[saymaListserv] Quaker Sweat Lodge Reflections by Chuck Fager
nc_stereoman at charter.net
Sun Oct 3 08:41:55 JEST 2004
While the events surrounding the cancellation of the 2004 FGC
Gathering's Quaker Sweat Lodge may indeed be unfortunate, we
Quakers are blessed with the ability to continue our discernment
around the matter, with the possibility of coming to a new and more
spiritually grounded conclusion.
We are wise to consider Chuck's ruminations, but let us not wring
our hands for too long lest the soreness distract us from the
valuable work of improving our process. As Chuck points out, we
may benefit from listening more thoroughly as we seek clearness on
this and other matters. But we also may benefit from trusting one
another on a deeper level, and seek not only to clarify what appears
to have been an error in judgment, but also to understand how our
brothers and sisters in the Spirit arrived at this judgment despite
seemingly overwhelming evidence of its error.
As I see it, there is no more value in arriving at the next Gathering
with sweat lodge reinstated at the expense of alienating some
several Friends than there is in arriving at the next Gathering with
sweat lodge prohibited at the expense of alienating some several
Friends. Neither of these two choices resonates with me.
What do we know about the process that resulted in the withdrawal
of the 2004 workshop? I have found only one phrase in Chuck's
essay adddressing it, and it sounds most unFriendly. Can we hear
from those who were involved? Perhaps they already feel that an
error in judgment was made. Perhaps they have more information
to offer that is germane to their discernment.
I found Chuck's references to Nazi's and Southern Baptists to be
inflammatory and inappropriate comparisons in the context of
discerning the presence of institutional bigotry, flying in the face of
what I understand to be the definition of this practice. Perhaps I am
completely misguided on this issue, or perhaps these examples
were intended to be almost comedic. In either case, I am reluctant
to rush to judgment.
For me there are two central questions. First, how did the planning
committee examine the question of cultural appropriation in the
matter of the Sweat Lodge offering? Secondly, why was their
discernment so suddenly overturned by the intervention of Alice
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