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.
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.
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.
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–
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.]
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.)
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.
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.