Monday, April 23, 2012

Epistle of Russian Language Salt and Light Study Group


The great Russian writer and teacher of nonviolence Leo Tolstoy wrote “Each of us is a diamond, which we can cleanse, or not cleanse. Insofar as we do cleanse ourselves, the eternal light shines through us.”

Our task is not to try to become the light, but to learn how to transmit that light which is eternal. Global meetings bear witness to the rich diversity of Friends throughout the world. Every Friend, every Meeting – all are multicolored pieces of glass, which, differing among themselves, are united into a beautiful stained glass window, which is the Society of Friends

Passing through this stained glass window, light, which enlightens all people, makes a beautiful, resplendent picture, by which the world becomes brighter. Our group of seekers and Friends from Russia, Latvia, England, and the United States, taking part in the Russian-language Salt & Light online course, is one of the colored pieces of glass. Realizing our place in the global family of Friends, we greet all participants in the
conference, hoping that you will realize your unity with the light and that, seeking inspiration, you will bring it to Friends all over the world, so that we may be faithful workers in God’s Kingdom, carrying light into the darkness.


Великий русский писатель и учитель ненасилия Лев Толстой писал:

_"Каждый человек – алмаз, который может очистить и не очистить себя. В той мере, в которой он очищен, через него светит
вечный свет". _

Наша задача – не стараться стать светом, а научиться пропускать Свет
через себя. Всемирные встречи служат свидетельством богатейшего
разнообразия Друзей во всем мире. Каждый Друг и каждое собрание являются
разноцветными стеклышками, которые, различаясь между собой, соединены в
прекрасный витраж – Общество Друзей.

Свет, просвещающий всех людей, проходя через этот витраж, создает великолепную картину, которая делает мир светлей. Одно
из таких стеклышек – мы, Друзья из России, Латвии, Англии, США, принимающие
участие в русскоязычном онлайн курсе «Соль и Свет». Осознавая свое место в
глобальной семье Друзей, мы приветствуем всех участников конференции, желая им обрести единство в Свете и найти вдохновение, которое они принесут
Друзьям во всем мире, чтобы мы были надежными работниками Царства Божьего, неся свет в темноту.

RantWoman found it exhilarating to participate in this online study group. RantWoman thinks the way the epistle and translation came together was true Grace.

And RantWoman's penance for filling the inboxes of certain committee members with email was a lot of trouble keeping up with the wonderful rich flow. And we will not even talk about screen reader software that does not autodetect language changes, the need to change voices manually, and similar need as far as keyboard. Whine. The group is definitely worth it, but I cannot keep up!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quarterly Meeting Interest Group: Marriage Equality Initiatives

Marriage Equality Initiatives:
How are Friends Led?

North Pacific Yearly Meeting has long supported marriage equality for same-sex couples. In 2012 the WA State legislature passed and Governor Gregoire signed marriage equality legislation. Signatures are being gathered now for an initiative to overturn this legislation. The initiative likely will be on the ballot in November 2012.

Are Friends led to participate in campaigns to oppose this initiative?

What support would Friends with such leadings like?

Is there anything the Friends Committee for WA Public Policy, our faith-based lobby group, might do to participate in campaigns to uphold marriage equality or to support individual Friends with strong leadings about this topic?

Above is the description for an interest group I will lead at our upcoming quarterly meeting. I hope the interest group will offer Friends of all orientations who feel strongly that marriage equality is important a place to connect and discern together about upcoming campaigns.

In the Seattle area even the Catholic church is discouraging people from gathering signatures at morning worship. Campaigns locally in support of marriage equality are likely to be big and well-funded. However, opposition is likely to come from part of the faith community, particularly a number of large megachurches and some ethnic congregations of various sizes. How might Friends speak as people of faith to others’ different faith perspectives?

Perhaps much of the campaigns for and against will go on via talk radio and social media. Friends willing to pay attention in those "spaces" might make a difference wherever they are. How are Friends led?

Possible actions:

• Moral support for each other, especially if Friends from a small community are led to work on the issue among their neighbors / in their community.

• Posting on our website our longstanding position and links to organizations that are working on the initiative along with a summary of FCWPP discernment.

• Interest Groups at Annual Session and Fall Quarterly Meeting

• ????

How are Friends led? If you are interested in this topic but cannot come to Quarterly Meeting, please leave a comment to ask for more information.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

If the Goddess ... During Meeting for Worship with Attention to Jesus...?

Dear Patriarch Kirlll,

First, the plainspoken title notwithstanding I want to send you my sincerest Easter greetings. Christ is risen.

I realize that I, an outspoken feminist Quaker from the US have absolutely NO standing to be sending you greetings on Easter, one of the holiest holidays of the Orthodox Christian year, and I am sending greetings regardless. I am sending sincere greetings from my own heart with no pretense of speaking for anyone else either in the US, in Russia or anywhere else. I am sending greetings in a spirit of faith and of renewal.

I am also sending greetings in English witht the proviso that translation into Russian may be beyond my Light on a timeline appropriate for the holiday. Nor do I apologize for Quakerly language, the phrasing which works best for me in speaking of my faith and spiritual practices. If you would like a tutorial, I expect something could be arranged.

I particularly want to commend to you the ministry of the punk band Pussy Riot who performed to global acclaim in Christ the Savior cathedral in February. I have read your splutting concerns about blasphemy. I have heard your distress that, as you put it, the Devil is laughing at us and that you feel the cathedral was defiled and during Lent at that. I have read that 3 band members, mothers of young children, have been arrested and charged with hooliganism.

I am sure you are a much more learned Biblical scholar than I but let us begin with the thought that God is everywhere, not just in cathedrals. God is present and sorely needed on the streets and aboard buses, trains, other transport; in homes, at workplaces, in kindergartens, schools, daycare centers, in markets; throughout our forms of entertainment, libraries, throughout the wide and multi-faceted world, on farms, in mines and factories, throughout the environment.

I do not want to trivialize either cathedrals themselves or what the cathedrals mean to you. But have you considered the idea that, far from desecration, the Pussy Riot performance reflected consecration? Pussy Riot invoked Mary Mother of God and brought deep and urgent concerns to church to lay before God and man! I cannot think of a more profound gesture of faith!

I know the Russian Orthodox Church sees itself as fully entwined in the spiritual and political health of the Russian state. I deeply respect the women of Pussy Riot for their care of and concern about Russia, for free and democratic elections.

Here I need to call out a concern. God surely knows who are Pussy Riot whether or not they wear their brightly colored balaklavas. I admire the knitting / crochet skills of whoever makes the balaklavas. However, the balaklavas make the women of Pussy Riot look like fashion-conscious bank robbers or maybe especially intellectual ski bums. I would find it a much clearer manifestation of vital democratic experience for the women to be able to perform openly with their faces uncovered!

I like many Quakers strive to live my life the best I can as a realization of the Kingdom of God. I hope that you will come to see the visitation by Pussy Riot to the Christ the Savior cathedral as a powerful movement of God.

Again, warmest Easter greetings!


RantWoman thanks Stasa at  for a post title that allows her readers to ease in gently to an Orthodox Easter meditation on the Russian punk band Pussy Riot and their February performance at Christ the Savior cathedral in Moscow.

The performers sang to Mary, Mother of God or sort of literally from the Russian word, Mary, she who gives birth to God. They denounced Vladimir Putin's candidacy for President and called on Patriarch Kirill and Orthodox believers to oppose Putin in this year's elections. For their trouble, 3 members of the group have been arrested and charged with hooliganism, a charge that carries a possible 7-year prison sentence.

Readers led to follow Pussy Riot stories are invited to put the group's name into the search engine of their choice and to proceed as led.

Readers who want to lecture me about the protocol of addressing the Patriarch of All Russia are invited to submit a comment just like anyone else.

In the Light

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

State of the Meeting

Below is the State of RantWoman's Meeting as reported by the report's drafters. RantWoman sent off to the report's drafters some factual corrections to the draft offered at Business Meeting. Then RantWoman sent them off AGAIN with a request to the drafters and the Clerk to double-check. Turns out, urk!, RantWoman needed correcting about one point and one hovers in some filing murkiness.

Lately, RantWoman has been discovering how much capacity she has to, as one Friend put it, "hold Friends' stuggles tenderly." RantWoman is highly certain that she but not the current Clerk was present at one Business Meeting related to one fact.

RantWoman has concerns about a couple other points but fixing them has to be someone else's Light. The offering below reflects the Light of the authors. It is our Meeting's custom not to quibble at the second reading. RantWoman would be grateful if Light about the points vexing RantWoman were given to others; RantWoman feels overendowed in that area and would SO like to share the burdens.

University Friends Meeting
April 2012

The Spirit that moved among us in UFM in 2011 was not the mighty wind of Pentecost, but a strong, gentle flowing of love and compassion that centered us in community. More than 50 members are serving on more than 12 Care Committees to provide aid and support to their brothers and sisters in need. The Adult Religious Education meetings have attracted more participants to programs exploring Quaker history and the endeavors of Friends in many different educational, religious and social
service projects.

The QuEST program continues to attract impressive young adult interns to serve in various non-profit agencies in Seattle. For their 20th program year, QuEST initiated new placements at Sacred Heart Shelter, AFSC and Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Over the years QuEST has offered a model that has resulted in similar programs in other cities and has given advice and support as these programs developed.

We continued having Monthly Meeting for Business emerge from Meeting for Worship every second First Day; this scheduling has improved attendance and participation. We have had the addition of several young families to our Meeting, and the First Day program has prospered, thanks to the devotion of volunteer teachers and a paid Preschool teacher. The Junior Friends program has been reactivated.

We continued our remodeling work on the Meetinghouse, and, as a result, now have two new bathrooms on the main floor (one handicapped accessible) and greatly improved space for the First Day programs. A refurbished Social Hall made our gatherings for refreshments, lunch, music and fundraisers warmer and more attractive to newcomers and renters and gave us a lovely space for our Art shows.

Over five years ago, the Spirit led us to open our Worship Room as an overnight shelter for about 20 homeless people every night, in cooperation with SHARE (Seattle Housing and Resource Effort). The subcommittee on homelessness encouraged greater contact between Friends and these guests by sponsoring potluck dinners, sharing Thanksgiving dinner and putting together Christmas gift bags. The subcommittee also introduced longer shelter hours during cold weather and holidays and sponsored fundraisers. Volunteers from the subcommittee used some of the fundraising money to rebuild the shed used by our guests, and with SHARE’s assistance and financial support, we struggled with the problem of bedbugs.

Highlights of our participation in the greater Quaker community were one members transitioning from a two year stint as Presiding Clerk of FCNL to Assistant Clerk; another continues on the Executive Committee of FWCC section of the Americas and yet another is Treasurer for FWCC SoA. Still another is working as a translator for materials for the 6th World Conference to be held in Kenya in April.

There have been a number of community building projects during the past year; reading groups, spiritual sharing groups and a Meeting-wide retreat.

We are in our second decade of openly holding, at once, the community and worship needs of survivors of sexual abuse, of our Meeting children and past sexual offenders. We use a number of standard safety practices related to our children. We also held an Adult Education session by a trained sexuality educator about talking with our children (and each other) about several difficult topics. We continue specifically to make space in community conversations to listen to abuse survivors who individually
express very different needs.

Another set of conversations is about an offender, a long time attender of our Meeting, who is nearing the end of his Department of Corrections supervision. Also, a member of our Meeting and her husband held a striking Q & A session. The husband was a longtime inmate facilitator in Alternatives to Violence programs and member of a prison worship group under care of our Meeting’s Quarterly Meeting. He was released after a long prison term and has also become part of our community. Each new step walking with these Friends offers our Meeting opportunities to grow and to deepen our spiritual community.

And so University Friends Meeting continues to minister to members and attenders and to reach out to the greater Quaker community and a troubled world in need of care and tending, relying as always on the Spirit that dwells within us all to lead and sustain us and keep us in the Light.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


The first pass write-up of our Meeting's FCNL rep after we held a session to envision priorities for FCNL in the upcoming Congress:

1 April 2012 (We are NOT joking--RW)

Eleven Friends from the University Friends Meeting in Seattle met after the rise of meeting for worship to discern priorities for FCNL to pursue during the 113th Congress. Friends discussed many issues challenging our country today. The group shared the sentiment that we are in a time of cultural change. In light of national and international movements, Friends felt that FCNL should focus more broadly on the strategic value of its actions and consider how legislation in the U.S. affects people throughout the world. Friends discerned five legislative priorities of particular importance:

1. *Healthcare for all*.

2. *Immigration reform* with the broad goals of respecting human rights and the value of each person's labor and paying attention to issues of gender equity. These goals could be supported through a path to legalization and citizenship and through demilitarization of the border and of enforcement.

3. *Energy independence*: pursue legislation that removes the U.S. from the conflict over resources by eliminating dependence on fossil fuels and by developing sustainable energy sources.

4. Continue FCNL's support of *Native American rights*.

5. In legislation and in policy, we should*recognize the rights of all people* (throughout the world) as if they were U.S. citizens.

RantWoman appreciated:

--Resounding Unity about the "treat everyone equally item"

--The discussion about corporate personhood and how concepts sich as that get exported with technical assistance and in other packages of ambiguous benefit to other countries. This is the points behind the comments in the opening paragraph.

--Why Native American issues? You mean why are they not covered by equity and honor treaties and demilitarize... and health care for all? How about because FCNL is the only non-Indian lobby that works on these issues.

--Friends' willingness to coblle items from our initial ragged list together into 5 points.

Points important to RantWoman that got buffed away far more than RantWoman is happy about:

--Support financial equality, index Social security thresholds with inflation, impose a financial transaction tax. Ensure that Warren Buffett pays the same tax rate as his secretary. This item SORT OF falls into the treat all people equally item, but RantWoman is a big fan of specificity.

--Foster interdependence and accurate valuation of our ecosphere including figures like "gross national happiness" and a systems of national accounts that values trees for carbon sequestration and control of CO2 not just extraction. RantWoman emphatically concurs with a Friend who spoke about "energy independence." This Friend in Business Meeting called for conservation, curbing overconsumption, not just "energy independence." RantWoman is so There!

A process note: RantWoman MIGHT be so bold as to try to do the brainstorm in one Meeting for Business and then to hammer things into 5 clumps in time for a subsequent one. This time, the report was just presented at Business Meeting. When questions arose it was decided not even to try to wordsmith further in hopes of something that the whole Meeting for Business, or at least Friends crazy enough to stick around after lunch on Easter Sunday could unite about.

Now RantWoman wants to see what rises from everyone else's priorities discernment!

Monday, April 9, 2012

They have threatened us with the Resurrection

Festive ways to observe Easter:

1. In honor of the women at the tomb and of Christ's practice, unusual for his time, of actually talking to women, permit oneself a good feminist snit-fit and spell of shaking drooling print withdrawal on the way to Meeting. There is a wonderful used bookstore right on RantWoman's path from her bus stop to Meeting. RantWoman feels like an addict staring longingly at the titles even when she does not dare buy all that tiny print. This week's window display: April is National Poetry Month. One window had a display of titles including about 10 things by MEN and about 3 by WOmen. One of the women was Marge Piercy. Neither of the other two was either Adrienne Rich, recently passed away or Julia Esquivel, see below.

Adrienne Rich has long been on RantWoman's "would read more of if I read more poetry" list. Last week RanWoman decided to use some of her precious Amazon gift card balance for a memorial purchase. Adriennne Rich apparently does not enable the Text-to-Speech on her books. RantWoman's budget also was not large so RantWoman scraped her eyeballs across an essay including reference to several poets Rich esteemed. RantWoman's feminist snit fit is tempered by the observation that Rich also cites only men.

2. Meeting for Worship for Business (?!?!?!?). The sense of the Meeting last month was that we should go forth thus on our regular schedule. In contrast to frequent Easter experience of spring gushiness and occasionally something about the resurrection, this year there was exactly ONE message about "ching ming," bright clarity for spring in China in Meeting for Worship before Business Meeting and one from RantWoman in closing.

2.a Meeting for Worship for Business with an item of business about the Safest Sex Offender on the Planet, also known as a topic where people might be expected to have much to say.

2.b Meeting for Worship for Business as above with an inspiring (cough) reading from Lloyd Lee Wilson about silent waiting on God.

2.c Meeting for Worship for Business with an item about the Safest Sex Offender on the planet, the aforementioned reading from Lloyd Lee Wilson, and a WHOLE BUNCH of Friends with hearing loss spread about the room instead of gathered up close to enhance hearing, other softspoken Friends including some with hearing loss not being heard by others and NOBODY articulating the words "movable mic system."

2.d A Friend whose title has pointed been omitted opining that it never seems to someone like enough is being done for abuse survivors, some testy words and an ad-hoc committee which is tasked to report by June on spiritual community and abuse / sexual abuse survivors.

RantWoman was seized by a sudden spell of reticence about the subject of ad-hoc committees. RantWoman is aware there is some kind of adhoc subcommittee related to disability issues. RantWoman notes the point that committees take the time they take to work, but RantWoman is AGAIN finding herself resenting that the committee is comprised of people who have the option of dealing at their leisure.

RantWoman has the impression the committee has been working on things to do with hearing loss. For a few different reasons RantWoman has been proceding on her own behalf, not really waiting around. However since the subcommittee arose because of a LONG exercise of RantWoman's in Business Meeting, RantWoman would NOT mind in the least hearing from the committee, hearing some sense of initiative!

2.e Meeting for worship as above, items a-d and, HALLELUJAH, the Safest Sex Offender on the planet is now permitted to go to anything he wants as long as he arranges a chaperone in advance!!!! There was noodling around about spiritual sharing group signups where the norm seems to be that, rather than encouraging people to seek that of God in others, people are allowed to turn up their noses at each other for all kinds of reasons. RantWoman is holding in the Light the person behind the conversation she had: the conversation is one reasons RantWoman's "hold the struggles of Friends tenderly" box is FULL just from matters close to home.

3. A poem served up just in time for RantWoman's feminist snit fit. RantWoman thanks Wes Daniels over at Gathering in Light for posting this wonderful challenging poem by Julia Esquivel

RantWoman was so deeply struck that she went and found a Spanish language version to link to on one of her Salt and Light fora.

RantWoman SO likes the faith and hope an internal fire unquenched in the poem.

RantWoman has been noodling about mentally about what presently seem to her, after a zillion years talking about the topic, poorly defined sense of whatever are the key elements of her Meeting's ministry to abuse survivors, how spiritual life and spiritual community play into this. Mixed up in this is John Calvi's formulation of when is Jesus crucified and when resurrected in one's daily life. RantWoman is pointedly not commenting further for now.

RantWoman now digresses to a more customarily Quaker formulation of Easter.

RantWoman further digresses to the RantFamily and Neighbor Friend of Irrepressible Nephew. Neighbor Friend's name comes up in Irrepressible Nephew's household in one of those "Oh HOLY JESUS. Could intercultural parenting be any more vexed?" contexts which RantWoman HOPES is under control. Neighbor Friend's family are Jehovah's Witnesses who of course do not observe Easter any more than traditional Quakers. Neighbor Friend has, in the past, apparently declined offers of holiday sweets, which probably makes her more virtuous than the Rant Children. The Rant Children used to invite ourselves over to the homes of friends of ours whose parents' understanding of holiday celebrations included more chocolate than was permitted in the Rant household.

This year family feast at RantMom's got postponed. Instead RantWoman and RantMom both stopped at Little Sister's, held a guessing game for irrepressible Nephew and then got a bus to our respective domiciles. Christ is risen.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Quaker with Parkinson's

Another book on RantWoman's list of: would like to get read / might not get read / is really interested in hearing about if others get read:

Aside from the might like to read list, RantWoman dedicates this post to Kindest Editor Ever Friend and to Mrs. Also Very Weighty Friend. Kindest Editor Ever Friend strugggles with tremors and probably numerous other effects of Parkinsonism invisible to RantWoman. Presently Kindest Editor Ever Friend is also recovering from a broken femur. Mr. and Mrs. Very Weighty Friend retired across the water on the penninsula, so RantWoman gets to hold them in the Light from a distance. RantWoman also hopes they got the set of Rocky Mountain wildflower postcards which surfed to the top of one of RantWoman's mystery drawers just as news of the broken bone arrived.

Kindest Editor Ever Friend earned his title because he was Clerk during RantWoman's first spell as Recording Clerk. Kindest Editor Ever Friend has the gentlest eagle eye RantWoman has ever encountered for matters of punctuation. He also had the gift of untangling RantWoman's graduate school style into much simpler sentences. As a mentor after the fact put it, Kindest Editor Ever Friend did not necessarily always have a perfect ear for noting whether decisions and specific actions had been clearly recorded but between God and the labors of Friends, the world did not grind to a halt over this challenge.

RantWoman is fondly, fondly holding Mr. and Mrs. Weighty Friend in the Light

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Where is Eye Roller Friend when we need him?

Meeting for Worship last First Day:

The Friend with the Remarkable Story:
One day a dad took his sons for a walk at Green Lake. He gave the first son a pencil and paper and told him to make a mark for every daffodil he saw.

The dad told the second son to wait a bit. Then the dad gave the second son a pencil and paper and told him to walk around the lake and make a mark for every cigarette butt or piece of trash he saw.

When the first son got back, the dad asked him how much litter he had seen. None.

When the second son came back the dad asked him how many daffodils he had seen. None.

[Yeah, yeah, you will only see what you look for.]

(worshipful interval)

[RantWoman inner monologue:
What the #$#@$! kind of fahter dumps all the trash in one kid's mind and all the daffodils in the other's? Hasn't he heard of SHARING? RantWoman knows such fathers exist. They are on RantWoman's list to hold in the Light.

Hey wait a minute: some days RantWoman is absurdly happy both to be able to tell her glasses are dirty AND to be able to see the cigarette butts, if she looks JUST right!

But hasn't anyone thought of picking UP the trash?

And what about the part that is actually biodegradable and could help nourish MORE daffodils?

Daffodils! Bulbs! Gee it would be nice to have a garden!]

(worshipful interval)

[Rantwoman, STOP, STOP, just STOP! RantWoman has more than once subjected herself to a certain well-known personality test. RantWoman always scores strongly in one direction on one of the axes. This sort of overflowing capacity to free associate is a well-known behavior among those who score as RantWoman does. RantWoman knows from being around people who score even more strongly than she does, this can be highly disconcerting to other people, for instance sometimes in meetings. STOP! STOP! STOP!]

(worshipful interval)

Call me up and I Will Figure it out For your Friend.
(some darned message that reminds RantWoman both why Call Me Up Friend is dear to RantWoman and why she is also on RantWoman's Frequent Flyer "Could You Please see if God gives the word to someone else" list. RantWoman considers it her own moral failing that nothing more of the content stuck in her head.)

(worshipful interval)

Conflict is a Gift of God Friend:
...ocean of darkness ...ocean of Light and the Light also shines into the darkess within.....

[RantWoman inner monologue: the whole universe must be in sync; RantWoman just posted something like that in one of her Salt and light Fora]

(Not quite enough worshipful interval)

RantWoman dragged to her feet with not at ALL the message she had been seasoning:
Dudu Mtshazo, then clerk of South Africa Yearly Meeting, spoke one time at our Annual Session. She spoke of the time after apartheid fell when there needed to be reconcilation between people who had stayd in the country, people who had gone to prison, and people who had gone into exile. But she also spoke about how, during Apartheid, it was a revolutionary act for people of different races to get together and pray.

(surprisingly long worshipful interval, especially considering the children had long entered but were not even squirming.)

Close of Worship, Announcements, People starting to Chatter.

Weighty Friend who Disdains email but does better by email than aloud. Guess why:

RantWoman, I know you couldn't see it but there were all these people across the room holding their hands up by their ears.

[RantWoman: ahem. I cannot even read faces in committee meetings. How the #$#@# do you expect me to be able to tell someone across the room has cupped their hand to their ear?]

RantWoman: I would not have minded at all if someone had just said "Louder Please."

Three more Friends including the one writing notes for the Friend with the most hearing loss: RantWoman, WHAT was your message? (short summary)

[RantWoman: I KNOW Eye Roller Friend could do the "Louder Please." Where is he when we need him?]

Our Daily Bread on who do we see:

and Johan Maurer on Being Wrong is not the same as being evil