Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mary Trump: Will she really throw the book at Uncle Donald?

I’ve done pretty well at ignoring the steady stream of anti-Trump tell-all books.

I haven’t spent ten cents or ten minutes in The Room Where It Happened with John Bolton.

I didn’t warm myself with Michael Wolff’s Fire & Fury.

Unhinged may have been Omarosa’s cri de couer, but it failed to make me crazy enough to read it. Continue reading Mary Trump: Will she really throw the book at Uncle Donald?

Breaking: Axe is Falling at Guilford (Updated)

LATER UPDATE: Wednesday afternoon (July 1) Guilford College posted a statement confirming our report of extensive job cuts. Here it is in full:

Guilford College President Jane K. Fernandes announced today that the College will reduce its personnel as part of cost-cutting measures following reduced revenues this summer.

“This is a hard step to take,” Jane says. “But the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated financial challenges for virtually all colleges and universities nationwide. We have to recognize and respond to these challenges.”

Personnel losses include 45 staff employees and 5 visiting faculty, approximately 15 percent of Guilford’s workforce. The College will continue to offer the degree programs that have attracted students from across the country for decades, along with the Guilford Edge, a reimagined educational experience focused on uncommon engagement in real-world learning.

“Our singular focus at this point is ensuring a great academic year for our students. And that begins with the safe and successful opening of campus next month. We look forward to welcoming our students, both new and returning, home to campus,” Jane says.

[End of statement. Our call to Guilford requesting details of the cuts was not returned.]

[UPDATE, Wednesday 9:45 AM-a source reports that as many as 40 names of Guilford staff are on the list of cuts.  More when we have it . . .]

Last week, Guilford College president Jane Fernandes announced  her resignation. The announcement said ,

“Over the past year and a half while dreaming about how I might create the next chapter of my career and life, I was considering stepping down, probably in 2022.

Fernandes, center.

Now with the increasing uncertainty of our altered reality that this pandemic is causing, Ithink it best to complete some of the hard decisions we need to make, assist the Board of Trustees with a transition, and allow another leader to envision and implement the structural adjustments in higher education that undoubtedly will follow this crisis.”

The “structural adjustments,” aka job cuts due to “our altered reality,” reportedly began on June 30, with email notices of job terminations. This is a developing story, and we do not yet have a confirmed list of how many job cuts have been made, but credible sources indicate they are underway.

While the specifics of the job cuts are not yet clear, in an earlier post, we cited this report from April 3, 2020, in the Greensboro News Record:

GREENSBORO — Its campus empty through the rest of the spring semester, Guilford College has furloughed 133 full-time and part-time staff employees for the next two months.
Slightly more than half of the college’s 250 non-faculty employees were notified Thursday (April 2) that they would have to take unpaid time off from work through at least June 1, President Jane Fernandes said in an interview Friday.

Furloughs were ordered in all campus areas except among professors, who are teaching classes remotely through May.

Send news leads on this developing story to our secure encrypted email address:
oldmustang (at)


Blow All the Slaveowning Men Down?

I give a lot of weight to voices like that of Charles Blow. So I am taking seriously what he wrote in today’s NYTimes:

“I say that we need to reconsider public monuments in public spaces. No person’s honorifics can erase the horror he or she has inflicted on others.

Slave owners should not be honored with monuments in public spaces. We have museums for that, which also provide better context. This is not an erasure of history, but rather a better appreciation of the horrible truth of it.”

— And yet, and yet, I find myself thinking. What about —??

Take Washington. Okay, no excuse for slaveowning.

Yet in the courts, there are such things as mitigating circumstances. They don’t overturn a conviction, but can affect the sentence.

And in Washington’s case,  there’s that small matter of winning our independence, so the U.S. could work through its own blood-dimmed way to end slavery.

John Brown. Does he need a memorial on the National Mall?

And then there was that other matter of him refusing to be made a king. Especially these past four years, Every day of them, many of us can see how NOT small that one was.

Even Jefferson (cf. the Bill of Rights? ) Yeah, Sally Hemings.

Still. I mean, every dam day that piece of Jefferson’s legacy mitigates our circumstances. At least what’s left of it does. Continue reading Blow All the Slaveowning Men Down?

A Slice of Pandemic Life: Making it into the GF Upper Crust

  • So I’ve been doing this gluten-free thing for some years, and overall it’s been fine. But there’s one staple of the old stuff that I missed,  sorely, namely: toast.

Most GF “bread” sorta worked, except not really. the texture was too different, the slices were small, etc.  Oh well.

But then, when I moved to the garden spot of Carolina, aka Durham, I stumbled on a local mom & pop outfit called “Imagine That Gluten Free,” which made mainly bread.

But such bread! Full-size slices! Old-fashioned texture! Regular looking sandwiches; gratifying grilled cheese. And TOAST—OMG!

At first I had to rise early on Saturday mornings & hurry down to the farmer’s market where they had a stall. No dilly-dallying allowed, because they usually sold out well before noon, and I came back bereft & empty-handed more than once.

Eventually, though, a co-op market opened near us, and ITGF bread was featured there. Their packaging was distinctively, austerely simple: clear plastic bags, bare but  for a homemade address size white label, printed with the name & variety, looking like it was spat out of the last operating dot matrix printer in the Southeast. Even, so, the bread was pricey, about $9 a full loaf. But I ponied up: YOLO, and YOLO-GF only part of the once, right?

ITGF is determinedly local; but as good as the bread was, I fully expected their loaves to soon be showing up in all the markets around. The business would grow like crazy, and then eventually be snapped up by some giant corporation, the way another Durham onetime mom & pop, Burt’s Bees, was snagged by Clorox for just under a cool billion bucks.

But no, or at least not yet. ITGF seems determinedly small, selling only a few items, bread, pizza rounds, and the occasional cookie/muffin to a dozen or so legacy hippie outlets like the coop market. Which was okay by me, as long as I was still in their range.

So far, all this is a tale of the Good Old Days; and as in so many others, when we get to February the narrator has to pause, draw a breath, and add,  “But suddenly a pandemic came, along with the new Depression.” And in their wake, the collapse of a multitude of small businesses, plus many larger ones too. Down went Penney’s; down went Pier One, Down went to Brooks Brothers, not to mention most all of the decent diners.

And one morning, the Durham Coop Market was out of ITGF bread. That had happened before: did I mention they often sold out fast? But a week, then two went by, still no new stock.

And one day when I hurried in, turned restlessly  down the bread aisle, I was confronted not only by a broad empty shelf, but an oversized flyer from Coop management. It announced grimly that “Due to unforeseen circumstances,”  ITGF was not working. They hoped ITGF would be back, but . . . The future was murky, uncertain & unforeseen — understatement of the decade, right??

So every time during the weeks since, when I’ve been back in the Coop, I checked, and was disappointed. I also wondered: clearly the ITGF folks, a couple named Gardner, were very private: they don’t even have a website for chrissake. (“Imagine That, Web-Free”; hmm, kinda has a ring to it maybe?)

Were they down with the virus? Had they gone bust and were driving Uber & studying for new careers in contact tracing? Or had they hightailed it to New Zealand, where the bug was practically gone; or possibly Vermont, almost as clean, much closer, and with Bernie Sanders at no extra charge?

Who knew? I just sighed, and once or twice when desperate  tried another brand of GF loaf — they were just as blah as before. I tried to stay positive, because so far me and mine had all tested negative. If surviving this dismal year was only going to mean was attending Quaker meeting on ZOOM & losing the best GF toast ever, well, maybe no loaf was better than no life . . . .

And then yesterday I stopped in again. Looking actually for a couple other delicacies: the fabled maple yogurt I only recently discovered, and a package of unsalted rice crackers. The crackers were a long way from savory, but fit my doctor-enforced low-salt regimen and were at least a break from the rigors of celery & (unsalted) peanut butter.

With these in the cart, I made a perfunctory swing by the bread aisle— and Lo, low on the horizon — was it really a line of those almost miniature plain white dot-matrix labels??

Yes! Yes, it was! Hallelujah, ITGF was back. And not only the toasting loaves, but one solitary baguette. Which of course I grabbed also.

Let’s hope this means the very private Gardners are well, solvent, and back in the baking game. If so, then maybe we’ll get through this ordeal.

Or at least I will. Those loaves for  me were the best thing since sliced bread.



Quaker Statues Have to Go? That’s What George Fox Said . . .

The work of bringing down Calhoun took all one night and most of the next day.

So– the City of Charleston wasted no time. After the City Council voted unanimously this week to take down its landmark monument to John C. Calhoun, a crew swung into action, starting at near midnight.

It was no small task to pluck the figure from its 100-foot pedestal. It took the workers until late the next day to bring  Calhoun floating back down to earth, and ship him off to a future of obscurity.

I was as pleased as anyone to see Calhoun disappear, at  least from that exalted place of honor; but I hope he lives on as a shameful memory, of a sadder-but-wiser nation that let him look down on all since 1896, as what one historian called “the Marx of the master class.” Continue reading Quaker Statues Have to Go? That’s What George Fox Said . . .

Point/Counterpoint: The Country Is Holding Together/ Oh, No It Isn’t

Two excellent articles on May 12,  arguing almost exactly opposite cases, and both (to me) almost equally persuasive.

First, the Optimist: Greg Sargent in the Washington Post: “Trump is badly botching the virus. New polls show Americans know it:

Greg Sargent

In what should be seen as a rebuke of President Trump, Anthony S. Fauci will tell a Senate panel on Tuesday that reopening the country too quickly risks causing “multiple outbreaks” of coronavirus, resulting in “needless suffering and death.”

Majorities of the American people appear to agree with Trump’s most prominent coronavirus task force member. Indeed, two new polls strongly suggest Trump has lost the argument over how to respond to the virus right now on just about every level.

Continue reading Point/Counterpoint: The Country Is Holding Together/ Oh, No It Isn’t

The Church, The Draft-Board & Me – Narrative Theology by George Amoss Jr.

Quaker Theology has published an occasional series of what we call “Narrative Theologies” essays: personal accounts of Friends’ religious pilgrimages, into (and sometimes, out of) the Society of Friends. These reflect, but are not tied to theological currents which regard, for instance, the Bible as a collection of stories rather than any kind of formal structured set of propositions. Their best outcome is more a conversation rather than a system.

However, our goal for them is that they be more than simply autobiography or memoir. The hope is that they also will be vehicles for reflection on the experiences recounted and analyzed– reflection by the author, the reader, and by the wide community of Friends.

For me theology differs from straight storytelling in that it involves, at some level, reflection and analysis of experience. Thinking, in short. (And George Amoss Jr.’s piece in the new issue of Quaker Theology, Issue # 34 is a fine example)

Such work is not exactly the same thing as “intellectual” activity or abstract and systematic reasoning. I don’t think one needs to be “an intellectual” to be a Friend, or even a theologian; but I do think there is an important place for such work in the Quaker community if we are to be a mature religious body.

George Amoss Jr. is well and widely read in theology, in and outside Quakerism, but his story here is as personal as it can get.  The few samples below will, I hope, prompt many Friends to turn to the full story on his website. The fuller story makes for a fine weekend read. And if you’re moved, please join the discussion via the Comments.

Brief excerpts from George Amoss Jr.: Continue reading The Church, The Draft-Board & Me – Narrative Theology by George Amoss Jr.

Politicians Just used to Steal from Us. Now They’re Killing Us Too

Guest Post by Mark D. Schwartz

[NOTE: Submitted as a comment, I thought this piece merited wider discussion. The views expressed here are his own, but I welcome their articulation.]

We’re Used to Politicians Stealing from Us. Now They are Killing Us: So, Where is the Outrage of the 1960s?

Mark Schwartz

​Starting college in the early seventies, I missed out on the campus activism of the 1960’s all in reaction to the indignities foisted on American citizens by their government, whether it be the Vietnam war or racial and economic inequality. I’ve only read about the leaders of the SDS or Weather Underground who populated my alma mater, Swarthmore College, and other colleges. By the time I entered as a freshman, the funders of the school had locked things down

​Five decades later I wonder why, despite all of the inequality, corruption and the outright obliteration of the middle class, and now Covid-19 deaths, such activism has not reignited.

​Motivated by my education and having studied President Franklin Roosevelt’s use of government to combat the Great Depression, I then felt that government, if not the solution to society’s problems, could at least provide a level of opportunity for the disadvantaged. Continue reading Politicians Just used to Steal from Us. Now They’re Killing Us Too

Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One

May 4 2020 is the 50th anniversary of the Kent State killings of four students by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war protest.

Only two years ago, on a balmy spring Sunday, was I able to visit & pay respects at Kent State, with my good friend Henry Bloom, of Cleveland. The scene was tranquil and idyllic, but like a corner of the fields around Gettysburg, ringed with memorials and monuments. Here are some snapshots.

Henry, at left, is a somewhat retired physician, less retired this spring because of the pandemic.


Kent State was a very major event for me, though I was hundreds of miles away in Massachusetts.  I could say a lot about this day and its aftermath, but this tee shirt below does it better.

And the music of the day brings it all back. Read this part of a poem for Allison Krause, one of the victims, and listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young’s “Four Dead In Ohio:

From a poem Continue reading Kent State – May 4, 1970: Part One

Some “Advices” for Quakers & Others from “Passing the Torch”

The eleven authors in the new book, “Passing the Torch” were invited to draw on their several centuries of living and Quaker experience to offer “Advices,” informal counsel for readers.

A few made lists. Others wove such insights into their texts. Others left this part of the work implicit.

Here are some selections from these “Advices,” presented not as commandments, but more as food for thought and, perhaps, discussion.

Emma Lapsansky two advices:

Emma Lapsansky-Werner

1. Choose your perspective on life, and whenever possible, choose joy. One of my favorite parables is of two men, seated beside each other on a plane when the pilot’s voice was heard issuing news no traveler wants to hear:
“We’ve had engine failure, the plane is going down, and we don’t have enough parachutes for all of you. I suggest that your best chance for survival—and it’s a slim chance—is to kick out your window and jump.” The two passengers looked at each other, then one jumped, covered his eyes, moaned aloud about the terrible fate ahead, and sure-enough, he hit the ground and died. The second passenger—also without a parachute—jumped out of the window. But he decided to hold open his coat, like the wings of a bird, in order to slow his descent. Holding his coat open meant that he couldn’t cover his eyes. So, as he descended, he noticed the rich Fall colors on the trees. He also noticed how cute the children looked from above, as they played in the park. “Hmm,” he thought, “this must be the view that God gets, every day!” But of course, this second passenger also hit the ground, and perished. The moral of this parable is that while we do not always have control over our circumstances or outcomes, we always have a choice about our perspective.

2. Enjoy sugar cookies, cantaloupe, and home-grown tomatoes.

Barbara Berntsen:

Do not bother children when they are skateboarding.
Don’t fool yourself into defining what Quakerism is or how it will look for our spiritual children. You and your generation don’t own the tradition.
Don’t think you know who will pick up the torch and carry the flame into the future, however much you think you have the gift of prophecy. You run the risk of snuffing out the very spark that is the future.

Carter Nash.

Carter Nash: 1. [Since my cancer diagnosis] I have since been in a clinical trial, had radiation therapy, lots of tests on an ongoing basis. I’m up at 2am to take medications. I deal with the symptoms that women do during menopause (hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings) — so men, be nice and try to be understanding, it might be you one day.

2. [As an African-American Friend] One group that I have had to learn to forgive and try to ignore is the white saviors. I’m tired of their being offended for me (if you think I might have been offended ask me before you go complaining, I might be fine with you thinking I should have been offended by something, and if I was I can ask for help dealing with it, if I need any).
I’m tired of hearing them saying what acts are racist. I’m tired of them telling everyone else they have the solution to either racism generally or a problem they perceive. I am tired of hearing from them how people of color should deal with racism (which we do every day). In many ways I find the actions of white saviors to be saying people of color don’t have the ability, the agency to work for their own improvement, to demand their own equality to strategically plan to achieve their goals.

H. Larry Ingle.

H. Larry Ingle, historian:
1. “[The 1827 Hicksite-Orthodox schism left] Quakers so divided that it required a hundred and thirty-five years and many divisions later to overcome all the bitterness that ensued. Indeed, this animosity’s legacy still feeds an obvious distrust among Friends of different persuasions to this very day. It also makes too many Quakers averse to conflict, lest raising fundamental and basic issues among themselves might lead to other schisms. Speaking truth to power, a phrasing coined by Quakers in the 1950s when the AFSC published the seminal pacifist pamphlet Speak Truth to Power, is not something Friends do among themselves even today. They seem fearful of where honesty might lead. They need to get over that assumption.”

2. The lesson I take away from a lifetime of studying Quaker history is the one I articulated at the end of [my book] Quakers in Conflict, one often ignored . . . . True, I described and documented the high-handed unsavory tactics of [the] Orthodox [faction] but I also averred that some body has to have the authority to make judgments within Quakerdom. Authority need not become authoritarian, but neither can individualism be allowed to splinter the group into its constituent members, for then there will be no group. It is a hard path to walk this fine line between these two options, and given Quaker history nearly impossible to make much headway, but treading it is something that is certainly required.”

Chuck Fager: Quakerism is sometimes buffered from the full brunt of our own internal evildoing, not from virtue but rather by its flat decentralist structure. But make no mistake: bad Quaker things happen, and if you’re faithful enough for long enough, some will happen to you. Or maybe you’ll join in with them, if only by complicity. As the late M. Scott Peck put it in, People of the Lie: “Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one’s evil from oneself as well as from others than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture.”

Jennifer Elam

Jennifer Elam (who was allotted four, because they’re very brief):

Tell the Truth (knowing the complexities of Truth).
Honor your parents (and they don’t have to know EVERYTHING you do as an adult); honor your heritage and ancestors.
Listen to your teachers (teachers are everywhere).
Laugh a lot; humor is important.

And don’t forget our Book Launch Party on Saturday Nov. 23, at Providence Friends Meeting, 105 N. Providence Rd. in Media PA, noon to 3PM. Free, with food, readings, authors to mingle with, and music from and about our generation.

You’re invited; (more details here. )

Previous posts featuring Passing The Torch Authors–
1. Barbara Berntsen

  1. Carter Nash
  2. Helena Cobban
  3. Why Passing the Torch? Why Now?
  4. Douglas Gwyn: “I received a distinct calling”