Sunday, December 12, 2010

Quaker Business

I just shoved Carol's mailing address across the table to Betsey. She's passing it back to Western Friend.

Quakers were in my thoughts earlier today
, on an archived discussion list. I've been working with Marty, Tim and, by extension, the Yearly Meeting on matters of data base design. I'd call it "membership tracking" (a well known genre, with many templates available), except "member" has a specific meaning in the Friendly namespace, and our database tracks others besides them.

I go back to those anthropological concepts of "nuclear family" and "molecular family", suggesting a variety. The database fields also encode wishes upon death. Keep the Flickr Photostream alive? How about Facebook? Blogs? These might be family decisions, and yet some might wish to record their preferences in the meeting's electronic records. A blog is a lot like a Quaker journal -- some treat these concepts quasi-synonymously.

An Overseers or Oversight Meeting is a fairly confidential process. In the theory of operating system design (thinking of Unix or one of those), a "process" is a pretty well defined notion.

Cross-pollination twixt Quakers and geeks is not an especially surprising development. Any memologist (memeticist) -- a student of memes and their propagation and association (into "memeplexes"?) -- could have predicted this outcome. Hari Seldon maybe (a fictional character).

We have a couple memberships up for consideration. The process here is for Oversight to accept a letter from an individual requesting this status, upon which a Clearness Committee may be formed for meeting with that individual.

If membership is recommended, then Oversight brings the matter before the Monthly Business Meeting for seasoning. Final approval, if obtained, will be minuted a month later by this same Business Meeting. Those with doubts or concerns may in the meantime communicate these to Oversight (not the Clearness Committee, which dissolves upon submitting a recommendation).

Some of us may be heading to Nicaragua next year. This place isn't labeled on all of our maps, but on many of them it is. Most of us are geographically literate enough to place most nations, given a jigsaw puzzle challenge (might be of wood, a present under the Christmas tree). I even know where Bhutan goes, and Lesotho, and Lithuania, and Borneo (all places I've been).

We do tend to talk about death and dying a lot, in these Oversight Meetings. Perhaps not surprisingly, we're somewhat older adults. As in most subcultures, it tends to fall to the elders to grapple with these equations. Younger people pull some weight though (we speak of "weighty friends"). Death is a phenomenon for all ages. We are holding Tina's family in the light. Thank you for your friendship, Peter Saint James, and letting me read your book.

I mentioned caskets were available from the Costco website, suggested we might stock up in the basement. Betsey recommended cremation. You can get urns from there too.