There’s been more discussion of the Wichita YAF Conference and its framework/dress code issues than you might think, if you looked to the self-styled “convergent Quaker” website, from which critical messages have been banned. That reaction is a telling one; and in the age of the internet, a largely futile one as well.
While some points below are made rather pungently, the overall message is simple enough: lighten up, planners. Let go of this fiction of “welcoming” everyone inside a sectarian and discriminatory frame. Get over this immature business of banning anyone who questions you.
But let these Friends speak for themselves: Here are several comments that have come to me, with a few brief responses.
CAUTION! There are images and language below that would not be permitted at the YAF Conference. I also suspect that at least one of these folks was wearing a Speedo when they wrote.
Friends are advised.
I recently met you for the first time at the QUIP conference in Richmond, IN. I’ve been reading up on your postings about the Wichita YAF conference and you really speak my mind, Friend. Thank you for publicly writing about the expectations put forward by the conference planners, I don’t see anyone else doing it.
I am going to the conference, along with other “liberal” YAFs from my Quaker college. We aren’t going to be dissenters but to help to develop a mix of voices and perspectives at the table and to take part in the conversation.
I think Emma Goldman said it best when she said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” To me this means if I can’t be my true self (be that a LGBTQ, Liberal, Non-Christian or Non-theist YAF etc.), I don’t want to be a part of your movement.
(name withheld on request)
From Deb Fuller:
First of all, I am saddened that I am now too old to be considered a “YAF”.
Rules like the ones posted for the YAF conference really burn my cookies. It reminds me of the young adult retreats my old fundie church used to try to get me to go to. I thought those rules were ridiculous back then too. Adults need to be treated like adults. It’s one thing if the site doesn’t allow alcohol or sex but it’s another to impose it on a group of adults, esp. Quakers.
Burnt cookies. Sorry, Deb. We all have to compromise somewhere.
These little tidbits really got to me, “We’ll need clear boundaries, self-discipline, and accountability to each other,” and “We do have to hold each other accountable.”
That is “fundy-speak” or “Christianese”. I’ve never heard Quakers use these words before in this type of context. Accountable to whom? For what? This is not an AA meeting.
Also, if I was going to this conference, it would make me wonder how much I was going to be preached at. If they are telling me that I can’t wear certain clothes, drink certain drinks, or carry out relations with a committed partner in the privacy of our own room, what else are they going to try and impose on me? It just sets a bad tone for the whole conference.
It’s not the person but the act of questioning. They’re in control. How dare anyone question their rules?
After poking around on the Friends U website, it is very much a “Christian” college and doesn’t sound anything like a Quaker college any more. Friends U just screams “WE’RE CHRISTIAN”. People who wear their Christianity on their sleeve tend to be very insecure underneath it all. Insecurity breeds control issues and stupid rules. Making those rules is essentially a powerplay. The organizers want to be in control. Being a Quaker gathering, it is hard to gain control given our lack of dogma so they make stupid rules to control behavior.
So anyone who is going to challenge those rules is in essence, challenging their control. Insecure people will never be rational in their response to being challenged. They’ll either just quote Bible verses out of context or if they can’t quote Bible verses, they’ll prove that they’re in control by cutting the offending person out in whichever way they can, i.e. deleting posts, asking people to leave or otherwise cutting them out entirely. Sadly, seen it happen way too many times.
Oh and after reading your post again and Chuck’s post, I can honestly say that I can dress someone like a total skank and totally stay within the YAF conference guidelines. Just sayin’.
I read your post on a friendly letter.
Shit Chuck —–
Will you marry me?
( In a literary sort of way)
Thank you from the bottom of my heart or any other organ you might think of, for bothering to stand up for me, for bothering to do it so gently. With such rigor and panache….
Is someone paying you for this?
It’s priceless work. We mustn’t cheat ourselves.
All right I’ll buy the dang books.
Love Ben Schultz
La Jolla Meeting
Okay, Ben – but only in a literary way . . . . And you gotta buy the books FIRST, because alas, nobody is paying me for this.
Subject: Re: yaf gathering is addicted to sin?
2010/5/10 From: Julian Brelsford
My name’s Julian Brelsford. I’m a member of Central Philadelphia Quaker meeting, and a young adult planning to attend the Wichita, KS YAF gathering this year.
I was hearing a few different people talk about your recent blog posts on this topic. I resonate with your admonition to liberal quakers to avoid being spineless. Too often we are vague and indecisive when it comes to addressing violence and injustice.
It appears that the liberal Quakers planning this conference have been a little too spineless and indecisive about the topic of affirming gays and lesbians, and treating young adults like we are adults, doesn’t it?
There’s some phrases that a lot of people on the more conservative side of Quakerism like, [one is] about being addicted to sin. This is a real problem – treatment of gays, lesbians, and young people in many ways mirrors addiction. It’s bad, a lot of people know it’s bad, and the folks who are in the thick of it can’t think straight and can’t give up their addictions.
What they need is contact with folks who can help them get over their addiction. We wouldn’t approach an alcoholic about addiction by telling him how bad he is.
Let’s approach these folks by talking to them about acknowledging the hurt they are causing, and how stuck they are in their ways, and THEN focusing not on the bad but on the good – how can we approach things differently? How can we love our enemies, and how can they love their enemies?
Never be spineless, but have peace like a river in your soul,