Who Knew? Wikipedia Can Be Funny!

Who Knew? Wikipedia Can Be Funny!

(But then, it’s talking about Mark Twain.)

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Mark Twain and Dorothy Quick, one of his “surrogate granddaughters” (he had no grandchildren of his own, and filled that role for the daughters of some friends.) One can imagine a bit of dialogue: Quick: “Grandpa Mark, won’t you ever stop smoking those cigars? They’re so stinky.” Twain: “Why certainly, my dear, if it pleases you. After all, quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I’ve done it a hundred times.”

One of the favorite books of my boyhood — back in another century, a different millennium– was Huckleberry Finn. Read it several times.

It’s dispiriting to see articles about schools these days putting Huck in the literary dustbin, because of concerns over trigger words that were authentic to the culture Twain was portraying.  But then, that’s happened a lot to other classics too. Continue reading Who Knew? Wikipedia Can Be Funny!

George Gershwin: Rhapsody In –Cultural Appropriation?

George Gershwin: Rhapsody In –Cultural Appropriation?

Today is George Gershwin’s 118th birthday (1898-1937). And I’m an unabashed fan. This despite the fact that a key part of his artistic achievement has also made his work controversial for some.

Yes, I’m talking about one of this month’s hot buzzwords, “cultural appropriation.”

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This phrase came along after Gershwin left us (way too soon, dead of a brain tumor before age forty); but the charge was around even when he was alive and composing.

Yet from all I gather, Gershwin would not have denied it. Indeed, he was proud of mixing various streams of American musical cultures in his work, even gloried in it.

Continue reading George Gershwin: Rhapsody In –Cultural Appropriation?

Harry’s Razors: Not Making the Algorithmic Cut

Harry’s Razors: Not Making the Algorithmic Cut

There’s a radio show on Sirius/XM I listen to sometimes; they talk politics, aim for an independent but plain-speaking stance, and it’s pretty good. They also have commercials.

In addition, I read the New York Times on my Ipad. And for several weeks now, one of the ads from the radio show has been popping up in almost every Times article I read, day after day.

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I mention this because it shows both the pervasiveness of today’s wired marketing machinery, and its limitations.

Continue reading Harry’s Razors: Not Making the Algorithmic Cut

Life, Death & a Jesus Car Wash

Life, Death & a Jesus Car Wash

I didn’t really know Michael Mansfield, late of Fayetteville NC. That is, not personally.

But it was hard not to know about him, about his beliefs, and his mission. He wasn’t quiet about them.

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Mansfield had been a cocaine addict. In religion he found a way out of that, and around 2000 he opened a car wash on the edge of a tough area in Fayetteville to spread the word to others with similar problems. 

But this was not a typical car wash. Continue reading Life, Death & a Jesus Car Wash

North Carolina Yearly Meeting: Is “Reorganization” Beginning?

North Carolina Yearly Meeting: Is “Reorganization” Beginning?

It’s been pretty quiet around North Carolina Yearly Meeting (FUM) in the weeks since their annual session, when the group stepped back from a formal split. 

That was a very close shave. The YM leadership came into the gathering wanting a purge disguised as a split. The steamroller machinery was in place. They trundled it up to the brink, and teetered on the edge.

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Then they drew back. Lacking “sufficient unity”, they recalculated and suggest a “reorganization” instead. That was agreed to — but not defined. No one yet knows what it will mean, except that the two-year purge effort has been, thankfully, ended. (More on that here.)

That was one of the two most telling items of the session.  Continue reading North Carolina Yearly Meeting: Is “Reorganization” Beginning?

Let’s Salute the Flag & Stand for the Anthem — Oh, Wait!

Let’s Salute the Flag & Stand for the Anthem — Oh, Wait!

manzanar-with-snow

This flag was flying over the Manzanar relocation camp in the high desert of California in 1942. Manzanar, as well as nine other camps were packed with more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who were taken from their homes shortly after the U.S. entered World War Two against Japan & Germany. Most lost everything they had owned.

Manzanar is now a National Historic Park. And it’s one that Quakers have a lot invested in, though not many of us know that.

Continue reading Let’s Salute the Flag & Stand for the Anthem — Oh, Wait!

Dog Days Tale: Honesty Is the Best Policy – Mostly

Dog Days Tale: Honesty Is the Best Policy – Mostly

My brother Mike picked up the ringing phone: Nonantum Times,” he said, listened a moment, then handed me the receiver.

I put my hand over it and raised an eyebrow at him. “Ted Epstein,” he whispered.

Ted Epstein was a lawyer in downtown Boston. He was also a board member for the Nonantum Times, the new low-budget suburban weekly newspaper of which I was the founding editor. That is to say, he was one of my bosses.

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“Ted!” I said into the phone. “Got any good news for me?”

There was an awkward pause on the other end. Then, ”l’m afraid not, Chuck,” he said. 

“Oh no,” I said, “don’t tell me our first big investigative scoop isn’t gonna happen.”

Continue reading Dog Days Tale: Honesty Is the Best Policy – Mostly

Dog Days: Hurricane Betsy & the Twenty-Five Dollar House

Dog Days: Hurricane Betsy & the Twenty-Five Dollar House

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August, 1956 –The night before the hurricane, I listened to the bugle calls before I went to sleep, as usual.  The calls weren’t played on a real bugle, of course, but from a record, blasting out of big loudspeakers somewhere in the barracks on the other side of the base, where the airmen lived.  They played one call at nine o-clock, another long one, called “Tattoo,” at nine-thirty, and the last one, Taps, at ten.  

Ramey-Tattoo-bugleUnless there were a lot of planes taking off or landing, the bugle calls carried on the still night air over the tall palm trees and all the way to the family housing, where they echoed down our curving streets, which ran along the edge of the base facing the ocean.

That ocean, the Caribbean, was only two blocks from our house at 131 C Street.  That is, it was two blocks to the edge of the land; from there to the water was another two hundred feet or so, down a cliff.  

Continue reading Dog Days: Hurricane Betsy & the Twenty-Five Dollar House

Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism

Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism

    Friend Jim Corbett, of Pima Meeting in Tucson, died on his Arizona ranch August 2, 2001 after a short illness. He was 67.

    With his passing a quiet Quaker giant departed.

    I for one am grateful to have lived in the same two centuries as he. For those who become familiar with the important strands of Quaker thought and action of our time, I believe Jim’s life and work will loom even larger with time.

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Jim Corbett, speaking at Friends General Conference in 1986, not long after he escaped conviction on charges of illegally aiding refugees fleeing Central American wars.

    Not that we’ll see a lot of monuments to him; he deserves them, but that wasn’t his way, and Quakers aren’t much for it.

    But a tribute is due, and here’s mine. It’s an adaptation of a profile of Jim that was part of my book, Without Apology.  Continue reading Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism

Help Wanted: The Best Quaker Job There Is

Help Wanted: The Best Quaker Job There Is

Have you been obsessing about the election? Well, you can stop. I’ll  tell you right now who’s going to win:

The war machine is going to  win, whoever occupies the White House and the Pentagon.

And that’s why, among other things, we still need Quaker House in Fayetteville NC. And Quaker House is looking for a new Director (or Co-Directors).

QH-red-Yellow-Black-White-LogoIt’s also why, if you’re serious about peace witness, you should think about applying for the job, or finding a better candidate to go for it.

I say the war machine will win the election. That’s not a guess,  because it wins every time. We know this from just the “money metric.” 

As Obama said himself, back in 2012:
Obama-on-war“Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration.”

(Emphasis added. Wonks can quibble about the “growth . . . will slow” part; peaceniks & libertarians can doubt the “global responsibilities” talk; but about the “fact of the matter” increase, there’s no real doubt.)

Here’s reporter Fred Kaplan’s quibble: “Comparing the eight years of George W. Bush’s base budgets and the eight years of Obama’s . . . Obama’s exceed Bush’s by a sum total of $816.7 billion.” 

That’s almost a trillion dollar upward quibble; lots more is coming, too.

And that’s only war spending.

As for war-making, there’s plenty of that going on as well, mostly in secret, and the American public seems to like it that way. But the major candidates are all promising us more of that, and one of them will be elected.

Militarism remains as American as apple pie; even more so. Fort Bragg in North Carolina is one of the biggest military bases; and Quaker House is the only active, long-term peace project by a major base.

Apple-pie-war

As a result, the current Quaker House Co-Directors, Steve & Lynn Newsom, have been plenty busy too. And they’ll be retiring in late 2017.  So it’s time to find their successors.

I say Quaker House offers the best, most real job in Quakerdom, and I stand by that: the testimony is real, and applied in real time, with real people. The work calls for a wide range of skills; you can stretch and will be stretched; the stakes are high. The connections to Quakers are genuine too.  If you think you’ve got religion, you’ll be putting it to use. There’s nothing else in Quakerdom like it.

And Quaker House is not a fly-by-night, Society of Trends activist fad. The next Director will get to oversee –and celebrate– its 50th anniversary. 

And did I mention that the pay is good too? (Though, to be plain, the Director has to make sure the budget gets raised , to maintain that generous paycheck. Which in my book is another way of keeping it real.) Plus free rent and utilities in a darn nice house (all tax-free “income”), in what’s long been a safe neighborhood; and health insurance.

drone-killer
Yes–there’s even a secret drone base nearby.

But it’s not a job for the faint of heart, the dilettante, or the unimaginative. 

Below is the official flyer from the Search Committee below. Look it over. If it’s not for you, please pass it on. But if the Peace Testimony means anything to you, then you know this job needs to be filled right.

You can help. If it doesn’t work for you, perhaps you know a promising candidate. Let us know! The official opening day for sending letters & resumes is almost here.

Opportunity: Director of Quaker House

Quaker House, a landmark Friends peace witness, is seeking a Director to continue an active program promoting peace and non-violence. It is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of Ft. Bragg, a major US military base.

Duties include: develop new programs to meet changing conditions; collaborate with Quakers, other churches and peace groups, extensive visitation among Friends and others; conduct fundraising, including fund appeals, soliciting and managing contributions from individuals or groups; supervise GI Rights Hotline counselors, Domestic Violence in the Military Counseling Program and administrative staff; counsel military personnel on conscience and discharge issues; write newsletters and respond to media inquiries; update the website, computer systems, databases, and QH archives; oversee building upkeep and maintenance.

Remuneration: beginning at $38,000, based on experience; plus health and dental benefits; free housing and utilities in renovated home located in Fayetteville’s historic district.

Qualifications:  We seek a Director who is closely aligned with and familiar with the Society of Friends and the Quaker peace testimony; who understands the significance of upholding this light in a U. S. military setting.  The position requires proven leadership, strong writing, fundraising, and management skills.

Candidates must have the stamina to live for an extended period of time in a military community. Familiarity with concepts in military counseling and recruitment is desirable. The candidate will preferably be available to attend some Quaker conferences during the summer of 2017 and begin full time in September of 2017.

Submit letters of inquiry in confidence to: Quaker House Search, 223 Hillside Ave, Fayetteville, NC, 28301, or by email to the Clerk of the Search Committee:

 Email: quakerhouseoffayetteville@nullgmail.com

More information about Quaker House: www.quakerhouse.org

And at the Facebook page:  Quaker House of Fayetteville.
Applications will be taken from September 1 to December 1, 2016.

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