Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Quaker Culture, the Quaker Community and the Quaker Faith

Dear Friend,

This is to draw your attention to a feature recently published in the New York Times. Here we find a quote about the mutual exclusivity of one's professed Quaker Faith, with that person's Jewish culture and community. By the public speech in a venerable journal, and the quoted person in control of the keys to an historic meetinghouse - there is the insinuation that the quoted knows something about the Quaker Faith. What might be more
absurd (than to believe everything you read in the NYTimes) is the clear quote that her membership is solely in the Jewish community.

Some know, at the same time, she has been appointed with her own consent, and continues to be appointed as a Quaker minister to positions of authority (once as the head Quaker Minister) in the New York Quaker community. When one is quoted unmistakably to say they are of one community only, but are in reality of two, what should a reasonable person think? Which community takes higher precedence in one's mind and action? Can one always be true to both?

We know that humans form groups or communities mainly for self-protection. What differentiates Quakers or any group who form a community from devolving into a gang or a an illegitimate government which unfairly enforces ways of life and ways of action, and which protects and controls resources? The answer is force - whether or not it is physical or implied in the threat of punishment or disownment for speaking critically of the group.

The Jewish person quoted in the New York Times below is a official Quaker member of the local Flushing Meeting in New York City, and is now also a member of the General Secretary’s Committee, one of a few powerful, and central New York Yearly Meeting Committees. To refresh your memory - New York Yearly Meeting (NYYM) is a Quaker regional body and (New York State, North New Jersey, Southern CT) is supposed to be a religious governing body in grass roots style. However, NYYM has devolved into group of unconnected Quaker elite who get together for a nice vacation/expensive governing session each summer in the Adirondacks. NYYM insinuates in some false manner, that it speaks morally for the whole declining Quaker population within its geographic turf. (Membership most likely now is at about 1,500 actual members, down from 6,500 in 1955.)

This clearly quoted Jewish person quoted by the first-class newspaper was the Clerk (a position of high esteem and authority) of Ministry and Counsel (the Ministers) for New York Quarterly Meeting (of New York City) when she stood against two Quaker Friends (something rarely done against one, let alone two, in Friends' Society) in a public Friends meeting for business in 10th Month 2005. She must have felt she was important enough to do so, even as New York Quarterly Meeting Nominating Committee most probably still sits around wringing its hands and going over the handful of same-old potential nominees for the same-old open positions it can’t fill. (The author was once a member of the New York Quarterly Meeting Nominating Committee.)

In fact there was evidence the person who has publicly denied her membership in the Quaker community (most would believe one's faith is private, but one's membership in community is not) in the New York Times this past week, premeditatedly contemplated standing against the two Quaker Friends, whom she finally stood against in that fateful public meeting in 2005. The weighty members of New York Quarterly Meeting who did not question her accusation at that moment of standing against, must have believed they understood good Quaker order. And later, those same ministers who did not permit the accused or ‘stood-against’ to hear the accuser's (mentioned in the news article below) concerns face-to-face, about their ability to serve on the New York Quarterly Meeting Audit Committee and New York Quarterly Meeting Trustees - believed they still understood Friendly practice. Maybe the ministers did believe it (because she was the 'head' minister)?

But the sound judgment of the other weighty Friends or 'ministers' around the 'head minister' quoted below in the New York Times, was evidently suspended, to ignore the ultimate absurdity - the ‘elephant in the room’ - in order keep up their morally superior appearance. In other words, the New York City Quaker heavyweights went along silently with the avoidance of potentially explosive exposure of the truth of financial impropriety hidden within the New York Quaker government. The 'accused' Friends who were stood against would have surely not tolerated such - so they were effectively disowned - or forced out. There it is, the 'F' word which indicates a gang.

The truth is that this political jockeying was done for money - to perpetuate what Samuel Caldwell called – The Quaker Culture. Although Caldwell spoke of the Philadelphia Friends, his concept applies to New York Friends also. The common factor in Quaker Culture between these two Societies is expressed in the fine art of the dance - around the big pot of other people’s money each has at its disposal. So in effect, the quoted person below was apparently acting as a hatchet lady with authority from the defective mind of a debilitated body. But, somehow her 'Community' is not the Quaker Community? Maybe it is easier to be a hatchet person when one is not truly a part of a given community?

Take this feature story below as reason number ..... hmmm, has anyone counted all the reasons? – why New York Quakers are sadly but obviously corrupt and dying, a mere remembrance of an historically remarkable group. Yet now, New York Quakers are simply a few affected, vain, politically correct, elitist, not-for-profit, do-nothings, who maintain their once meaningful private schools and service organizations, turned political action groups as thinly-veiled money-making businesses. Notice how most of the focus of any mention about Quakers, including this one is 1) it is not a news report, because nothing is actually going on, and 1a.) the feature mentions leverage of Quaker integrity in some past time.

Long live the Quaker Community. When is the next ‘diversity’ discussion ad infinitum, where they decide certain people in our community are more equal because of their skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or religious background?

Long live the Quaker Culture, co-opted by United for Peace and Justice, and When is the next protest march?

Long live the Quaker Faith.

In Friendship,

Glenn R.


Quaker History / Flushing Meeting///Weekend Explorer: The Melting Pot on a High Boil in Flushing/ New York Times/New York/NY/USA/2-May-08/

…Naomi Paz Greenberg showed me the main meeting room, which looks much as it did in 1694, from the hand-cut nails in the plank floor to the wavy glass in the windows. The sturdy wooden benches date from the 1780s; British soldiers used the originals for firewood.

On a typical Sunday 18 to 25 Friends meet there, Ms. Greenberg said, adding: "Ours is an unprogrammed meeting, which means there are no prescribed prayers that must be said. There is no prepared sermon. There's no paid minister. We listen for the divine, and when there is a message that is irresistible to share, to deliver to the Friends in the meeting, we stand up and deliver the message."

Many members, like Ms. Greenberg, were drawn to Quakerism from other religious backgrounds.

"I was raised Jewish," she said. "I have never stopped being a Jew. That is my community. That is my culture. But my religion is Quakerism." ……

Continue on this topic with the following essay