Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism
Friend Jim Corbett, of Pima Meeting in Tucson, died on his Arizona ranch August 2, 2001 after a short illness. He was 67.
With his passing a quiet Quaker giant departed.
I for one am grateful to have lived in the same two centuries as he. For those who become familiar with the important strands of Quaker thought and action of our time, I believe Jim’s life and work will loom even larger with time.
Not that we’ll see a lot of monuments to him; he deserves them, but that wasn’t his way, and Quakers aren’t much for it.
Have you been obsessing about the election? Well, you can stop. I’ll tell you right now who’s going to win:
The war machine is going to win, whoever occupies the White House and the Pentagon.
And that’s why, among other things, we still need Quaker House in Fayetteville NC. And Quaker House is looking for a new Director (or Co-Directors).
It’s also why, if you’re serious about peace witness, you should think about applying for the job, or finding a better candidate to go for it.
I say the war machine will win the election. That’s not a guess, because it wins every time. We know this from just the “money metric.”
As Obama said himself, back in 2012: “Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration.”
(Emphasis added. Wonks can quibble about the “growth . . . will slow” part; peaceniks & libertarians can doubt the “global responsibilities” talk; but about the “fact of the matter” increase, there’s no real doubt.)
Here’s reporter Fred Kaplan’s quibble: “Comparing the eight years of George W. Bush’s base budgets and the eight years of Obama’s . . . Obama’s exceed Bush’s by a sum total of $816.7 billion.”
That’s almost a trillion dollarupward quibble; lots more is coming, too.
And that’s only war spending.
As for war-making,there’s plenty of that going on as well, mostly in secret, and the American public seems to like it that way. But the major candidates are all promising us more of that, and one of them will be elected.
Militarism remains as American as apple pie; even more so. Fort Bragg in North Carolina is one of the biggest military bases; and Quaker House is the only active, long-term peace project by a major base.
As a result, the current Quaker House Co-Directors, Steve & Lynn Newsom, have been plenty busy too. And they’ll be retiring in late 2017. So it’s time to find their successors.
I say Quaker House offers the best, most real job in Quakerdom, and I stand by that: the testimony is real, and applied in real time, with real people. The work calls for a wide range of skills; you can stretch and will be stretched; the stakes are high. The connections to Quakers are genuine too. If you think you’ve got religion, you’ll be putting it to use. There’s nothing else in Quakerdom like it.
And Quaker House is not a fly-by-night, Society of Trends activist fad. The next Director will get to oversee –and celebrate– its 50th anniversary.
And did I mention that the pay is good too? (Though, to be plain, the Director has to make sure the budget gets raised , to maintain that generous paycheck. Which in my book is another way of keeping it real.) Plus free rent and utilities in a darn nice house (all tax-free “income”), in what’s long been a safe neighborhood; and health insurance.
But it’s not a job for the faint of heart, the dilettante, or the unimaginative.
Below is the official flyer from the Search Committee below. Look it over. If it’s not for you, please pass it on.But if the Peace Testimony means anything to you, then you know this job needs to be filled right.
You can help. If it doesn’t work for you, perhaps you know a promising candidate. Let us know! The official opening day for sending letters & resumes is almost here.
Opportunity: Director of Quaker House
Quaker House, a landmark Friends peace witness, is seeking a Director to continue an active program promoting peace and non-violence. It is located in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of Ft. Bragg, a major US military base.
Duties include: develop new programs to meet changing conditions; collaborate with Quakers, other churches and peace groups, extensive visitation among Friends and others; conduct fundraising, including fund appeals, soliciting and managing contributions from individuals or groups; supervise GI Rights Hotline counselors, Domestic Violence in the Military Counseling Program and administrative staff; counsel military personnel on conscience and discharge issues; write newsletters and respond to media inquiries; update the website, computer systems, databases, and QH archives; oversee building upkeep and maintenance.
Remuneration: beginning at $38,000, based on experience; plus health and dental benefits; free housing and utilities in renovated home located in Fayetteville’s historic district.
Qualifications: We seek a Director who is closely aligned with and familiar with the Society of Friends and the Quaker peace testimony; who understands the significance of upholding this light in a U. S. military setting. The position requires proven leadership, strong writing, fundraising, and management skills.
Candidates must have the stamina to live for an extended period of time in a military community. Familiarity with concepts in military counseling and recruitment is desirable. The candidate will preferably be available to attend some Quaker conferences during the summer of 2017 and begin full time in September of 2017.
Submit letters of inquiry in confidence to: Quaker House Search, 223 Hillside Ave, Fayetteville, NC, 28301, or by email to the Clerk of the Search Committee:
More information about Quaker House: www.quakerhouse.org
In the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary, there’s an episode which is called “Things Fall Apart,” appears to center on an incident of violence during the January, 1968 Tet Offensive that produced one of the most unforgettable images of the war. This image still produces intense reactions. Indeed, this photo was back on the front pages after that Ken Burns episode.
And I have something to say about that.
Not commentary, exactly, or film criticism. More of a footnote. A real-life footnote. It’s not in Burns’s documentary, and I’ve changed a name or two. But what follows is as true as when I lived it. I’ve called it “The Secret Life of Pizza,”and the connection to Vietnam will be clear enough in short order.
As Quaker House of Fayetteville NC begins the search for a new Director (or Co-Directors), the situation there is in many ways different from my time as Director, from 2001 to 2012: then we faced a couple of big wars. Today’s many small wars are almost entirely invisible to the U. S. public. And the public so far seems grateful not to see them — which is to say, there’s no significant anti-war “movement” anymore.Hasn’t been for years.
But there’s still plenty of workfor Quaker House to do. Troops come back from secret combat as much subject to PTSD as they do from big open battles. And a steady succession of them still end up questioning this war business, and call Quaker House and the Hotline for information and help. Young people are still being swept up by recruiters from mostly poorer communities, to fill the ranks — and the VA hospital beds, and the coffins. Continue reading Quaker House: Still The Best Quaker Job There Is→
While I was Director at Quaker House of Fayetteville NC, we had two big wars to cope with, among other things. It kept me plenty busy. That’s what happens when you’re the only front-line Quaker peace project, and you’ve been at it close to fifty years.
It wore me out. But I say it’s the best, most real job in Quakerdom.
What will the next Director(s) there, who will take over late next summer, have to face?
And could that Director be YOU? (Or, excuse me, thee, Friend?)
Good questions, and big ones. But my crystal ball app got accidentally deleted from my phone, so this is only speculation. But consider:
— The current election pits a loose cannon ignoramus, against a supporter of the Iraq war, the Libya overthrow, and more, with ties to war-loving Neo-cons. Like them or hate them, I predict that one of them will win.
— And by next summer, the winner’s minions will be settling in at the Pentagon, the CIA, and the many other secret war agencies.
So I also predict (wait for it) . . . Quaker House will still be plenty busy.
When I started as Director of Quaker House in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg, my main task was to get ready for a big war.
The U.S. was already fighting in Afghanistan, and the buildup for an invasion of Iraq was well underway. We could hear the war machine cranking up among the many units at Fort Bragg — some visible, like the 82nd Airborne, and many invisible, Special Forces units we weren’t supposed to know about — not to mention gathering hordes of “contractors”, a euphemism for mercenaries. Continue reading Who Wants The Best Quaker Job There Is?→
The Price of Prophecy: The Carolina Trial of Willie Frye
Willie Frye (1931-2013) began his pastoral career among North Carolina’s pastoral Quakers in the early 1950s. He came to this work from a background of strict fundamentalism. In most of this state and much of the rest of America, these were years of racial segregation, unquestioning support for American wars, and a goes-without-saying conviction that homosexuality was an unmentionable perversion and a crime.
But by 1960, sit-ins at Greensboro lunch counters set off an uprising to overturn the racial status quo that spread quickly from North Carolina across the region. Within a few more years, as U.S. troops poured into Vietnam, some Friends, including Willie, began to have doubts about that war and remembering something called the Peace Testimony.
While much of the U.S. population is involved in or watching Memorial Day events centered on those killed taking part in our wars, I hope Quakers will make room for a different approach to this observance.
Many parts of our former republic, including civil liberties, are already close to catatonic; and profoundly anti-democratic forces (the secret security state, the war machine, vote suppression) are already loose, some beyond our control (which is why we mostly prefer not to think about them).
But all this could get much, much worse, depending on how this political year turns out.
Cohen comes at the 2016 campaign from the BTDT (“Been There, Done That”) perspective, of those who have seen — and lived– this movie before.
It’s also a movie which is being remade today in more and more corners of their continent.