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 before the Defense Systems Commission. Tomorrow.
I told him I’d promised to take the kids to a ballgame.
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.”
On February 1, 1965, I was arrested in Selma, Alabama with Dr. Martin Luther King and 250 others. Here’s what happened that day, and how I ended up eating Dr. King’s dinner.
I – Blocking the View, Blocking the Road
That morning, I was too tense to eat. Keyed up and ready, my thoughts were full of armies marching to battle.
It was February 1, 1965. I was part of a nonviolent “army” – or at least a battalion – set to march in Selma, Alabama that day. Our objective, the territory we hoped to occupy, was downtown, the Dallas County jail; we planned to capture it by getting arrested.
I was still feeling a bit weak that first Day morning, after several days in bed with a bilious fever. But I was now better, and the weather in New York was fair.
My good wife agreed. “Jacob, a walk to Meeting would likely do thee good. It is only four blocks to Rose Street, after all.”
Several men Friends were milling around near the broad meetinghouse steps, on their way into the building. But one lingered, not going in. His tall figure was unmistakable even though his grey coat and broadbrim hat were like all the others.
A Story by Chuck Fager
Copyright (c) All rights reserved
PART ONE: Four Days Into Lockdown
It was hot. The summer of 1970 was burning scorched-looking brown spots in the green Pennsylvania hills, and made the wide cornfields around us crackle, as if their just-forming ears were going to swell up and start popping any minute now.
Inside the wall, humidity condensed and trickled down the walls of our cells, and the smells of mildew and old sweat were everywhere. It occurred to me that it must be something like this in the rice paddies of Vietnam. That was an irony for you: I had refused to join the army and go the rice paddies, so rice paddy weather had come to me.
Kate 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.
March 10 — how could I forget? How dare I fail to remember.
Four years and four months ago, John Stephens and I began a blog site called freethecaptivesnow.org , as both a personal vigil and a community service, compiling and posting nightly updates of reports — or mostly the lack of reports — about the fate of four… peaceworkers kidnapped in Iraq. They had been taken in Baghdad, and one of them, Tom Fox, was a Quaker and a friend of both John and me.
[Reprinted by permission from The Best of Friends, Vol. 1, a collection published by the Fellowship of Quakers in the Arts, in 2000. A lot of interesting mysteries have been published since then, but this is a good starter.]
I know no better relaxation than curling up in my favorite chair with a nice cup of tea and good murder mystery. Make it a well written religious, murder mystery that delves into spiritual, theological, and social concerns, and you have my perfect afternoon; my Sabbath from the cares and drudgery of my personal and professional life; a time and space suspended from reality. Yes, a virtual time and space in which I can exercise my mind trying to determine who done it and why! Continue reading Reading Religious Murder Mysteries For Relaxation, Fun and Sometimes A Bit of Spiritual Growth→