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.”
And we’re the same age; we always are, except for the sad months of September until early December. He gets older first.
And now he’s charging into the post-pandemic, and I’m glad to see it, and will let him tell much of his new story right here, as a guest post. Not least, because he starts out with a truth that applies to us both:
GK: I don’t need another career, but once a writer, always a writer–
Besides his work and example, Friend David Zarembka also left a valuable and underestimated resource of writings for Friends and others. We’ll sample that legacy here, and point to where more can be found.
English-speaking Quakers today are in dire need of some new “spiritual” books, and I have a top candidate to recommend here. It is John Calvi’s How far Have You Traveled?
Amid all the wonderful stuff that’s in it, some of what makes Calvi’s book so excellent is what’s not in it.
For example — and this fact alone made me an instant fan — in its 200 or so pages, the word “transformation” occurs only once.
Further, the bogus cliche “spice” shows up only thrice – and each time, thank goodness, it’s part of “hospice,” programs that bring comfort and peace to the often painful work of dying; in his career John has very often been a two-legged hospice. “Spiritual journey” likewise is limited to three appearances.
For that matter, “theology” is mentioned only ten times, and then mostly not from John’s pen, but in quotes by one of his elders/mentors, the late Elizabeth Watson.
But be not deceived; How Far Have You Traveled? is indeed a Quaker theological work, a substantial and serious (while often hilarious) one. For one thing, while Calvi is pretty loose on doctrine, Jesus pops up about twenty times. The book is not academic. John is an avid learner, but school academics have not been his forte.
Instead, he introduces us to what I would call “un-systematic theology,” and without argument he shows compellingly why it is so much needed. Instead of riffing on the trendy banalities of much “devotional” writing, or wandering into the mazes of academic abstractions, John’s theology grows out of reflections on decades of hands-on work as a massage therapist. Continue reading John Calvi: Boon Companion for Spiritual Travel→
Today, April 30, 2020, is Annie Dillard’s birthday.
Among the many authors who interest me, she might be the one I would most like to be email & text message-buddies with, so I could have a chance to keep up with her laser sharp thoughts and squibs on, whatever.
I can no longer travel, can’t meet with strangers, can’t sign books but will sign labels with SASE, can’t write by request, and can’t answer letters. I’ve got to read and concentrate. Why? Beats me. . . . (I’ve posted this web-page in defense; a crook bought the name and printed dirty pictures, then offered to sell it to me. I bit. In the course of that I learned the web is full of misinformation. This is a corrective.)
Radical Wisdom vs Conventional Wisdom
A Bible Study: Proverbs & Ecclesiastes
The origins of the Hebrew Wisdom books, like most of the Jewish scriptures, are obscure, and there are various theories.
Some scholars think materials such as the sayings in Proverbs are all conscious, intentional acts of creativity–that is, somebody sat down and wrote them, as a form of aphoristic poetry, a kind of Hebrew haiku. Many such scholars believe they were produced in large part for use in teaching apprentice scribes. They’re primers of a sort, both for learning to write, and as part of a scribe’s preparation for his role as adviser to the powerful.