BREAKING QUAKER NEWS: North Carolina Schism Takes Dramatic Turns

BREAKING QUAKER NEWS: North Carolina Schism Takes Dramatic Turns

 Poplar Ridge Friends Meeting of Trinity, NC, the instigator of the attempted purge of “liberal” Meetings within North Carolina Yearly Meeting-FUM (NCYM), has drafted a letter addressed to “like-minded Friends,” proposing to abandon that effort, then leave NCYM and form a New Yearly Meeting, this blog has learned.

This letter, dated March 18, 2015,  marks a sharp reversal of Poplar Ridge’s previous effort, which was to have several other meetings expelled from NCYM to ensure what it called doctrinal “unity” and “integrity.”

Further, while Poplar Ridge pursues formation of the New YM, the March 18 letter also abandons its earlier threat to withhold its regular dues (or “askings” in NCYM parlance) as of April 1, 2015, if such “unity” and “integrity” had not been achieved on its terms by then. No such enforcement has yet been attempted or attained in the yearly meeting.

Despite the widely-distributed threat, Poplar Ridge “approved to continue to pay askings to the NCYM as long as we are a part of this Body,” the letter stated.

The March 18 letter was issued by Poplar Ridge’s Ministry & Counsel, in response to the outcome of the NCYM Representative Body session on March 7, 2015. (A report on that session by the journal Quaker Theology, is online here, with background and documents related to the controversy, which came into the open in the summer of 2014.)

(As reported in the Quaker Theology online report, the March 7 representative session did adopt various “affirmations,” but did not move to enforce them or expel any meetings which did not adhere to them.)

This outcome was not satisfactory to Poplar Ridge: As its March 18 letter said, “we can approve words all day, but what good is that approval if it is not going to be upheld with honesty and integrity?”

It appears that in this context “honesty” and “integrity are understood to mean doctrinal enforcement satisfactory to Poplar Ridge Ministry & Counsel.

In the “rough draft” outline of a new Faith & Practice for the New YM, attached to the March 18 letter, a provision would allow expulsion of meetings which are judged by an 80 per cent majority to be “against our agreed upon statement of faith.”

The present NCYM Faith & Practice has no provisions for such expulsion of meetings, and does include several declarations that it is not a creedal document.

The Poplar Ridge proposed Statement of Belief specifically  approves the use of “sacraments” (i.e., communion and baptism}, in worship. It also defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

 The belief statement makes no mention of a peace testimony, names no history or commitment to racial or gender equality,social justice, overcoming poverty, or intention to adhere to Friends business practices. A possible opposition to human trafficking is named.

On a list of “Difficult Details That still Need to Be Figured Out,” the letter speaks of division of NCYM assets, properties and pensions, and expresses a hope to “try and minimize any legal procedures.” It also wants to continue its extensive use of Quaker Lake Camp.

Since the initial Poplar Ridge effort to enforce “unity” at the NCYM sessions in September 2014, several of the meetings targeted by them have issued letters upholding their integrity and rejecting any calls for doctrinal enforcement. Links to those responses can be found here.

One targeted meeting, Fancy Gap Friends, left NCYM last summer.

The March 18 Poplar Ridge letter, YM Reorganization plan, Outline of Faith and Practice, and proposed Statement of Belief are all online here, in full.

Jacob Wrestling With the Angel,” by Leon Bonnat.

A View of Vegas: the Beast & 7 Deadlies

Vegas: the Beast & 7 Deadlies

I admit that the tourist spectacle of Las Vegas, the very shamelessness of its gilt-edged tawdriness, stirs a certain repulsive fascination for me.


But that aside, my sense of the city is that it combines a manifestation of the Beast of the Apocalypse with a showcase for the Seven Deadly Sins.

The photo below shows Lust, but even greater is greed (primarily on the part of the hordes clustered around the gambling, including me mthe other night for $2 worth)


Then there are legendary buffets that cater to gluttony (I went for a very Chocolate French pastry by the Eiffel Tower.)


Pride, in the form of hubris,  pervades everything. It shows above all in the confidence this endlessly lavish, spectacle of pointless, metastasizing consumption can be plopped down & maintained in the middle of a desert.

image This hotel has it right: it’s a mirage. And the Mexican section of “The  World’s Largest Gift Shop” jauntily shoves at customers the underlying reality of it all: memento mori! Eat drink & be merry, suckers, because tomorrow. . .

I photobombed this advance guard for El Dia de Los Muertos. Can you tell?


. . . Oh, but there is no tomorrow in Vegas.

Only one of the Seven Deadlies eluded my prying gaze here: sloth, acedia. Every where I turned, people were working hard, from the pimps on the corners, to scurrying hotel clerks,  the dealers at the craps tables,–even most of the revelers crowding the Saturday night street appeared diligent to the point of obsession in their-pleasure seeking; I certainly was.


But what about the culminating deadly sin of Anger/Wrath? Seemingly it doesn’t fit the city’s painstakingly maintained image of naughty fun.

But fear not: it’s right offstage, just up U.S. 95 at what is reputed to be the biggest U.S. Killer drone facility, Creech Air Force Base.  (There was a round of little-noted anti-drone protests there early this month, and a “Sacred Peace Walk” from Vegas to  Creech is underway this week.)

A drone at Creech AFB. The biggest gamble of all?

Think these two places aren’t connected?

That’s exactly what they want you to believe.

You can bet on it.


wanting the Best of Everything: Including Opinions

We Interrupt These Lenten Meditations for a Few Stray Words of Wisdom:

I’ve not read any of Saul Bellow’s novels, or non-fiction either.

But the following quote from a new book of his essays may force me to banish this ignorance. It comes out of his reflections on life & culture among the outwardly well-educated, usually solvent and seemingly liberal:

“People who have the best of everything also desire the best opinions. Top of the line.” He added: “As the allure of agreement — or conformism — grows, the perils of independence deepen. To differ is dangerous.”

That says so much in so few words, one can only add a few more of his stray comments:



That is all. Have a thoughtful day.


Vote To Put A Friendly Woman On The $20!

Put A Friendly Woman on the $20

I like this.  An online  campaign has taken off to bounce old Andy Jackson off the $20 bill and replace him with  a woman.

“Women on 20s”

I admit it: here’s my true #1 favorite. She’s not on the finalists’ list, alas. But there are plenty of Quakes & Quake-ish faces there anyway.

Continue reading Vote To Put A Friendly Woman On The $20!

Lenten Meditation: Bartram faces A Murderer, Alone

Lenten Meditation: Bartram faces A Murderer, Alone

IT may be proper to observe, that I had now passed the utmost frontier of the white settlements on that border. It was drawing on towards the close of day, the skies serene and calm, the air temperately imagecool, and gentle zephyrs breathing through the fragrant pines; the prospect Continue reading Lenten Meditation: Bartram faces A Murderer, Alone

Lenten Meditation: Bartram On Human & Animal Hunting

Human & Animal Hunting
From Bartram’s Travels, by William Bartram, 1791:

 I AM sensible that the general opinion of philosophers, has distinguished the moral system of the brute creature from that of mankind, by an epithet which  implies a mere mechanical impulse, which leads and impels them to necessary action without any premeditated design or contrivance, this we term instinct which faculty we suppose to be inferior to reason in man. Butterfly-Bartram

        THE parental, and filial affections seem to be as ardent, their sensibility and attachment, as active and faithful, as those observed to be in human nature. Continue reading Lenten Meditation: Bartram On Human & Animal Hunting

Lenten meditation: Trying To See Like William Bartram

Trying To See Like William Bartram

[Been very busy & traveling the past couple weeks, so haven’t kept up with my fellow-traveler/Spirit Guide, Friend William Bartram.]

But here he is, talking about plants, and especially trees. And one kind of tree jumped out at me from his list, the Live Oak. That’s because I’ve seen and been captivated by some magnificent specimens thereof, in a cemetery in Alabama.SM04-Liveoak-Selma-red

There’s lots of human history in that graveyard. But we’re gonna skip all that here, and just dwell on the chlorophyllic history. The place is only a few acres, but I think I could wander in it for hours, maybe days.]

Continue reading Lenten meditation: Trying To See Like William Bartram