Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hyphenated Friends

I have been in a very "dry" spell recently. Some of that related to health issues but much of it related to a sense of feeling insulated from Friendly dialogue. It is not an "isolated" sense because with the blogosphere, facebook, Meeting, etc. there are several points of contact with Friends. However, in many cases these contacts seem superficial and merely social. In other cases, it appears that I seem to come across as "esoteric," "too intellectual," "combative," out of touch, not aware, etc. I have felt a distinct lack of meaningful dialogue at a level that is not "purely theological," nor at a level that is "purely political." This may well be my own failing in communication, writing "style," etc., but for whatever reason, I have felt "stopped" for doing much writing or sharing from my own initiation.

One of the "stops" for me has been my physical limitations which have prevented our traveling to see friends, family, FGC (which this year is just a very few hours away with a brother leading a workshop), FUM (which this year is very near one of our sons and his family, my wife's entire family including her mother whom we haven't seen for over a year), several good f/Friends), Yearly Meeting, etc.

What prompted this posting was a posting by Micah Bales on the ESR blog regarding Great Plains Yearly Meeting. I was prompted to post the following response:

Thanks for this post Micah. Although I was not directly involved in the Native America "missions" in Oklahoma, my uncle and family were very much involved and I heard much about Hominy while I was growing up.

One of the things that struck me, having grown up in Friends missions in Jamaica and Kenya, at the time both British colonies, is the reference to British linked culture. In both Jamaica and Kenya I observed a real reluctance on the part of some/many American missionaries to identify at all with the local culture. It seemed very evident that the intent was to "Americanize" (not make British) Friends. The African Friends seem to have adopted/adapted the American Evangelical pattern rather than the British Quaker pattern.

Although I fully respect and honor those who adopt Plain clothing as a witness to their "Quakerism" (I understand that it is more of a calling from the Lord for many rather than a "Quaker thing," but am just sharing an observation) I wonder what message this sends to those of other cultures than those with a 19th century American Quaker (Pennsylvanian) awareness.

I also wonder how we can deal with the diversity of Friends in an appropriate manner. I wonder how we can celebrate diversity without losing commonality. This issue is being "fought" in several YMs "as we speak." Just a few "hyphenated" examples:
Native American-Quaker

I do not have answers, but I believe we must openly address some of these issues, such as those you raise, and I am grateful that you initiated some of that with your post.