown, but RantWoman did not have great vision even before that. RantWoman took a long time to figure out that Ferrener Husband's name sign referrinhg to RantWoman, an ASL pun on RantWoman's first initial, basically also amounts to "Four-Eyes" in the hand signal lexicon of many playgrounds. RantWoman can cite many daunting aspects of interactions with Ferrener Husband, but RantWoman also decided in context that usage is kind of sweet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cookie Monster recommends

RantWoman is celebrating the cookie monster model of content consumption. See when something interesting appears in print, rantWoman wants to consumer it now, Now NOW just like all her print-consuming peers.

RantWoman offers HEARTFELT thanks to Western Friend for materials online. RantWoman would even suggeting that online-only consumers definitely also make their way to options to make contributions. RantWoman would suggest this but would prefer to go there herself first.

Friday, March 11, 2011


RantWoman simply notes the juxtaposition of these blog items and the word prophet:

Really interesting stuff about Gandhi's approach to organizing and selection of focus for campaign as well as multifaith spiritual study and choice of the word satygraha, soul force, rather than ahimsa, nonviolence.

Item about recovery, inviting in the marginalized, the prophetic vision in Acts, this author's basis for his speaking out. A wonderful screed that causes RantWoman to want to articulate some thoughts about Quakers and a social political ecosystem, though today RantWoman may content herself with gratitude that one person in RantWoman's city whose job it is to interact with RantWoman's suggestions specifically acknowledged and will run with one of RantWoman's suggestions.

A blog item by Colin Saxton about prophets, among other things. merely being grouchy and malcontented does not automatically make one a prophet. The question is living faithfully in our time. Also interesting stuff on Friends' Worship.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spoons and Twitches

RantWoman will shortly resume her inchoate ranting; in the meantime....

Today, RantWoman is feeling especially blessed with opportunities to rant in the direction of people who discount her experiences without even interacting with what is on RantWoman's mind. Okay, RantWoman's mind is a very big salad bowl of messy particularities that take up a lot of time in conversation. RantWoman's particularities come from realms where many Friends just never go and the path to common language is not always obvious. Yet RantWoman insists in continuing to hang out and try. RantWoman means to start back with sudoku--and email. RantWoman REALLY does not know when to quit, another feature remarked upon in a recent conversation.

At the moment RantWoman wishes this persistence felt like a spiritual gift; RantWoman has to test the possibility that it is just bullheadedness. Unfortunately RantWoman has, also., to test the possibility that the way she has put a whole lot of circumstances together is thinking beyond others' Light. Maybe that piece is not DESPARATELY urgent, or maybe if RantWoman tends things carefully either others will catch up or something more transformative will come to fruition.

In RantWoman's experience it is sometimes the particularities more than any generalization that evoke the resonance where communication occurs. For instance, RantWoman remember's a classmate at "blind school" speaking of juvenile diabetes, her mother and a syringe and an orange that so profoundly resonated with some of RantWoman's struggles with RantMom that RantWoman decided the whole week of long bus trips for occasionally thin and exasperating content was worth the effort.

Around RantWoman's Meeting RantWoman is STILL hearing things that sound more like "Go away, we don't know how to deal" possibly understandable in terms of modern frenzy more easily than "Friend, what does thee mean by that?" However, RantWoman is also hearing openings and Friends who share the direction of her concerns if not exactly unity about what actions are suggested. RantWoman is hearing many who also are overwhelmed by numbers of circumstances. RantWoman is meditating about numbers of situations where "go away, we don't know how to deal" seems to be pushing away something valuable in the whole conversation even if difficult in the moment.

Finally, RantWoman hears meditations about the word safety. On one hand, RantWoman thinks people are not born knowing how to talk to each other and learning to talk looms large in matters of safety. On the other hand, RantWoman thinks life is not necessarily all about safety and encounters with the Holy Spirit are not guaranteed to be "safe."

RantWoman also gets to be grateful--again, in that ironic, on the path to spiritual perfection sense--for pleas to be direct. What the #@$*#( do people think this is, Wendy's? This is RantWoman's spiritual compost heap we're talking about, not fast food. RantWoman has little experience with the "God as personal butler" model of Divine presence. Perhaps this is what explains RantWoman's persistence in conversations of the form "Friend, season thyself." "That's what I'm trying to figure out how to do. Do you have any suggestions about the how?"

RantWoman herself has to plod along frighteningly slowly and collect data and turn things over. Considering the glacial pace of RantWoman's compost heap, RantWoman SUPPOSES it is not necessarily reasonable to expect others to get the picture quickly either, but who said anything about reasonable?

RantWoman at least gets to be grateful for people hanging in and occasionally seeding the process with thoughtful questions.

Some lovely blog links RantWoman means to hold onto.

This item contains both a link to a Friends Journal article about making Meeting accessible to young families and further reflection on accessibility for adults.

The Spoon theory about always trying to catch up with things in the way:

Rantwoman loves the spoons theory for things like reasons RantWoman does not click through to every link she might like to delve into, why 600+ comments on an article sound intimidating even if it is very likely there is more good content there....

ONE of RantWoman's several ministries at the moment is making lots of people at
her Meeting interact with how RantWoman experiences the world. RantWoman has definitely been doing too good a job of shielding a lot of people
from it partly because it takes so much energy to get in people's
faces and keep getting in people's faces, partly because RantWoman's life is so rich in reasons to get in people's faces that matters of Meeting life rise to the top of the compost heap only intermittently. It occurs to RantWoman that selected Friends also might find it helpful for RantWoman to make more visible the consistency between things RantWoman gets in people's faces about at Meeting and in the rest of her life. But that would be WAY too much for today.

Monday, March 7, 2011

AGLI Report

RantWoman is getting to be pretty shameless about the blog as filing cabinet aspect of this ministry: RantWoman not infrequently makes entries specifically because she wants reliably to be able to find an item in the future. In this case, reliably find includes both the content of the AGLI report which readers can request directly but also the intro from the Friend who forwarded this.

RantWoman notes in passing the comments from the Friend who forwarded which are imbedded in the text angle. RantWoman does not necessarily unite with all the descriptions but finds some points highly on topic.

RantWoman further emphasizes that the AGLI reports consistently contain concise, thoughtful, well-informed commentary that RantWoman would be very hard pressed to come up with as efficiently anywhere else. RantWoman has heard David speak: even though his perspectives have HUGE potential in terms of conflict reduction in the countries where he works, he reports that numbers of bodies one would think would find his work highly relevant simply ignore it. RantWoman is reposting partly in hopes of widening the circles of people who read and connecting with people who might be led to act in some way.

RantWoman notes a bit in the middle about ways of sabotaging change / progress. RantWoman does not, in this posting want to digress too far down paths of times she has observed similar dynamics at work in other bodies, as well, URK! as in Quaker Business Meeting. For the time being RantWoman will simply hold that line of reasoning in the Light.

Sent: Mon, Mar 7, 2011 10:31 am
Subject: Fwd: AGLI - Report from Kenya - Implementation of the New Kenyan Constitution - March 4, 2011

This report is from AGLI, African Great Lakes Initiative, sponsored
by Friends Church Quakers in Kenya. Friends Church (a split in US
Quakerism that occurred a good while back, and made two Quaker groups
in US, unprogrammed Friends like I belong to, and "programmed"
Friends, who have a pastor, church setting and church in their name.
Unprogrammed is generally considered liberal, programmed
conservative, evangelical, yet we share a publication, Friends
Journal, FCNL Friends Committee on National Legislation (more
unprogrammed than programmed), and an international organization
Friends World Committee.) Most of the Quakers in the world are
African and live in Kenya, Rwanda, and Burundi, members of Friends
Church. These people have developed an Alternatives to Violence (AVP)
program to bring Hutus/Tutsi's, those who harmed and those who were
harmed, together (no requirement to be Quaker to attend highly
successful and powerful workshop, nor to forgive anyone, though
forgiveness often takes place) supporting people with deep resentment
and anger to each other, to grieve and develop relationship and
community in extremely challenging situations. I have been following
their work for many years, listening to speakers, and am deeply
touched with the capabilities of these AVP workshops, and the
commitment of both Hutus and Tutsi's to lead and also participate in
the workshops.

Therefore, I fully trust the AGLI report, described strategies of
empire/power, and comments relevant to things Middle East. If you
pray or hold people in the light, or whatever, our intentioned
support to the people of Kenya is extremely important.

Thanks for keeping on reading....

AGLI - Report from Kenya - March 4, 2011

Implementation of the New Kenyan Constitution

Dear All,

Implementation of the New Kenyan Constitution

Today is seven months since the New Kenyan Constitution was handily passed in August. I have been asked about my take on how its implementation is fairing. The answer is "poorly." This does not surprise me a bit.

Kenyans have spent at least the last twenty years attempting to get a new constitution. One must remember that the secret of colonial rule was to consolidate control at the center. With independence in 1963, Kenya was handed a constitution embedded with this centralized control. During the reign of the first president, Jomo Kenyatta, centralized control was increased, forming the imperial presidency. The second president, Daniel Arap Moi, used this centralized control to impose a dictatorship. Kenyans were well aware of the changes needed and finally in the 2003 election overthrew the Moi regime. Candidate Mwai Kibaki campaigned on a pledge for a new constitution which would de-centralize power and establish independent branches of government. Alas, as soon as he was elected, he saw the prime benefits of the imperial presidency for him and his supporters and reverted to the good old ways. People should not have been too surprised by this because the "winners" were mostly former members of the losing side.

A constitutional convention was organized and our Quaker Friend, Florence Machayo, was one of the convention members who helped draft this new constitution. As the people of the country wanted, the new constitution abolished the imperial, centralized establishment. When the proposed constitution was given to the Kenyan Government for their approval, they removed these decentralized aspects and re-instituted the imperial presidency. As a result, those who had drafted the new constitution, including Florence Machayo, worked for its defeat in the 2005 referendum and as a result it ended up losing.

One of the accords ending the 2007/08 post election violence was that a new constitution would be drafted. This time it was done by a committee of experts and the government had limited ability to change it before the referendum vote. The new constitution with devolution of power to 42 districts and dismantling of centralized control then passed on August 4, 2010 with a decisive majority. To be effective, it needed to be implemented in the new spirit.

There is so much at stake here. The Permanent Secretary of the Treasury Department recently admitted that 27% of the tax income was embezzled. Others put the figure at 33% to 50%. In addition, there is the looting of foreign aid, receipt of bribes from businesses, and the launching of bogus contracts. There are three methods of dealing with corrupt governments:

violent overthrow by a rebel group (which then takes over and continues the looting);

constitutional reform;

and mass civic demonstrations as have just happened in Tunisia and Egypt.

As soon as the new constitution was passed, the entrenched elite began their counter-attack to co-opt or destroy the new constitution. All kinds of new laws need to be passed to implement the new aspects of the constitution. The front page headline in yesterday's Daily Nation was "MPs on holiday again as reform agenda piles up." The method used is to get the nation all stirred up over extraneous issues. For example, at the end of last year a cable released by Wikileaks said that the American ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, called the Kenyan Government "a swamp of corruption." So the PMs (who were elected by and beholding to the old order) were furious with him. They debated it in parliament, and tried to ask the Obama administration to withdraw him. Ordinary Kenyans didn't see anything wrong with the statement because he was just saying the truth. The hidden agenda, though, is that this diverted attention from implementing the new constitution.

So it has gone with diversionary issues raised one after the other. Recently President Kibaki appointed four high officials including the attorney general and chief justice in the spirit of the imperial presidency. None of these were women and the new constitution indicates that 1/3 of all positions must be held by women. The country argued about this for over a month until Kibaki finally had to back down; another diversion from implementing the constitution.

Those who benefited from the old corrupt regime are placing every obstacle they can in the way of change; frequently interpreting clauses in the constitution to their own benefit, opposing others, going to court continually on every small issue, refusing to allocate funds to implement the reforms, arguing over every appointment, and so on. Note that all political parties are playing this same game and I wonder if they are not in cahoots, purposely making mountains out of molehills in order to keep people from noticing that the snow is melting on Mt Kenya.

While it is now clear that people power can drive corrupt governments out of power (although the reform government may be just new faces for the old, corrupt ones), it is not clear, at least from the Kenyan example, that a new progressive constitution will destroy the old order. This is still a work in progress and it will not be until well after the August 2012 election that a good assessment can be made regarding the effectiveness of the new constitution toward ending corruption and bringing normal services to the people.

When I am optimistic, as I am at the moment, I think as follows. In this new age, there are going to be lots of wikileaks which are going to be an essential component of tackling corruption on the grand scale -- one of Wikileaks first leaks concerned a report on corruption in Kenya that the Government had suppressed. The only method of dealing with this is to be more transparent in the first place. The new modes of communication are going to allow people to protest. The crucial question in Kenya is whether the people will unite against the corrupt, ruling class or continue to be "fooled" by appeals to ethnicity and tribalism. Stay tuned for further developments.

David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783 in US: 240/543-1172
Office in US:1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/647-1287

Distributed by:

Dawn L Rubbert, Program Manager
African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) of the Friends Peace Teams
St. Louis, Missouri

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blogroll vaguely evocative of Barclay

RantWoman has been causing vexation in the realm of sending various flavors of email to groups of Friends she has activities in common with. RantWoman notes that there are numbers of other issues behind the email vexation, but RantWoman hereby offers summary of a couple links that seem to be riffing on themes connected in some way with Barkley:

Somehow a more concise summary of various strands of theology Barkley was railing about. Also Mical Bales take on Christian universalism

Digest of Laurence Lessig book on Remix culture

When the first of these items showed up when RantWoman was looking away from her work to blog roll, RantWoman blithely forwarded it to the Barkley reading group.

When the second of these showed up, rather than just clog people's email boxes, RantWoman decided she should at least TRY to respond to a suggestion about including some kind of digest description of the article and what caught rantWoman's eye. RantWoman suspects that this digesting is a bit like movie reviews: readers are likely to agree and find RantWoman's assessments reliable or disagree and interact accordingly. What say ye?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meeting for Napping

For those who want a bullet point or two to respond to without the telenovela angles,

What do Meetings do specifically to support the presence of the parents of young children at Meeting for Business?

What about business meeting is important to
you or to your sense of being part of Meeting?

Is there something you wish people planning your Meeting for Business would take into account to make it more accessible for your family?

RantWoman has discovered that for two families who have young children, NAPTIME is the defining barrier to the parents' participation in Meeting for Business in the early afternoon. RantWoman has also independently observed dropoffs in attendance as children are born, patterns about who exits at lunch, and other things causing her to meditate about what is important in getting Business done.

RantWoman means to make her readers scroll down for the telenovela aspects of this discovery but first the crackpot suggestion that wandered into RantWoman's head on awakening this morning: Meeting for Napping. See, naptime was RantWoman's favorite part of kindergarten.

WHAT IF we held Meeting for napping at a designated time on Business
Meeting Sundays. Kids could bring a blanket and a love animal. There should be some kind of routine and dimmed lights and... all our usual child supervision practices. Depending on the schedule, provision could be made about timing of lunch or time for kids to eat. The idea would be to make a sense of special time for kids but still time to do what is needed, nap.

Okay, RantWoman is Auntie, not Mom or Dad. This would not be the first outlandish RantWoman idea vetoed by those in charge, but hey....

The other problem: At it's best, RantWoman finds Meeting for Business very rich in connections, mutual learning, and movements of Spirit. But in other cases, RantWoman knows some Friends for whom Meeting for Business can induce SEVERE temptation to stray from "living in the light and power that takes away the occasion for all war." RantWoman wonders whether having Meeting for Napping available would tempt too many adults to participate too.

The Very Large Three-Year-Old angle:

WHY was naptime RantWoman's favorite time in kindergarten?
--The young RantWoman had probably outgrown her rage with her mother who spent a lot of time prying her glasses off her face before naps when she was a toddler.

--The other things RantWoman remembers about kindergarten were things like a
lot of trouble coloring in the lines until at some point midyear there
were new glasses in the picture and multiple rounds of struggle with
the zipper on her coat in the winter in the mountains in CO.

The telenovela aspects:
RantWoman discovered these families' concerns by being more or less the star of one of those festival of Quaker Drama events that happen sometimes in the zone of the Quaker seamless garment about healing inwardly and healing outwardly or in larger circles. RantWoman has NO idea how the telenovela angles look to others present. RantWoman feels REAL efforts to listen. RantWoman is extremely grateful for a Friend who was reflecting back quite a bit of what RantWoman said. This was, um, not perfect but feeling heard really helped RantWoman pay attention to other themes. RantWoman hears HUGE conversational openings in the areas of:

--what it means to be present in different categories of events, media and conversations

--different people's sense of safety, need to talk about same, and need to feel safe to talk.

--what is important about Meeting for Business.

--people being able to have conversations with space for difficult topics.

RantWoman is, all in all, DEEPLY grateful.

RantWoman, being RantWoman hears many other issues but RantWoman feels so many openings there is ample space to move forward. RantWoman is not ecstatic about some very important points that are stuck. However, between the meeting and some followup emails, some really loud alarms sounding in RantWoman's head have settled down at least to slightly below average. RantWoman now needs to tend several sore points and she has a mind to do some by phone for a few different reasons. Sigh.

Rev Peter J Gomes

RantWoman knows this is from the New York Times and there is probably some digital integrity argument for posting a link instead of the whole text. RantWoman offers this acknowledgment as a substitute in the direction of citation. Someone to remember:

Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Harvard Minister, Dies at 68 -
The New York Times

March 1, 2011
Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Harvard Minister, Dies at 68

The Rev. Peter J. Gomes, a Harvard minister, theologian and author who
announced that he was gay a generation ago and became one of America's
most prominent spiritual voices against intolerance, died Monday in Boston.
He was 68 and lived in Cambridge and Plymouth, Mass.

His death, which was first reported by The Harvard Crimson, was
confirmed by Emily Lemiska, a spokeswoman at Massachusetts General Hospital, where
Mr. Gomes had recently been treated.

One can read into the Bible almost any interpretation of morality, he
liked to say after coming out, for its passages had been used to defend
slavery and the liberation of slaves, to support racism, anti-Semitism and
patriotism, to enshrine a dominance of men over women, and to condemn
homosexuality as immoral.

He was a thundering black Baptist preacher, and for much of his life was
a conservative Republican celebrity who wrote books about the Pilgrims,
published volumes of sermons and presided at weddings and funerals of
the rich and famous. He gave the benediction at President Ronald Reagan's
second inaugural and delivered the National Cathedral sermon at the inaugural
of President George H. W. Bush.

At Harvard, he was the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at the
School of Divinity and the Pusey Minister of Memorial Church, a
nondenominational center of Christian life on campus. For decades, he was among the first and the last to address undergraduates, greeting arriving freshman with a
sermon on hallowed traditions, and advising graduating seniors about the world
beyond the sheltering Harvard Yard.

Then in 1991, he appeared before an angry crowd of students, faculty
members and administrators protesting homophobic articles in a conservative
campus magazine whose distribution had led to a spate of harassment and slurs
against gay men and lesbians on campus. Mr. Gomes, putting his
reputation and career on the line, announced that he was "a Christian who happens
as well to be gay."

When the cheers faded, there were expressions of surprise from the
Establishment, and a few calls for his resignation, which were ignored.
The announcement changed little in Mr. Gomes's private life; he had never
married and said he was celibate by choice. But it was a major turning
point for him professionally.

"I now have an unambiguous vocation - a mission - to address the
religious causes and roots of homophobia," he told The Washington Post months
later. "I will devote the rest of my life to addressing the 'religious case'
against gays."

He was true to his word. His sermons and lectures, always well-attended,
were packed in Cambridge and around the country as he embarked on a
campaign to rebut literal and fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible. He
also wrote extensively on intolerance.

"Religious fundamentalism is dangerous because it cannot accept
ambiguity and diversity and is therefore inherently intolerant," he declared in an
Op-Ed article for The New York Times in 1992. "Such intolerance, in the
name of virtue, is ruthless and uses political power to destroy what it
cannot convert."

In his 1996 best-seller, "The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and
Heart," Mr. Gomes urged believers to grasp the spirit, not the letter,
of scriptural passages that he said had been misused to defend racism,
anti-Semitism and sexism and to attack homosexuality and abortion. He
offered interpretations that he said transcended the narrow context of
modern prejudices.

"The Bible alone is the most dangerous thing I can think of," he told
The Los Angeles Times. "You need an ongoing context and a community of
interpretation to keep the Bible current and to keep yourself honest.
Forget the thought that the Bible is an absolute pronouncement."

But Mr. Gomes also defended the Bible from critics on the left who
called it corrupt because passages had been used to oppress people. "The Bible
isn't a single book, it isn't a single historical or philosophical or
theological treatise," he told The Seattle Gay News in 1996. "It has 66 books in it.
It is a library."

Peter John Gomes (rhymes with homes) was born in Boston on May 22, 1942,
the only child of Peter Lobo and Orissa White Gomes. His father, born in the
Cape Verde Islands off Africa's west coast, was a cranberry bog worker.
His mother was a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music. Peter
grew up in Plymouth with literature, piano lessons and expectations that he
would become a minister. He was active in the Baptist Church and preached his
first sermon at 12.

He worked as a houseman to help pay for his education. After graduation
from Plymouth High School in 1961, he attended Bates College in Lewiston,
Me., a co-educational liberal arts school founded in 1855 by abolitionists. He
majored in history and received a bachelor's degree in 1965, then earned
a bachelor of divinity degree at Harvard in 1968 and was ordained a
Baptist minister.

After two years teaching Western civilization at Tuskegee Institute in
Alabama, he returned to Harvard in 1970 as assistant minister of
Memorial Church. His first book, "History of the Pilgrim Society, 1820-1970," was
published in 1971. "The Books of the Pilgrims," with Lawrence D. Geller,
appeared four years later. In 1974 he was named Plummer Professor and
Pusey Minister.

In clerical collar and vestments, he was a figure of homiletic power in
the pulpit, hammering out the cadences in a rich baritone that The New
Yorker called a blend of James Earl Jones and John Houseman. In class, he was a
New England patrician: the broad shoulders, the high forehead and spectacles
that tilted up when he held his head high, the watch-chain at the vest
and a handkerchief fluffed at the breast pocket.

Mr. Gomes spoke extensively in the United States and Britain. In 1979,
Time magazine called him one of the nation's best preachers. While much of
his later life was occupied by scholarly questions of the Bible and
homosexuality, he came to abhor the label "gay minister," and pursued a
much wider range of studies, on early American religions, Elizabethan
Puritanism, church music and the African-American experience.

He also continued to write. Besides volumes of sermons, his books
included "The Good Life: Truths that Last in Times of Need" (2002), Strength for
the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living" (2003) and "The Scandalous
Gospel of Jesus: What's So Good About the Good News" (2007). In 2006, he became
a Democrat and supported Deval L. Patrick, who was elected the first black
governor of Massachusetts.