YAFs Memorial Day Gathering: Time To Grow Up

The following message has been broadcast across Quaker networks today:

<< The planning committee for the Young Adult Friends Gathering, 2010, comes together in Wichita, Kansas this weekend. Young Quakers from across the United States, Canada and Mexico will gather this Memorial Day weekend, May 28-31, for a gathering…
>> For more, go here.

Since the big event is only a bit more than a month away, this will be one of their last chances to take another, more edifying look at the embarrassing and oppressive set of “Expectations for Community” that I have commented on before, and if they value the reputation of their “movement,” they’ll ease up on the long list of “Thou Shall Nots.”

I mean, be serious people: A Quaker in a Speedo or a tank top is not the end of the world, or even Quaker ecumenism. And if a husband and wife get in some canoodling in the privacy of their own room, is this really your business??
(This is not a rhetorical question.
The answer is not NO, it is Hell NO.)

christ-wine2And if somebody puts into more compressed terminology a bit of the long string of cursing that Jesus did in Matthew 23 — so get a hermeneutical life, and chill, for bleep’s sake.

Perhaps the most ridiculous piece of self-parody in the whole document is this one:
“Our goal is that this conference will be a welcoming place for all Friends.”

Right. Some committee members may be able to repeat this mantra with a straight face. In which case, they really need to see an optometrist, because they are suffering from a very severe case of myopia.

To spell it out — their list of rules is not “welcoming” to all Friends at all: on its face it is flat-out exclusionary of large chunks of contemporary US Quakers, and the punitive tone is plain to see. It’s not just about Speedos, guys and gals; it’s also the limited and slanted theology that leaks out all over the place.

Dig it, friends: you can call a circle a square all you want, or swear (excuse me, affirm) that an apple is an orange. That doesn’t make it so. And your list of rules (e.g. apple) is not a welcoming document (e.g, orange). Describing it that way just makes the authors and enforcers look ever sillier as you try.

And just for the record, I’ll repeat that I’m not encouraging some kind of unbridled saturnalia. Commonsense rules (no illegal drugs, no weapons, no public sex, and a few others) are plenty for adults, and already work well at lots of other Quaker gatherings. (Though it is a well-known fact that in Wichita, married people have been having sex in private for years; some say it’s been going on for a decade.)

Hey–how did THAT get in here??
And is it the Hicksite or the Gurneyite version?
Hmmmmm. ‘Spose they have one in grey?

But this list would be a joke if it were not so unbecoming. It is bad practice to treat adults like children, and bad practice for adults to go along with such treatment.

So some YAFS — no doubt earnest and well-intentioned — are still on course to make their event a falsely advertised, sanctimonious laughingstock, and a very bad precedent. As they gather in Wichita, they can and should do better; but the clock is ticking.

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