Category Archives: Stories – From Life & Elsewhere

Grace In Your Face: Remembering Bill Kreidler

Grace In Your Face: Remembering Bill Kreidler

First written Summer 2000
Revised 08-21-2016

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One of the finest, most eloquent ministers of this generation of liberal Quakers, William J. “Bill” Kreidler, of Beacon Hill Meeting in Boston, died on June 10, 2000. That was a time to mourn, and also a time to remember, and to pay tribute. And today, more than a decade-plus later, remembrance and tribute are what I want to do here.

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Of Bill’s biography, I know only a few scattered facts: He was from a farm community in western New York, and grew up in the Dutch Reformed Church. He began college in Buffalo and finished in Boston, where he became a public school teacher. He was gay. He wrote books about conflict resolution in schools, and did consulting with school systems on violence prevention. Where and how he came to Friends I don’t know; but he was a founding member of Beacon Hill Meeting.

My first memory of Bill is from St. Lawrence University, at the FGC Gathering of 1984. I was leading a workshop, my first for FGC, on the Basics of Bible Study, and he was in it. Continue reading Grace In Your Face: Remembering Bill Kreidler

Quakerism: Taking A Bite Of The Apple

Quakerism: Taking A Bite Of The Apple

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1969: Looking back, my own “formation” as a Quaker began under Morris Mitchell at Friends World College in 1966, and while it has never really ended, I can recognize a kind of novitiate that continued until 1975. And instead of one mentor, or “novice master,” I had several, some of which made a large impact in only brief encounters.

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Cambridge Meeting, Massachusetts.

One such in my Boston years was Sam Levering of Ararat, Virginia. Sam was invited to be a speaker at a New England regional gathering of the Young Friends of North America, or YFNA. Continue reading Quakerism: Taking A Bite Of The Apple

“Meetings” – Small Is Beautiful – But Is It Buddhist?

“Meetings” – Small Is Beautiful – But Is It Buddhist?

An excerpt:

1976:  I was working essentially full time, for the weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian, but was on a freelance basis. Paid by the published article, I was seriously poor.

Cover-FRONT-Meetings-SM-RockwellYet I was not unhappy with my lot: the Bay Guardian was a journalistic legend; the editors respected my work and kept wanting more. I’d been meaning to demand a regular gig, but had been too busy. 

My “beat” was the offbeat, story ideas outside the paper’s weekly regimen of muckraking about politics and other public corruptions, all plentiful in the region. 

Instead I wrote the stories readers wanted but no one else had thought of: Continue reading “Meetings” – Small Is Beautiful – But Is It Buddhist?

“Pathway To Freedom” – Getting Ready For The Show

“Pathway To Freedom” – Getting Ready For The Show

Ladies, Gentlemen, & Friends: Meet Levi & Katherine (aka Katie) Coffin, circa 1850. They helped make (and followed) the Underground Railroad from central North Carolina to Indiana and Ohio . . . .

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Oh, wait — Meet Levi & Katie Coffin, 2016 . . . Snow Camp NC

SCOT-Coffins from 2016-cast

Normally, the young folks above are named Sarah Hornaday and Jay Williams.

Continue reading “Pathway To Freedom” – Getting Ready For The Show

New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”

New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”

“May you live in interesting times.” 

That’s a curse, remember? And 2016 marks fifty years for me among  Friends–a half century of almost nonstop “interesting times.” 

I’ve begun putting my experience of this era on paper, in a “religious autobiography, called Meetings. It’s now available.

If I believed in reincarnation, I’d be burning incense & spinning prayer wheels asking that on the next go-round, could the higher powers arrange for the times to be  possibly a bit less interesting? Say with fewer wars, more time to catch my breath, smell the roses, take the long walks on the beach–

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Who am I kidding?

Continue reading New: A Religious Autobiography From “Interesting Times”

Happy 233rd Birthday Johannes Brahms!

Happy 233rd Birthday Johannes Brahms! (1833-1897)

Brahms’ music is not only beautiful, often profound, and richly enjoyable. It also saves lives:

The author William Styron is one example. Deep in the pit of depression in 1985, Styron came to the point of carefully planning to kill himself, with a shotgun, in a secluded spot near his home. But when he was driving there, Brahms’** Alto Rhapsody came on the radio.

[**Note to grammar cops: I KNOW it’s supposed to be “Brahms’s”; but that construction both looks and sounds dumb to me, and I choose to ignore it here.]

Brahms-red-hedgehog

Continue reading Happy 233rd Birthday Johannes Brahms!

How Do Quakers Choose To Die–And Live?

How Do Quakers Choose To Die–And Live?

Death will come to us all. But one Friend, Peg Morton, decided to come to it.

The new issue of Quaker Theology (#28) is now out, both in print and now online, here. A feature of the issue is a series of three accounts/reflections on Peg Morton’s chosen death, last Twelfth Month (December.)

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Peg was 85, a longtime activist Friend, with numerous arrests on her record. And last fall she seemed ready to continue working for her various causes.

But when she announced to her meeting, in a special called session, that her next witness would be her last — well, you need to read the pieces to gauge the impact.

Continue reading How Do Quakers Choose To Die–And Live?

Norman Morrison’s Transcendent Language of Self-Immolation

A Quaker Theology Reprint:

Norman’s Triumph:
The Transcendent Language of
Self-Immolation

Quaker Norman Morrison’s act of self-sacrifice –burning himself to death on the steps of the Pentagon on November 2, 1965, in protest of the Vietnam War — was shocking, unforgettable, has been written about extensively.

morrison-norman Continue reading Norman Morrison’s Transcendent Language of Self-Immolation