Category Archives: Remarkable Friends

It’s Time (Again) for Doug Gwyn’s Book, “Words In Time”

It’s Time (Again) for Doug Gwyn’s Book, Words In Time

Doug Gwyn’s Book, Words In Time is NOW available, to read or download: FREE!
Yes, FREE. Click here to read or download a sample chapter.

Or if you want to copy and paste the whole book, here’s a link, to copy, paste & print:

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Continue reading It’s Time (Again) for Doug Gwyn’s Book, “Words In Time”

A Quaker Story about U.S. Concentration Camps in World War Two

INTRODUCTION

Finding beauty where you are: the sky at Manzanar..

Wikipedia: The Day of Remembrance (DOR) is a day of observance for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Events in numerous U.S. states, especially in the West Coast, are held on or near February 19, the day in 1942 that Executive Order 9066 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, requiring internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry.

An excerpt from a recent interview with Star Trek actor George Takei:

[I]n my early teens, my father, who I realize now, what an unusual, rare person he was, he started discussing the internment with me in our after-dinner conversations. My father was unusual in that respect, I discovered later on, because so many other Japanese American parents of my parents’ generation didn’t talk about their experience with their children. Because either they were so ashamed by it or so pained, so hurt by it, that they didn’t want to inflict that on their children. All the children knew was that they were in camp.


You know, my father said resilience is not all just teeth-gritting determination. It’s also the strength to find and see beauty in an ugly situation. To be able to find joy, make our joy, behind barbed wires and all these people wallowing in their misery. Some were angry. Some were completely devastated, and marriages were breaking up — and he said, we’ve got to develop a community. And he was a baseball player in San Francisco as a young man and played with a Japanese American team. And he said, we’ve got to build a baseball diamond. And that brought people together, working as a team. And teenagers had nothing to do and they needed to have fun. So after the mess hall dinner, he negotiated with the camp command to have the guards bring a record player over, and they had dances. I remember, our barrack was right across from the mess hall. And my mother put us to sleep. And I drifted off to sleep hearing the big band sound of Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman wafting over the night air from the mess halls. And so, you know, resilience takes many, many different forms. . . .

And so when we developed a musical that played on Broadway, “Allegiance,” so many younger Japanese Americans came backstage to tell us how they were moved by the show and tell me that their parents or their grandparents were in camp. I’d ask them, “Oh, which camp were they in?” Their face was a complete blank. So, to help them out: “Was it in Wyoming? Colorado? Arkansas? Idaho?”

They knew nothing about it. So I do my advocacy not only for my country, but for my community. There are so many Japanese Americans, younger Japanese Americans — and, from my vantage point, anyone under 60 is considered younger — [who] don’t know their own family histories.


And America, to a large extent, doesn’t know its American history. People that I considered well-read, well-informed people, when I told them about my childhood, were aghast that something like that happened. And so that made me think, I’m going to have to do a bit more storytelling.”

His graphic novel, “They Called Us Enemy”:

> My Unexpected Visit to Manzanar, the U. S. Concentration Camp, With a Special Niche for Quakers

An excerpt from a statement by president Biden, February 18, 2022:

“I have always believed that great nations do not ignore their most painful moments — they confront them with honesty and, in doing so, learn from them and grow stronger as a result. The incarceration of Japanese Americans 80 years ago is a reminder to us today of the tragic consequences we invite when we allow racism, fear, and xenophobia to fester.

Today, we reaffirm the Federal Government’s formal apology to Japanese Americans whose lives were irreparably harmed during this dark period of our history, and we solemnly reflect on our collective moral responsibility to ensure that our Nation never again engages in such un-American acts. We acknowledge the intergenerational trauma and loss that the incarceration of Japanese Americans has caused. We also uplift the courage and resilience of brave Japanese Americans who, despite being unjustly incarcerated, formed powerful communities and marshalled incredible dignity and strength.”

> A 3-Day conference on memory and reckoning with the internment is at at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. More information here.

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A Quaker Story of Remembrance –and Maybe Prophecy

Pirates Six, Cubs Three

Pittsburgh, PA, sometime in the 1980s.

Harry Nelson: I wasn’t having a good night. And I hadn’t had a good day. Needleman in the Washington office had called just after lunch. “Nelson,” he barked, “We need you here right away.”

I had to help the boss get ready for a big hearing at the Defense Systems Commission. Tomorrow.

I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.

3-Rivers-Stadium

Needleman wasn’t impressed. “They play ballgames in Pittsburgh every night, Nelson,” he said. “We get a chance at a hundred million dollar contract once every ten years, if we’re lucky. This hearing could win it for us. The boss needs your data, and he needs you here to explain it to him. Tonight.”

Continue reading A Quaker Story about U.S. Concentration Camps in World War Two

“Survival & Resistance” A Message from 2006 That is Timely Again

they thought they were free

[Note: This essay was originally published in Friends Journal; but it’s now behind their paywall. It still seems timely today; maybe more so.]

Quakerism was born in a time of revolutionary upheaval. Yet it learned how to survive when the revolution failed and was followed by decades of persecution.

I sometimes hear Quakers waxing nostalgic about recovering the fire and fervor of “early Friends.”

Continue reading “Survival & Resistance” A Message from 2006 That is Timely Again

Progressive Friends & That Haunting Face In The Mirror: Hoping History Won’t Repeat — Or Rhyme Too Much

Samuel M. Janney
Samuel M. Janney, Virginia Friend

 

While reading about and “living with” Progressive Friends, I was inspired by several of the memorable personalities I walked with. I admired and learned from all of them, as well as others who interacted with them.

But there’s one Friend I identified with especially: Samuel M. Janney.

Continue reading Progressive Friends & That Haunting Face In The Mirror: Hoping History Won’t Repeat — Or Rhyme Too Much

Alone Together: Living With & Writing About Progressive Friends

Grave_Buffum_ChaceResearching and writing about Progressive Friends took up most of my time from the autumn of 2013 through the spring of 2014. Often this was a paradoxical experience: from one angle, it was a very solitary effort: from another, very crowded.

I did this research at Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania, as the Cadbury research scholar in Quaker History. Most of my time at Pendle Hill was spent solo: in the Friends Historical Library at nearby Swarthmore College, poring over old letters, minutes, pamphlets and books; in my room, reading more old documents; then lots of staring into my computer screen, at the ever-growing store of texts available there.

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An Indomitable Woman Friend: Five Dead Babies, Spiritualism & Reform

Adapted from the book, Remaking Friends: How Progressive Friends Changed Quakerism & Helped Save America

Elizabeth Buffum Chace, born in 1806, was a striking example of the Progressive Friends movement. Raised a Rhode Island Quaker, she imbibed the refining spirit from her Quaker forebears, especially a sense of mission to help abolish slavery. But this zeal soon put her at odds with the New England Quaker Establishment. While officially against slavery, the leading Friends, mostly persons of wealth, staunchly opposed the “modern” reformist movements, not only abolitionism, but temperance and women’s advancement as well.

Chase had watched in growing dismay as many abolition-oriented New England Friends were expelled or exiled by this powerful, anti-reform inner circle, and meetinghouses were ordered to exclude any abolitionist-oriented meetings and speakers.

Progressive Friends -- A Continuing Series

By late 1843, she had had enough. The letter she sent in Eleventh Month (November) to Providence, Rhode Island Meeting is still compelling.  It also capsulizes the personal pilgrimage of many other Friends who became part of the Progressive movement. A few excerpts: Continue reading An Indomitable Woman Friend: Five Dead Babies, Spiritualism & Reform

Lucy In The Sky, No Diamonds – A Quaker Ghost Story

Part One: Trying to Catch the Bus

Copyright © By Chuck Fager

San Francisco – 2006

Muni-Trolley-bus-Market-street-San-FranciscoKate was racing the Muni bus toward the stop at the corner. She was wet and out of breath. It was bad enough, she thought as the bus slowed, that the skinheads had ripped up her peace poster. But why did they have to drench her with ice water?

The bus stopped and the doors flapped open. Kate leaped onto it, flashing her bus pass and shivering her way toward the back. A sudden San Francisco fog had rolled over the peace rally just as it was breaking up, quickly turning a sunny afternoon chill and dreary. The skinheads had jumped her when she rounded a corner, away from the others, headed for the bus and home.

Continue reading Lucy In The Sky, No Diamonds – A Quaker Ghost Story

Getting Progressive With Sojourner Truth & Friends

The Progressive Friends were a group that hasn’t yet got their props from Quaker historians. There isn’t space here for an outline of their fascinating history, except to say you can find out more here and here.

Pennsylvaia Progressive Friends Minute Book

But in sum, they started as liberal rebels in mid-1800s America, who took on a hidebound Hicksite Establishment. And they ended, invisibly but unmistakably, as the seedbed and founders of modern US liberal Quakerism. The fact that almost nobody knows this is a shame, but no surprise given the general ignorance of Quaker history among Quakers. (I’ll rant about that some other time.)

Continue reading Getting Progressive With Sojourner Truth & Friends

Fleecing The Faithful – Prelude: Down the Garden Path & Opening Pandora’s Box

The 1989 Friends Ministers Conference was the fourth in a series that were held every five years. The event had started out as the Friends Pastors Conference, but this was changed for the 1984 gathering in a bow to traditional Quaker nomenclature, and to accommodate the sensibilities of the handful of attenders who came from the non-pastoral Quaker groups. (I was one.)

The 1989 gathering was scheduled for Denver. The planning committee’s chairman was Eugene Coffin. Priscilla Deters’ introduction to the committee was succinctly described by an Investigator for the Kansas State Security Commission, Gary Fulton. Writing in 1994, he explained that:

Continue reading Fleecing The Faithful – Prelude: Down the Garden Path & Opening Pandora’s Box

The Scent of Fraud Reaches The Houston Graduate School of Theology

In the early 1950s, Billy Britt attended Peoples Bible College in High Point, North Carolina. In 1993, Peoples had become John Wesley College, and Britt’s wife Viola was a member of its board. Frank Scurry, the NCYM pastor who also headed the Houston extension program there, told John Wesley’s President, Brian Donley, about Deters and Productions Plus. Donley was interested. His school was in tenuous financial condition: in debt, unaccredited, and paying very low salaries to its faculty. Donley and his board could think of many uses for matching grants: retiring the debt, some new building, scholarships.

Continue reading The Scent of Fraud Reaches The Houston Graduate School of Theology