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.