[saymaListserv] Quaker Sweat Lodge Reflections by Chuck Fager
freepolazzo at comcast.net
Sat Oct 2 10:53:06 JEST 2004
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.
>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
> 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.
>- - - - - - - - - - - - -
>The Quaker Sweat Lodge: Some Reflections
>“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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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
>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:
>The Soul of Nature: The Meaning of Ecological Spirituality, by Lynna
>Julie Deichmann, “The Cultural Appropriations
> 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)
>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
> Body Modification Ezine
> [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
>“ . . .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
>“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
>Cultural appropriation, the borrowing of cultural elements, is a
>consistent fact of the twentieth century.”
> Julie Deichmann, “The Cultural Appropriations
>“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”
>“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.”
>“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.”
>“[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
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