Category Archives: Divergent Friends

Some Quick Quaker Responses to the SOTU

To respond to the State of the Union address, we’ve invited two special Friendly commentators, who are joining us via our new astral projection uplink. 

First up is our old buddy, Walter Whitman, late of Camden, New Jersey, where he settled once they named a big bridge there after him. Whitman is known as the author of the best-selling pro-marijuana polemic of all time, Leaves of Grass.

Walt — if you don’t mind me calling you that — you’ve hovered over a lot of these talkfests. So tell us: what was your reaction to what you heard tonight? Continue reading Some Quick Quaker Responses to the SOTU

Lucretia Mott’s Birthday Secret: No Woman Is an Island?

What “secret” am I talking about here? Lucretia Mott with a secret?

For her devotees, Lucretia Mott’s life is, or should be, an open book: born into a loving, encouraging family, married for 57 years to what one biographer called “the best husband ever”; she had a long public career of preaching and speaking, of which generous samplings have been preserved; and she wrote hundreds of letters which scholars have combed through. She endured sorrows: the loss of two of her six children, and then widowhood; and she overcame years of withering criticism of her ideas and “heresies.”

Lucretia! You really believed this stuff??

 None of that is new, or unexamined. And in her personal carriage she was a model of traditional Quaker propriety: she disdained novels as frivolous and vain; it was husband James who sat in a quiet corner, burning the midnight oil, unable to put down Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Then, while Hicksites all around were shedding the grey and the bonnet, she was plain til the very end. Continue reading Lucretia Mott’s Birthday Secret: No Woman Is an Island?

A Progressive Quaker Message from Lucretia Mott

“Truth for authority, not authority for truth.”

Lucretia Mott, considered at the time of her death in 1880 to be the “greatest American woman of the nineteenth century” by many of her contemporaries, was a Quaker abolitionist, women’s rights activist and social reformer. She was also a key figure in an important insurgent movement of Progressive Friends. Her messages and actions are  very pertinent today – and laid much of the foundation for the current women’s movement.

Wednesday First Month (January) 3, 2018, will mark Lucretia’s 225th birthday.

What message would she have for us if she were here today?

HINT: She’d likely tell us we’re in deep trouble and should get up and get busy. (She’d say it nicely, but urgently).

In fact, her message might sound like this . . .

Continue reading A Progressive Quaker Message from Lucretia Mott

Lucretia Mott’s Birthday is Coming Soon! (On Wednesday, In Fact)

Yes, Lucretia would be 225 years old on January 3, 2018. 

And who was Jane Johnson, and why was she racing down Philadelphia streets  in a coach with Lucretia Mott in September of 1855? And why were federal marshals trying to catch them??

And why did Johnson run through Mott’s house and out the back door?

Continue reading Lucretia Mott’s Birthday is Coming Soon! (On Wednesday, In Fact)

My Quaker 50th Anniversary (Already?)

My Quaker 50th Anniversary

My, how time flies, when you’re having fun. (And even when you’re not.)
This month, December 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of my coming among Friends. And much of that whole ongoing adventure can, for this purpose, be boiled down to four things: 

A knock on the door; 
Getting “The Letter”; 
Riding the bus; and
Getting on with it.

Funny-images-Proud

Continue reading My Quaker 50th Anniversary (Already?)

Two Unforgettable Profiles In Courage: 1969

Two Unforgettable Profiles In Courage: 1969

The first “favorable” articles I ever read about homosexuality and bisexuality  were in WIN Magazine, a radical pacifist journal, in its “gay liberation issue” of November 15, 1969. (“Gay liberation” was a brand-new coinage then.)

I still remember how the “coming out” (yet another new phrase for me) story of and by David McReynolds, who was then the main staff member of the War Resisters League {WRL}, hit me like a series of physical blows.

McReynolds-Notes-Title-image

Continue reading Two Unforgettable Profiles In Courage: 1969

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

Bartram & The Seminole King – A Quaker Lenten Meditation

Bartram & The Seminole King From Bartram’s Travels, published 1791 Alachua Indians

 AFTER crossing over this point or branch of the marshes, we entered a noble forest, the land level, and the soil fertile, being a loose, dark brown, coarse sandy loam, on a clay or marley foundation; the forests were Orange groves, overtoped by grand Magnolias, Palms, Live Oaks . . . with various kinds of shrubs and herbacious plants . . . .

alachua-savanna-better-Bartram
Alachua Savana — in Florida, a land of the Seminoles, sketched by bartram

 

We were chearfully received in this hospitable shade, by various tribes of birds, Continue reading Bartram & The Seminole King – A Quaker Lenten Meditation

William Bartram: Up To His A** In Alligators

William Bartram, A Quaker Lenten Journey: Up To His Ass In AlligatorsTravels-book-open

William Bartram, traveling by canoe alone, somewhere in Florida, circa 1773. What I’m reflecting on: this was what he most wanted to do, what he felt was his leading. (I have divided some of his long sentences & longer paragraphs, for modern readers. The spelling is original.)

     THE evening was temperately cool and calm. The crocodiles began to roar and appear in uncommon numbers along the shores and in the river. I fixed my camp in an open plain, near the utmost projection of the promontory, under the shelter of a large Live Oak, which stood on the highest part of the ground and but a few yards from my boat.  Continue reading William Bartram: Up To His A** In Alligators

Traveling With A Divergent Friend For Lent: William Bartram

William Bartram: Divergent Friend

I’ve taken a fancy to do some traveling for Lent this year. I plan to join William Bartram, an independent-minded Quaker naturalist and artist, in a  journey through much of the southeast U.S.

WilliamBartramThis is not the Southeast of today, but that of 1773, so technically there wasn’t a U.S. yet; whatever. Bartram spent four years wandering the Southeast, drawing plants and animals, maps, and doing sketch portraits of Indians he visited with, and he visited with many.

I call him a “Divergent Friend” because he went his own way, following his own leading.  He was not a “rebel” or a troublemaker; yet he was hardly typical or “normal” either.

Continue reading Traveling With A Divergent Friend For Lent: William Bartram