Thursday, July 14, 2011

This One's For You

:: annual session, npym 2011 ::

We turned off on Hwy 512 just north of McChord AFB and the joint facility with Ft. Lewis. Check Google maps, satellite view if interested. A big Bud billboard supports the troops. That's a Euro company used to provide advertising encouraging a certain image of "American". Euros are always making up stuff about the USA. They like the idea of a "martian police" (a dick brain neocon concept).

I caught the org reps meeting, as an NPYM guy (AFSC Corporation), mom too, on the Board. I pointed out towards the end of the meeting that since Quakers scarcely do titles, these signs of role serve as badges or c.v. credentials when addressing non-Q 3rd parties, not just our internal agencies (FCNL, FWCC, WF, FLGBTQC, QUNO and blah blah alphabet soup).

Speaking of Quaker entities, a topic on our plate this Session is shall NPYM affiliate overtly with the Friends General Conference (FGC). My table at dinner was focused on this. Tom Head, on the committee to make a recommendation, finds the demographic argument compelling. NPYM isn't about to turn on a dime and change its character, so if consolidation is the name of the game, then FGC is whom NPYM should hang out with. EFI and FUM would have no truck with us.

Chris on the other hand, daughter of a Quaker minister in Whittier, thought NPYM was more a beacon on its own and should not sacrifice its unique heritage in some effort to blend with the Quaker hoi polloi. Her meeting had broken away from FUM but still kept an orbit, and NPYM too has its special path, less squeamish in some ways.

I told Gayle afterward I didn't think NPYM was giving up its identity either way, and that FGC too would be changed, should the affiliation occur.

I also suggested these relationships were not mutually exclusive and NPYM was in no way monogamous (think of the "sister cities" program). Given we look "East" (i.e. towards the Far East, as in Asia), we should be looking to affiliate with some of those regional groups as well.

Our Branch

NPYM could jump in with some Quaker branches in Japan. Look at the University Meetinghouse in Seattle. Clearly Zen is an influence, and Buddhism more generally.

Of course Quakers, especially of the unprogrammed variety, are quite esoteric and you won't find many of them anywhere, not even in Philadelphia. Getting permission to settle in Pennsylvania was a breakthrough. The western USA states let us keep to our own rule book pretty closely as well. We're able to freely build on historic friendships with pre-Columbians for example, such as the Stillaguamish. Ft. Lewis is close to Steilacoom.

The Friend in Residence talk was about a Quaker meaning for "clear". I could imagine doing some creative videography and twisting this into a meeting for wannabe scientologists, spreading clearness around the world and, even more to the point, getting clear themselves. Just a passing thought.

There was also this Kierkegaardian theme: to will the good is to will one thing. What might you really put your heart into, out of conflicting motives? Maybe nothing? Expectant waiting is the Quaker form of meditation, a kind of not knowing. Satori (Eureka!) is not an uncommon result.

Quakers have a knack for remembering about sangha (community) even while emphasizing the individual's mystical powers to connect directly to some source of "right action upgrades" (cloud services). That explains all this talk about "corporate worship" which has the sound of some zombie worship capitalistic idolatry and/or superstition.

The Friend in Residence quoted extensively from Margaret Fell and John Woolman, two of the anchoring bodhisattvas in our Friendly tradition.

Given our closeness to the airport at McChord, we get to see some interesting mechanical fauna in the flight path, at about the same height as over DK's place in Minneapolis, though not nearly as frequently.

I brought the PSF totem in a bag with some speakers, mentioned doing this on Diversity. Tara might use those speakers. She's playing several responsible roles during this Session, from JF recording clerk to presenter regarding their recent "away team" delegation (no, not to Cuba).

That was a part of my remarks at the end of the org reps meeting: I mentioned my PSF affiliation, pointing to the decal on my uniform. I also tried to get clearer on former President Hoover's trajectory. Some NPYMers are holding puzzle pieces about him.

As I was mentioning to Eddy and Marty, now that we've escaped the gravitational vortex of establishment Christianity, we should do more to dabble in its forms, using retrospective allusion as well as pioneering new forms. Why not have some Synods, like the Lutherans do. We could dress up more, invent some costumes. I've been looking at fashion anyway, in connection with those Tarzania courses (advanced STEM). "How about Quaker tattoos?" I was saying, before our paths forked (not mandatory of course).