Thursday, 22 November 2007

Against torture

In 2005, American Quakers reported on a massacre at Andijan in Uzbekistan. Nobody knows how many protesters were killed by government forces, but eyewitness accounts tell of of a square awash with blood. No-one can be sure how many men, women and children were killed.

Uzbekistan has a government which doesn't hesitate to kill its citizens. The opposition party is banned. Torture is common. Many critics of the regime have been killed.

It's hard to understand how the British government and courts can authorise the deportation of an Uzbek asylum-seeker. Jahongir Sidikov, who belongs to Erk, Uzbekistan's banned opposition party, faces deportation. He's currently in a cell at Heathrow after passive resistance saved him from being deported yesterday. He's now threatened with forcible removal - to Uzbekistan, where political prisoners are routinely tortured.

If you wish to act in support of Jahongir, even if it's only by sending an e-mail to your MP, these details will be useful:

Home Office ref. – S2185191
Port ref. – BGT/188094
DMS ref. – 67823

Jahongir is currently in Harmondsworth Detention Centre. (possibly now held at Heathrow)

Jahongir's deportation is, beyond any possible dispute, illegal under international law. The UK is a State Party to the UN Convention Against Torture, which states at Article 3:

Article 3 1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

31 years ago, Friends World Committee for Consultation wrote the following minute:

It is a matter of grave anxiety that torture and secret imprisonment are being used by many governments, anti-government groups and others to extract information, to suppress criticism, and to intimidate opposition, so that throughout the world countless numbers of men, women and children are suffering inhuman treatment. We believe in the worth of every individual as a child of God, and that no circumstances whatsoever can justify practices intended to break bodies, minds and spirits.

Both tortured and torturer are victims of the evil from which no human being is immune. Friends, however, believe that the life and power of God are greater than evil, and in that life and power declare their opposition to all torture. The Society calls on all its members, as well as those of all religious and other organisations, to create a force of public opinion which will oblige those responsible to dismantle everywhere the administrative apparatus which permits or encourages torture, and to observe effectively those international agreements under which its use is strictly forbidden.

Friends World Committee for Consultation, 1976

[Quaker Faith and Practice 23.31]

If our government deports Jahongir Sidikov to Uzbekistan,his life will be at risk. I think that we, as Quakers, should join the campaign to halt his deportation.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Events for 11th November 2007

posted by Kathy (with apologies for late posting)

I meant to pass on details of a couple of Nottingham events but left it extremely late.


Coinciding with Meeting for Worship, Nottingham Stop the War campaign is organising a protest outside the army recruitment centre at the side entrance to the Victoria Centre. Like Meeting, this begins at 10.30 a.m.

In the afternoon, John Hort of Nottingham CND is introducing a screening of the film, The Last Atomic Bomb at the Broadway Cinema in Nottingham. This starts at 3.00 p.m. Tickets bought from Nottingham CND rather than the Broadway cost £2 each (plus donation towards CND's costs if you wish). Ask me if you want details of how to purchase from CND. I assume that the Broadway will charge their usual amount for tickets bought from the Broadway Box Office.

Nottingham CND has provided the following details of the film:

Directed by Robert Richter, the film tells the story of 10-year-old Sakoe Shimohira, hiding in a shelter in Nagasaki near ground zero when the bomb fell, and the aftermath of that day. Her experiences are interwoven with documentary material about - among others - the US decision to use the bomb, censorship of its effects in the US and Japan, the build up of nuclear weapons during the Cold War, and today’s nuclear proliferation."

You can also read the New York Times review of The Last Atomic Bomb by clicking here.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

White poppies

posted by kathy

If you feel uneasy about red poppies and would like to wear a white poppy instead, I have some which I ordered from the Peace Pledge Union. I'll try to remember to bring them to Meeting next Sunday, or you can ask me beforehand, if you would like. (Martin also has a couple in case of requests.)

The Peace Pledge Union offers a range of resources which can be ordered through their site. These include a history of conscientious objection in World War I which is recommended by Martin. Apparently First World War conscientious objectors lost the right to vote until 1926. I hadn't known that.

Here are a couple of useful on-line links:

The chapter on peace in Quaker Faith and Practice.

Quaker activities at Faslane.

Details of the Quaker-supported Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases at Menwith Hill.

Information and ideas on campaigning from Campaign Against Arms Trade, in which many Quakers and others are involved.

A useful article I found on the BBC website (from an interfaith group in West Wiltshire. This includes a particularly challenging sentence from John Woolman:

“May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.”

It's a helpful reminder that wearing a white poppy may not be enough.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Happy Birthday, Gerrard

posted by kathy

You are now pretty well grown up and can even get married! It seems startling. Beeston Meeting sent you a home-made card to welcome you on the day of your birth.

And congratulations on sharing your views on Tesco and capitalism - your first appearance in print.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Open to new light?

posted by Kathy

Are you open to new light, from whatever source it may come?"

That's one of the challenges posed by Advices and Queries. One of the blogs I read from time to time is Adventus, an American blog which I think comes from an Episcopalian (C of E) perspective. Sometimes I find it "speaks to my condition".

Today it includes an extract from an interview with President Ahmadeinejad of Iran, broadcast on United States television. Being told that President Bush is "without question, a very religious man", President Ahmedeinijad began to question this. This led him to explore what religion means:

"What religion, please tell me, tells you as a follower of that religion to occupy another country and kill its people? Please tell me. Does Christianity tell its followers to do that? Judaism, for that matter? Islam, for that matter? What prophet tells you to send 160,000 troops to another country, kill men, women, and children? You just can't wear your religion on your sleeve or just go to church. You should be truthfully religious. Religion tells us all that you should respect the property, the life of different people. Respect human rights. Love your fellow man. And once you hear that a person has been killed, you should be saddened. You shouldn't sit in a room, a dark room, and hatch plots. And because of your plots, many thousands of people are killed. Having said that, we respect the American people. And because of our respect for the American people, we respectfully talk with President Bush. We have a respectful tone. But having said that, I don't think that that is a good definition of religion. Religion is love for your fellow man, brotherhood, telling the truth.

While I am not in sympathy with all the President Ahmedeinijad's statements, his words on this occasion deserve consideration. I'm glad to have read this - and Adventus's post on the subject.

Meanwhile, Nigel recommends this article from today's Guardian about Quaker Meeting and silence. And I can't remember who recommended reading this piece in which the previous Guardian religious affairs correspondent gives the reason for his resignation.

And I've just followed a link to a page of Quaker information, ideas, diaries and resources, including the chance to win a Quaker T-shirt! Is this a Quaker first?

Sunday, 23 September 2007

More internet links

posted by kathy

There's an obituary for Diana Barley from the Guardian. Thanks to Justine for recommending this.

Also in the Guardian - a problem raised by a reader is a partner who has started attending Quaker Meetings. You may be interested in the responses.

Meanwhile, Quaker Advices and Queries are appearing on the tube in London (rather like the Poems on the Underground).

By the way, a blog you may enjoy is Quaker Street, which has information about Quaker Week. When I have a little more time I'll try to add it to the sidebar.

Do send any more that you would like me to post.

I was at Wandsworth Meeting this morning - larger and with more ministry than Beeston, and a Meeting House on land donated in 1697.

I'm posting a link here to an announcement on a blog called Chicken Yoghurt. I think the story is an important one about speaking truth to power. It concerns Craig Murray, who lost his job as amabassador to Uzbekistan after speaker out about extreme human rights abuses (e.g. torture, murder, rape). Some members/attenders of Meeting have read his book, Murder in Samarkand. Craig Murray felt moved to make statements about Alisher Usmanov, who is trying to take over Arsenal Football Club, as an attempt to bring the truth about Uzbekistan and international politics into the public realm. He challenged Alisher Usmanov, who is a billionaire, to sue him. He is risking everything he has. Given the allegations about Usmanov, he may be risking more than his possessions. Now Craig Murray's blog has been taken down, with a number of others using the same webhost.

Other readers may disagree with my decision to post this. I do so after much thought and after conversations with Friends at Wandsworth. Craig Murray is not a Quaker although Quakers have supported his stand and commended his integrity. The story is barely being mentioned in the newspapers, probably because of fears of libel writs. You can follow it through blogs.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Quakers in the Guardian

posted by Kathy

You may be interested in a comment piece by David Boulton in the Guardian newspaper. It's written for the beginning of National Quaker Week. As it's in the "comment is free" section, it's possible to post on-line comments on the article.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

An introduction to Quakers

posted by kathy

For anyone who would prefer it, you can watch the first of the Introduction to Quakers videos that Rhiannon mentioned by clicking on the picture below. there are further videos nearby on youtube, incuding some on Quaker testimonies.

On this video, members of Watford Quaker Meeting are talking about the Quaker testimonies. These lead into a discussion of Quakers and political activism:

You can find these and other videos in the series here. Do feel free to post comments or pass the videos to others, if you find them helpful.

Friday, 14 September 2007

National Quaker Week

Dear F/friends, National Quaker Week is nearly upon us.

(Dear non Quakers, F/friends is Quaker jargon for 'everyone': Friends are members of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, and friends with a small f covers everyone else-friends we know and friends we don't.)

You may have seen adverts for Nottingham's Quaker Quest in the local papers, or if you're lucky had a green QQ leaflet dropped through your door. Quaker Quest is an attempt to share with interested members of the public a little of what Quakerism is all about-including Meeting for Worship-and it's a big undertaking for any area. At the moment, we're getting set to run for twelve weeks (that's two repeats of the set of six topics), starting Wednesday 26/09/2007 at 6:30pm, in the Quaker Meeting House on Clarendon Street.

Quaker Quest is for everyone. It's for you. It's outreach and it's inreach; and if you feel odd admitting that you're going along to find out what we're saying, you could try getting involved. (If you don't, that's fine, come to satisfy your curiosity.) We (the Quaker Quest core team) need help with leaflet drops-2 hours in Lenton or 10 minutes on your street; catering-something home baked or biscuits from the shop; facilitating small group discussions-get to hear what we're saying and meet some Questers; and in the long run, we may need more people to talk from their own experience about what it is to be a Quaker. (The slots have been filled for this term, but those do include such people as the current writer, whose opinions are frequently subject to debate. To be specific, I'm speaking on October 10th on Quakers and God, and may begin by saying that I don't believe in God.)

You can find out more at:

Around the country, lots of other things will be happening. Some people are just wearing their badges, in the "I'm a Quaker, ask me how!" mould; others are running open days or events. Speaking for myself, I'm running an evening for the Brownies about Quakerism (I'm not yet fully sure what that involves but I suspect that co-operative games and role play about George Fox or Elizabeth Fry will be included), as well as helping with Quaker Quest. I also played a very minor role in making a documentary about Quakers in Watford, which has been released on YouTube. Watch it here, then share the link.

I've also heard of art exhibitions, coffee mornings, and a Meeting for Worship in Speaker's Corner. What will you be doing?

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Keep space for peace

posted by Kathy (thanks to Justine, Lindis, Laila and others)

11th September is a suitable day to discuss the danger of weapons of mass destruction. Quakers have been campaigning against WMD for a long time.

At Menwith Hill near Harrogate there's a United States army base. It was set up in 1951 for command, control, communications and intelligence gathering. That isn't all it does. After the 1991 Gulf War the base was given an award for its contribution to millitary action. You can read more about Menwith Hill here.

Quakers have been involved in protests at Menwith and other U.S. bases in Britain. Some of these have broken the law. Some have been arrested and jailed.
Quakers also hold regular Meetings for Worship outside the base at Menwith Hill.

The main campaign against the base at Menwith Hill is the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases.

On the last day of parliament, Des Browne from the Ministry of Defence announced that the United States had been given permission to use Menwith as part of the American missile defence system (popularly known as "Star Wars"). the announcement was almost buried in a large number of important policy announcements. There was no chance for parliamentary debate.

The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases have called a demonstration for Saturday, 13th October. It will take place between 12 and 4 is being publicised with the heading "Drum them out!" so I suspect drumming may be involved. CAAB would like the demonstration to be big enough to make an impact and gain press coverage. More information will be available later.

If you're interested, put the date in your diary. We can discuss transport later. Watch the websites of CAAB, Northern Friends Peace Board and Yorkshire CND.

And keep reading this blog.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

A message from Jonathan to Beeston Quakers

posted by Kathy for Jonathan

Quaker Quest gets underway at Nottingham FMH on Weds Sept 26th. Before then, we want to circulate as many homes as possible with a leaflet drawing people's attention to these meetings. From the day after the Saturday training day (Sept 8), we hope that as many Friends as possible will drop leaflets through letter boxes.

Can Beeston Quakers help in this task? I have packs of about 30 each which I would be glad to deliver to anyone who do some distributing. I would need to make a note of streets you cover to avoid duplication.

We are well aware that only a tiny fraction will result in an attender at Quaker Quest, but it will mean that more people become aware that Quakers still exist.

In friendship,


If you want to help, you can mention it at Meeting on Sunday or e-mail Kathy if you don't know how to contact Jonathan directly. Or you can post a comment.

Back to Meeting

posted by Kathy
I don't expect Meeting on Sunday will look anything like this. We wouldn't know what to do with all the people and the costumes might excite attention. Besides, with shared Eldership, we would have problems with an Elders' Bench.

However, it will be good to get back to Meeting on Sunday. Yes, it's September on Saturday. That means we're back to weekly Meetings for Worship (at the Day Centre in Middle Street at 10.30 a.m.).

Meanwhile, here's a peaceful photo that I took on my holiday. Other peaceful holiday pictures would be welcome additions to the blog - as would thoughts and reflections from the summer. I hope you've all had a good summer and look forward to seeing you again.

Please remember Rhiannon's request that we consider what we'd like to do for National Quaker Week. It doesn't have to be anything very big or time-consuming but if you would like to wear a badge or put up a poster, for instance, it might be as well to get the badge or poster in advance.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

More on Quaker Quest

posted by Kathy

I've just received an e-mail from Nigel at Nottingham about Quaker Quest.

It's going to run in Nottingham starting on Wednesday, 26th September. There will be two cycles of six evening meetings before Christmas.

Anybody who would be interested in taking part (prospective speakers, facilitators, caterers, etc.) is invited to a preparatory workshop on Saturday 8th September (the workshop runs from 10.00 to 4.00 with bring and share lunch).

Please contact me or Rhiannon if you are interested and would like further details. You can also request information through posting a comment, so long as one of us has your contact information.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Butlin's for Quakers

posted by kathy

I've just realised that Summer Gathering is a sort of Quaker Butlin's. Not the new Butlin's, where people do their own thing, but the old-style Butlin's, complete with organised activities, plenty for children and a full-time entertainments team. Summer Gathering has its own redcoats, though there are differences. For a start, they don't wear red coats but blue scarves - unless they're working with the children, in which case the scarves are orange. Quite often the Summer Gathering entertainments team will suggest a period of silence. So far as I know, Butlin's never provided that. Butlin's redcoats are employees. Ours, known as the "core team", are hard-working volunteers.

There aren't quite wall-to-wall entertainments and activities but sometimes it feels like that, especially when there's a hilly campus to cross. The marquee hosts events which range from Meeting for Worship to the end of Gathering ceilidh. There's community singing, talks and an evening when Quaker groups can lay out their wares and talk about their activities.

We also have small base groups, although I've mostly given mine a miss. I got into the swing of Summer Gathering too late. Events meant that I had to bring some work with me and that ate into my time. I didn't get much chance for informal chats either, which was a shame. Still, the talks I've attended have been good, even if I found myself too tired for the final Meeting for Worship. (Well, I expect there'll be an epilogue after the ceilidh.)

I did get to the Leaveners' production of George and the Chocolate Factory, after a Friend in my flat got a ticket for me. And I decided I ought to go to some of the activity sessions. After playing safe by choosing poetry, I decided to "live adventurously" by trying art and handbell ringing. These may not be activities I'll try again, but I found them absorbing and am glad to have had a go.

There's a Quaker bookstall and a fair trade stall in one of the university buildings. I spent a lot of time wandering round but didn't buy anything. I would have done, but fairtrade orange juice ran out on day 2. And there are all kinds of events in seminar rooms and lecture theatres. For the duration of Gathering, rooms were renames after fruits or vegetables, according to which building they were in. This caused a great deal of confusion. "But tomatoes aren't vegetables - they're fruit," people complained until the daily bulletin issued a firm announcement that, for the duration of the Gathering, tomatoes were defined as veg. Meanwhile a group of dissidents stood round grumbling that bananas weren't fruit or vegetables but, properly speaking, herbs. Fortunately the "bananas are herbs" lobby didn't go quite so far as to demand a new building.

As it all comes to an end, I realise I've missed most of it. I wish I'd gone to Faslane (Butlin's holiday camps don't offer jolly holiday protests) or to see New Lanark on the excursions day, but I didn't book, thinking there might be a chance when I got here. In the end I was just too tired.

Most people look tired by now, though children are bounding with energy. Teenagers struggle to stay awake from breakfast till after midnight, making the most of time with one another. Friendship bracelets are everywhere and much music is made. Activity holidays are hard work. I didn't have much energy when I arrived. Still, the campus is lovely, I've met some old friends (too briefly) and heard words that will stay with me for a long time. Nor shall I forget the kindness of the university staff, which went far beyond their terms of employment. I think that is enough.

Ordinary people

posted by kathy There's a myth that Quakers are extraordinary people.

I'm coming to think that they are actually very ordinary - but some do extraordinary things.

The young man and woman giving the George Gorman lecture (regularly given by young Friends) described a life that was in many respects ordinary. He works for a charity. She teaches in a primary school. These are useful jobs but not unusual. Yet within the space of three weeks he had been deported from two countries, Israel and Russia. Presumably they were suspicious of this young English Quaker because the charity he works for is Islamic Relief. He was aware that his experience was not exceptional - he met others being detained in the Moscow holding cell - and that he was in some ways lucky. People knew where he was and would check on his safety.

An older woman spoke yesterday about her experiences as a volunteer in a Palestinian village. She was there for three months. Her job involved recording what happened as the village farmers, who were Muslim, attempted to reach their fields and olive groves beyond the Separation Wall. They would be stopped at checkpoints and many would be turned away. 75% of their lands are beyond the Separation Wall. Her work also entailed being prepared to defuse conflict non-violently if that seemed necessary. What she had done took courage - but she looked like any woman you might meet in the post office or supermarket queue.

These were not exceptional people but people who took an exceptional path. They tried to see the humanity of immigration officials, prison guards and young Israeli soldiers (just out of school, we were told, and scared of the "terrorist" olive famers). They looked for and found humanity and courage elsewhere - as in the Israeli peace activists who came to harvest the olives for the Palestinian farmers denied access to their groves and livelihood.

We heard too of surprising encounters. Arrested demonstrators at Faslane sat in a police van, glad to be out of the rain. They discussed their plans for the evening. One wanted to see the Michael Moore film Farenheit 911. Another, who had seen the film, was about to embark on an account when the policeman guarding them intervened. "Don't talk about that here," he said. "You'll spoil it for me. I'm going to see it tonight."

None of the Quakers was arrested at Wednesday's Meeting for Worship at Faslane, although some Japanese protestors were taken into custody for their protest. Two coachloads of Quakers - old and young - went to take part in that Meeting. I heard about it from a young Friend who found it a special occasion. That's what she chose to do as her excursion on the free day for fun.

If I'm right - if these are ordinary people who manage to do extraordinary things - that raises a question for me too. I'm asked not only "What canst thou say?" but "What canst thou do?"

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Up north

posted by kathy

Some Beeston Quakers are staying at Summer Gathering, in the shadow of the hills on a campus around a loch on the campus of Stirling University. About 700 Friends have turned up.

The marquee is the centre of main events, but Quakers spread out over the campus, meeting one another, rabbits, swans, cygnets etc. Some Quakers smile a lot and others are irritable. The smiley Quakers smile at the irritable ones and the irritable ones find the smiles particularly irritating. However, Gathering seems more harmonious - more gathered - than when it began, despite communal living, compulsory niceness and shared kitchens.

More posts will follow later, but readers may like to access some of the on-line material - additions are promised. Click HERE for the wesbite.

Stirling is sunnier than Beeston, but torrential downpours occur from time to time to ensure that everyone up north has the experience of being soaked to the skin. I suppose it helps induce a feeling of solidarity with flood victims.

Further posts about Summer Gathering may follow.

Meanwhile, for anyone feeling the need, here is a picture of some water.

Friday, 20 July 2007

August holiday

posted by Kathy

As usual, there won't be any Meeting for Worship at the Day Centre in August. This gives regular attenders the chance to spend weeks or weekends away or even, of they wish, to explore other Meetings. While Meeting has become a bit bigger lately, it still depends on a few people (especially Martin) who open up, set the rooms up, prepare drinks, etc.

If you want to find another Meeting for Worship, you can follow this link on the Britain Yearly Meeting website. The nearest Meetings to Beeston are in Nottingham, Derby and Loughborough. It's sensible to ring any Meeting before turning up at this time of year as arrangements do change.

It would be good if people from Beeston Meeting used the blog to keep in touch. It's easy to post a comment. If you prefer you may e-mail me or Rhiannon so that we can post longer entries - and even jpgs and youtube videos - on the blog.

Henry has his birthday celebrations this weekend - so Happy Birthday, Henry, and have a good (non-violent) water-fight.

Meanwhile, here's a seasonal singalong opportunity, chosen in honour of the public transport devotees among you. (Drivers - please note that this video is not provided for instruction or emulation.)

And if you survived that, here are some good wishes for anyone travelling overseas.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

News from Nottingham (and Watford)

posted by Rhiannon

(Happy Birthday, Tony! I hope Kathy made sure you got your favourite biscuits on Sunday.)

It's nice to be back in Watford, though I miss Nottingham and especially Beeston; but at least I get to see my Watford friends (and Friends). Exciting things are afoot in Watford's plans for National Quaker Week, but I don't expect you to care so much about those as about Nottingham's plans-- and that's really why I am here.

I come to bring you a little news of Quaker Quest. You may remember Nigel visiting us at Beeston, and you may even have known that I went to be meeting at Nottingham's Meeting House on the last Wednesday of term, to find out more about Quaker Quest. Nottingham hope to start running Quaker Quest on the Wednesday of National Quaker Week.

If you haven't heard of it, the website is . If you can't be bothered to read that, the basic idea is to run a repeating series of weekly meetings for enquirers, or Questers; at each, there is food to break the ice, a panel of three speakers who each give their personal experience of some Quaker topic, time for discussion, and a brief Meeting for Worship.

As you can imagine, this sort of outreach requires not only speakers, co-ordinators, and welcomers, but help with food, publicity, etc. If anyone is willing to help, has ideas about how we could reach people in Beeston-- anything from putting leaflets through doors upwards-- I'm sure it would be welcome.

See also where there is some more information about our cycle of Quaker Quest events.

Furthermore, what will Beeston Meeting do for Quaker Week? It could be as simple as resolving to each wear our Quaker badges all week and be ready to answer questions, or perhaps each try and invite someone to come to Meeting on one of the two Sundays. Every little helps, as we used to say before Tesco's pinched it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007


posted by Kathy

Tony achieved his first half-century today.

Congratulations - and may there be many more.

(Sorry I couldn't find a better photo.)

I suspect early Quakers didn't celebrate birthdays. But Tony does and so do I.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Nottingham Refugee Week 16th - 24th June

posted by Kathy

Refugee week, which lasts eight days, starts this Saturday (16th June) . If you're in Nottingham between 11 and 2, there's a stall outside St Peter's Church* (the church near Marks & Spencers).

There's a leaflet which has details on events, but it doesn't have full information. For instance, it doesn't give the time and place for Crossing Borders, which is the opening party/entertainment on Saturday. The national Refugee Week website doesn't give the information either, but it does give list events all over the country. There are helpful e-mail addresses too. You can also contact Notts Refugee Forum by clicking on the link in the sidebar on the right.

*for very traditional Quakers, a "church" is what George Fox used to call a "steeplehouse". And for Quakers so devoted to simple living that they weave their own cloth, Marks & Spencer is a big shop.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

a new blog!

posted by kathy.

This is a blog for Beeston Quakers. It's a new idea and only semi-official, in that no-one said "Don't" when I raised the question after Meeting. For the moment it will be managed by me and Rhiannon. Other volunteers from the Meeting are welcome. So are visitors. If you visit, do feel free to post a comment.

One announcement at Meeting was about the Stop the War protest at the Labour Party's Leadership Conference in Manchester on Sunday 24 June. There are coaches from outside the Salutation Inn, leaving at 9.30 a.m. (£14 waged, £7 unwaged) but you need to book in advance. See the website of Nottingham Stop the War campaign for further details.

But this blog isn't just for external political events. I thought it would be a good idea to include extracts from Quaker and other writings from time to time. As the notice I'm posting is about peace, I thought it would be a good idea to include some early Quaker writings about peace and the peace testimony.

"We…utterly…deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretense whatsoever. And this is our testimony to the whole world. … The spirit of Christ, by which we are guided, is not changeable, so as to once command us from a thing as evil and again to move unto it; and we do certainly know, and so testify to the world, that the Spirit of Christ which leads us into all Truth will never move us to fight and war against any man with outward weapons, neither for the kingdom of Christ, nor for any kingdoms of this world."
(George Fox, 1660)

May we look upon our treasures, the furniture of our houses, and our garments, and try whether the seeds of war have nourishment in these our possessions.
(John Woolman, c.1764)

This more recent statement sadly seems relevant today. I don't know if Quakers in 1976 thought such words might one day be applied to the British and United States governments:

"It is a matter of grave anxiety that torture and secret imprisonment are being used by many governments, anti-government groups and others to extract information, to suppress criticism, and to intimidate opposition, so that throughout the world countless numbers of men, women and children are suffering inhuman treatment. We believe in the worth of every individual as a child of God, and that no circumstances whatsoever can justify practices intended to break bodies, minds and spirits.
"Both tortured and torturer are victims of the evil from which no human being is immune. Friends, however, believe that the life and power of God are greater than evil, and in that life and power declare their opposition to all torture. The Society calls on all its members, as well as those of all religious and other organisations, to create a force of public opinion which will oblige those responsible to dismantle everywhere the administrative apparatus which permits or encourages torture, and to observe effectively those international agreements under which its use is strictly forbidden."
(Friends World Committee for Consultation, 1976)

Finally, from the introduction to the Advices and Queries which are sometimes read (just one or two at a time) in Quaker Meetings for Worship:

Our diversity invites us both to speak what we know to be true in our lives and to learn from others. Friends are encouraged to listen to each other in humility and understanding, trusting in the Spirit that goes beyond our human effort and comprehension

This seems a good starting point for this blog.