[Details on a live performance of “The Spirit of Harriet Tubman” 0n June 27 are below. Spread the word!]
During much of the 1850s, Harriet Tubman, felt almost like a prisoner. She lived in Canada, just a few miles west of the U. S. border at Niagara Falls. She was safe there, but itchy to help more enslaved people to escape.
And today, Diane Faison of Winston-Salem, NC, knows something of how Harriet felt.
Tubman, the Ace of the Underground Railroad, was a hunted woman. Southern slavecatchers wanted her dead or alive. She had secretly returned to the state to aid others several more times.
George Moses Horton: A Biographical Sketch & several poems; from local sources
George Moses Horton
George Moses Horton (1797-1893) could rightly be called North Carolina’s first professional poet.
Born enslaved by Chatham County yeoman farmer William Horton, young George Moses Horton loved the rhyming sounds of hymns, and yearned to be able to read. As teaching slaves to read was illegal, Horton secretly taught himself, hiding in fields on Sundays. He used an old speller, a copy of the Methodist hymnal, and stray pages from the Bible, although he was grown before he learned to write. Especially fascinated with poetry, he was soon composing psalm-meter verses in his head and committing them to memory.
Young Horton was often sent to Chapel Hill by his then-master, James Horton, to sell produce at the farmer’s market. There his unusually sophisticated vocabulary soon caught the attention of the university students, who encouraged his orations, and ultimately, the recitation of his own verse.
Bob McGahey, the Clerk of SAYMA (Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting & Association), saw what was coming at last week’s 2021 annual sessions.
What did he see? Trouble & woe.
How do I know?
Because he said so, in a Clerk’s letter sent out as the group was gathering (mostly in Zoom) last week.
The key passage:
Unfortunately, as we approach SAYMA yearly sessions, there are those among us who would enforce their deeply held convictions through pressuring, judging, and threatening behavior. One plenary speaker and two workshops have been challenged and threatened with disruption. One of those workshops has been cancelled, and the leader of the second feels genuinely threatened by escalating attacks, asking for protection. As an open religious society, our protection comes from the divine, which resides deep within each of us, acting from within the body, not from a hierarchy of leaders.
He was mistaken about that last item: protection, especially in SAYMA, comes from leaders and staunch Friends with resolve to uphold good Quaker order, or it will not come at all.
Look, JC, I know you’re busy, but this: I heard from a nice young family in one of the big cities out there, one of those in the middle of the desert.
It’s a familiar story: she’s creamy, he’s dark chocolate, they have un bébé très joli et très café au lait! Plus more of the usual: they’re short on money, work, and a community.
So they’re kind of struggling, but they say they had a good break a week or so ago: they went to church.
Now in theory, I’m all for that: a welcoming & supportive community would be just the thing.
Except they said it was a mega-church, where the management brought on a comedian to warm up the crowd or something.
A comedian? But wait, I thought. With all their issues, don’t these kids at least know how to laugh?
Maybe I’m kind of old school, I guess, but . . . you know: “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” not “come unto my shtick.” [I like that Bible quote, as long as it’s from a version where “suffer” means “welcome,” and not the one I remember from church in my own, kidhood: “Make those kids suffer, like you did . . . .”
Anyway, maybe this is just more old school.
And I can’t help but riff on this, JC, so bear with me:
I think folks who go to church do so because, besides community & support — because they’re also looking for some kind of encounter with —and this is one of those points where good words are hard to find, but let’s try — they want an encounter with something sacred; something transcendent; something — okay I’ll say it plain, holy. Continue reading Memo To Jesus: A Friend needs to find a church. Do you Deliver?→
One plague this year wasn’t enough: Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting, gathering this week by Zoom, is facing another one: a fever of panic and hysteria over charges of — wait for it — racism.
First, though, the vector of SAYMA’s resurgent malady isn’t a lab or wet market in China. Rather, it’s a familiar figure, Sharon Smith, a self-appointed anti-racism “authority” and enforcer who has dogged, derailed and disrupted SAYMA sessions for several years. This blog reported extensively on her baleful record in the months leading up Covid’s appearance and spread. (A list of relevant posts is at the bottom of this report.)
Now that the virus is fading, Smith is re-emerging, seeming more determined after a time of enforced dormancy.
In the May 30, 2021 New York Times, there’s an Op-Ed on military conscientious objectors, or COs. I’m gratified to see it on the brink of Memorial Day. It shows no disrespect for those who agreed to fight in war and died to recognize that a persistent minority has declined to take the sword.
The piece mentions two military COs, but mostly concentrates on the recent case of Michael Rasmussen. He was training to be a Marine combat pilot, but found his conscience turned against taking part in war. The Times:
One morning as he prepared for a supply flight to Hawaii, Mr. Rasmussen kept returning to the story he’d read in bed the night before in “Path of Compassion,” by Thich Nhat Hanh, in which the Buddha was out begging when he was nearly mugged by a notorious criminal. Instead of robbing the Buddha, the mugger confessed to a life of murder and mayhem and asked him for advice: “What good act could I possibly do?”
“Stop traveling the road of hatred and violence,” the Buddha said. “That would be the greatest act of all.”
Mr. Rasmussen got in his car to drive to the hangar, overwhelmed with what he called an “immense feeling of dread.” The story haunted him: “Am I on the road of hatred and violence?” he wondered. He decided then and there to leave the Marines.
He’s still reeling aghast at the GOP’s defenestration of Liz Cheney. I’m empathetic to his view that it’s part of a grave threat to the republic. But there’s nothing new about these sentiments . . . .
Wehner: I asked a Republican who spent time with Representative Liz Cheney last week what her thinking was in speaking out so forcefully, so unyieldingly, against Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was rigged and stolen, despite knowing that this might cost the three-term congresswoman her political career.
“It’s pretty simple,” this person, who requested anonymity in order to speak openly, told me. “She decided she’s going to stay on the right side of her conscience.”
“She wasn’t going to lie to stay in leadership,” he added. “If telling the truth was intolerable, she knew she wasn’t going to keep her leadership position.”
Ms. Cheney was certainly right about that. Early on Wednesday, House Republicans ousted her from her position as the chairman of the House Republican conference, the No. 3 leadership slot, one her father held in the late 1980s.
The next priority of Mr. Trump and MAGA world? To defeat her in a primary in 2022. . . .
And that’s when it hits me:
— I can’t believe I’m writing this,
A year from now, I might well be . . .
I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M WRITING THIS—
— Making out a check to . . .
I CAN’T BELIEVE . . .
— Liz Cheney’s re-election campaign.
— Liz Cheney!
There, I said it. Wrote it.
Now I need to creep into a corner and ponder whether I truly believe I might actually do that.
Not that my pittance could save her bacon. But still.
To help save the republic —??
Might I? Could I? Really? DO that?
. . . As of this morning, I’m beginning to think . . .
. . . I – I – I –
. . . Might. Even.
>> O. M. F. G.
[Would it feel better if I could send it in new Tubman $20s?]
Friend (or rather, ex-Friend) Joshua Ashlyn Humphries, a banished Quaker and Anabaptist prophet/theologian, is dead, at 39.
Dead, and it’s a damn shame.
A shame for Quakers, Mennonites, and some others. I feel shamed too. But he was not an ex-Friend to me.
The official obituary does not say how or where he passed; presumably in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he had lived for more than ten years. It settled for the piously evasive: he “went to be with the Lord on Thursday, April 29, 2021.”