Daily Picks

  • Union Busting and Quakerism Collide at Brooklyn Friends

    Union Busting and Quakerism Collide at Brooklyn Friends:

    A look inside surprising move at Brooklyn Friends School:

    > Employers usually don’t welcome unions, and they can adopt ugly tactics to prevent workers from organizing. But Brooklyn Friends isn’t the average workplace. The school is famously progressive. Parents hear of its commitment to social justice on orientation tours. Second-graders study the lives of labor leaders Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez as part of a curriculum on “changemakers.” The school’s union – which includes about 200 teachers, maintenance staff, and office workers, and is represented by United Auto Workers Local 2110 – seemed like a natural extension of its left-wing ethos. At least to staff.

    Quakers have long had a complicated history with unions. The complaint that unions get in the way of one-on-one relationships between the bosses and workers was not uncommon in nineteenth century Quaker circles. It disrupted the family model of social organizing that early American Friends had developed at least in part to justify their slave holding. While Friends finally turned against slavery the attitudes of workplace paternalism remained strong.

    But it’s 2020. I don’t know a lot of Friends who would be opposed to unions on this kind of ideological ground. We’re a diverse group so I’m sure there are some I’m sure there are some who would agree with Brooklyn Friends School but ideological anti-unionism doesn’t enjoy any kind of consensus among contemporary American Friends. That BFS is trying to make this a religious freedom issue is insulting.

  • Dancing the Change

    Dancing the Change:

    From Emily Provance:

    > Now ask yourself: are the same activities, or even thoughts about the same activities, still bringing me joy? Still feeling as if they come naturally? This might be a hard question. For some of us, very few things are feeling joyful right now. Maybe nothing is feeling joyful at all.

  • Is “a bit of quiet” Quaker worship?

    Is “a bit of quiet” Quaker worship?:

    From Rhiannon Grant:

    > The phrase ‘outward practice’ raises a more difficult possibility. Do we sometimes risk making the unprogrammed, open, listening space of Quaker worship into an outward ritual – just the kind of ritual early Quakers were rejecting when they threw out the practices of previous generations of Christians and created unprogrammed worship instead – by focusing too much on the fact of silence or sitting still?

  • Technical details for a hybrid worship

    Technical details for a hybrid worship:

    A very thorough description of the tech behind Pendle Hill’s hybrid worship. Their daily 8:30am ET worships both happen in the physical space of their Barn room and also online via Zoom.

  • Friends of Color in a time of Covid and BLM

    Friends of Color in a time of Covid and BLM:

    Vanessa Julye in how some Friends of Color are worshipping in the midst of Coronavirus and increased racial struggles following the death of George Floyd:

    > In the midst of such despair and turmoil, our collective trauma, exhaustion, sadness, and anger have increased. Friends of Color are finding it harder to be in predominantly White environments including our Quaker meetings.

  • Living the Quaker life

    Living the Quaker life:

    From Sofia Lemons:

    > I was recently asked what it means to live a Quaker lifestyle (which for me is a Christian lifestyle), and I felt a strong pull to reflect on it more than just the casual answer that I could have given. In that reflection, I kept hearing the guidance of Micah over and over again. And each time it came up I asked myself in what ways I was living these words. Here’s an account of some of the things that came to my mind.

  • It’s time to flip our meetinghouses. Again

    It’s time to flip our meetinghouses. Again:

    From Kathleen Wooten:
    > What if rather than saying “when we get back to in-person worship we will do these things again” – we just assumed this video gathering is the new way to “do church”, for at least a year or more? What is the rush to get back to what was? Is this a time for innovation and experimentation? Can we just relax and lean into a word that is being reshaped around us, and be responsive and accept this as the new tool for these times?

  • Hidden City Philadelphia on the policing of Black bodies

    Hidden City Philadelphia on the policing of Black bodies:

    Interesting article overall but I was especially saddened by the laws passed when Friends were firmly in control of the city’s governing council:

    The council passed a law, in 1693, prohibiting African people from gathering in the city’s public spaces for the performance of religious dance and music. They called them “tumultuous gatherings.” Seven years later, in 1700, the council prohibited gatherings of more than four black people.  1732, no black dancing or singing in public on Sunday. 1741, no “disorder” produced by African people at Court House Square.
  • A Quaker Antiracist Reading List

    A Quaker Antiracist Reading List:

    A remix of content brings a list of antiracism books reviewed by Friends Journal over the past few years:

    Over the years, Friends Journal has discussed many of the works they selected, as well as other books about the legacy of racism in American culture. We’ve made a partial list below, with excerpts from our reviews. Any one of these books will help readers gain a fuller understanding of what life is truly like for non‐White Americans today, and present ways to work toward a better, more just country for people of color.
  • Reinventing Pendle Hill's morning worship

    Reinventing Pendle Hill's morning worship:

    It seems I tend to forget to share some of the work I’m most involved with here on the Quaker Ranter email list and blog. In April I interviewed Francisco Burgos and Traci Hjelt Sullivan about Pendle Hill’s Zoom worship. I’ve written before that I’ve been participating a couple of times a week and it fascinates me. Everyone’s doing Zoom worship, of course, but this one is daily and completely open to the public. It has managed to hold onto a distinct sense of place.

    Here’s a quote from Francisco on how the worship mirrors in-person worship yet has distinct challenges.

    > This is an ongoing learning experience. At any monthly meeting, you will have First Days in which the worship experience is like a popcorn meeting, with a lot of ministry. Other times, it is completely silent. The online experience will be similar to that. We are working to find out what resources and support structure we can make available to people. Some people realize that they have a stage with 140 people and feel the need to speak not just long, but very often. How can we encourage Friends to season the message that they are receiving?

  • Jennifer Kavanagh's parallel universe

    Jennifer Kavanagh's parallel universe:

    In _Friends Journal_, a look at the mystical depths of creation:

    >To live in the world is an explicit practical acceptance of the dynamic nature of the Spirit. Our relation with God is not in isolation, apart from our fellow beings; as we are blessed, so we too are able to bless. The Spirit works on us to enable us to give something of what we have received to others, to act as a mirror. So it is that God works not only directly but through human beings, each upon another. As we open our hearts and receive, so we give to and receive from other people. How we relate to the world and to other human beings is part of how we relate to God.

    I like the emphasis on balance she talks about toward the end, “Spirit without matter is as unbalanced as matter without Spirit, which is materialism.”

  • Diversity why?

    Diversity why?:

    Craig Barnett on diversity in our meetings:

    > But Friends who are not satisfied with these excuses, and want to encourage real dialogue about the possibility of more inclusive Quaker communities, are often unclear about the specifically Quaker motivation for this. Are there any reasons, beyond so-called ‘political correctness’, why Quakers should have a particular concern for the diversity of our Meetings and our movement?

    It’s good to ask these questions but Craig’s answer feels half-hearted to me. It boils down to Quaker process: we can make better decisions if we have more diverse perspectives. That’s certainly true, but the problem could just as easily be solved by dissolving the Friends movement and joining in with more diverse communities (something individual Friends have done). Asking people to join us because it will solve our problems isn’t a very strong marketing pitch. What it is we possess that we should be sharing more widely?

  • Sidwell’s Quaker Values

    Sidwell’s Quaker Values:

    Steven Davison on Sidwell and Friends schools’ use of “Quaker values”

    > The SPICES reinforce the decades-long trend in liberal Quakerism of defining Quakerism increasingly in terms of our “values” and our outward practices, rather than by the content of our tradition and our spirituality. Our “spirituality” is to look to the Light within us for guidance and to make our corporate decisions in a meeting for worship held under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, not by looking to a checklist of behavioral guidelines and then remolding them to fit our desires. I suspect that Sidwell Friends School has some Quakers on its board, in its staff and faculty, and among its students. But does that mean that it makes important “stewardship” decisions in a Spirit-led meeting for worship?

  • A wider Quaker fellowship

    A wider Quaker fellowship:

    Robin Mohr on the challenges and upsides to virtual worship:

    > People who have basic internet connectivity, and Friends who were previously isolated for health reasons, are now able to participate in worship. Friends who had moved away are coming back to visit. People who once didn’t have time for worship are showing up on Sunday mornings. The opportunity to visit with long-lost friends, or to visit Quaker meetings in faraway places, just got much easier. New people are finding their way to our meetings via Facebook and Instagram.

    It’s true for me personally that I’ve been able to be more active in worship than before. My non-Quaker family is also participating more before, with nightly prayer meetings. It’s not the same as in-person fellowship but it’s not a horse of a different color.

  • A Quaker retirement community in the pandemic

    A Quaker retirement community in the pandemic:

    A few weeks ago, Friends Journal’s poetry editor, Nancy Thomas, included a sweet story at the end of an email coordinating the May selections.

    > My husband, Hal, stepped out of our apartment and into the hall just before 4:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. He began walking down the hall, playing on his harmonica a zippy version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” People had been waiting. Doors opened, and our neighbors stood in their doorways—well over the designated six‐feet apart—and began wavi…