Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No, Not a Rant

Many many many kudos, love and yippees to Pam for her response to Friend Alan Paxton's response on A Tentative Quaker's blog post on class and Quakerism. You should thank her too. I'd been composing a rant and gave that up when I read her response. My rant is no longer needed in the face of her common sense.

And it made me realize that ranting isn't what I want this blog to be. Even though the description is "questions, musings and rantings" on class and Quakerism.

I do want to say one thing about Alan Paxton's response which implies that some aspects of working class and poor culture are inconsistent with Quakerism. I think that if he had suggested that some aspects of African American or Hispanic or Arabic culture were inconsistent with Quakerism, there would have been an uproar across the Quaker blogosphere that would have lasted for weeks and perhaps leaped into the Friends Journal.

So what does the relative silence on Alan Paxton's post say about Friends and social class?

I'm also excited that Pam started a google group around class and Quakerism. I've joined and hope to make some pages and stuff there soon.

On a more personal note, I've been to Quaker events three times since Gathering and two of those times, I've wept, feeling my sense of isolation very deeply. I see people and think of interactions we've had in the past and see some class oppression. I see class-influenced interactions as I watch people. My tenderness and anger makes me scared to go to anything Quaker. I wish I lived in a place like Philadelphia where I had my choice of Meetings and could go somewhere and worship anonymously so perhaps I won't at least see history.




Anonymous said...

I am so sorry that you feel like a big green alien among Friends. I am so very sorry that this phase of your journey is so hard. I am grateful for your responses to my comments. They help me understand better where you are at, and that is important to me. When I think if you, which is often, I will continue to thank Jesus for holding you through this time, and all time, and I will continue to pray that your gifts bear God's good fruit in the world.

And I need to stop using the computer so much because I'm getting hurt.


Zach A said...

Honestly, I think there MAY be aspects of African American (say) culture which are inconsistent with liberal Quakerism. As a small piece of anecdotal evidence, I will say that I'm writing this from one of the most heavily African American neighborhoods of one of the most segregated cities in the US (Boston). And there are no Quaker meetings here -- they're all in the white, middle- to upper-class neighborhoods of Harvard Square, Beacon Hill and Fresh Pond. (There is a worship group in Jamaica Plain though, but that almost doesn't "count" as far as race goes because it's the new hotspot of gentrification.) I think I've seen exactly one black person at all of them combined.

It only becomes an insult when you assume that the fault lies in the side of African Americans. Isn't that part of what we're saying htere -- not that there is no conflict, but that there is, and to some degree it's "Quakerism" that should change?

Jeanne said...


Thank you for reading my blog and clearly thinking about the things I offer. I honestly appreciate your presence on my blog.

It feels important to me to say some things in response to your post and to ask that if we're going to argue about these things, let's do it over email and not here. I in fact would like that very much. I say this because in part I want to keep my blog focused on my experience of class and Quakerism.

I have many F/friends of color who would disagree with you that the lack of African Americans in Quaker Meetings is evidence of that 'aspects of African American culture [are] inconsistent with liberal Quakerism'. And I disagree. I think the lack of Friends of color is evidence of racism within the Religious Society of Friends.

You're right, we have to change. We have to work to undo racism.

As well as classism. Because racism and classism support each other in the broader society and in the RSoF.

You seem to carry a concern for this. Are you involved with your yearly meeting? They have a minute about racism here: http://www.neym.org/minute2003_40.html. Also, Friends General Conference has a Committee for Ministry on Racism. Their website is here: http://www.fgcquaker.org/cmr/ And F/friend Vanessa Julye has a specific ministry around racism. Her website is here: http://vanessajulye.quaker.org/index.htm.

I can put you in touch with some Friends in the Boston area who carry these concerns if you would like.



anj said...

Jeanne - I have been lurking here and in the google group for a while. Your writing is bringing things in me to the Light. Please keep on as you feel led. I often weep at Quaker events - I think there is often so much pain that is floating around, unnamed and unspoken. I try to discern what is mine and what is others -- and know there is no clean way to untangle that. I am praying Way will open for you. And for all of us.