Friday, October 5, 2007

Education Continued

Wow, this seems to have struck a cord with folks. Some good questions are being brought up. And some not-so-good questions too.

I want to hold up something quakermom said in my comments because I want to make sure folks see that I'm not the only one seeing these issues.
I have been thinking a lot about class in my meeting. We're in a university town, and there are many professors in our meeting. In addition, people seem to very uncritically value academic achievement and to buy into standard views of academic standards. i remember when one of the kids in our meeting was accepted to Smith, her mother announced it during Joys and Sorrows, and there was an audible, "Oooh, Smith" through the room. Things like that make me very uncomfortable--do we value less the young man who hasn't gone to college but is apprenticing in carpentry instead? I don't think, if asked, anyone would say so--but we act like we do, and I wonder how that affects our kids.

We're also in the process of building our meetinghouse, and this has brought issues of money and affluence into view. The number of families who have been able to give $10,000 or more to the meeting for our building has staggered me.

Even though I am a good fit for the meeting in terms of my own class background, current family income, and academic history, I am becoming less and less comfortable in it, in large part because of the way these issues seem largely unacknowledged and unexamined. I've been brining some of them into the light as way opens; we'll see what happens.
She asks how valuing one kind of education over another affects kids in the Meeting. And that question makes sense. She's a parent and blogs about being a Quaker parent.

I wonder, though, how it affects the adults in our Meeting who haven't/can't/don't meet such a standard of 'excellence'. I wonder how it portrays our values in contrast with what we say our values are. I wonder what the working-class first, second or third-time attender thought when everyone went "oooh." Did they keep coming?

I can tell you how it affects me. I feel shame. Embarassment. I feel like I'm not good enough. I want to hide.

Hysterywitch said:
I am therefore uncomfortable with the notion that the choice to work in a creative or intellectual field is an indication of classism.
I'm not saying that working in a creative or intellectual field is classist. I'm in school to get my BA in creative writing and intend to work in a creative field. And I don't think that act is inherently classist. I am, however, able to use my current financial privilege to do so. I don't know if I'd be able to do it if I didn't have such privilege. All I'm doing is acknowledging this privilege.

In fact, that's all these posts are asking Friends to do. Look at our individual and collective privilege. Let's make it transparent so that we can be in congruence with what we say we believe, that everyone is equal.

Let's not ooh and ahh over one young Friend's acceptance into Smith without ooh-ing and ahh-ing over another Friend's choice to learn a trade or go to a less elite institution. Let's not assume that every Friend we come into contact with has a college education, or even wants one.

Last but not least, lets figure out how to dismantle this system that favors the financially privileged.

Finally, Thee Hannah wrote:
Which begs the question: If you feel isolated at meeting because of your working-class background, what are you doing to educate the rest of us?
Hmmmm. That sure sounds like you're expecting me to undo a system I didn't create and a system that oppresses me but not you.

I'm writing this blog which is being read by lots and lots of people. But I'm just one person and one person has never been able change an oppressive system without allies.

So what are you doing to educate other Quakers who have privilege? How are you going to be an ally?

24 comments:

QuakerMom said...

Jeanne wrote: "Let's not ooh and ahh over one young Friend's acceptance into Smith without ooh-ing and ahh-ing over another Friend's choice to learn a trade or go to a less elite institution."

I actually had a private rant about this once, addressing imaginary Quakers in my meeting, in which I said, "When one of my kids says that he has decided to forego college in favor of continuing to work at the pizza parlor and spend all his spare time with his friends, you had better go, 'ooh, pizza parlor! ooh, friends,' or I am walking out the door and never coming back!"

You're right about how it affects adults, too. I remember one long-time attender commenting during a meeting once that he was the only person in the room without a master's degree. He just wanted to make us notice and think about who we were. And after I offered some ministry on issues of class, another attender mentioned to me that he has noticed that our meeting has a very intellectual tone in its discussions. We can't help who we are, and there really isn't anything wrong with being an intellectual, but we could certainly be more mindful, because we are putting up barriers without realizing it.

I also notice that, for instance, European vacations get mentioned pretty regularly in Joys and Sorrows. I'm happy for people who take pleasure in travel, and I don't think they should be ashamed of it or keep it a secret, but when I know, for instance, that there is a family in our meeting agonizing over how to come up with $80 every three months so their daughter can stay involved in a dance program she loves...I don't know. I'm uncomfortable and I don't have answers but I think we should be talking about these things more.

I'm so glad you're doing this blog. I see that you are getting the whole gamut of reactions, including ones that I've been afraid of when I've been led to speak on issues where I differ, or think I do, from the majority in my meeting. So I'll be holding you in the Light.

MartinK said...

You might actually be loosing me if you start into the whole privilege/systems/oppression/ally language. I started a reply to the last post but didn't quite know what I wanted to say. But it's something to the effect that we should almost be pitying those who are so caught up in their class ignorance that they oooh and aaahh over an elite university. This represents a kind of cluelessness that acts as a lead weight around Quakerism. How many times I have heard some Friend say something so completely clueless and/or ignorant when all I wanted to ask was what planet they were living on.

These attitudes are prevalent, yes, and they often come paired with a certain power--those living in a bubble of wealth will tend to be those who can write the big checks. But this doesn't mean that we have to take it as oppression. Quite the opposite, it's really a liability.

Tell me this: would you rather be 1) someone of modest means and limited formal education who can see across class boundaries and connect with people regardless of social status; or 2) a clueless elite who pulls in twice your household income but gets nervous at the prospect of making small talk with the UPS delivery-person? If you answer the way I expect then we can stop worrying about oppression and move on. Jesus certainly didn't worry about an ivy league education and seemed to spend all his time hanging around the skankiest parts of town; if that's the model we're really trying to follow then we have some work ahead of us.

We should be embarrassed at the narrow demographics of many of our meetings. Really embarrassed. Seriously embarrassed. What was it that King said, that Sunday morning at 11 was the most segregated hour in America? If we really think Quakerism means something then it's got to mean that for everyone regardless of accent, education, skin color or style of speech. If we want our meetinghouses to be the watering holes of a rarefied liberal elite, then full speed ahead.

Those who see meetinghouses full of Smith graduates as an advantage are very mistaken and we must tell them that. The blatant tokenism and "incestuous amplification" of much of our decision-making process is keeping us from hearing Christ's call as clearly as we might and it's keeping us from gathering up that great people that Fox prophesied.

ps: some Smith graduates are fine, I'm sure (I can think of at least one who is) and some pecuniary-advantaged Friends actually do know how to initiate authentic, meaningful conversation across class boundaries.

James said...

We don't have a regular "joys and sorrows" in our meeting, but announcements of this type are made. I think I'm more inclined to rejoice in these joys rather than regretting them. We have so few joyous occasions in life.
Our meeting isn't as affluent as the one you describe, so our joys are a little humbler. But I don't begrudge the success of others.

Jeanne said...

"If we really think Quakerism means something then it's got to mean that for everyone regardless of accent, education, skin color or style of speech. If we want our meetinghouses to be the watering holes of a rarefied liberal elite, then full speed ahead."

Martin, you hit the nail on the head here.

I'm trying to say (and not very well apparently) that we're not living our beliefs when it comes to class and inclusiveness. If you asked any North American liberal Friend if they believe in the sentiment of your first sentence, I bet you'd get a hearty "YES".

Unfortunately, going ooh and ah over a Smith education belies what we say we believe.

You're right. I am happy to be who I am. I'm not happy about people in my Faith tradition who say one thing and do another. Completely unconsciously. And I hate feeling like an alien. It keeps me from worship.

James, are you sure you know that your Meeting isn't affluent? Have you asked what the income and net worth of every family in your Meeting is? Being a social worker or teacher does not indicate wealth. I have a friend who is a social worker but because her parents are wealthy, she has no mortgage and has never made a payment for a car.

Dress doesn't indicate class either. Working class people actually feel like they have to dress up in order to be heard and respected. When I first came to Meeting, people kept telling me I didn't have to get *so* dressed up. Owning and middle class people have no such insecurity. They know they will be listened to. So they dress down, and especially Quakers. We see it as a practice of 'simplicity.'

Friends are the second wealthiest (in terms of personal income and net worth) religion in the US. If this isn't reflected in your Meeting it's aberrant.

I would never begrudge someone an elite education. I would accept the opportunity if it were afforded me. I am trying to ask Friends to get conscious about class and one aspect of that is education.

Why do we value Smith over a local community college or learning a trade or, God forbid, going right into the workforce? And how does valuing one over the other make Friends who don't fit this mold feel?

Eileen Flanagan said...

I appreciate this discussion. A few years ago I attended George Lakey's two-hour class workshop at FGC Gathering. Even though Gathering (and the time off work) is prohibitively expensive for many, we had quite a range of experiences in the room, but a widespread feeling that we needed to discuss class more in our meetings. One of George's exercises was to ask us to line up in order of our socio-economic class when we were twelve-years-old. It was up to us to decide what questions to ask each other that would define our class. It was a very powerful experience for me. Because I grew up in a one bedroom apartment, wore second hand clothes, and had parents who had not been to college, I ended up in the lower class group. But because I went to an elite Friends School, the other people in my group perceived me as priveleged. It got me in touch with the shame that these issues can evoke. Good for you for writing about them.

earthfreak (Pam) said...

Martin's comment moved me immensely.

I, too, have gotten caught up in a sense, in accepting the wealthy, ivy league educated, europe travelling Friends as someone better/privileged/more powerful.

What would it be like to simply see what they're missing? To live a life of the spirit and "ooh and ahh" not over Smith, NOR the local community college, but acts of radical obedience to spirit, charity and love?

How different would that make us from what we are now, as quaker communities? Though my intellect tells me that that's what a quaker is, or at the very least, should be

earthfreak (Pam) said...

My meeting doesn't have "joys and sorrows" either, but what you said put me in mind of an experience I had at quaker school.

There was a kid a year behind me who (I assumed) was wealthy, and not shy about it. When she was in about fourth grade, she would stand up in meeting and say things like, "I'm so grateful that my mom bought me a horse and a new fur coat" - She was VERY unpopular (for that and other reasons) - there was an ingrained sense among children, mostly not quakers, that that sort of focus on oneself and revelling in privilege was not appropriate.

I am surprised that quakers aren't embarassed about the things they get to do because of having money. In my circles they most likely would be (unless they were doing a service project or something) - which isn't so great either.

HysteryWitch said...

What factors define class? Can we agree on the basic definitions of working class and middle class/owning class? As yet I have found that standard definitions seem to be a poor fit for the people who live in my community since frequently those with working class jobs are actually lots better off than I am. That's probably a regional thing. Also, a conversation that focuses on class must also take gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity into account. Our wealth and educations affect us differently depending on these other important details of life. So, I don't see class the same way others do. I acknowledge it and am concerned by it, but I offer a cautionary voice about over-generalization.

I feel a bit outside either class here. As a student at a private college (thanks to a scholarship and lots of financial aid) I felt alienated when my roommate and her friends said they had "no money"...hardly enough to buy a stack of cd's and a new pair of jeans. I also had "no money." For me this meant that I did not have enough to buy corn chips out of the vending machine. On the other hand, I am alienated from my working class community college students who see no need to learn about racial and gender equality because they do not feel it will help them get "real jobs." How sad it is when people lust after things and ignore the spirit--And an education that fails to enhance the student's compassionate regard for the world is no kind of education at all.

In terms of education, it seems to me that a working class disdain for the arts and humanities (Will that put food on the table?) and a middle-class celebration of prestige (ooh, Smith!) are both symptoms of a society focused on material acquisition and success. So how do we work across social backgrounds toward a discussion that moves us beyond our lust for things and toward a love for each other?

earthfreak (Pam) said...

HW-

I see some of your points, but I also want to clarify that worrying about putting food on the table and worrying about the prestige of Smith vs. some other school are incredibly different things. I'm sure you know that, but it wasn't reflected quite clearly in your last comment, to me.

peace

Pam

HysteryWitch said...

I appreciate that worrying about putting food on the table is not the same thing as worrying about Smith. I apologize for not being clear. I actually have worried about putting food on the table. Not cool. In my experience, however, the people who use the expression "putting food on the table" actually aren't worried about going hungry. They are using the expression to indicate their desire for a good wage. Now there's nothing wrong with a good wage, but it strikes me that most every time I hear someone use that expression they are using it has been in the context of something like this: "That's a good social action project, creative project, human rights project, etc. but will it put food on the table?" That also, is not cool.

Plain Foolish said...

I don't know that going "ooh and aah" over someone getting into a nice college is *in and of itself* a reflection of classism. I know that my community did exactly that when I got into an Ivy League school. It was a big deal, and even made the local newspaper. Not a lot of kids from coal mining towns make it into those universities.

In the end, I decided after 2 years there, that I would be happier going to a state university that had Appalachian outreach programs, where I didn't feel like a "token hillbilly woman" or that being able to "pass" was an advantage. (I can put on a Mid-Atlantic middle class accent that fools East Coasters.)

I don't feel that my education was significantly impaired by the change. (In fact, I'd strongly encourage anyone who told me they were considering the Ivies to also consider state schools with solid academic offerings - cheaper, and the general atmosphere is distinctly less insane.)

So, like HW, I feel alienated twice: a hillbilly who went to the Ivies.

(Three times, actually. I don't belong to a Meeting, in part because I didn't feel like I totally "belonged" when I attended.)

kwix said...

Jeanne,

I appreciate the conversation that you’ve started – and restarted – here. We Americans are particularly reluctant to talk about class, and generally we don’t have to because we tend to segregate by class. But scratch that surface, and so many of us have our own stories of class – and gender and ethnicity, etc. – we are eager to share, because they say so much about who we are and how we discovered the world.

Our Quaker demographics nowadays are incredibly limited and limiting. Most of the people in my Meeting are educated white people with at least one college degree. Middle-class values and assumptions probably dominate our life as a community. We all too easily assume glibly a vague liberalism that threatens to replace real spirituality. As a result, we have lost something strong and firey that characterized early Friends.

So I understand your concern about “ooooing” over Smith. But I think perhaps you’re being a bit hard on your fellow Quakers. Don’t forget that a Meeting – besides being a conduit for God’s presence and will – is also a community of fellow humans. And people who live in community are happy for each others’ good fortune. Part of the business of a Meeting is simply social: to know and care for each other.

And don’t forget that many of us who seem so comfortably middle-class now did not start out that way. I’m only the second person in my extended family to get a college degree, but I managed – through scholarships, loans, work-study, summer jobs and eating only one meal in the school cafeteria each day – to go to Georgetown. Since then, I’ve earned a Ph.D. too. But I grew up in a family that constantly struggled to hang onto the bottom rung of the lowest middle class. When I told people at my Methodist church – most of whom were wealthier than my family -- that I was going to Georgetown, I was proud, and appreciated their oos and ahs.

Ideally, Quakerism trumps class. Ideally, it replaces existing class structures with new forms of human interaction and mutual support. And on some small level, my Meeting does this: while most members have the privileges of middle-class education, many purposely work in helping professions for very little money, to the extent that there is a fairly wide range of living standards in my Meeting. So we try to support each other in all sorts of ways. And I do think we make a real effort – say, when planning youth activities – to keep costs down and make aid available.

Not that this constitutes any kind of real re-arrangement of the system. But don’t forget what Quakers discovered during the 19th century: that to do that requires a near-separation from the society around you, mired as it is existing class structures. And so a balance must be reached: on the one hand, we need to be the Kingdom of God here on earth, showing how human relations can be lived; on the other hand, if we remove ourselves too much from non-Quakers, we risk becoming irrelevant.

Not that keeping ourselves middle-class is gonna make us very relevant either! I for one think we could do with a bit more Kingdom of God and a bit less buying into existing class structures. But my point is that it’s always a balancing act.

Kent

HysteryWitch said...

I am excerpting a section from your post in which you quote my comment:

Hysterywitch said:

"I am therefore uncomfortable with the notion that the choice to work in a creative or intellectual field is an indication of classism."

Jeanne said:
I'm not saying that working in a creative or intellectual field is classist. I'm in school to get my BA in creative writing and intend to work in a creative field. And I don't think that act is inherently classist. I am, however, able to use my current financial privilege to do so. I don't know if I'd be able to do it if I didn't have such privilege. All I'm doing is acknowledging this privilege.

Jeanne, that's hard for me to hear since unlike you, I never really had financial privilege and could not afford to pay for any of my college education out of pocket....ever. Neither could my folks. We paid for it in college loans. We're talking HUGE loans which I'll be paying off for the rest of my life. (We found that my father will be paying for his student loan for his PhD into his 80's.) I did this because I knew that to fail to attend college would keep me from fighting social injustice in the manner that most effectively utilizes my personal gifts. It would have been disobedience to my faith.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have money to go to school. I did it anyway. The same thing is true of so may of my working class students. They choose education despite their financial situation. And I'm not just talking about kids. I'm talking about working class moms and dads who are working toward graduate degrees because they believe in education. Additionally, I must challenge the notion that one must have money to attend school. As it happens, many potential students do not realize that they qualify for financial aid and reject the college option based on their ignorance of how to work the system. Others reject it as an option because they do not see how it will benefit them financially or because they do not feel bright enough to do this. All these attitudes are unfortunate.

Jeanne also said:
In fact, that's all these posts are asking Friends to do. Look at our individual and collective privilege. Let's make it transparent so that we can be in congruence with what we say we believe, that everyone is equal.

Let's not ooh and ahh over one young Friend's acceptance into Smith without ooh-ing and ahh-ing over another Friend's choice to learn a trade or go to a less elite institution. Let's not assume that every Friend we come into contact with has a college education, or even wants one."

Jeanne, I think these are great points. They resonate with me.

Jeanne said:
Last but not least, lets figure out how to dismantle this system that favors the financially privileged."

Jeanne,
The way I do that is through my education. I teach working class kids to challenge capitalism, racism, and sexism. Education provides us with the tools for understanding and dismantling social inequality. I'd like to differentiate between the privilege of financial wealth (which I believe no person deserves) and the privilege of education (which I believe every person deserves). What we should be doing is expanding educational opportunities and demystifying the educational process so that more working class people learn that they are not, in fact, barred from the privilege of college degrees.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know the source of this statement: "Friends are the second wealthiest (in terms of personal income and net worth) religion in the US."

I can imagine this being true perhaps as recently as 50 years ago or so, but given the aging and dying of Friends who are engaged in business and their replacement with so many people employed in the non-profit (public and private) sector I would be very surprised if this was still true.

(Who's number 1?)

earthfreak (Pam) said...

anonymous - who are you?

I don't remember it quite clearly, but it was my impression that the figures were about income, not wealth (which I find an important distinction, owning class folks have wealth, and usually income (though they may be able to hide that better) - people who work generally have income.

And I'm pretty sure it's jews who are the only ones who make more money than us (and unitarians are up there somewhere)

I think that a number of quakers are "old money" in a way - if they're descended from quakers, it's likely their ancestors made a lot of money in the early years of the US, and it's been handed down (and accumulated) so as Jeanne points out, they can be social workers, with a relatively low income, but live well off it because they own their house outright, and have investments as well.

Bill Samuel said...

The class homogeneity seems most acute among liberal unprogrammed Friends. Other varieties of Friends seem more diverse.

I remember one year when I visited the yearly meeting sessions of Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region. The Friends Action Board (their social concerns group) reported on a new Federal program to allow churches more involvement in training for those on public assistance. The differences between my home yearly meeting and Eastern Region were very evident when they presented it as a way to help people within their churches. In my or other liberal YMs, it would have been presented as a way to help "them" not us.

I have a theory that the class homogeneity among liberal Friends is related to their lack of a clear spiritual center. It has been my experience among Christ-centered Friends and other Christ-centered churches that class is less of an issue, because the uniting factor is Jesus Christ. Without a clear, explicit uniting factor other than something like class, a group tends to gravitate towards becoming a club more united by socioeconomic and cultural factors.

And in fact many are seeking that their meetings be such a club. When I have engaged in conversations with liberal Friends about the issues of lacking racial, educational and economic diversity, most of the time eventually something along the lines of "if have many of them come into the meeting, it will change the character of the meeting" comes out with the clear assumption that such change would be bad.

I belonged to a meeting that was in an area which had undergone significant demographic change since it started, but the meeting had not. There was a newspaper article which highlighted the issue for me. It focused on a couple of other churches in the same area. They had seen the change, done work to understand the needs of the people coming in, and changed to be a welcoming and helpful place for the new population. Both the other churches and Friends recognized changing the demographics in the congregation would mean deeper changes. The other churches embraced change; Friends rejected it.

Plain Foolish said...

Pam, after reading your comment, I did a little research, in part because that particular myth has been used against Jews in the past, actually going back to the Middle Ages, and I did not want it to stand unchallenged. It is false. While I could not find a study on median income by religion, I did find information on median income for Jews in America ($50,000) and for Episcopalians in America ($55,000). I did not find data for median Quaker income in America, nor for median Unitarian income.

earthfreak (Pam) said...

Thanks PF!

I felt a little odd posting that, not remembering it perfectly, but I swear that's what I heard. I'll have to try to figure out where...

It makes much more sense to me that episcopalians would have higher incomes, I guess that's just my stereotype.

earthfreak (Pam) said...

Ok, according to this article

http://www.soc.duke.edu/~lkeister/religionandwealth.pdf

Jews are the wealthiest, by quite a lot, followed by mainline protestants (it doesn't break it down, but that's what we are, basically), catholics and conservative protestants.

It's unfortunate to reinforce a stereotype. But it does make sense to me in a way, especially because jews as a group have been through something in the last century where a lot of them- especially those who didn't have access to lots of money to simply pack up and leave the country on short notice, died unimaginably horrible deaths. Certainly a motivator to have a significant amount of money squirrelled away.

I can't find the citation about quakers, but I was pretty sure it was legit

HysteryWitch said...

Although I have questions about conflating educational background with social class, I am convinced that diversity is an issue with Quakers. Thank you, Jeanne, for bringing this forward. I am so enriched by your thoughts.

It was hard to find my local meeting. They don't evangelize and they don't stand out. I developed an interest through academic research then found a local meeting on the internet. It took weeks to figure out where they were. (Their sign is tiny) and then more weeks to gather the courage to go. I doubt I would have stayed more than a week if I hadn't backed up my decision with that research. It wasn't as if they fell out of their chairs to welcome me. Perhaps this is their quiet Quaker way...I don't know. I admit it kind of bothers me. In this context, I would feel even less welcome if people began making classist comments. Really, it seems unlikely that anyone not already motivated to spend time with people with a reputation for being well-educated, progressives would not be likely to find them in the first place.

Do we rely too much on a self-selection process that increases the chances that membership will be mainly well-educated middle-class folks? Do we fail to show love and interest in the people who come through our doors? Do we act like we care what they have to say? I value the fact that historically, Quakers respect individual spirituality and do not evangelize but my meeting certainly could use the PR work. How do we reach out to others, including working class people, without being spiritually pushy?

Jeanne said...

I had to look up this word because my mother didn't go to college and read romance novels.

From dictionary.com:

con·flate /kənˈfleɪt/
–verb (used with object), -flat·ed, -flat·ing.
to fuse into one entity; merge: to conflate dissenting voices into one protest.

Hystery Witch, I'm sorry you think I'm equating class and education exactly. I wish class were so well-defined.

It seems you don't believe me that class and education have some pretty serious things to do with one another. If that's the case, on my way out of my school's library, I found this recently published book (it's academic, so a little dry in parts, but the author's a good storyteller too). Perhaps Mr. Sacks can convince you:

Tearing Down The Gates: Confront the Class Divide in American Education by Peter Sacks.

I'm just here to talk about my experience. That it doesn't match yours makes sense because I didn't have your experience; I had mine.

Here's a funny (sort-of) piece about the history of public education, which goes WAY back to Jefferson who said there should be two kinds of schools: one for future leaders and one for everyone else. Download the MP3. The song I want you to listen to is from about the 20 minute mark to about the 26 minute mark. If you have iTunes, you can easily scroll through to the right places. To download it, right click on the link and select "save link as". To listen to it in another window, just click on the link.

My next few posts will be on class and culture in Quakerism.

Tatiana said...

I don't have anything to add to the discussion, but just wanted to thank you all for participating in it and for Jeanne for starting it.

Plain Foolish said...

Having reviewed the methodology of the cited study, I am troubled by the fact that the sample was drawn from a single generation, and studied only during childbearing years. This is skewing results due to different ways of distributing wealth within families. Also, as Pam noted, different groups are not separated out, and it was not made entirely clear who was being divided into what category among Protestants.

I would be extremely cautious about building any conclusions on this flawed study.

edenplacemiller said...

Our southern meeting is in a college town with the only big hospital and medical school for the area. The area remains very rural. Our meeting over the years has been academically inclined, but the average income of members has only changed over the last 3 years. I realized it was impolite to verbalize early on that of the 18 adult members 20 years ago, only 5 had full time incomes. The rest were students or worked part time. Now, there has been a shift to 9 adults attending meeting, and I am the only one with next to no income or college education. Does this bother me? Not really. And while a member announced she was taking her son to Paris for two weeks, this is the same docter who packed up a week or so after Katrina hit, went south and stayed in Louisiana for a month or more doing everthing the patients needed. This trip was paid for entirely by the doctor. So when a member announces a trip, I ask with a smile if I can come too!

Here in the South, many many people are associated with many variations of protestant denominations, not determined by class. there is still a serious race divide,but even that is beginning to erode some. Very few of them would consider Quakerism as an option. (they pray for me as they don't see me as saved, but that's another story).

MaryM