Archive for June, 2010

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Out of the Water, into the Sky

June 9, 2010

Check out this cartoon by Tom Toles. Putting a cap over the gushing wound of crude oil is a good idea. Unfortunately, it won’t do anything to fix the more commonplace forms of pollution. Even when everything is working “properly,” our desperate pursuit of petroleum has a terrible consequence for all living creatures on earth.

It’s uncomfortable to think that the disaster in the Gulf has something to do with my own lifestyle. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just hate BP?

Here’s something you can do. As oil and gas spew into the Gulf, the Senate is scheduled to vote this Thursday on legislation that would strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its authority to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Um… hello?

Please consider contacting your senators. Urge them to vote no on on S.J. Res. 26.

Capping the Spill

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Quaker Community

June 8, 2010

Yesterday, I had coffee with Christina Repoley.  She happens to be a Friend from the unprogrammed tradition, attending Chandler School of Theology at Emory.  By pursuing her interest in pastoral ministry, Christina is rocking the boat.  Maybe someday soon, unprogrammed meetings in Pennsylvania or North Carolina will provide NW Yearly Meeting with a new generation of pastors.  Or maybe the way we Quakers think about worship and leadership is changing.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the old categories that divided us no longer apply?

Earlier this year, Christine Leonard-Osterwalder called me from Hawaii.  Her worship group had outgrown its practice of meeting in homes.  Although her own background was with the United Church of Christ, Christine felt a strong affinity for Quaker theology and practice.  After becoming a frequent visitor to the WHF website, she thought I might have something useful to say about organizing a spiritual community.  So, she arranged a time when we could talk by phone.

Do these encounters provide a glimpse into the future of Quaker community?  Will changes in technology make it easier for us to find our fellow travelers?  Or perhaps labeling these brief conversations “Community” stretches the concept beyond its breaking point.

If we haven’t yet entered the future, we have certainly departed the past.

Currently, NW Yearly Meeting has focused its attention on the structure of area gatherings.  In the past, these gatherings provided Friends with an important opportunity to expand the circle of community beyond that of the local meeting.

Although Quarterly meetings have a fine history, I think their usefulness has passed.  Simplicity is a Quaker value… but dressing like the fellow on the Quaker Oats box is no longer a meaningful structure for expressing this value. To put it bluntly, proximity is no longer the obvious platform for community.  At one time, community had to happen within a certain geographical area: the only way people could connect was face-to-face (and within the distance they could travel by horse or by foot).  This simply isn’t true anymore.

I urge our yearly meeting to look for creative and innovative ways of building community.  It will be life-draining for us to invest our energy in preserving an old structure.