[saymaListserv] Quaker Sweat Lodge Reflections by Chuck Fager

free polazzo freepolazzo at comcast.net
Sat Oct 2 10:53:06 JEST 2004


Dear Friends,

The quaker sweat lodge was well attended at SAYMA's yearly meeting, the 
year we invited George Price to lead it at Warren Wilson College 9 years 
ago in June of 1995.    George had been leading a workshop on the Quaker 
Sweat Lodge since 1989 and it has been very well attended every year he 
did.    Over 1,000 Quaker teens and a few hundred Quaker adults 
participated to rave reviews.   Some Native American people attended a few 
of the sweats we held at Boone, NC.

Last year some Friends have decided to turn this well attended work 
workshop into a cause celebre, calling it "cultural appropriation".   Chuck 
Fager, who we know from Quaker House in Fayetteville, NC, has written about 
this concern.   While a long piece, there are many key concerns discussed 
and I recommend it to you.

I pray that out of this heat will come the Light of the Spirit to show us 
the way forward.

Blessings,

Free

>From: CHUCKFAGER at aol.com
>Date: Thu Sep 30, 2004  2:05:30  PM America/Chicago
>To: qpr at quaker.org
>Subject: The Quaker Sweat Lodge Issue-Some Thoughts
>
>Dear Friends,
>
>         Here are some personal thoughts on the cancellation of the Quaker 
> sweat lodge at the 2004 FGC Gathering. I commend them to your attention, 
> and feel free to share them if you are so moved.
>
>Chuck Fager
>- - - - - - - - - - - - -
>The Quaker Sweat Lodge: Some Reflections
>
>Chuck Fager
>
>“Cultural appropriation”? This phrase was new to me; I guess I don’t get 
>out enough. But with some surfing and much reading, I began to get a sense 
>of it.
>
>Quakers know about “cultural appropriation.” At least we should. On a 
>shelf near the desk where I am writing is an empty bottle, the label of 
>which proclaims that it was once filled with “Old Quaker” whiskey. Back in 
>the early 1900s Indiana Yearly Meeting regularly petitioned the state 
>legislature to ban such misuse of their name; to no avail.
>
>Then of course there’s Quaker Oats, a multinational never owned or 
>operated by Friends. In the Eighties, they tried an oatmeal promotion 
>featuring “Popeye the Quaker Man,” in which Popeye eschewed eating spinach 
>for oatmeal, and then knocked the stuffing out of various “evildoers.” 
>Rather clever, really; but it could not withstand the protests of several 
>First Day School classes, who had better luck than Indiana Yearly Meeting. 
>Of course, Quaker Oats goes on.
>
>Then there’s Quaker State motor oil; and up in Buffalo you can get Quaker 
>Bonnet ice cream. Wilmington College dubs its sports teams the “Fighting 
>Quakers.”
>
>My personal favorite in this line is based in Pittsburgh: “Quaker Steak 
>and Lube,” a growing chain which styles itself as “America’s #1 
>motorsports-themed family restaurant.” (Makes me wonder which is #2 – 
>Presbyterian Steak & Lube?)
>
>We can smile at many of these; at least I can. But some others aren’t so 
>amusing. What of the secular groups that purport to operate on “Quaker 
>consensus” and mangle it at every turn? And haven’t many of us, on meeting 
>Friends from other branches, said (or thought, or better yet, overheard), 
>“They’re not REAL Quakers”? Ah, yes.
>
>Or take some other public images. In the movie “High Noon,” (picked as one 
>of the 25 “greatest" American films by the Library of Congress), Grace 
>Kelly as the Quaker heroine is portrayed as a fool and a coward who only 
>wants to run away from evil and conflict – until she “redeems” herself by 
>picking up a gun and shooting the bad guy, in the back. I find this deeply 
>offensive, and there are other such cinematic portrayals of pacifists as 
>fools-who-learn-better.
>
>How do Friends cope with all this unauthorized use of our name, image, and 
>practices? Mostly we ignore it; sometimes we wring our hands. But it’s 
>fair to say that all in all, we’re surviving it.
>
>All this was in the back of my mind as I tried to make sense of the great 
>Sweat Lodge flap of 2004. Having missed the earlier meetings that agonized 
>over it, I’ve been studying hard to get up to speed. And the more I learn, 
>the more I wonder: What on earth has gotten into us?
>
>Here’s how it looks: for 13 years or so a ritual called a “Quaker sweat 
>lodge” had been presented at the Gathering, mainly involving high school 
>Friends. There were numerous testimonies (among them from my own son) that 
>this experience was spiritually important, even life-changing for many of 
>them. This is not, by the way, true for me; somewhere (not at the 
>Gathering, I think), I was invited into a sweat, but found it much too hot 
>and stayed only a few minutes. It may be wonderful for some, but it wasn’t 
>my cup of tea.
>
>At any rate, a sweat had been approved for the 2004 Gathering; but last 
>March, a letter came in from Alice Lopez, a member of the Mashpee 
>Wampanoags, denouncing the sweat lodge as “a flagrant example of racism,” 
>and Bang! Panic and pandemonium, with the workshop’s abrupt cancellation 
>being only one piece of the fallout.
>
>What was it that made the sweat so horrible, in the complainant’s eyes? It 
>was “cultural appropriation.” I’ll call this CA for short.
>
>Now, if the accusations had been of, say, bank robbery or stock fraud, a 
>couple of important processes would have thereby been triggered: First, 
>the organizers would be entitled to a fair trial; and second, they would 
>be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And a key preliminary of such 
>due process would be, “to be informed of the nature and cause of the 
>accusation,” in the language of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.
>
>If we can expect this in worldly courts, can’t we expect at least as much 
>among Friends? After all, Quaker books of Discipline for two centuries 
>have insisted that we take great care with Friends’ reputations. At stake 
>here, first of all, are the reputations of the organizers, George Price, 
>Breeze Luetke-Stahlman and Cullen Carns-Hilliker. They are not strangers 
>among us; together they have well over thirty years of attendance and work 
>at the Gathering; add in their other family members’ attendance, and the 
>attendance total easily doubles.
>
>But that is not all. Also on the block are the validity of 13 years of 
>committee discernment, the stacks of glowing reports by participants, and, 
>not coincidentally, the credibility of FGC in its dealings with its own, 
>especially the best of the rising generation.
>
>With so much in play, what have we seen in the way of being informed of 
>“the nature and cause of the accusation”?
>
>Well, among all the material sent me in this matter, no such explanation 
>has appeared, nor any sign of actual investigation and considered verdict 
>as to whether the organizers and their workshop were indeed guilty 
>thereof. Simply saying the words “Racism” and “cultural appropriation” 
>appears to have been sufficient.
>
>Indeed, the minutes of the LRCP from 4th Month 2004, record the Committee 
>for Ministry on Racism as declaring, “When someone is so strongly offended 
>by our behavior we must take heed, no matter what our intentions.” Thus, 
>to convict the organizers of “flagrant racism” and “cultural 
>appropriation,” merely making the accusation seems to have been enough.
>
>It is not enough for me. The committee “procedure” as described offends 
>every meaning of “due process” and good order that I know of, in or 
>outside Quakerism. Reference has been made to the secular court system. It 
>is worth noting here that organizations like FGC have been successfully 
>sued for defamation over episodes like these; and they deserved it. I hang 
>my head in shame when I read the accounts of what happened and am 
>humiliated to recall that my name is on that committee’s membership list.
>
>But my feelings are not the point here. To repeat the query: what are 
>these alleged infractions, exactly? And what evidence is there that the 
>FGC sweat lodge was a culpable example thereof? And on what ground can 
>disregarding the task of dealing with these fundamental questions of 
>fairness be justified?
>
>Since the concept of “cultural appropriation,” at least as some kind of 
>actionable offense, was new to me, I’ve worked hard to figure out exactly 
>what it is, how to identify it, and what can be done about it.
>
>In this effort, there have been problems. Definitions, for one thing. 
>Finding them was not the issue; I found many. [Ten such definitions are 
>included in the Appendix.] But none are the same, none seems definitive, 
>and there are no agreed-upon criteria for establishing it. Nevertheless, 
>overall they indicate that the phenomenon takes different forms, of which 
>at least three can be distinguished:
>
>First, the taking of actual artifacts and other tangible property. Second, 
>stereotypical, demeaning images and portrayal by one culture of another, 
>as in sports team names and mascots. And third, use or mimicry by one 
>culture of the rituals, beliefs, or symbols of another.
>
>The first kind of cultural appropriation is the easiest to identify. It 
>has been addressed by various laws, and is not involved in the FGC 
>situation. Nor, to my knowledge, is the second. The complaints about the 
>sweat lodge evidently come out of the third level. And at this point, as 
>Julie Deichmann, writing on “The Cultural Appropriation Debate,” put it, 
>this level of  “‘Cultural appropriation’ however, is a much more nebulous 
>concept.” This especially the case when one seeks criteria for positively 
>identifying it.
>
>You wouldn’t know this from reading the louder critics of CA; they insist 
>that any cross-cultural mimicry, use, or adaptation of other people’s 
>spiritual practices is obviously and unarguably a crime, indeed it’s 
>genocide. Consider Russell Means: “We are resisting this because 
>spirituality is the basis of our culture. If our culture is dissolved, 
>Indian people as such will cease to exist. By definition, the causing of 
>any culture to cease to exist is genocide.”
>
>What is the remedy for this? As Lynna Landstreet wrote, “some native 
>activists have explicitly told people of European ancestry to start 
>working with their own ancestral religions instead of pirating native 
>beliefs.”
>
>Ward Churchill is one of the most vocal of this school. Landstreet quotes 
>Churchill as telling European “wanna-bes”[a common phrase]:
>
>“We are not unique in being indigenous. Everyone is indigenous somewhere. 
>You are not necessarily part of the colonizing, predatory reality called 
>‘Europe.’ You are not even necessarily ‘Germans,’ with all that implies. 
>You are, or can be, who your ancestors were and who the faith-keepers of 
>your cultures remain: Angles, Saxons, Huns, Goths, Visigoths. The choice 
>is yours, but in order for it to have meaning, you must meet the 
>responsibilities that come with it.”
>
>(It intrigues me that Churchill would preach thus to a German audience. 
>Didn’t many in that culture undertake to reconnect with their primordial 
>indigenous roots back in the 1930s? As I recall, that effort didn’t turn 
>out so well, for them or for the world. But let that go.)
>
>One part of me strongly resonates with this appeal: knowing our religious 
>roots is a good idea; that’s largely why I offered workshops on Bible 
>study at the Gathering for ten years. I also agree that dilettantish 
>spiritual consumerism is as unappealing as any other kind.
>
>And yet, if this advice were made into a rule, a big problem immediately 
>leaps from the page: where would it leave me–and the half of Quakers today 
>who are likewise convinced members? For my part, I’d be stuck in Mel 
>Gibson Catholicism, a personal fate too awful to contemplate.
>
>And where, Friend, would that leave thee?
>
>Not to mention all the rearranging of cultural furniture it would require 
>across the board: are we really ready to banish the Christmas trees, 
>Easter baskets, Halloween costumes, and all the other stuff that our 
>culture imported (stole?) from other traditions, some we can’t even 
>remember? The sternly plain Quakers or 200 years ago would have said “Yes, 
>Indeed” to this query. (And I wouldn’t miss Easter baskets much.) But that 
>was then.
>
>Speaking of Christmas trees brings up another key point: reading through 
>the literature, I discovered that “cultural appropriation” was only one 
>name for interchange between cultures, at least in the voluminous learned 
>discussions thereof.
>
>It seems there is also such a thing as “hybridity,” where two (or more) 
>cultures somehow blend, at least in part, to form a new cultural practice. 
>It happens in art – jazz, for instance. It certainly happens in religion 
>too, where it tends to be termed “syncretism,” sometimes approvingly, 
>sometimes not. And “hybridity” seems to be regarded as more or less okay 
>by those who are passing judgment, though this sentiment is not universal. 
>I will have more to say about this. Then there’s “appropriate cultural 
>sharing”; the Unitarians like that one. Google even turned up a 
>description of a major scholarly project on the Ethics of Cultural 
>Appropriation. Sounds illuminating –– but it’s just getting started; no 
>results yet.
>
>All this was intriguing, but it was easy to see more tough issues ahead: 
>how do we distinguish presumably legitimate “hybridity” or “appropriate” 
>cultural sharing from nasty old CA? For that matter, is all CA truly as 
>evil as some say? (Do I REALLY have to go back to being a Catholic??) If 
>not, how do we tell which is which?
>
>And then there’s the CA-is-“genocide” matter. This is a daunting charge, 
>one that might put an end to any discussion –– except that, fortunately, 
>the facts don’t bear it out. Certainly the Euro-American treatment of the 
>natives has included efforts at genocide, some of them gruesomely 
>successful. But during the last twenty years, the American Indian 
>population and their cultures have been burgeoning, not disappearing. The 
>2000 census reported a 26 per cent increase in their numbers in only ten 
>years. And as scholar critical of CA acknowledges,
>
>“Native Americans have rebounded from the population low point during the 
>first half of the twentieth century (Nagel 1996). At that time, many 
>officials believed that because of the tumultuous history Indians had 
>faced, they would disappear as a separate race. This has changed and 
>Indian culture is growing stronger, and has even taken root in the 
>mainstream population. Part of this upswing has its roots in a political 
>and cultural rebirth that has fueled community pride and political 
>struggle (Cornell 1988; Nagel 1996).”
>  – Gibbons, “New Age Cowboys and Indian Religion: Boundary Maintenance 
> and Religious Inter-Cultural Borrowing.”
>
>All this burgeoning happened, however, in the same years that saw the 
>proliferation of “Indian”-influenced workshops, seminars, souvenirs, etc., 
>etc. So if these are an attempt at “genocide,” cultural or otherwise, they 
>have been a miserable failure – and thank goodness for that! Rather, it 
>seems to me the vigor of the native protests against the “New Age” 
>vulgarization and commercialization of some versions of native practices 
>is if anything a reflection of this renewing vitality. This, plus the 
>peoples’ underlying ability to vent their feelings, and then get on with 
>their individual and communal lives.
>
>And here too, maybe a word of caution is in order: a practice that looks 
>to me like a cheesy ripoff of some spiritual tradition, may be for many 
>participants a profound and life-changing spiritual experience. Who, 
>exactly, is to make this judgment? And how? (And what was it our 
>indigenous spiritual teacher Jesus said about judging?)What about 
>(re)learning to live and let live, especially in these “nebulous” areas? 
>And are these really new insights?
>
>
>This point reminds me of early Friends history: there is a fat book in the 
>larger Quaker libraries, “Bibliotheca Anti-Quakeriana,” published in 1873, 
>filled with the titles of thousands of anti-Quaker books and tracts from 
>the first generations. Most were variations on a common theme: that 
>Quakerism was a spiritual fraud, a rip-off, a corrupted, perverted 
>counterfeit, masquerading as “authentic” Christianity. The chorus was 
>quite loud, and the song of vituperation went on for a long time.
>
>So Friends, have been down this road before? Were we supposed to just fold 
>out tents in the face of this opposition? What have we learned from this? 
>What have we forgotten?
>
>And so it is in the Native American world. Yes, there are loud voices 
>denouncing anything that resembles the various versions of “cultural 
>appropriation”; but theirs are not the only voices. There are also native 
>teachers who have worked quietly with devoted non-natives to find ways to 
>share what is good in their traditions, because they think the underlying 
>spirituality could be of benefit, even to us whites.
>
>Which brings me back to George Price and the Quaker sweat lodge.
>
>The Lopez letter dismisses all this talk of work with native tahers and 
>mentors, declaring that the Quaker sweat lodge “is predicated on an 
>assumption that an almost exclusively white non-Native group has the right 
>to usurp any spiritual practice it finds meaningful.”
>
>But have the Quaker sweat lodges in fact been predicated on such an 
>assumption? What is the evidence for this assertion? The only “evidence” 
>cited in the Lopez letter is the sixty-one word workshop description in 
>the 2004 Gathering Advance Program. Let’s review that:
>
>  “Quaker Sweat Lodge Experience: Since 1989 young Friends have 
> participated in a sweat lodge at the Gathering, evolving in into an 
> experience deeply meaningful to many. This workshop offers participants 
> an opportunity to build the lodge, sweat, and discuss the history, Quaker 
> presence, and spiritual nature of the sweat lodge experience. Led by 
> George Price, Cullen Carns-Hilliker, and Breeze Luetke Stahlman. ”
>
>In any fair, Friendly, or competent inquiry, this brief description would 
>be the beginning, not the end. And even here, note that it does not 
>mention Native American spirituality or ceremonies. The organizers state 
>that this is not an accident; they assert that the experience has become 
>distinctively Quaker, not imitation anything. They are not the 
>much-condemned “wanna-bes.”
>
>Now let us imagine that a proper inquiry had been made into these 
>competing statements. One of the first items it would have discovered is 
>George Price’s article in the February 2002 Friends Journal, which 
>explains how his Native American teachers led the early sweats at the 
>Gathering, and then instructed him to continue them
>
>By his own account, George has spent many years studying and working with 
>such native teachers. These studies have been both formal and informal, 
>leading to academic degrees as well as life changes. But they have not 
>been limited to Native American rituals. He has found and studied parallel 
>rituals in European and Asian cultures too, and intentionally put the 
>Quaker sweat in a “universalist” context.
>
>(In this whole process, by the way, Price has been acting on a central 
>aspect of the traditional FGC ethos, namely an openness to truth from 
>wherever it may be found. Pages of quotes from books of Faith & Practice 
>could be quoted in support of this. To be sure, such cross-cultural 
>seeking should be done with sensitivity and care; but the record shows 
>that’s what he has displayed.)
>
>The inquiry would then have turned to the other leaders. Take Breeze 
>Luetke-Stahlman. It might be worth noting that though not yet 26, she has, 
>among other achievements, studied at the only all-native university in the 
>US, visited and worked on the Pine Ridge reservation, and even served as 
>the national lobbyist for the “Free Leonard Peltier” campaign. (How sweet, 
>how bitter the irony that the Lopez letter denouncing her “flagrant 
>racism” arrived on “Free Leonard Peltier” letterhead.)
>
>None of this, of course, gives her a “free pass” from being examined for 
>bias and CA. But it should give pause to any who thinks her work with the 
>Quaker sweat was that of an insensitive dilettante or a disrespectful New 
>Age dabbler. (I have not yet interviewed Cullen Carns-Hilliker.)
>
>Breeze told me, however, that while FGC sent someone from Philadelphia to 
>Mashpee to consult extensively with Lopez, no one even telephoned her to 
>find out about her perspective on the matter, never mind her background or 
>training. What accounts for this? Her youth? Ethnicity? Lack of hyperbolic 
>and overheated rhetoric?
>
>Price explained further in a response to the Lopez Letter that:
>
>“…… We do not pretend to be Native Americans and we make it clear at all 
>lodges that what we are doing is not a Native American sweat. We do not 
>use a pipe. We do not use prayer ties nor prayer flags. We do not sing 
>Native American songs…….We have researched non-Native American sources of 
>the sweat, the Celts of Ireland, the Finnish sauna, the Russian bannia, 
>the Edo sweats of Japan, and we have found inspiration and a sense of the 
>universality of the sweat lodge.”
>
>These statements do not seem at all congruent with an “assumption that an 
>almost exclusively white non-Native group has the right to usurp any 
>spiritual practice it finds meaningful.” Rather, it sounds peainstakingly 
>respectful. And once they are actually examined, the track records of the 
>organizers and the character of the workshop show a great deal of 
>awareness and sensitivity to the cultural issues involved, long predating 
>the criticism. Moreover, the Lopez letter presents no evidence that Price 
>or Breeze or Cullen are speaking falsely or disingenuously about this. Was 
>any other such contrary evidence sought out or presented? If not, why were 
>the charges of “flagrant racism” and “cultural appropriation” accepted 
>without it?
>
>Instead, the Lopez letter attempted to pre-empt and prevent any such 
>inquiry by insisting that, “No matter who gave who permission, trained the 
>leader, etc. for Friends to use a sweat lodge is a violation and 
>desecration of one of the most private and sacred aspects of native 
>spiritual practice.”
>
>But there are serious problems with this assertion. For starters, if 
>heeded it would prevent any hearing of the workshop leaders and their 
>side. This is patently unfair, though it is essentially what happened.
>
>For another, what standing does Lopez have to denigrate and dismiss the 
>witness of other Native leaders and teachers, especially without hearing 
>them either? How respectful is that?Among them, as Price also testified, 
>was Clyde Bellacourt of the American Indian Movement. Bellacourt also 
>encouraged Price to continue the sweats, when Bellacourt visited the 
>Gathering in 1989. If we are not calling Price a liar, such encouraging 
>statements are as valid as the Lopez criticism; and coming from persons 
>who actually came to the Gathering and dealt with Price, they have more 
>credibility with me. So why is FGC to privilege the Lopez statements and 
>not theirs?
>
>Moreover, exactly how is a Quaker sweat lodge a “violation and 
>desecration” of Native practice?
>
>It is possible to gauge the harm in actual practice. That’s because the 
>Gathering was held in Amherst once before, in 1994. The record indicates 
>that there was a Quaker sweat lodge there. At that time, there were (and 
>are) no less than twelve Native American bands, tribes or nations in the 
>same region, among them Abenaki, Nipmucs, Ponkapoag, and Pequot, all 
>nearer to Amherst than the Mashpee, who are a hundred miles away on Cape Cod.
>
>What do we know about the 1994 experience? The Gathering came and went, 
>the sweat happened. And when it was done, these dozen native groups in the 
>region still had all their land; none of their cultural and ritual objects 
>had been stolen; none of their members had been subjected to public 
>displays of demeaning or stereotyped images; none of their ceremonies had 
>been usurped, spied upon, or copied; none of the groups, one suspects, 
>even knew the Quaker sweat had happened.
>
>As “desecration” and “cultural genocide”goes, this was a rather mild, even 
>innocuous example. If it was in fact wrong, which is by no means clear, it 
>was hardly an emergency requiring the discarding of any semblance of due 
>process or fair-minded, careful seeking.
>
>There are two final questions that have nagged me increasingly as I 
>consider this whole episode.
>
>The first is: what kind of precedent is being set here for FGC? Are we now 
>to submit our seventy-plus workshops to a new round of reviews by 
>self-appointed outsiders, persons and groups with no involvement in FGC, 
>no presence at the Gathering, because they might take exception to some of 
>what is on our program? Having offered many workshops at the Gathering 
>myself, this is not a hypothetical question for me.
>
>After all, Friends, let us recall that there are many aspects of the 
>Gathering that unquestionably are offensive to some, or many, in the 
>outside culture. Does anyone else remember 1981 at Berea, when we were 
>threatened with a mass march of outraged fundamentalists said to be coming 
>to cleanse the campus of the abomination of gays and lesbians were open 
>and affirmed among us?
>
>Now we are advised that the LRCP clerk has been contacting selected 
>native-related persons in Virginia about the advisability of having a 
>sweat at the 2005 Gathering in Blacksburg. If this is deemed good 
>practice, how can we properly limit it to that topic?
>
>Should we not also interview prominent Southern Baptist ministers around 
>Blacksburg, Virginia about women in leadership roles, nontheistic 
>workshops, FLGC meetings, sessions on past lives, and women’s rituals at 
>our Gathering? We could start with Jerry Falwell, who is just about the 
>same distance away as the Wampanoags were from Amherst. What if he didn’t 
>like those ideas, as one strongly suspects he would not?
>
>Or how about the area’s Catholic bishops? Let’s see: reproductive rights, 
>same sex, disdain for hierarchies–don’t get me started on all that!
>
>Then there’s the Virginia legislature. We already know what it thinks of 
>our welcoming same sex married couples – they’re attempting to outlaw 
>them. Should we defer to that? We’re supposedly a law-abiding bunch, on 
>the whole.
>
>But it appears in these cases we are prepared to trust our own judgment 
>and discernment, which seems to me the wisest course.
>
>And this much can be said on behalf of the Virginia Baptists and their 
>homophobic legislators: chances are good that if we keep our dangerous 
>notions on the campus, they will go about their business and ignore us, 
>leaving us to the judgment of the God Whom we are both sure is on our 
>side. I wonder why some feel a need to go looking for trouble on this 
>particular score? Haven’t we had enough?
>
>So again: is this a wise precedent? I believe it is more like a can of 
>worms – no, a can of snakes, that bite.
>
>The second question gets more personal, because its effects reach to my 
>own family, which among ourselves has at least fifty person-years of 
>Gathering attendance: Breeze tells me their sweat lodge has had more than 
>300 participants, among them many of the most active young adult Friends 
>in the FGC orbit. The feedback from many of them, and some of their 
>parents, about FGC’s treatment of her and the sweat lodge has been angry 
>and alienated, and has not subsided.
>
>How dangerous is that? Let me put it this way: if I was hired by some 
>enemy of FGC to undermine the future of the Gathering, I could not have 
>hatched a better scheme than this for making it happen. Karl Rove would be 
>proud.
>
>Listen well, Friends: As this generation comes to understand that their 
>most cherished part of the Gathering can be summarily dumped, and its 
>respected leaders defamed as “flagrant racists,” based on a single 
>unsubstantiated complaint from someone who has never been at the 
>Gathering, has no presence in FGC, and knows no more about it than a 
>sixty-one-word blurb – such an understanding will ultimately be ruinous to 
>FGC and the Gathering. Ruinous. I may not know a lot; but I know that 
>much. It is not rocket science.
>
>And I can be more personal still: Since 2000, I have been bringing my 
>granddaughter Amber to the Gathering. Amber is multi-racial. Her 
>ethnic-cultural heritage includes African, native, and European strains. 
>Religiously, it takes in black Baptist, Gurdjieff-Jungian astrological 
>mysticism, Quakerism and humanism, all in addition to the more removed 
>background of Catholicism.
>
>What do we call this? If Amber is not a living, breathing embodiment of 
>“hybridity” and “syncretism,” who or what is? Right now it is natural to 
>her. No one has yet told her it is “cultural appropriation” and all wrong. 
>But when she gets old enough, in just a few years, to begin conscious 
>spiritual explorations to find her own way, how much of this heritage will 
>be fenced off from the FGC context, to prevent her giving any possible 
>offense to unknown and unidentified persons or groups? Will FGC be feeding 
>her pious absurdities about finding and sticking to somebody else’s notion 
>of her “indigenous” roots?
>
>Go ahead. But remember: with Amber’s “hybridity” comes awareness of 
>options. Watch how quickly she'll dump FGC and seek another spiritual home 
>where she will be free to do the work she needs to do. And she would not 
>leave by herself.
>
>To sum up: Friends, the sweat lodge controversy is on the brink of 
>becoming a major train wreck for FGC, one largely self-inflicted. I think 
>– I hope, the damage can be controlled.
>
>How? Here is my recipe:
>
>First, Breeze, George and Cullen deserve an apology from FGC for the 
>unconscionable way they have been treated.
>
>Next, have the LRCP and Central Committee minutes formally record a 
>withdrawal and repudiation of any and all charges, allegations, and 
>insinuations of racism associated with them or their work. At the very 
>least, such charges are completely unproven. My own view is that they are 
>false, defamatory and bring deep disgrace on the body.
>
>Third, include these three, and experienced Quaker sweat lodge alumni, as 
>full partners in all negotiations, internal and external, aimed at finding 
>a way to re-incorporate the sweat lodge experience into the Gathering, 
>especially for youth, in some mutually agreeable form. And make that 
>re-incorporation a goal, one worth bearing witness for as much as we bear 
>witness to our welcoming LGBT Friends.
>
>And fourth, admonish those who are carrying concerns for “racism” or 
>“cultural appropriation” within FGC to follow good order and show 
>scrupulous care for the reputation of Friends involved, taking pains to 
>avoid “talebearing and detraction” in pursuing their efforts. In 
>particular, any such allegations are to be dealt with by careful, full, 
>and fair inquiry, with the presumption of innocence. Our expectation for 
>Quaker “due process” is that it will be more equitable than that of the 
>secular world, not less.
>
>  And by the way: none of what has been said here is meant to imply that 
> FGC in its history and culture has somehow been free of racism. I’ve 
> studied FGC history more deeply than most, and sadly know the truth is 
> otherwise. Given my family’s multi-racial character, this is an item high 
> on my agenda. I particularly affirm and appreciate the work being done by 
> Donna McDaniel and Vanessa Julye to fill in and bring to us the details 
> of this humbling and painful story. If I thought the Quaker sweat lodge 
> was a current example of this racist taint, I would say so.
>
>NOTE: The Landstreet & Churchill quotes are from: 
><http://www.wildideas.net/forest/library/ecospirit14.html>http://www.wildideas.net/forest/library/ecospirit14.html 
>
>The Soul of Nature: The Meaning of Ecological Spirituality, by Lynna 
>Landstreet
>
>Julie Deichmann, “The Cultural Appropriations 
>Debate,” 
><http://www.aabc.com/lotos/cultural.htm>http://www.aabc.com/lotos/cultural.htm
>
>
>  APPENDIX: Cultural Appropriation: Ten Definitions
>
>“Cultural Appropriation - refers to the process by which members of 
>relatively privileged groups “raid” the culture of less powerful or 
>marginalized groups, and removing [sic] cultural practices or artifacts 
>from historically or culturally specific contexts.”
>
>  ­  From the Glossary of the Municipal Cultural Planning Project (Canada) 
> <http://www.culturalplanning.ca/mcpp/ib_glossary.html#c>http://www.culturalplanning.ca/mcpp/ib_glossary.html#c 
>
>
>Q. “What is cultural appropriation?
>
>A. The textbook definition of cultural appropriation is the ‘taking 
>[a.k.a. appropriating] from a culture that is not one’s own of...cultural 
>expressions or artifacts [or] history.’ Many people hold that cultural 
>appropriation is wrong because by stealing an element from someone’s 
>culture and then representing it in a different (and often shallow) 
>context, you both damage and dishonor the culture you have taken the 
>ritual from.”
>
>  ­ Body Modification Ezine 
> FAQs 
> <http://www.bmezine.com/ritual/susp-faq.html#Q3-5>http://www.bmezine.com/ritual/susp-faq.html#Q3-5 
>
>  [Note: The “textbook” in question was not identified.]
>
>The [Unitarian] Reverend Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley defines cultural 
>appropriation as consciously or unconsciously seeking to emulate concepts, 
>beliefs, or rituals that are foreign to a particular framework, 
>individual, or collective. It is incorporating language, cultural 
>expressions, forms, lifestyles, rituals, or practices about which there is 
>little basis for direct knowledge, experience, or authenticity into one’s 
>being. It is also the superficial appreciation of a culture without regard 
>to its deeper meaning.”
>
>  ­ Jacqui Jame, Anti-Oppression Programs and Resource Director, 
> Unitarian-Universalist Assn., “Reckless Borrowing or Appropriate Cultural 
> Sharing?”
>
>
>“ . . .the unspeakable indignity of having our most precious Lakota 
>ceremonies and spiritual practices desecrated, mocked and abused by 
>non-Indian "wannabes," hucksters, cultists, commercial profiteers and 
>self-styled "New Age shamans" and their followers . . . .”
>
>  ­ Declaration of War Against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality, 1993 
> <http://www.aics.org/war.html>http://www.aics.org/war.html
>
>“The task of defining “cultural appropriation” is a more difficult 
>endeavor than defining “cultural property”. With property we have 
>something concrete such as bones or artifacts which indigenous communities 
>are now requesting that many museums around the world “repatriate”. Laws 
>have been enacted such as the Native American Grave Protection and 
>Repatriation Act . . . . “Cultural appropriation” however, is a much more 
>nebulous concept.
>
>Cultural appropriation, the borrowing of cultural elements, is a 
>consistent fact of the twentieth century.”
>
>  ­ Julie Deichmann, “The Cultural Appropriations 
> Debate,” 
> <http://www.aabc.com/lotos/cultural.htm>http://www.aabc.com/lotos/cultural.htm
>
>“At its core, appropriation is nothing more than a dressed-up word for 
>stealing. In fact, many victims of cultural appropriation have denounced 
>the phrase, claiming that is de-emphasizes the true nature of what they 
>consider a crime. Appropriation occurs when one party takes upon itself to 
>uncover and absorb the practices of another culture without proper 
>understanding, training, respect or permission.”
>
>  ­ “Interfaith Exchange and the Western Overculture” 
> <http://www.mothersmagic.net/theology/CA2.html>http://www.mothersmagic.net/theology/CA2.html 
>
>
>
>“Cultural appropriation is the theft of rituals, aesthetic standards and 
>behavior from one culture by another, generally by a ‘modern’ culture from 
>a ‘primitive’ culture ­ often this involves the conversion of religion and 
>spirituality into ‘meaningless’ pop-culture.”
>
>  ­ [From: 
> <http://encyc.bmezine.com/?Cultural_Appropriation>http://encyc.bmezine.com/?Cultural_Appropriation] 
>
>
>
>“Cultural appropriation is usually considered to be a majority group 
>(usually Whites or otherwise Eurocentric folks) mining a minority culture 
>for the jewels of its heritage for their own pleasure or benefit while the 
>voices of that culture remain silent or silenced.”
>
>  ­ [From: 
> <http://www.mothersmagic.net/theology/CA.html>http://www.mothersmagic.net/theology/CA.html] 
>
>
>
>“[The authors] first offer a working definition of cultural appropriation 
>as ‘the taking - from a culture that is not one’s own - of intellectual 
>property, cultural expressions or artifacts, history and ways of knowing’. 
>. . . .”
>
>  ­ Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation. Bruce Ziff and 
> Pratima V. Rao. Rutgers University Press.
>
>
>“[C]ultural appropriation ­ that is, those practices involving the 
>non-consensual apprehension and/or misuse of cultural knowledge outside of 
>its local and traditional contexts.”
>
>  ­ Description, “Ethics of Cultural Appropriation” Research project, 
> University of Victoria, British 
> Columbia. 
> <http://www.csrs.uvic.ca/Cultural.htm>http://www.csrs.uvic.ca/Cultural.htm



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://kitenet.net/pipermail/sayma/attachments/20041002/ce0f11cb/attachment.html>


More information about the sayma mailing list