Thursday, April 20, 2017

Whacking at the State of Society

The time is upon us again to reflect on our State of Society. This year a trip to Europe put the duo who months ago volunteered to take up the drafting task a bit behind. RantWoman is confident God will be able to cope; RantWoman is less sure about God’s people, including herself.

It has never been RantWoman’s practice to post the first draft of the State of Society Report. RantWoman is doing the best she can not just to rewrite the thing but to contribute FEEDBACK and then to continue to riff as led. 

Repeat: RantWoman is compiling FEEDBACK; part of the task of each report’s drafters is to receive the FeedBack but the drafters are not obligated to do anything with it.

No, of COURSE RantWoman never needs an editor either--except for the last couple things to make it into print. These required several rounds with each diligent and faithful editor. So maybe think in terms of EXAMPLE. Plus, RantWoman is also crazy enough to offer to read intervening drafts, a practice books she reads sometimes gratefully acknowledge.

RantWoman offers these, well, opinionated gripes in hopes that this year’s authors will find guidance.

Reviews at first reading are mixed and ranged from “it’s fine,” with vague flabby sort of bureaucratized prose and 14 uses of the word “spiritual,” several to a paragraph in places to “we should have a called Meeting” (bloody hell NOT on Easter Sunday….) before Quarterly Meeting.

The sense of the Meeting after First Reading: get suggestions to the drafters within two weeks. Friends dying to read at Quarterly Meeting will get an invitation to look for the online “alternate format” option in time for Annual Session at the latest.

RantWoman’s point of view: some data moments

No examination of our community’s spiritual health would be complete without at least a partial inventory of things trying our souls

This year’s long and tendentious political campaigh weighed heavily on our lives even before we began to grapple with the stomach-churning outcome. Some in our community feel ourselves and people close to us explicitly under attack, often from several directions.

The political environment has brought newcomers simply unused to Quaker worship as well as deeply motivated seekers in search, not always successful, of both divine guidance and nourishing community.

Our region is experiencing very rapid economic growth. This is reflected in severe traffic congestion, a widespread housing affordability crisis, and just endless construction projects. Of immediate relevance to our community: after years of work for stakeholders, business, faith communities, other organizations in the University district, the city council has enacted a long-awaited upzone intended to increase housing and foster other economic development in our immediate neighborhood.

After the upzone vote, our Meeting formed a committee to lead a discernment process about stewardship of our property, our needs as a worshipping community and financial realities.

The SHARE group which has slept in our worship space for a number of years has been away for organizational reasons. In the meantime one member faithfully collects money for protein donations to a tent city, and we are discerning about what direct service we will be called to.

This year’s clerk grew up in our Meeting, the daughter of one of our founding members. Our clerk has been considering the meeting’s history as part of discernment related to many changes occurring in our neighborhood and around our region. One act of faithfulness has been to remind us regularly that the land where we worship first belonged to the Duwamish; at the very least we owe gratitude for what we have received.

As today’s immigrant communities face outrageous threats and uncertainties, we observed the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, the catalyst for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Our member Gordon Hirabyashi openly challenged the accompanying curfew, served time in federal prison, and ultimately had his conviction reversed by the Supreme Court.

Worship on the anniversary brought messages about friendships with the children and grandchildren of the internment, about the importance of people treating others as people, and about choices in difficult situations.

Further worship notes:

Put the word carpet into the search bar of this blog for more detail than probably most people care to read: we replaced the carpet in our worship room! We also did some other improvements. We also removed the sound muting carpet panels on our walls. As the carpet was being replaced we also made sure the hearing loop in our worship room works for some hearing aid users among us. Other Friends with hearing loss have also acquired various assistance devices. Besides greatly improved appearance we celebrate better acoustics and better hearing for many.

God has shown up at 9:30 worship with messages, some weeks several messages, considerably more often over the past year than regulars at this Meeting for Worship are used to.

If one listens carefully, it is clear that people in our community vary widely about how we vote, view the right way to engage about climate change, and experience Meeting for Worship If one centers well these divergences bring powerful energy.

We like praying and worshipping together just fine but we sometimes have trouble getting along with each other the rest of the time.

We regularly hear several visitors and newcomers introduce themselves almost every week. RantWoman was blessed one First Day after particularly out on the edge vocal ministry to hear the couple proclaim that is why they like Quakers.

We have wonderful children whose ability to sit in their worship during First Day school frequently attracts notice. A few kids attend all of adult Meeting for Worship; most come in during the last 10 minutes of 11:00 worship. Worship generally embraces the accompanying exuberance though there are one or two people who sometimes grumble that they are not done worshipping and if they liked coming to all of worship as children, what is wrong with kids these days ...?

We have begun the practice of inviting worshippers to share Joys and Concerns after the close of worship. Honestly, some of the topics shared, in RantWoman's view deserve time in all of worship and RantWoman finds herself annoyed that the concerns get shunted to the end. Other times, stunningly long and provocative  afterthoughts have emerged during this time. In any case, the invitation seems to matter.

We also appreciate our place on the itinerary for students from a class in Spiritual Formation at Seattle pacific University: about once a term students come to one or another of our Meetings for Worship, ask good “what canst thou say?” questions, and sometimes speak of their own faith and worship practices.

Hip replacements, moves to retirement centers, and the aggravations offered by our paratransit system have been a theme among the oldest in our community.

One beloved member and one longtime attender passed away this year.

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