[saymaListserv] Re: [afmdiscussion] 2005 FGC Gathering

George Price stonelodge at earthlink.net
Wed Apr 20 12:10:03 JEST 2005


Free,
I want to make a correction in what you quoted of what I said. Lynn Phillps corrected me when I said she wanted to see the QSL at the 2006 Gathering.  She said that she would like to see a workshop about the sweat but says that she doesn't think that we should do a sweat without the permission and collaboration of local Indians.  In recalling her experience with the Native American teacher to whom I referred she said " the Anishinabe healer said he would not forbid any one to do a sweat lodge if that was their spiritual journey."  I think this is an important point that may help us to resolve this issue.  The QSL is not a Native American ceremony.  I have made that abundantly clear since its inception.  The reason it is not is because of my sensitivity toward Native American concerns that others not appropriate their ceremonies.  My sensitivity on this issue has grown from my extensive education from academic and traditional Native American teachers. We have NOT appropriated a ceremony - we have developed a new ceremony which is based in part on the Native American tradition of the sweat.  It is very different and has elements of several traditions incorporated.  It is an example of syncretism - the melding of different spiritual ideas in to a new one.  All spiritual traditions are examples of syncretism.  Native Americans that have taken the time to understand what we are doing understand that this is a Quaker ceremony and have approved of our doing it.  

What we have before is a decision to either follow and empower a long term tested spiritual leading or to bow to a nebulous political complaint.  Spirit is not owned by anyone and for anyone to attempt to enforce their spiritual or political will on others is tyrannical.  I have been accused of being culturally ignorant and insensitive on this issue and that is simply not true. I have spent most of my life reseaching and educating myself on Native American concerns.   If those who oppose our use of the sweat would take the time to educate themselves more deeply on this issue they will find a more enlightened point of view.  I recomend Raymond Bucko's book, The Lakota Ritual of the Sweat Lodge and Joseph Bruchac's book, The Native American Sweat Lodge.  Also Mikkel Aaland's book Sweat can give readers a view of the universal nature of sweat lodges as practiced by people all over the world.  

George Price 4-20-2005

Liz,  I would like you to forward the above to LRCP members along with Free's writings - Thanks George
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: free polazzo 
  To: AFM Friends ; sayma at kitenet.net 
  Cc: Bruce Birchard ; George Price ; Liz Perch 
  Sent: Wednesday, April 20, 2005 9:12 AM
  Subject: Re: [afmdiscussion] 2005 FGC Gathering


  Dear Friends,

  I agree with Perry that FGC Gathering is a wonderful place to go and be with Friends of all persuasions from all over the world.   My children, Chad and Justin, still have fond memories of their FGC Gathering experiences, as do Janet and I.  We recommend it highly.   

  There was one important item that was omitted from the following press release concerning the FGC 2005 Gathering which has led me and our family to decide not to attend this year's FGC Gathering.  Unfortunately, the Tapestry which is being woven in Blacksburg VA will have one thread missing that had been a very important part of the Gathering since the early 1990's.  

  The Quaker Sweat Lodge Experience, which had been offered for many years at the FGC gathering until last year and which has seen around 1,000 Quaker Teens and Adults participate over the years, has been banned from the 2005 Gathering by the Long Range Planning Committee.   

  This same activity has received the blessings of a Cherokee Medicine man (who lived near Asheville) and who attended a Quaker Sweat Lodge Experience with Friends when we met at Appalachian State College in Boone, NC many years ago.  The Quaker Sweat Lodge Experience has received the blessings of Native Americans whenever George has asked.    

  The Clerk of the 2006 Gathering has indicated that it should be offered, after reviewing all the arguments for and against and consulting with a local Native American leader she respects.   I would like to quote from a letter by George Price, the Friend who has been led to create and offer the Quaker Sweat Experience to Friends.   (George was invited to come to SAYMA' s Yearly Meeting at Warren Wilson, in 1995, to lead a Quaker Sweat Lodge.  It was very well attended.)

  "I ask you to consider the following story.  Lynne Phillips, Clerk of the 2006 FGC Gathering in Vancouver, had deep concerns about the sweat and voiced these at the two listening sessions we had in Philadelphia over the last two years.  Last month at FGC's LRCP (Long Range Conference Planning) committee gathering at Rochester she related the following:  She read my article in the February 2002 Friends Journal about the sweat and took it to a local Native American leader for whom she has great respect.  She said the Native American leader told her, after reading the article, that he had no problem with our use of the sweat.

  This reflects my experience with many Native Americans.  Once they understand the honor and sensitivity that we have used to share the sweat they endorse our use of it.  Lynne further said that she would like to see the Quaker Sweat Lodge Experience take place at the 2006 Gathering."  

  I am praying that way will open for FGC Gathering Long Range Planning Committee to allow the Quaker Sweat Lodge Experience  to be offered in 2006 on the West Coast and that they do not try to close a door to the Spirit through which so many have experienced the Light Within.

  Blessings,

  Free Polazzo
  Anneewakee Creek Worship Group Attender,  
  Atlanta Friends Meeting, Member. 

  At 10:52 AM 4/14/2005, Perry Treadwell wrote:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    PLEASE USE FOR YOUR NEWSLETTERS OR OTHER PUBLICATIONS!
    You may request a digital copy of this release from gathering at fgcquaker.org

    Friends General Conference will hold the 2005 Gathering of Friends at 
    the Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, July 2 - July 9, 2005. The 
    theme is Weaving the Blessed Tapestry.
    We want to recognize all the threads that are part of our Quaker 
    community, says Jean-Marie Prestwidge Barch, co clerk of the Gathering.
    Our theme brings together all the elements of a Gathering, adds Frank 
    Barch, who is co-clerking the Gathering committee. Frank and Jean Marie 
    are members of Schuylkill Meeting (PhlYM) and attend Valley Meeting 
    (BYM) in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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