Category Archives: Signs of the Times

How North Carolina YM-FUM Did Itself In: A Blog Review

The post about the end of NCYM-FUM has been read widely.  And a question has recurred in comments across Facebook and in other media. It is:

How did this happen??

It’s a legitimate question; and it’s one we’ve been grappling with for three years. It’s also one this blogger is feeling a bit overwhelmed at having to try to explain again and again for those who are new to the saga.

Yet it’s important for concerned Friends to have answers for it.

Continue reading How North Carolina YM-FUM Did Itself In: A Blog Review

Breaking: North Carolina YM-FUM Shuts Down

At 10:58 Eastern time,  Seventh Day (Saturday), Eighth Month (August) 5, 2017, at Quaker Lake Camp near Liberty, NC, Clerk Michael Fulp asked, “Do you approve?”

The assembled Friends, about 120 of them, responded with a surprisingly subdued, “Approve.”

And with that, they pressed the button that demolished a yearly meeting which had lasted 320 years.

Continue reading Breaking: North Carolina YM-FUM Shuts Down

Yearly Meeting Dispatch: Baltimore & home

I was only able to visit Baltimore Yearly Meeting (BYM) for two days of its five-day session in Frederick, MD  (that’s annual session number 345 & counting); so there’s much I  missed. Too bad for me; but there was pressing business at home.

Still, I was able to get a good whiff of BYM’s atmosphere, and it smelled like home (I first attended in 1978, and am still a non-resident member), and it smelled healthy.

I think I can say “healthy” even though I missed the two documents that I was most looking for to test this impression: Continue reading Yearly Meeting Dispatch: Baltimore & home

Here We Go Again: Trump vs. Transgender Soldiers

I spent 11 years at Quaker House in Fayetteville NC, near Fort Bragg, one of the largest U.S. military bases.
 
Most of my work there, directly or indirectly, was aimed at helping people get out of the Military. And I don’t regret a minute of it. 
 
But there was an exception: we also worked to end “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” [DADT] to let LGBT GIs stay in. 

Continue reading Here We Go Again: Trump vs. Transgender Soldiers

“The Sword of Peace” — 44th Season Opens Thursday

“The Sword of Peace” — Now, More Than Ever

Thursday July 6 is Opening Night for the 44th season of the Snow Camp NC Historical Drama series.

The “curtain” will rise at 8 PM, for “The Sword of Peace.” This gripping outdoor drama is based on actual events related to the American Revolution, in which many Quakers were involved. Convictions of patriotism, Quaker religious devotion to peace, courage, suffering and mercy all clashed in the historic Battle of Guilford Court House in 1781. This will be its 44th season. Continue reading “The Sword of Peace” — 44th Season Opens Thursday

Four for the Fourth: Holiday Ruminations

For thirty years or so, I was shielded from most July 4th festivities by attending a big Quaker Gathering which is always held the week of the holiday.

Going about our multifarious business there (as the saying goes, “We liberal Quakers don’t believe in hell — we have committees instead.”), we didn’t take much notice. Once in awhile we’d see some local fireworks, but there was no patriotic speechifying, flag-draped parades, or wreaths laid on war monuments. (Thank goodness.) Continue reading Four for the Fourth: Holiday Ruminations

Philadelphia YM’s Racial Turmoil Continues: Ambushed by URG

No wonder issues of race in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting are in a mess.

Spring ferns at Pendle Hill, in the calm before the . . .

I’d read and interviewed and blogged about this on March 23, 2017; but it was brought home to me directly in early June.

That’s a restrained way to put it.

More plainly, I was set upon, ambushed by two persons claiming to be part of the self-styled Philadelphia “Undoing Racism Group,” or URG, as they called it for short.

It began at Pendle Hill in early June, where I was visiting their Young Adult Friends conference, as a specimen Geezer Quaker, before  moving on to the Quaker History Roundtable later in the week. It came as a request to hear some “concerns” about my March blog post; I agreed.

It turned out, though, that the two URGers, a white male and female, wanted rather more than to “express concerns” about the post. In a session that stretched to three hours, they declared it was full of racist lies, had damaged their cause, and that it and I were thereby shown to be enablers, even pillars of racist white supremacy.

To set things right, they insisted I must retract the post, publicly apologize for both the text and its headline, and as a sign of real repentance, become a booster of their agenda.

I was unable to meet their demands. For one thing, there are no lies in the post; I stand behind it. For another, URG’s repeated rebuffs in PYM came well before it appeared, as did the turmoil and division that accompanied their efforts. The post may have echoed the questions of some others, for which I am not sorry; it was hardly their source. And I am not moved to become URG’s scapegoat. Continue reading Philadelphia YM’s Racial Turmoil Continues: Ambushed by URG

A Quaker Reflection on Memorial Day

I’d prefer to ignore Memorial Day; another militaristic effusion.

KIA = Killed In Action. MIA = Missing In Action. Memorial Day is every day on this road to Camp Lejeune, the Marine base on the Atlantic coast of North Carolina.

But it’s not so easy. My lifetime in the U.S. has been marked throughout by war, with intermittent periods of not-war between the big ones (mostly wth secret wars going on meantime). And even though I’ve been against war for most of it, that doesn’t really erase the memories, even if mine are from much physical distance from the battlefields. Or at least, the most visible ones.

Here are two collections of images from the perch at the edges of the killing fields. They embody memories fitting for the occasion. Continue reading A Quaker Reflection on Memorial Day

Tell the FCC: NO To Robocall Voicemails!

Sheesh. Enough is freaking enough.

Hey, FCC: Tell Robocallers to Leave My Voicemail The Heck Alone!
(If you agree, you can tell the FCC Here)

Anybody else who gets repeated cellphone robocalls and hates ’em, raise your hand . . .

I thought so. But some politicians (along with corporate telemarketer buddies) think differently. Now they want to be able to fill up the voicemail box on my cellphone (yours too) with automated robocall junk messages: Continue reading Tell the FCC: NO To Robocall Voicemails!

William Penn & the Fruits of Technological Solitude

Last First Day I needed a brief reading to open Meeting. Feeling reflective, a little book by William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude came to mind.  

Some Fruits was first published, anonymously, in 1693, and has been in print most of the 320-plus years since. A copy of it has sat on my bookshelf for a few decades. 

Some Fruits came to be written because Penn was obliged to disappear for a couple of years. He had to beat it because of his longtime friendship with King James II. Continue reading William Penn & the Fruits of Technological Solitude