Megan Fair Speaks at Wilmington Yearly Meeting

When I enter an office to lobby anybody, and I don’t care what side of the aisle they’re on, I’m always nervous. I do remind myself that God is in the room, and that there is that of God in everyone, including myself—brings me strength, brings me joy—and in the person that I’m speaking with. I can lose track of that during the conversation, if a few things are said that kind of shock me. But it’s kind of like deep breathing.

To go back to that understanding that there’s that of God in this person, and that’s who I’m speaking to… I’m not speaking to the fear, I’m not speaking to whatever training the person has given themselves to get through the world as they see it. I’m speaking to their better part, to that of God.

-Ruth Flower, legislative director at Friends Committee on National Legislation

Megan opened her session with a Quakerspeak video on FCNL, which featured Ruth Flower:

 

Megan then spoke about the Ladder of Engagement: an image which breaks down the process of getting more involved in lobbying into manageable steps. FCNL encourages Friends to consider climbing one more rung to become more engaged. The ladder image serves to welcome more people into the lobbying process.ladder of engagement

As a way of helping Friends climb the ladder together, FCNL is working on building advocacy teams. These begin with three or four people in a community who are willing to work together. Once these teams contact FCNL, they will send out a trainer to help them understand their role in the lobbying process.

Then, the team participates in a monthly phone call and a monthly action together. The phone call keeps them informed, and the monthly action keeps them involved.

According to FCNL’s website:

The power of Advocacy Teams comes from each team member’s commitment to changing Capitol Hill for the better – and the knowledge that we’re stronger together.

You will build an ongoing relationship with your members of Congress.

You will learn how to work with the media to see the news you want.

You will foster a network of advocates in your community.

You will help your members of Congress become champions for peace and justice.

You will change Washington for the better.

Friends broke into practice groups of four or five people, to help us imagine what this might look like. We were given the option of “lobbying” on either preserving access to healthcare or opposing an expansion of the military budget. To guide our imaginations, Megan gave us copies of the “Lobby Visit Roadmap” that she was given when she first went on a lobbying trip for FCNL at seventeen. Here’s the roadmap:

Introduce yourself and those with you.

Thank the representative/senator for something they’ve done that you agree with. (this may require research)

Make the “ask.”

Give facts and tell stories to support the ask, keeping the emphasis on stories rather than expertise.

Solicit follow-up questions.

Thank the representative/senator for the time.

Repeat the “ask.”

Leave behind documents supporting the ask.

Follow up with their office.

Friends had productive and inspiring conversations as they imagined themselves lobbying as a group. What could we be thankful about, with regard to the imagined politician at the meeting? What supportive stories would we tell?

Megan Fair, a member of Wilmington Monthly Meeting in Wilmington, Ohio, currently serves on the FCNL’s Executive Committee and is the clerk of the FCNL Field Committee. She lives in Seattle, WA, where she works as a Civil Rights Assistant Manager for the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Washington (CAIR-WA), a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Megan credits Wilmington Monthly Meeting’s hosting of the Christian Peacemakers Team with directing her toward work in the Middle East and interfaith work with the Muslim community.

Megan obtained her BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. While at Guilford, Megan was a Quaker Leader Scholar and completed the School for International Training’s Modernization and Social Change program in Amman, Jordan.

Genesis Roundup

The English word Genesis is derived from Greek, and is used to refer to origins and beginings. In Hebrew this book has a similar title – Bereishit – which is the first word of the book: “In the Beginning.”

On Sunday, we’ll start reading Genesis together. (We’ll start with Genesis 2, but don’t worry, we’ll be back for Genesis 1!) Here are some tools that you might find helpful in understanding the book as a whole:

Enter the Bible provides a summary, outline, background, introductory issues, and theological themes for each book of the Bible. The link is to their resources on Genesis.

Here is another good historical introduction and outline of Genesis from Biblica.

If you’d rather watch a video than read an article, check these out: The Bible Project on Genesis: Part 1, and Part 2.

If you run across something else that you think should be included, leave it in a comment!

 

Narrative Lectionary: Introductory Resources

This school year at Wilmington Friends Meeting, we’ll be journeying together through the whole arc of Scripture. We’re starting in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, working through the story of Israel, comparing and contrasting the Gospels, reading some of the earliest recorded documents of the Church, and ending in the City of God from the Book of Revelation. Buckle your seatbelts, Friends: this is going to be an adventure!

Each Sunday morning, unless we are led otherwise, our Scripture passage will be taken from the Narrative Lectionary. Here’s an overview of what’s coming, taken from their site:

The texts include the major episodes in Scripture. They are arranged in a narrative sequence to help people see Scripture as a story that has coherence and a dynamic movement:

  • From September to mid-December the preaching texts begin with the early chapters of Genesis, move through the stories of Israel’s early history, the exodus, the kings, prophets, exile, and return.

  • From Christmas to Easter there is sustained reading of one of the four gospels

  • From Easter to Pentecost the texts are chosen from Acts and Paul’s letters.

During the week, I’ll be posting daily readings here connecting between one Sunday and the next. If you read them all, by May you’ll have read a little bit from every book of the Bible. If you skim most of them and read some of them in depth (because let’s be honest, right?), you’ll still learn things you never knew about Scripture, see themes and motifs that you hadn’t noticed before, and walk away at the end of the Sunday School year having been both challenged and blessed. I hope you’ll join us on this journey, and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Here are some links that you might find helpful:

Bible Gateway – The Bible’s not just on paper anymore! Read or listen online!

9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading the Bible – Good advice for anyone.

Friendly Bible Study – We aren’t following this proceedure, but I think you’ll find the five queries helpful.

A Quaker Approach to the Bible – Henry Joel Cadbury’s view.

 

Quasidaily Gazette: 09.02.15

From Alise Chaffins, on the destructive nature of gender roles:

…I am increasingly tired of the shock that so many complemantarian Christians have when it comes to how their teachings play out in real life. Because when we take a minute to examine what they teach about gender roles, it is a set-up for sexual failure in many marriages.

From Mark Joseph Stern, on the empirical terribleness of Liberty Counsel:

More and more, it’s beginning to look like the Liberty Counsel is taking Davis for a ride, using her doomed case to promote itself and its extremist principles. Davis has certainly humiliated and degraded the gay couples whom she turned away. But I wonder if, on some level, she isn’t a victim, too.

Quasidaily Gazette: 09.01.15

From Bill Finch, on kudzu:

Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suffers in shade.

From Beth Woolsey, on teenagers,

Here’s the truth: you screw things up, friends. Sometimes ENORMOUSLY. Certainly daily.

And here’s another truth: so do we. Absolutely. HUGELY. And just as often.

Turns out, we are, all of us, a mess, and also magical and magnificent. Incredibly magnificent.

From J. R. Daniel Kirk, on freedom:

Jesus calls followers for one major reason: to do everything that he does.

Jesus proclaims the good news. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus heals the sick. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus exorcises demons. He calls followers for this purpose and sends them out to do so.

Jesus goes to the cross. And… what?

Generous Church

Welcome to Stewardship Sunday! I know some pastors like to announce their stewardship drives in advance, to allow time to solicit funds, set goals, and so forth. Me, on the other hand- I like it when you come to church on Sunday rather than finding some convenient reason to stay home, so I like to make it a surprise and then ask the ushers to lock the meeting room doors.

Because here’s the thing: every single one of us is guilted, at every turn, by a well-meaning person or organization looking to take a little bit more:

Quasidaily Gazette: 08.27.15

From Kelley Nikondeha, on the Song of Solomon:

In a curse-free garden hierarchy and sexual domination never entered the scene. We grew toward one another in mutuality, our sensuality well placed. Women initiated with ease, men reciprocated without threat and there emerged an unashamed boldness in sharing our bodies with our beloved.

From Fred Clark, on personhood:

I would guess that even someone like Huckabee shares the same moral intuition that most of us have to reading that story, sharing the same sense — whether or not it’s carefully articulated — that this woman’s doctors did the right thing in removing that twin. I would guess that even someone like Huckabee, who loves to speak of abortion as “murder” and a “Holocaust,” recognizes that the killing of this unborn twin was notmurder. But I don’t think he can allow himself to examine or articulate why.

From Winn Collier, on truth-telling:

When Jesus passed blind Bartimaeus on the road to Jericho, Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, have mercy.” I love this prayer. There are plenty of days when it’s all the prayer I can muster. Jesus stopped, looked Bartimaeus’ way and asked the plainest question: “What do you want?” Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus to identify what heshould want. Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus what desire Torah would suggest. Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus to conjure an obedient word on virtue, responsibility or human sinfulness. Jesus asked what the poor fellow longed for, and then Jesus waited for the answer.

Quasidaily Gazette: 08.26.15

From The Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt, on adiaphora:

The ritual of hand washing was meant to be a good thing. The practice of giving children shells at baptisms was meant to be a good thing. Both attempted to bring the faith “home” in a memorable way. But neither are central to the gifts that God intends us to carry with us: gifts which include forgiveness and peace and healing and hope.

From Daniel Jepsen, on Elihu:

This, then, is the surprising conclusion to the dialogue: God and Elihu are contrasting figures, even though Elihu represents the orthodox views about God. Elihu listens and takes the side of the orthodox friends and rebukes Job, while God listens and ultimately takes the side of Job and rebukes the orthodox.

From Amber Haines, on how we deal with shame:

Too often these stories of purposeful moral failure start long before with intense pain and shame often born of rejection and abandonment. These aren’t excuses, but we must know how often shameful things are used to cover shame that covers shame that covers shame. Too many of us have lived feeling completely incapable of stepping out of our hiding places. And isn’t the secret always the hiding place, and isn’t shame the shackle there, an endless loop of pain and self-soothing that creates more pain?

From Ed Kilgore, on Cruz and the Christian Right:

If Cruz can indeed put himself at the front of a crusade to destroy the godless baby-killers of Planned Parenthood, he’ll bask in positive Christian Right publicity right up to the brink of the Iowa Caucuses. Add in the regular presence on the campaign trail of Ted’s deranged father the Rev. Rafael Cruz and the junior senator from Texas has got himself a regular tent revival going.

From John Blase, on questions:

Every year at the
Great Big Gathering of the Righteous
the young wannabes would
stand so tall before the assembled
to be asked the all-important
what-do-you-believe-about questions
in order to determine their fitness
for the furtherance of the faith…

Good Friday (Expulsions Redux)

This is the song that was playing when this post popped up in my Facebook feed, directing my attention to the end of the appeals process regarding Northwest Yearly Meeting’s decision to remove West Hills Friends Church from their rolls. I can’t think of a more appropriately heartbreaking backdrop for reading the appeals themselves. Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani?

(Lyrics available here.)

Quasidaily Gazette: 08.25.15

From Steve Garnaas-Holmes, on darkness:

Close your eyes. I am the eye.
Dwell in silence. It is my voice.
Practice not knowing. It is my wisdom.
In darkness is my glory.
Trust the dark. I am here.

From Karoline Lewis, on the good news:

What’s the good news for this week? All of these texts articulate how hard it is to live what we believe, to speak our truth, to be willing to bring forth in our words and our actions what is in our hearts. And how hard it is to hear that what others hear from us does not seem to be us. That’s why you need people around you who will tell you the truth when they see a disconnect between who you are and what you say and do.

From John Blase, on worlds falling apart:

I broke the stillness by playing the next line
in the script: Why not damn God and all?
This man shook his fist skyward and said
I can’t. There’s far too much at stake now.

From Ryan Gear, on Trump’s candidacy:

Candidate Trump is inadvertently revealing that when followers of Jesus fail to love our neighbors as ourselves, we allow ourselves to be exploited by people who profit from our prejudices. Ignoring the humanity and needs of others is not only sinful, it is economically harmful to everyone, including us.