Sunday, March 15, 2015

WQM Men's Group 2015


We came close to maxing out Big Bear Camp facilities this year.  I slept in my car out of choice, not having done so before and wanting to experiment.  Henry, who slept outside the first night, said he could hear me snoring, even through all that glass and metal, which must have vibrated considerably.

During one of the breakout sessions, I practiced sermonizing, based on a Bible passage wherein Jesus has a conversation with the devil where they compare notes on God and holy writ.  Having studied Lucifer's psyche at Princeton, in the form of Paradise Lost, by Milton, I remarked that "the devil within" was likewise a manifestation of the Inner Light, given a fallen angel would also have "Intel Inside" (God within).  Jesus obviously knew this and conversed with angels on a regular basis, not always in an adversarial role.

I like what angels add to Christianity, especially skeptical angels with a strong misanthropic streak, known as "devils" in the jargon, but angels nonetheless.  Not that I'm pushing the literal existence of daemonic beings.  Their figurative existence is quite sufficient.  I figure the ego is likewise metaphoric i.e. the Buddhist doctrine of "no self" means that a self refuting the existence of daemons (or "ghosts") is a lot like the pot calling the kettle black.

Tom and I discussed his being a peer advocate for Mr. Chasse, as they both had similar diagnoses and had to work their respective ways through half way house chapters.  Tom, originally an Irish Catholic from Coos Bay, had gotten caught up in Lyndon LaRouche's political party at the height of its power.  He tells many interesting stories from that era.

Although Joe shared with the group that the main melodrama at Multnomah Meeting these days had to do with complying with insurance guidelines and doing background checks on a minimum of two child care personnel, I told Tom I thought the disposition of the Dove Puppets in coming weeks would likely have more impact on the reputation of Portland's unprogrammed Friends in the long run.  May Day Coalition has written Peace and Social Concerns wondering if we'll see Friends, and their puppets, on May Day.  Or is protesting climate change more the extent of Quaker brand activism these days?  Maybe May Day is too scary?  Not for AFSC at least.

Speaking of which, we enjoyed the presence of programmed Friends in our midst (programmed = Pastoral).  Like the Women's Theological Conference, which Joe has been jealous of (not me), we're sometimes involved in closing circuits, or switch-boarding, across lineages.  I learned a lot about ongoing controversies in West Hills Friends Church, plus was glad to see Henry again, nowadays with Camus Friends Church in Washington State.  I hope to pay both a visit one of these days.

Those of us into IT had some discussions using that jargon.  Quakers have a reputation for being meticulous about record-keeping, which is in tension with our Luddite tendencies, which latter I associate with our shedding of responsibilities over the decades since our peak in power in the late 1700s.  Had we kept our hand on the tiller, we'd have our act more together in cyberspace by now.

Getting our IT back into focus might galvanize us in other ways that increase our ability to make a difference in the world.  Time will tell.  As NPYM's first technology clerk (a co-clerk of the IT committee), I suppose I may over-indulge myself with such hopes and dreams for a more tech-savvy future.