Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dogs - love them, don't traffic in them

I finally got a camera. These are my dogs now. In the first picture Maddy is wet because she got knocked into the river while they were playing.

All of my dogs and cats are "rescues". I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have gotten all caught up in the story of a number of dogs in a shelter in Georgia who are going to be put to sleep on Friday. I am hoping to try to help save some, but I am starting to think there's not much I can really do.

There are so many people who work so hard on saving these animals (there are cats who will be euthanized too - all healthy, and seemingly lovely animals) and so many animals that are scared and facing death (even if they don't know it)

It just occurred to me to ask here, though it seems a bit weird, that anyone reading this seriously consider adopting a shelter animal if they plan on getting a pet. Buying animals (and thereby paying people to breed more) while so many die seems to me to be something horrific beyond my ability to say it. If I used the word "sin" this is one of the places I think it would apply.

This is one of a number of areas where I'm hesitant to speak, because I am sort of single-minded on it, and get labelled a hardass more often than I actually inspire any actual changes, but I feel like I had to say something.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Soy will make your baby gay!

So, turns out that soy is "feminizing" (it is a phyto-estrogen, whatever that is, and apparently linked to breast cancer, which I see as an actual cause for concern, but that's not really the point of this article)

Which is making people gay.

Doesn't really explain me, maybe it should have made me straight? I've been a tofu eating treehugger for almost 20 years now and it doesn't seem to have hurt/helped me in that regard.

Also, in case you haven't heard, from Focus on the Family, responding to the news of Mary Cheney's pregnancy Carrie Gordon Earll, said in a statement. “Just because it’s possible to conceive a child outside of the relationship of a married mother and father doesn’t mean it’s the best for the child. Love can’t replace a mom or a dad.”

What a choice to make! I'd say, though, that if it's a choice between the two the choice is obvious, maybe for all of us - we just choose different things!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

I can't stand having a picture of Patches up at the top of my blog, so here's my other dog.

He's the one who's cut off in the side of the photo. (We were taking them to post of the other dog - who was lost, and Jordan just couldnt' figure out what we were doing so he had to get in there to see.....)

The small dog is actually named Patches too - but we called him "Percy" - We found him running loose about a block from his home, but no one we asked knew him, so he stayed with us for 3 days until his owner found one of our signs.

I've always thought I wanted to have a small dog and a big dog - it's so ironic or something. But poor Percy got stepped on a lot, and hid under the bed.

It's medium/large dogs for me all the way.

(Maddy actually looked somewhat like Percy when I got her - about 10#, fluffy black with a white chest, but we went to the vet yesterday and she's 17# - so she doesn't look like that anymore....)

I have to get a camera.....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I had to put my dog, Patches, to sleep yesterday. I am devastated.

I sort of thought that I wouldn't be. She had a good, pretty long life, and I have two younger dogs who demand much more attention that she did over the last few years.

Still, it was really horrible. I've actually put two other dogs to sleep in the last 18 months (ugh! what a terrible thing to have lots of in your life!) - a puppy who I had had less than a week who had parvo, and my mom's dog, who I'd found at college and who had recently been living with friends of mine.

But she was my baby, and you can't imagine how much worse it is. I got her when she was about one and a half, in 1994. We've been through lots together.

*A dog bite on her back (& trip to the emergency vet)
*A swallowd bottle of ibuprofen (prescription!) (& trip to the emergency vet)
*The breakup of my first relationship (actually, all of my relationships)
*Four cats
*Numerous other dogs (I was always trying to get a second one, she said "no" a lot)
*The time she jumped over a wall at the river and ended up in a drainage pipe outlet - she won't swim, so I basically had to get in the river (in december!) and go around and get her.
*The (barbed) fishhook she got in her mouth (at the river - I actually managed to get it out without damaging anything!)
*The time she jumped off a ledge at the river, and couldn't jump back up, it took me forever to get my scarf around her middle and hoist her back up (during which a helpful woman walked by and told me a dog had died falling down that hill recently)

I almost stopped taking her to the river, but I never did, we all went on thanksgiving.

This photo is more than ten years old (twelve?). There was a willow tree in the yard that for a while had one regular trunk and one stump that was about 5' tall. She was really good at running up the side of the stump, and loved to stand in the tree. The other part fell over in a storm within the year, and it took us ages to deal with it, so it was a great doggy playground.

I didn't name her Patches. I tend towards human-type names for dogs myself. But she already had it, and knew it, and it fit her so well. I'm sad that I will never have to explain that to anyone anymore.

I found myself really really wishing for the afterlife that I don't believe in. So that I could believe I would see her again, that she's happy somewhere instead of just gone.


Friday, November 24, 2006

"The God Delusion" - musings

I just finished reading Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. I liked it pretty well. I find Dawkins mostly fun to read, and quite talented (usually) at making things like the science of evolution make a little more sense to me than they did before. I also find him sort of annoying and condescending. Though I tend to agree with him on many things, I find that his presentation comes off as a bit too self-satisfied. In that past I have thought he spent a bit too much time harping on how stupid one would have to be to accept biblical creation as the true story. This book seems much the same to me.

The biggest point that I'm left with this time is that he is arguing that we should do away with God and religion. I don't so much mind this proposition (as I understand it) but see no practical way to implement it. Also, he makes a very clear point that people who are "religious" in a fundamentalist sense are often poorly educated, and that fundamentalism is dangerous. He seems to think that we can get rid of fundamentalism by getting rid of religion (by......?) but doesnt' go into what those poorly educated people will do with whatever longing led them to fundamentalism in the first place.

In any case, my real point was more about the personal effect it had on me. Early on he makes a distinction between 'supernatural religion' and 'Einsteinian religion'

The latter being pretty well summed up by this quote from Einstein,

"I am a deeply religious nonbeliever... I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive."

This actually does a really good job of summing up part of my spirituality. Except for the use of the words "religion" and "mysticism" I myself interpret religion to mean unthinking acceptance of doctrinal or scriptural "rules" or "truth" that stand without evidence to support them. This is clearly (well, I think clearly) not what he meant.

Mysticism, on the other hand, for me, has something to do with transcending the "usual" - feelings of exceptional connectedness, and/or awe, which to me seem completely compatible with nature as God (or any non-supernatural interpretation of "God") Perhaps the meanings of the words have subtlely shifted over time, or simply between the minds of Einstein and me.

I am left, however, sort of high and dry, as usual. I tried to discuss this experience with each of my two exes. One seemed not to want to hear about it because atheism is a big turn off, the other because spirituality is completely uninteresting. Where does a spiritual atheist find a spiritual home?

Dawkins himself does little to address this for me. He himself seems quite ready to find a sort of spiritual wonder in the unravelling of quarks and other scientific ideas that are beyond my understanding, and what's more, mostly beyond my interest.

I find spiritual renewal and excitement in nature - swimming in isolated, clear, beautiful lakes, watching and hearing (and sometimes feeling) a thunderstorm, just being aware of the ocean. These can by mystical (but not religious) experiences for me.

Understanding these things can be kinda cool (why thunder happens, the amazing vastness of the ocean and all the life within it that we don't understand) - but that is not a spiritual experience. Science is no substitute for this God, this wonder, but then the God in the Bible most certainly isn't. I am amazed at how few people I have encountered who share this experience.

I said once, when I was discussing this stuff with Liz, that it's like a baby being born is a miracle. It's not supernatural, we know how to get it to happen, and we know a lot about how it happens (zygotes and embryos and genes and all)- and that doesn't affect the miraculousness of it at all.

At the same time, knowing all that stuff, being a genius to embryology, or unlocking some new key to conception, is not anything like birth.

I don't believe "God" (in the sense of a being with intent) makes miracles happen, and I do believe that given infinite time and resources, science could explain them all (meaning that they are theoretically explicable without "God", but probably won't ever all be so) - but neither has any bearing on the miraculousness of the miracles themselves. To me there's an immense amount of power of spirit there, but sometimes I feel almost entirely alone in witnessing it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blog Meme Thingamabob

So, Robin didnt' tag me, but I wanted to do this thingy from her blog anyway:

1. Grab the nearest book. If you are currently reading something, that'll be fine too.

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your Blog along with these instructions.

5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet I know that is what you were thinking!

6. Tag 5 people

"Newcharlie sighed and looked out over the block. "Whatever."
"I felt real old when he said that, like I'd spent all my life standing in that doorway trying to get him to listen to me. My head felt heavy, and the sun was too bright in my eyes. When I closed then, Mama was there again, holding the leaf out to me."

It's from Miracle's Boys by Jaqueline Woodson. I just finished another book by her as well, but it's less than 123 pages long (they're teen fiction)

This book was chosen by the library to be some sort of Minneapolis reading club book - like what if everyone in the city read the same book? we could all talk about it with random strangers I guess. I really like the idea, though I doubt I'll talk about the book to anyone I don't already know.

I'm about to return this book to the library

(PS - I'm not into the tagging thing, you're all tagged if you want to be, not if you don't!) comment here and let me know if you do it)


Monday, November 13, 2006

Miss me?

So, I'm thinking I'm maybe ready to blog again, but not really sure.

As to:

*What is the point of blogging?

*Do I have anything remotely useful to say to the larger community?

*Am I a quaker blogger? (being, I AM a blogger who is a member of a quaker meeting, but I am bored and frustrated by too much quaker history or, for lack of a better word, dogma. As a f/Friend put it so well recently, "I'm not so excited about Quakerism. I'm excited about GOD, but not really about quakerism" (yes!)

*If I'm not a quaker blogger, what sort of blogger am I? Or do I want to be? I have toyed with the idea of being an eco-blogger, a vegan-blogger (damn, not vegan yet though!), an animal rights blogger, a confused about love and romance blogger, a whiney blogger, a meaning of life (or lack of it) blogger, and I could probably go on and on.... oh, a queer blogger (though being queer is so uninteresting really, if certain people would just get over it, there would be little to say)


Thursday, October 12, 2006

minor chaos

So, my life has been all over the place lately, I'm not so bloggerific.

* I got a new job, with "OutFront, MN" - a glbt lobbying organization. I'm excited.

* I was supposed to start today but my furnace died (first really cold day) and I had to stay home all day and wait for the repair guy. They love me, I tell ya.

* After my second interview last week, (really, like a few hours after) I jetted off to Philly with my friend Kate to get my mom and bring her back to Minnesota. My mom has dementia and has been in a home for 3 years. One of my waiting lists finally came up here in Minneapolis, but you have a week to take the spot or lose it.

* We drove back, because my mom doesnt' have a current photo ID and to jump through the hoops to get her one (especially as it would involve her, who gets freaked out easily) seemed worse than a 3 day road trip. I'm not sure I'd say that now, but it was fun (now that it's over)

* My tenant told me this morning that he's planning to move out at the end of the month, so I have to find someone to move in in the middle of winter (well, not the middle, thank goodness!)

So I'm feeling a little crazy and not thinking about godstuff much lately (or not coming up with anything useful to say anyway...)

I did just start reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan, who wrote "Botany of Desire" - I really like both books, and this one is making me want to start an organic farm with my total and complete lack of clue as to how to do it (I did bring in all of my tomatoes last night, before the hard frost - well, most of them, it was already dark when I started and I couldn't find them all!)



Thursday, September 21, 2006

I took the veg pledge!

I also took this very silly online test which tells me that I'm a militant vegan. Amazing, since I don't actually manage to be a vegan. Apparently I'm militant enough to make up for it (hmmmm, bad quaker!)

You scored as militant vegan. You are a militant vegan! Happy? Surprised? A vegan is someone who avoids consuming/using all animal products, including flesh, dairy, eggs, honey, leather, and so forth. Some avoid products tested on animals. Being a militant vegan means you have more radical views than most vegetarians, namely animal rights. You may be an activist already or on the verge. You are confident and unwavering about your ethics. Not a vegan? Perhaps you're one waiting to happen! Check it out at

militant vegan


quiet vegetarian


health-conscious vegetarian


new veggie


vegan vixen


welfarist vegetarian


lazy vegetarian


What type of vegetarian are you?
created with

I volunteered at a food giveaway sponsored by compassionate action for animals this morning, and got all jazzed about everything.

So, I've meant to write about how being vegetarian is tied to quakerism for me, but I've never really found myself motivated (led?) to. It somehow is hard to explain, though it's the most obvious thing to me (well, probably because it's so obvious to me) So I probably won't again, except to say that it's nonviolence, it's equality (which for me is manifest in not causing animals suffereing because they can suffer, and they don't like to any more than I do, rather than basing it on whether they're smart enough, or human-like enough, or whatever), it's also, conveniently enough, simplicity (eating lower on the foodchain - that also ties into eating locally and organically and stuff)

But right now I'm interested in other stuff about the topic.

Firstly, how hard I find it because it sets me apart from my friends. Most are omnivores, but comfortable with eating vegetarian now and then, some are vegetarian. Pretty much none of them are vegan, and very very few of them (okay, I can think of one) are comfortable eating vegan frequently (that would be my recent ex girlfriend) - It's freaky and saddening to me to think that I am so "of the world" that such considerations could keep me from something that feels rightly led and discerned. And it brings to mind what Zach has been writing about getting back the original "fire" of quakers - that fire that put what God wants (or, in my language, what one has discenered to be "right") ahead of, or even more simply on a completely different playing field from, worldly comfort and convenience.

To be fair, I don't particularly want to be vegan, I really like cheese, and ice cream, and eggs. I really liked meat too, but somehow it was easier to give up - I think because it was more difficult to dissociate - eating the actually leg or side of an actual animal, rather than eating a product that is tied to suffering (and yes, death) but one step removed) - so it's not like the world is holding me back from righteousness, it's more a terribly handy excuse.

I don't know, I think I'm drifting.....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'm still alive - general update

Just not around much, I guess.

I did actually lose my job, so in a way I have a lot more free time. If anyone knows of cool bookkeeping jobs at progressive companies in Minneapolis, let me know :)

Still broken up with my ex, and not dealing with it very well. I probably won't date for a while (I don't know if I ever want to "date" - I want to fall in love with someone who I'm friends with, but most of my friends are already married, or exes!!!)

She's already exploring dating. hasn't really "hooked up" with anyone yet, but I freak out every time she goes out for coffee. It's not so great....

I know this isn't all quaker and spiritual, but as I think I mentioned before, I'm not so sure about cutting out "normal life" from the spiritual. Spirit is an essential part of everything, isn't it? but right now I can't intellectualize it much, but I think that's okay too.

I went to a class last night at the Jack Pine Community Center, a free class about Empire, and, I guess, the US as empire. It was interesting, and annoying in many ways. The guy who initiated it wants it to be sort of collectively run and not hierarchical, but doesnt' seem to have the skills to implement that (or let it happen) very well. It turned out to be a situation where he would present something, an outline, whatever, and then spend a few minutes saying "if that's okay with you all, I don't want to run everything here,...." and just get a bunch of blank stares. Some of this I think is that it was mostly college students, most of whom probably haven't worked collectively, so they weren't sure how to jump in, but also, this guy seemed to have a vision but no, well, clerking skills (I don't have any either, though I'm thinking more and more it's time to work on that..)

I ended up feeling like he managed to dominate most of the time, without providing leadership. Now, he seems like a pretty nice guy, but it really got me thinking about how we're not culturally conditioned to function in an egalitarian setting where we lead without taking over (rather perhaps, we often take over without leading...)

In addition to which, he used a lot of big words, which is perhaps normal for an academic, but then would often make a point of "translating" them, in addition to occasionally oversimplifying (at one point he mentioned writing his dissertation and explained that that was like a big book report - well, actually, it isn't, but whatever...) what bothered me most about this was that it seemed like he looked at the only black man in the room every time he did this. (also one of the few people who didn't mention what college they went to during introductions.)

So now I'm pondering intellectual elitism too, which I find to be a huge problem for Friends. Not that I think we should "play dumb" - but there are ways to lean towards broad communication rather than muddling things as much as possible with big words.

I dunno.

This clearly wasnt' seasoned, oops


Thursday, August 17, 2006


I'm still pretty sad, still no clear direction on the work situation, but,

Zach set up this cool new email list for quakers concerned about the environment, and environmentalists interested in quakerism.

It will be whatever the members make of it, so join up!

Some things that I'm hoping to discuss:

-The spiritual basis of environmentalism

-How Quakers as a group are required to respond to the current environmental situation, both as activists, and in our own life-choices

-The possibility for a larger quaker environmental movement - including quaker eco-community, as well as the kind of activism and education and leadership for which we used to be known.

Hope to see you there,


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Too Sad to Blog

Big week for me.

My sweetie and I broke up. It was perfect in so many ways, but not something that could work, in the long run, I guess. We're still figuring out how much we can stand to see each other, and how much we can stand not to. I love her

My work is insane, not many details to follow, yet, but there are many issues, and I'm not sure if I'll have a job next week (and that's one of the more minor dramas there)

So, I've been feeling like I need to write something, but getting through the day is about my level right now.

Hold me in the Light, if you feel like it.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Is blogging worship?

Is online worship possible? I have seen links to "online meeting for worship" and it unnerves me.

a friend the other day said something about the flurry of activity in the quaker blogosphere and suggested that perhaps we needed to "settle into worship" - I can see why that proposal might seem rightly led, but I can't imagine it? What would it mean to "settle into worship" in virtual reality???

Isn't worship something more powerfully local, more physically intimate, simply bigger, and more real, than can be acheived in our "community" - or whatever it is???

I see blogging as an intellectual exchange. Like some Quakers I thoroughly enjoy jumping into the fray of a good, messy theological/political/cultural debate/discussion, but I don't think that just because I'm doing it with other Quakers that it's worship. I certainly can take some time to listen to spirit, but I can't enter worship sitting alone (or accompanied) in front of my computer.

Computers help me understand the old belief that cameras steal your soul. I don't actually think cameras or computers steal your sould, but they both do proport to present you, perhaps even to present you "whole" - when they do nothing of the sort.

Much of us is missing here, and that's okay, if we remember it (I think) and don't forget that it exists, in ourselves and the other flesh and blood people in our lives, because our "virtual reality" interactions start to seem whole to us.

what think you?

Quakerism for Quakerism's sake

A f/Friend just used this term in conversation with me, and it speaks to something I feel that I've been butting my head up against a lot lately.

I am not saying I haven't done it (whoa, have I done it!) but it freaks me out when, faced with a (moral/ethical) choice, we often ask, "is it quakerly?" or, in regretting our own actions, or more likely, chastising others, we say "that's not very quakerly!"

More and more I wonder, do I care? should I care? My aspiration in being a quaker has never been to be a good quaker, but to be a good person, to live up to the light granted me, to seek with fellow seekers and manifest goodness, gospel order, if you will.

If it turns out that that's ever in conflict with being a "good quaker" I won't even flinch (I like to think)

This has to do with the George-Fox-as-Icon thing. Some things that I have heard attributed to Fox resonate with me. They don't resonate less when I learn that Fox didn't actually say them, or mean what I thought he meant. The truth is there (theoretically) no matter who spoke it first, or loudest, or even if it hasn't been spoken yet.

This goes to the Christianity thing, too. I have asked Christians what they would do if Jesus came back and refuted what they find most precious in the gospels. The answers that I have gotten are mostly along the lines of "he wouldn't" - which might be quite true in their theology, but doesnt' get to my question (which, granted, is based on my complete ignorance of Spirit-as-necessarily-Jesus, so there we are)

But, what are we seeking? Is it eternal? Is it recognizable? If we find that something ephemeral (like a word, or a book, or a story, or an identity) was a stairstep and not the foundation, do we have the courage to step off of it?

Now, I have that "courage" cause I dont' have much invested in the stairstep. Admittedly, this might impede my progress up the stairs, so that I will never be faced with the decision about what to do at "the top" (=enlightenment?)

I am perhaps a version of the quintissencial Liberal Friend. As someone has accused "us" of recently, I have "evolved" to a place of looking to nothing - for guidance and structure - my spirit is free-floating in the ether. I am, after all, a child of the sixties ('68)

And it's the only thing that makes sense to me. The spirit the inspired Fox and Woolman and Jesus and Bean and Gandhi and MLK and Pennington and Jones and Fell, It's still here, it's the air that I breathe, as it was for them.

Of course it's worthwhile to test our experience of that spirit with those who have gone before, and with those who surround us now.

I am not simply a freewheeling, "I'll do what I darn well please" Quaker - are there really those? In seeking community don't we essentially seek to be accountable to someone(s)????

What do we mean when we ask, "is it quakerly?" I think we mean something that is worth asking

is it kind?

is it just?

is it rightly led?

does it answer that of God (whatever that means!) in myself the others involved?

But let's say what we mean, what do you mean?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ecological Footprint Quiz

The title is the link, I'm still not used to that. Just in case, here it is again:


My footprint is 16 acres, or 3.7 planets (if everyone on the planet lived like me, we would need almost 4 planets!) and actually, it's my impression that that's a bit low for a north american. Once my sweetie moves in with me, it will go down a lot. :)

Of course, these are somewhat random questions. I don't think that if you have 8 people in your house because you've borne 6 children, that should actually reduce your footprint, but it would on this test. Among numerous other things that would "hone" the test, but make it longer and more complicated.

I'm a vegetarian, and don't eat animal products (cheese, eggs) as much as some. I don't own a car, and generally get about by bike. I live in a duplex, in a 900 sf apartment. But there are so many things I don't, or even would go so far as to say I feel I can't do to "reduce my footprint". Be vegan, share my house with 3 people (there are two bedrooms, two couples really wouldn't be overload by world standards!), never use motorized transportation (I realize I think I still never go a whole week without riding in a car)

I have considered getting a woodstove, to help with heat, and I also have a rainbarell (which collects some of the runoff from my roof, so that I can water with it when it's dry) and just bought a front loading washing machine (for more than twice the price of a "normal" one) My house could really use insulating, I think, but the expense has put me off thus far.

I'd love to have a washing machine like Carl's, but alas, I share it with a tenant, who I think would be less than thrilled. (Plus I don't have a clue how to make one, and lack interns!)

But it's funny to me, that the american solution is almost always to spend money, "hey! this is what you could buy to take care of that!!!" - what to think about that?

There's another test here that is for people living in Ontario (though you can adjust your answers pretty easily) that has the interesting addition of the question "how much of the planet do you want to leave for the rest of the species?" - the most you can grant them is 40%, which doesnt' seem like much, but it makes your footprint even bigger!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

"That of God" and idolizing dead quakers

So, there's lots of discussion of this "that of God" concept out there - mostly on Rich's "Brooklyn Quaker" (I am so not into doing links right now, but they're in my sidebar) and extensions on "Embracing Complexity" and "Plain in the City" (and probably elsewhere)

I'd like to say that I find it an interesting topic, but I have to say I mostly find it a depressing and despair-provoking topic. I feel as if I've just seen this little flurry of quakers getting moved to a sort of exstasy at the beauty and power of the idea that there is NOT that of God in everyone.


If quakers don't believe that there's that of God in everyone (and not just that "from God" to help them find - as I think I've seen suggested) then I'm not a quaker. Whoa, identity crisis.

I'd mentioned a bit ago that I'd probably be a "digger" if that had survived and become some tangible, living spiritual and social movement. Or maybe I am a digger in my heart, but quaker meeting is the best organized place I've found to be one. Not sure, not sure.

But I know lots of quakers who do believe there is that of god in everyone, not as a visitor, but as core to their being. So I'm not giving up yet.

And, in a highly anti-convergent (I guess) move, I have always found that the concept of "that of God" in everyone (and I do include nonhumans in that - another less than common perspective) speaks to my experience of the divine. That it is nearly inseperable from life, and from love, actually that it is inseperable, as it is one body, or being, or element, or any number of words for a thing there are no words for.

Apparently, the topic came up in the context of not torturing and killing people - do we as quakers oppose such things because there is that of God in those people? or for some other reason? I do for a number of reasons, I suppose. One being that there is that of God in me - and it says, no! don't hurt another reflection of the divine, yourself, life, potential goodness. It also says simply don't hurt - don't take that evil upon your own soul. It also doesnt' want to cause pain - regardless of whether it is to a "bit of god" or simply to someone who can feel it (but for me, those things are not so different)

Someone expressed concern, I think, with having so little faith in God that you think you would be killing it if you killed a person. It's not that - though you'd certianly be maiming it, at best (?) It's that when I am most in touch with God - when my breath falls into place with the universal - I stand in awe and love of every living thing,, perhaps of every being thing, and killing or intentional cruelty simply becomes not and option.

Does this mean I think reform is always possible? I have no idea. I don't have a lot of faith that anyone could have broken Hitler's heart (the easy example, forgive me!) and opened it to divine love of life and compassion. what's more important is that I certainly wouldn't want to risk more lives by simply professing a pollyannaish faith in such an outcome. Certainly we need to find a way to heal wounds, to fight infection and disease in our souls, rather than ignoring them in the name of quakerly love. i don't know the answer to this one, and as far as I know no one else does either, but we keep struggling, loving, trying and learning.


Secondly, it has come up a lot that that's not what George Fox meant. He wasn't saying anything about the inherent worth of humans, but was talking about evangelism (answer that of God in each person - perhaps God is like a beneficial parasite??)

I'm not all that sure that I care what George Fox meant. From the little I know (and I never have tried to wade through his journal, or really any of his writings) George Fox was very earnest, a visionary, a passionate spiritual seeker, and a bit of a loon. Clearly there was that of God in him, but there was that of lots of other stuff too, we don't have to bronze all of it and place it on our altars (oops! we don't have altars, we're quakers!) However it came into our quaker vernacular, I am most interested in "what canst thou say?" - and I don't exclude those who think Fox was right-on about this - but don't quote Fox like he's my authority, tell me why the words of Fox resonate for thee, and speak to thy truth today


Monday, July 17, 2006

"Convergent Friends" - Timothy's Post

There is some discussion all over the place of a post on One Quaker Take. I haven't seen, though, any attempt to respond to a question which I myself have been trying to figure out how to ask, so I'll just quote him.

I think it would be helpful if those who are working with this phrase would flesh it out in terms other than what sound to some of us like very tired Christian language. It would be helpful, to me, to hear how their vision, their leadings, comport with the writings of Fox, Penington and such--and with their Quaker theology of Revelation.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sometimes I think that I have a hard time talking about God because I'm immersed in it. A friend said today, it's "like a fish trying to describe water"

Sometimes when people talk about finding ways to connect with God I think "but you have to get so far away to do that" - sometimes getting far away is good for getting perspective on things. But I don't know. We never get away from ourselves. Isn't that how it is with God?

Good News! You're going to hell!

It's been on my mind more and more lately, I think hearing quakers talk about "sharing the good news" or really "gospel" in any context (it means good news, right?)

And in my experience, the "good news" that christians want to share with non-christians (or likely other christians who they don't think actually have it "right" quite yet) is that the news-eee is headed for the fiery furnace unless they do (believe) what the news-er says.

Now, this is, of course, from my news-ee perspective. I know the news-ers see things quite differently (primary, they believe that it's a fact that everyone is going to hell, so they don't see that as part of the "news" but of course, for many of us it comes as quite a shock. here we were thinking we'd just fertilize gardens, or maybe come back as a cow if we're lucky, but NOO, we were clearly mistaken, and that news is quite shocking, and dare I say, not good.)

So, I'm a little freaked that I hear quakers using this term more (and "gospel") not because I think that's what they really mean (I still haven't heard quakers talk much about hell - though that's come up for the first time as well recently! - scary stuff!)

What is the quaker "good news"??? Is it necessarily Christian?? If so, what does that mean?? We wouldn't even know the word "christ" had not it been a handy political tool for years of roman emporers. This causes a certain reluctance in me to center my faith around it.

But (what some call) Christ spirit, I think I know it. Not like a book, but like a tree in my yard, like the smell of my home.

I heard Temple Grandin on the radio the other day. She's autistic (I think) and talked about language and how some people don't think in abstractions, and therefore in words. She said she doens't have an abstract concept "bowl" - to know what you are talking about when you say it, she has to think of a certain bowl that she's seen - like the one she ate breakfast out of this morning.

I don't understand. Sometimes I think I could think almost entirely in abstractions, and have been "caught" by frustrated friends who want me to actually respond to something that's actually happening, rather than to theorize about such a situation.

I can't tell whether Christ and the word "christ" are the same thing or its inverse. Christ spirit seems quite abstract to me - no form, except when it's tangible, immediate.

But why is that Christ, and not just the experience it is??? What's more, why does it matter that it's Christ??? what does the word mean??? that it's true? that it's good and not bad? why would connecting it to a 2,000 year old story mean that??

I think perhaps my brain just doens't work that way, I have spiritual autism, or most other people do :)

Back to the gospel. I do believe that there is "good news" out there. Perhaps that the kingdom of God is at hand, that there is no waiting to live as if justice and love reigned.

But most often I hear the "good news" as something negative, perhaps not always "you're going to hell, unless" but usually some "tamer" version "you can join my club, but beware if you refuse.....", "you are outside my circle of concern, unless", "I hereby declare you uninteresting/blind/spiritually bereft/morally bankrupt, unless you......"

I have met a few christians who preached the good news effectively, but they never ever not once said a thing about what I should do, or what I was missing out on. One of them never said thing one about christianity period. she was a nun who volunteered at the co-op that I worked at. She just radiated love. Mostly we cut and wrapped cheese, and talked about politics, or preschool children, together, but if anyone might have ever "converted" me, it might have been her. Another is a friend who speaks of her relationship with christ frequently, but not aggressively, and again, simply radiates it. She "converted" her husband from a "Rush Limbaugh dittohead" (his words) to a man who could march proudly with the lesbians in a pro choice rally. And she convinced me that God loves everyone passionately, for real. Mostly by telling me how much he loved her ex husband (whom she still hates) but more by simply radiating that love.

I don't think, actually, that she thought I was missing out on a thing. Her God's love is so powerful that there's no way I could miss out on it, even if I tried really really really hard!!!! I suppose that there's something about being blind to it, an "open thine eyes and see' version of the "good news" - but that seems so plain, We're swimming in it, why insist that it's hidden in a very old book when it's all around us, and filling us up???

a puzzlement

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Greetings from FGC Gathering

I don't have a workshop anymore, so I have this lovely time of access to the computers (of which there are four, often in high demand every other moment of the day)

I have discovered that workshops, as currently enacted, don't really work for me. I'm not sure what to do about this, as I do really like getting to know a smaller group of people, and, well, learning about something I'm interested in.

what doesn't work for me is perhaps mostly the similarity (usually/often) to a college class (perhaps a seminar). I wasnt' a huge fan of college, and I'm pretty glad to be done with it. I wonder, in my frustration about the extent to which academia is intertwined with quaker culture - could you even be a liberal quaker if you, say, couldn't read? (or even didn't, much?) It seems like you SHOULD be able to, if it's about God, certainly the illiterate have their measures of light, no greater or lesser, on average, than college professors and lawyers and authors. But still, I can't quite picture it.

In any case, I'm thinking about whether some alternate form of workshop would "work" for me, and what's more, would the same form work better for some other people? and what's more, if both those things are affirmatives, is it up to me to create such a thing (or space for it) for next year's gathering??

I fantasize of a workshop held completely outside (there is one now) with some activites - like biking or swimming (my favorite things, and best spiritual practices, often) and extensive worship sharing (and maybe "threshing") I don't consider myself an expert on anything, and feel called to something that isnt' so much about expertise, but about what everyone brings. I think my greatest interest lies in really developing quaker environmental witness. which exists, but remains smallish and sidelines-y (in my opinion)

I'm not really (okay, not at ALL) the sort of person who leads workshops. I'm not organized, and I'm historically often cripplingly shy, and I lack "clerking" skills (I am working with middle schoolers and have actually been chided by a few of them for my lack of strictness and direction with them!)

I'm also not generally a person who takes on big projects alone, but I'm not at all sure that I can find someone who would be interested on working on such a thing with me. (I guess that's one reason I'm putting this out here)


what to do?


Monday, July 03, 2006

When I say "God".....

I don't think I mean what most people mean, I don't even know if I mean God.

Hello from Gathering! I am giving my voice a rest from my shape note singing workshop this morning. There's free internet access in the student center, which is quite popular and quite handy! (though perhaps not terribly simple)

Anyways, I just commented on Rich's blog with an extensive use of "when Jesus asks us to..." and "if you hear Jesus...." and am realizing that I may sound severely confused to many people.

Having been pretty sensitive on the issue of Jesus and quakerism (I acknoweldge and honor that it has its roots in Christianity, but I also feel that it's important that some Friends have moved on to something else - that is not exclusively christian, that is broader) I feel a bit strange talking about "what Jesus wants" or anything of the sort.

I do not believe that Jesus was super-human in any way.

I do not believe that God "created" the world, universe, life, etc.

I do not believe, actually, that there is a personified energy that "wants" us to do anything - be it Jesus or God or Allah or Brahman or Pele, or..... I could go on an on (especially if I had some sort of religious encyclopedia)

I believe that christianity owes its longevity not so much to any surpreme lock that it has on the truth, but mostly to its usefulness to various political rulers throughout history. I don't actually KNOW if it had the "staying power" to still exist if there had been no Constantin (I'm blanking, was that his name?), if there had never been a catholic church, but I think at the very least it would look RADICALLY different, even to quakers. We aspire to "primitive christianity" - but it's a long game of whisper-down-the-lane (or telephone, or whatever whispers.... that game, you know?) and with a LOT of intentional interference by enemies of what I would suppose to be the "true" message and value system of early christians.

So, with that in mind, I do experience a something - I mean, I'm a quaker, there's something that I wait upon in meeting for worship, there's something that helps me feel whether something is "rightly led" - much of our quaker language resonates with me, but the "God" part is sort of a stand-in for mystery, for something I (we?) don't have the "right" word (or understanding) for yet. ("yet" because it is something that we reach for, hope to move towards, while knowing that there will never be a time when we say now we are done - we no longer see "through a glass darkly".

So, for me, when I say that Jesus wants me to reuse my coffee cup (as I did on Rich's blog) I dont' really mean that the risen Jesus even exists let alone that he's sitting around worrying about what I drink out of. In fact I often make such silly-sounding statements both because they speak to a certain truth, and also because I assume that no one would think that I really mean exactly that .

What I do mean, of course (?) is that that is the course of action that is, as far as I can discern right now, the "best". I do not know if what helps me to know this is study of environmental issues, a simple adherence to my own integrity, compassion for the world around me, some sort of pure energy (unobstructed and unsullied) that I can tap into occasionally, or actually the voice of Jesus (and I simply don't recognize that it's the same guy)

But what's more, actually, is that I don't care too terribly much. There is something beautiful in meeting for worship, and in what happens when we manage to really live into quaker testimonies, and it may be the God of the Bible, it may be Allah of the Koran, it may be Brahman, it may be life force, it may simply be the joy of community for me, a member of a social species.

I find I can talk about "Jesus" pretty easily now - I'm not angry at him anymore, and I'm not afraid of him (I used to worry that fundamentalist christianity would eat my brain if I let my guard down for even a moment!) and because often I really feel like I know what people are talking about (at least some quakers) when they speak of their life with Christ. Not all of it, but some. It's a bit, I suppose, like travelling to another country and learning their words for things, and using them, to make communication easier, even if you have your own words too, or even if you don't.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I'm off tonight. Taking the train to Portland to visit some friends, then down to Tacoma at the end of this week for FGC Gathering.

I've been dreading it a little bit, leaving my hectic life to the wolves for a bit, I leave in 12 hours and I'm not packed yet. It will be an interesting time.

I have been disappointed with Gathering, I am coming to realize. There are wonderful things about it, but difficult things as well. I'm not sure if it's just that it's so darn big, or what, but I rarely feel really spiritually grounded there. The food in the dining hall is far from simple, we use a lot of resources, paper napkins, gas, electricity, water. I bring these things up to people and often hear something along the lines of "but it's hard to do it another way" - wow, I think, is this what we've come to? quakers who, as a body, don't want to do anything "hard"???

I'm not claiming to be any better. I'm pretty lazy myself, let alone cowardly. I just would like to see us live up to our light, though I don't know how to spur a grand movement....

I am excited to meet some fellow bloggers for the first time, and about various other things this trip - I love the pacific northwest! I haven't been to gathering since is was in Johnstown - how long ago was that??

See some of you there.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

sacred and profane

So, "Thee, Hannah!" has a few different blogs these days, mostlly one for "quaker stuff" and one for "less serious stuff" (my words, not hers - I think)

and I wonder about that. There's certainly stuff I want to write about that doesnt' feel as "quaker" as what other bloggers write, and yet, I'm a quaker all the time - not just when I'm meditating or being righteous.

There is definitely stuff I won't write about here, and I'm not sure why not. Stuff about love, sex, romantic relationships, dealing with crazy people.....

Now if I ever find a way to be all HOLY about these things, I might write about it - but right now I'm just muddled and sad. And well, a little crazy. It's "not appropriate" - but isnt' all of us in God, all the time? If we don't feel God there isnt' it a call to seek, rather than to shut off that part of our life as somehow outside spirit???

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Solstice!

When I was in elementary school at Germantown Friends, the teachers would sit us down before a holiday meeting and remind us that "Happy Thanksgiving was not an appropriate message for meeting for worship. I'm not sure what I think about that, but I seem to be ignoring it (not that blogging is meeting for worship.)

It's solstice, the day with the most light in all the year in the northern hemisphere. As I mentioned recently, I'm not much of a pagan in any mainstream (?) sense, but I am finding that the holidays mean something to me, and noticing them matters.

I live in Minnesota, where this thing is pretty noticeable. I have trouble with depression in winter, when I can go days without seeing the sun if I'm not careful. I spent a semester of college in norway, where there were maybe 3 hours of sunlight a day by the time I left in December. I slept a LOT.

We really need sunlight, for everything, life is pretty much entirely based on it. When it's in scarce supply it's sort of like when you're a little kid and you can't find your parents in the grocery store, but way, way, scarier (or can be)

Today is, in a way, our day to be most alive. Revel in abundance. In six months we will be celebrating that dark times get light again, but now we can just celebrate light, I'm just planning a picnic for tonight, when it will be light until after 9pm. It's a good thing.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Locovore" Moment

I think today was the first day this year that I ate a meal largely composed of something that I picked today. My friend (and ex) was very exuberant this year about planting kale, and apparently had a gift for the growing of the kale and is slightly overwhelmed. My dinner tonight consisted of her kale (mmm), black beans and onions. (her recipe as well!)

Now, everything but the kale not only wasn't picked today, I could not tell you when or where it was picked, which is sorta scary if you think about it.

Also, my baby cherry tree (finally as tall as me this summer!) seems to have had its grand moment of production (almost 2 pints) this year, peaking a few days ago. I have eaten some cherries off the tree, but they are tart and small and I think best suited to pies. I am waiting for my sweetie to return home (in one hour!) as she is a significantly more inspired baker than I.

that might be it for a while. I have some nappa cabbage growing, and some chard that might someday be big enough to eat, and tomatoes, but they're a late summer thing (I have a few flowers!) and eggplant and butternut squash. We shall see.

My first CSA delivery is tomorrow! I can't wait to see what's in the box!!!

(PS - Robin introduced me to the term "locovore" in a comment on an earlier post - the idea being to intentionally eat local foods. I had chocolate chips for dessert. I dont' know where they come from, but I'm sure it's not local, not even national, for the most part)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dog! (grossout alert)

I can't remember where but I recently commented somewhere something about dogs being closer to God because they don't ask so many questions and worry so much, they just ARE.

This was much in my mind when I walked to the river today with my 3 dogs, and the youngest got distracted from fetching sticks by the delightful discovery of a dead fish. I picked the thing up with a stick and tossed it as far as I could out into the river, and moved on. My beloved dog then proceeded to swim out and retrieve it, bring it back to shore, and roll on it until its guts spurted out.

He doesnt' like baths with the hose, by the way, but he's an in-the-moment sort of guy, and that was still over 20 minutes away. Who knows if he'll ever make the connection?

Is he missing something, or am I????

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Diggers, 2006

Edit 6/15: finally found their website

I was really saddened to hear on "Democracy Now!" today that protesters trying to protect an urban community farm which fed a number of poor local residents were removed by police.

I have been wanting to "think of something" to say about where I find the core of my spirituality, my quakerism. I think that I am doing a lot of preemptive self-censorship, because I don't think my answers will "fly"

But this is part of it. I suspect that I am actually more of a digger than a quaker, except diggers only "lasted" a few years.

And these folks seem to me to be very much modern diggers (I learned about the 17th century English ones through a song sung on a benefit cd for The Highway 55 encampment in Minneapolis a few years ago.)

Now, many of the modern folks aren't doing this from a christian, or even overtly "spiritual" motivation. They are "only" worried about things like justice. Of course, many of them are doing it because it's inherent in their christian (or other) faith.

I have often said that I'm a pagan quaker, but never without hesitation and some sort of stilted attempt at further explanation. It fits because my faith is in and of the earth, and the ecosystem, in life. It doesn't fit at all because I'm not a Wiccan. I could care less about Chalices and Blades and all that.

These protests are part of the core of my faith. That land should be wild, and when used for human purposes it should be minimally, ethically, and fairly, to sustain life (not for more shopping malls, condos, wealth, or faster commutes).

The sacred oak trees that they cut down to reroute highway 55, even though I never saw them, are my scripture, as is the air that I breathe, the water I swim in and drink, and the food that I eat.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Core Understanding

Chris M of Tables, Chairs and Oaken Chests is working on Describing Quaker Faith" and asks us all,

"What do you think? What is your core understanding? Where do you find the Life, the Truth, and the Way?"

I am uncomfortable with the fact that I have no clue. Well, not no clue, but glimpses of one that don't match up with words too well.

But I don't want to "let myself off the hook" - this is the important stuff. This is what I want to talk about instead of the idea that my lack of Jesus/God/Worship is "THE PROBLEM" with modern liberal quakerism.

So, just keeping it out there. My spiritual confusion is naked before you.

"No Meat, 30 Bosses"

Ok, that most likely won't make sense to anyone who never worked at the New Riverside Cafe, a now-defunct, collectively run vegetarian cafe in Minneapolis (from about 1972 to 1997?) I was a member of the collective from 1991 to 1993. It was a rich and most often maddening experience.

When they asked in my interview if I had any experience with consensus decision making I said, "well, I went to quaker school, and they made us do it in fourth grade" apparently close enough.

What I remember most there was the constant struggle to get 25-30 people who had grown up in the "real world" to really live into a system where they were responsible for their own work.

Our slogan, at some points was, "No Meat, No Bosses!" - which I liked very well. But consistently, various people would embrace the attitude of "no boss! great!! I guess I can come in late and slack off and no one will pester me!"

So, we discussed in collective meetings that it needed to be more like "30 bosses" than "no bosses" - that we needed to hold each other accountable, and take our own responsibilities seriously. The idea worked on some of us, slowly, but many simply wanted to see how long they could collect a paycheck before even their easygoing hippie friends would can their a**es.

I hear quakers here and there yearning for "leadership" - more and more questioning of the idea of not having paid ministers (or designated ministers at all? which I think is a distinction that we lost somewhere along the way...) many of us are perhaps feeling a bit like we're wandering in the wilderness, and we're hoping someone else will show up with a compass.

I value greatly the immanency of quaker faith - that no one is closer to God than another (well, that's part of my interpretation anyway).

The equality of it all can feel like quite a mess. Someone on Quaker-L recently admonished listmembers for failing to call a fellow listmember on something that most of us would say was clearly a delusion (but how do you ever know? Maybe God doesn't work the way that it seemed to you God did?) It is hard to stand up to each other and say "you are wrong" - or to find a way to say "that does NOT speak to my condition" in a way that furthers and deepens connection, rather than cutting it off.

I do not want hireling priests. I do not want hierarchies of power or holiness. And yet some do seem to be more organized, or to have greater insight into the truth of the spirit. Living with no bosses, no priests, feels much less stable, much less safe (a bit like being an orphan?) and yet it is so much more true (as far as I know) - it is worth living into the flux and chaos, in which is maybe found perfection.

That of God (even in unbelievers?)

This started out as a comment on the last post (about blue, but the comment wasnt', but about a comment I'd posted on Martin's Blog in response to a post that upset me.

I feel like I've had about 10 post about this already, but apparently I'm not done.

There seems to be a something going on in liberal quakerism these days - a frustration with complacency, with emptily going through the motions, with a sort of spiritual shallowness.

I have found over and over again that something in me surges when I hear others talk about the need to go deeper, to explore our faith as quakers, perhaps even to be willing to let go of empty forms (I don't think I've heard anyone say that phrase, but a sense that we now worship quaker practice, and have lost the original "point")

And then it falls to the ground, crushed, because what they're really talking about is their desire to convert or get away from me. Nasty, shallow, clueless heathen that I am.

I feel like in many ways I am as "fervent" as early quakers - just not about Christ (or not about the name, Jesus Christ) - this is one of the things about this vein that really stabs at me. I do feel like I, and perhaps we as a society, are called to go deeper, be braver, throw off the shackles of complacency. And yet, most of those who use this language, which I find exhilirating, are simply talking about bringing "Jesus" back into it. I am seriously baffled by this, because, living in the US, I am surrounded by people who throw around the word "jesus" with what would appear to me to be NO spiritual, compassionate, "fervor" whatsoever - it comes across either as simple brainwashing, or the lust to see other people burn in hell most often, in my opinon....

Clearly, if the Society of Friends is missing something, some connection to spirit, some passion, it is not that we don't say the word "Jesus" enough.

Now, the space to say the word "Jesus" if that's how spirit is revealed to you is another thing. I am aware that in recent times (I don't really know for how long) there have been people leaving meeting both because Jesus and the Bible are way to prevalent (for their tastes) in ministry, and others because when they say the name "Jesus", or quote the Bible, people come up and chastise them afterwards.

I have found myself yearning for a true shift, basically just towards a state where we take "seeing that of God in each other" seriously. And I have to say, that no non-theist I have ever met has had any problem with that concept (well, implementing it, maybe) I myself mean something by "God" - it's just so different from the definition that I grew up with, that calling myself a theist feels like a lie.

This has come up for me mostly in my work at my meeting on an ad-hoc committee for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and Allies concerns (phew!) - where we are (well, I should only talk for myself, I am) finding that the meeting wants to be "supportive" - but doesnt' seem to want to hear too much about it, to go too deep. Issues that we haven't yet "dealt with" as a meeting come up, and reactions are, well, reactive. And I find myself wondering, what if we all REALLY focused first on responding to that of God in each other, seeing the differences between us as ground to be explored, something to be learned, but not a barrier (at least not until they actually prove themselves to be, - then what do we do? I don't know, but at least we could start out assuming connection, beyond differences)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Just because it's so important

You Are Indigo

Of all the shades of blue, you are the most funky, unique, and independent.
Expressing yourself and taking a leap of faith has always been easy for you.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I bought two blueberry bushes yesterday at the farmer's market, to plant in my front yard. I have a pretty standard urban lot, about 40' by 100' I think. The back yard is pretty much entirely shaded, the front yard must be about 40' by 20'. It's pretty small. Once I get the blueberries in, they will join 3 small raised beds for veggies (well, one is mostly strawberries - or will be someday, I hope), raspberries, a cherry tree (currently 5' tall, but full of little green berries), and rhubarb. My sweetie has fond memories of elderberries from childhood (I don't think I've ever had them) so we have to find a place for a bush (and apparently they're pretty big)

Last weekend I built myself a rainbarrel, with lots of help from a community programm (basically they bring you all the stuff and show you how to do it for $25 - quite a deal!) Though I still need to set it up (attach it to a downpipe, so it will take up the rain that falls on 1/4 of my roof - and I can water things with it later.)

I still dream of creating some sort of earthy faith community. That is not just about faith as removed from life, but faith in life, life in faith.

And what does that mean??? Do I have a clue yet??? Not much of one, admittedly. To me planting blueberries is an act of faith. Not just because it makes me feel earthy, not like faith that I will get to eat blueberries one day, not becaue it seems practical, or whimsical, but because it seems rightly led (maybe) - an integration, incremental though it may be, of life and food and nurturing (nurturing a plant, being nurtured by its food).. The fact that this ground the ground that I "own", live on, walk over every day, can grow food. I don't have to buy it from Dole. I yearn for the larger economy, the larger infrastructure, of my life, to be integrated (not to mention my own heart)

what about the faith that my own spiritual ground, my life, my street, my heart, can bear fruit?? To me they are the same, fully integrated, more than I can understand, but maybe just not more than I can meet with my whole heart.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Other folk's posts

So, Tim and David have posts this week that strike a chord in me, I think even the same one.

How do we fail to let ourselves be led because of our rootedness in the "real world" - what would it be to simply offer ourselves up to spirit? (and quaker process, and radical back-to-the land localism???) What if we didn't say "cool, but I have to make dinner/pay the mortgage/be realistic"

Would we all just starve within the week? Would it be too hard? I don't know too much about Marshall's upcoming trek, but I am seriously inspired that he's doing a seemingly crazy, risky thing, at the call of spirit.

And, even if we're truly called, it's no guarantee that we won't starve within the week. I still lack the faith, but I feel the call, not to do any particular outlandish thing, but to be fully open, my spiritual bags packed and ears open for whatever road calls to me.



Tuesday, May 09, 2006


So, I'm struggling with the way my brain just wants to sit and watch all the infinite possibilitiies that come with every thought or experience dance around together and shoot off into infinity, and my trouble with snatching one and wrangling it into some coherent sentences so I can talk to other people about some stuff, but let's give it a try....

I have issues with Christianity. Has anyone noticed?

I'm not sure what to do with or about these issues. I can see the power of "the emergent church" - Sometimes I even feel like I might fit there (as an atheist christian, or therabouts)

I attended a local meeting of the Network of Spiritual Progressives last night, a group apparently spurred (founded?) by Rabbi Michael Lerner. He seems to have some ideas that I agree with, as well as some vision, but I don't see him as any sort of guru. A few times during the evening I got the impression that, while the group was clearly meant to be about some sort of social action, and perhaps spiritual growith, it made little forays into the territory of "Michael Lerner fan club" - which really turned me off.


So, I think where I was going with this is that I experience Christianity most frequently as a sort of "Jesus Fan Club" -

That, from my perspective, many of the things that Jesus taught were, for lack of a better phrase "right on" - love your neighbor, whatsoever you do to the least of these, etc. This is great stuff - I see in it some wonderful building blocks and blueprints for "the kingdom", "utopia", "gospel order", "how it should be"

And yet, putting aside the overwhelming experience of Christians (at least who get media attention, and presidencies) who dont' even care about this stuff, but about blood and salvation (as in "get out of hell free" cards) and some of the rules laid out in leviticus (but distinctly not others)

Put all that aside, and STILL most christians seem to me to be more interested (at least marginally) in hero worship than in building the kingdom. What happens if we use those blueprints, and those building blocks, and we forget where they came from, or disagree? what if someone wants to bring new ideas, plans, blocks, that can fit in an integrated whole, but don't match the original vision?? What if we built the kingdom but never said the name Jesus again (I"m not asking for that, It's an imagining) would it cease to be the kingdom??? Is it possible that Jesus would recognize it, even if we wouldn't recognize him?? which is more important???


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Quaker Sweat Lodge

I'm not sure what I want to say about this, but it's been rolling around in my brain for a while now

I took the quaker sweatlodge workshop at Gathering, I think the last year it was offered (in Johnstown) - primarily because I had already classified it at inappropriate poser-ism and cultural appropriation, and I always like to challenge my prejudices if a (relatively painless!) method occurs to me.

My experience was mixed. Actually participating in the process allayed some of my fears, and confirmed others. I ended up feeling like we could do this respectfully, and in a way I personally would feel comfortable with, but it would take some work, and some changes. I can't remember if I made any effort to brings these up. I can be pretty shy, and also need to sit with things for a long time, so probalby not.

The next year, I didn't attend gathering, but heard about the uproar shortly after it ended. As a former pariticipant in the workshop, I received a group email from one of the organizers, basically just upset about what had happened. I responded with some discussion of the concerns that I had had, and a suggestion that we set up some sort of list for interested parties to discuss the concerns and benefits around the sweatlodge, but never received a response.

So, in case anyone cares, here's my best attempt at a "rundown" of my experience:

"Good" stuff

*I have a new committment to takign only workshops that are offered outdoors. This was one. My spirituality is very earth-based, and feels stifled in the physical environment of a classroom. this is one of the few workshops that was offered mostly out of doors.

*We did a lot of trust-building exercises and games during the week. I felt that these were essential to the later experience of actually doing the sweatlodge at the end of the week.

*Building the sweatlodge together was a great experience. Few workshops seems to offer the option of working on something tangible - doing work together. This process had some significant spiritual power for me.

*The sweatlodge itself is an amazing experience (as many can and have attest(ed)) - At the time I remember being amazed at how it seemed to physically facillitate the experience that we hope for in meeting for worship - a shared, (literally)"covered" worship experience - breathing together, sharing air, extremely physically present.


*Cultural appropriation is still the "biggie" for me. It was emphasized that this was a quaker and not an indian sweat, and that many and varied ethnic traditions have used "sweats" (the finiish sauna, an extinct celtic practice, etc) - and yet, we spoke prayers in native languages, not in finnish, we build a physical structure based on an indian structure, not finnish.... This is one area where I see great potential for change that could seriously change the basis for this concern.

*I did feel many times like as a group we were having fun "playing indian", which really bothers me. I have to say, I wonder if a finnish-style sweat (or a truly re-styled, european-based one) would hold nearly the same appeal, I believe it would for me, but I do wonder....

*It feels to me that there is a lack of discussion and a glut of defensiveness about this. I was saddened in the workshops itself that we took no time to discuss the nature of cultural appropriation, why it might be a concern, and how we as a group were led in light of this concern. I am even more concerned at how much protestation there has been about it not being racist (solely from whitefolk, I might add)

*It's my personal belief that when dealing with oppression, the voice of one member of the "oppressed" group outweighs EVERYONE in the oppressor group, at least initially. I believe that we are obligated to labor with any concern raised by a first nations person about whether we do the sweat - even if some other first nations folsk say they don't care, or even commend us, even if we don't see what they mean (there's a shock) I am saddened by how quickly communication on this issue seems to have shut down, though apparently letters to friends journal have been flying lately.

*I found it troubling that so many people participated in the sweat without taking the workshop (not that they could have) - As I said above, the trust-building, and the small bit of education that did happen during the week felt essential to me, it felt abrupt and inappropriate to hold that "worship" with folks who hadn't been through them. (and, the fact that it is, in essence, a "high demand" commodity, certainly doens't make me feel any better about that!)

*I have heard the concern raised that it is not a traditional quaker practice. I initially heard this as saying it was therefore inappropriate, which I disagree with, because singing and dancing, two things in which many quakers, including myself find spiritually enlivening, were traditionally banned as quaker practice.
But, I do believe that the question of "how can we meet the need that this apparently meets, in another way, in a patently "quaker" way?" is a good one. I don't have any answers to that, but it's a good question.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Word weary

Bopping around the blogoshere lately, I've found my brain sort of glazing over. There seems to be a lot of intellectual discussion of history and academic works and definitions and blah blah blah.

I can see that other people are finding this very illuminating and "growthful" (or something) but I am finding that it feels distancing. I don't really want to read old quaker tracts. I want to know how spirit is moving now, today (so, maybe I should write about how it is moving in me? I wonder if it is?)

Am I just dense, or ADD or something?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Quaker Intentional Sustainable Community

Zach and Carl have both recently blogged about this topic, and I know that there is a quaker-originated (but intentionally not quaker-exclusive) cohousing group here in the twin cities (which is, from what I hear, pretty well-established, but as yet building-less) I was thinking about starting a yahoo group for discussion of things like:

Intentional Community
Land Stewardship
Living in an ecologically friendly manner
Faith as the center of intentional community

Is there interest in this?

I personally feel that many radical changes in the current american lifestyle are imperitive for the well being of humanity on earth.

(I really hate "save the earth" rhetoric - it's really about saving the earth as a place habitable to us, I believe that Mars is probably as happy with its planet-ness as the earth. I don't know if the earth would miss us, should we kill ourselves off, but I know that we will miss what it offers us, should we destroy it)

And have a wistful hope that quakers could be some of the prominent "movers and shakers" in a very important back-to-the-land eco-movement.

Anyone with me??

Saturday, April 08, 2006

what do I worship?

I have seen this question come up here and there, posed from theist quakers to nontheist quakers (most recently, from Rich in Brooklyn to me, I think)

It's certainly a good one. We pretty much all easily refer to Meeting for Worship, but if you don't even believe in God, what do you worship??

Well, okay, I've actually wondered something similar. (maybe) - is worship what I want to be doing here? (or what I'm called to do?) It can bring to mind the sort of religion where the church sends people out to beat you up if you don't "tithe" (and didn't they call it "tribute" or something at some point??"

I am in no way interested in trying to buy myself brownie points with Santa-God, or even stroking his ego for the heck of it. I pretty much don't (really) believe in him - but when I do, he can really annoy me. no worship there (ok, not much)

So, I have a problem with the word "worship" because it has all these connotations of thinking myself less than something/someone else, and somehow kowtowing to, or fawning over them, out of fear or goodness knows what.

But, the word also still basically works for me


I guess because I've reinterpreted it. I feel as if I can be in a state of worship without actually worshipping something. (though it would seem to be a transitive verb, wouldn't it?)

Years ago I was riding to yearlly meeting with a friend who is a christian, and he asked me if I had ever experienced God, and I said no, but I had felt awe. He asked me what it was like, and I spent a few minutes describing it (and later blushed to realize that I would have said pretty much word for word the same thing if someone had asked me to describe and orgasm, though I haven't often associated that with religious practice)

And he said, that's a lot like how I experience God.

so, I don't know how close our overall experiences are, and why he would call it God and I wouldn't.

But I know I can experience an openness, an awe, often in nature, or cuddling with my cats, or eating really good food, and in meeting for worship.

So, I don't worship anyone or anything. Maybe I worship everything? But I think I worship

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Alternative Dress Group has started us up a yahoo group to talk about issues around plain dress without the religious focus (I think folks who are motivated by religion, or the voice of God, are welcomed, but it's not a requirement)

I'm super excited, since I'm really interested in the issue, but think I'm done blogging about it for a bit. I'm more interested in exchange right now,.

so, come one, come all!


Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I'm wearing shorts today (long ones) even though it's not set to get above 50 degrees (but still, really warm compared to how it has been!)

I was talking the other day about how I wear sleeveless shirts as soon as possible, and all summer. I can't stand to be wearing more clothing than is necessary. But, actually, layers are okay, it's just that I want as much of my skin as possible to be in contact with the sun, the air, the world I"m moving in, as possible.

I don't think I can say the same of my soul. I don't notice it prodding me to be more open - to let as much as possible of the world touch me

Though I would like to be like that. (I think)

Could I walk around the world with the same awareness of my spirit that I have of my skin? - what is touching it? hot, warm, cold, breezes, other people? What would that be like?

Right Being

So, the whole John Woolman question, how to live a "righteous" life, without becoming "self-righteous"

I feel like my head often spins, and I wonder if his would (I think so) with all the considerations going into living rightly. I don't think I could even list the things to be boycotted these days. Maybe he had such considerations, but from so many years later it seems like "sugar and indigo? piece of cake!!!"

Walk into any large grocery store (where most people shop) and I would guess that pretty much NOTHING in there would pass a woolman-esque test of moral acceptability. Pesticides, fossil fuel transportation, chemical ingredients, exploited labor, rainforest devastation. It would be interesting to attempt to find 5 items at my local "Rainbow" that wouldn't incite at least one of these concerns.

I bike rather than driving, and on a used bike (which bypasses the "made in Taiwan" problem - which even US-made bikes have, because their parts are made elsewhere) but I use grease and plastic to keep it going. I have pretty much no clue about the implications, but I know it's not compltely "pure"

I buy almost all of my food at a co-op, keeping a special eye out for processed foods with brand names that have continued to elude Phillip Morris and the other two or three companies that own almost all food production. In the summer I join a CSA, and try to grow a few (very few!) things myself. But living in Minnesota, local produce is at best a half-year proposition. (or should I try to set up a root cellar and keep apples and potatoes and carrots enough to last til spring? I could, but the thought is not appealing) I could stop eating processed and packaged food altogether (I'm sure it's possible, but I can't imagine it)

My sweetie has a car, and I am ashamed to say I often encourage driving (when I'm very lazy or want to go somewhere far away) We try to buy gas at Citgo, which is Venezuelan oil, but it's still gas, and we still run the risk of killing squirrels or cats (or even humans) every time we drive.

I've taken the plane more lately. I went a good 5 years without doing so, I think. I love the train, but it often costs more than flying, even if you don't include the extra days off work. And what damage do trains do? Much less than planes, but still......

I love chocolate, and try to eat mostly fair trade, but reese's peanut butter eggs can suck me in pretty easily.

And, what's more, what is the point????

I can tend to want to be "pure" - I've been a vegetarian for years, and started wearing leather again a few years ago partially to "de-purify" myself and partially for the practical reason that a pair of leather shoes that will last a good long time might do less damage overall (even though their production is generally pretty darn eco-unfriendly) than the 4 pairs of synthetic shoes I might buy in the same time period. (I bought a pair of new leather hiking boots in 2000, and a pair of used leather high-top shoes the next year, I don't forsee having to buy more shoes any time soon. ) I still won't buy leather sandals, because there doesnt' seem to be any reason (they don't wear better than my chacos) and have settled, in future, on only buying leather (and wool) used, which for me is the perfect solution - as it keeps me from getting into my almost ocd animal-free-ness, while not actually financially supporting an industry I can't morally support (It does, however, depend on my fellow american's lack of concern on this issue and general overconsumption, another imperfection in my plan)

And, I think of all the quaker discussion about simplicity being about God's will, and not some random asceticism. At the same time, for me, doing the most ethical thing that you can manage in any given situation is inseperable from doing god's will. It's not just related, it's inextricable.

"I care nothing for a man's religion, whose dog is not the better for it" - was that Mark Twain??? A great quaker spiritual leader, I know, but it's true, as far as I can see.

Carl mentioned on his blog the idea of Community as Green Technology, and a spiritual community committed to right action. The image excites something in me. I wonder if there are enough quakers called to something radically different from mainstream society, and similar enough to each other's visions, to carve something like that out? or a few somethings?


Friday, March 24, 2006

Mourning, but at peace

Liz wrote a beautiful memorial to Barbara Greenler, a beloved member of our Northern Yearly Meeting community, and Nightengales, who died recently.

It is a great loss, I think, to our community and to her large beloved family.

She in my small experience always a joyful, fun, calm, centered, wise presence, and I miss her very much.

And yet I'm not grieving, as I have so much lately. If I set out to live a life that would let me die satisfied and at peace with myself and the world, it might look much like Barbara's. I regret nothing on her behalf, except that we missed out on more years together.

It's a very quiet sadness.

(and, let me note here, because it has come up, that her family welcomes cards and prayers, but is not ready for phone calls or visits at this time)

Speaking of God - words and labels

I wrote this title, and apparently nothing else, almost a month ago. What did I mean to write about?

Liz and I got together to last night to have a sort of in-person hashing out of some of these conservative/liberal/what are we called to as quakers? conversations in person. I was really glad we did it.

One thing that came up a LOT for me was the frustration I feel that I feel like I hear people say "we need to go deeper in our quakerism / spirituality" (which intrigues me) but then seemingly (to me) end up doing a very SHALLOW evaluation that tends to assume that christians have a deep spirituality and atheists have no spirituality. (an oversimplification, but one which I hope makes a point)

I think that the answers that you get when you ask "what is it like, being an atheist quakers?" or, "what is it like, being a christian quaker?" are much more intresting (assuming the person, regardless of doctrinal beliefs, is willing to "go deep") than the label we slap on ourselves.

I found when I first came out as a lesbian, I fit most people's stereotypes, and after hearing so much "ALL lesbians are vegetarians", "ALL lesbians don't wear makeup", "ALL lesbians are hippie radical feminists" I was SO excited! Wow! I've found my tribe!

Ha ha, it was not so (alas??) it's not true (!), and I find that of all the labels I regularly slap on myself, lesbian is one that I am least likely to try to build community around (quaker, animal rights activist, co-opper, green, are some that can work pretty well; east coaster, female, lesbian, vegetarian, Italian, atheist, are some that are almost entirely useless)

And, so I guess I've been wondering, and somewhat antagonistic, about what words are important here?

I find myself baffled when I, who have trouble labelling my spirituality, other than "quaker" (I'm atheist but not, pagan but not, even christian but not) but easily and fundamentally identify as an ardent spiritual seeker, feel dismissed by those who crave deepening (which I crave as well) because certain words don't come into my articulation of what that deepening is like for me.

What Would John Woolman Do?

I want to write more about this, but seem to have a block, perhaps getting something else out there will help

I read this question on the Earth Quaker's site (still can't make links, but there's one in my sidebar)

I keep trying to think of the phrase for this - like "right livelihood" (but not just about working for money) or "right action" (though that just sounds odd, and reminds me of "Do the Right Thing" - which is a movie I appreciate quite a bit, but if it ties into quaker faith, the connection happens somewhere over my head)

I think about it mostly, I guess, as those times (ALL those times!) that we are faced with decisions (and aware enough to see them) between what's easiest or most fun, or most convenient for us at the moment

Thursday, March 23, 2006

And Countries

create your own visited countries map

I think this is funny cause I get credit for all of Russia, which is HUGE, because I spent 4 days in Leningrad in 1989. Tis' quite a distorted picture.'

So, since it's almost impossible to tell, I have been to:

* The US, where I was born and currently live.

* Canada, a business trip of my Dad's to Quebec when I was little. Amazingly enough, I've lived in a state that borders Canada for 19 years now, and I haven't visited since then. (Though my ex and I drove to the border once, but I didn't have ID on me and was worried they wouldn't let me back in - we werne't going to Canada, we were being random, so it wasnt' a huge loss)

* Italy - my first time "abroad" I went on a summer trip with a bunch of priviliged US kids when I was 16 (me and this guy from Iowa had "scholarships" but the rest were just rich. I think that was similarly culture-shocky for me to being in a country with a different language) I was there 6 weeks. I also went back through after my junior year semester in Norway, and visited the town in Sicily where my grandfather was born, among other things.

* Belgium - shoudln't really count it, we flew through on the way to Italy

* Norway - my junior year semester abroad thing was in Oslo, an excellent city. It's warmer there than in Minnesota, which surprised me because it's way farther north, but the jetstream or whatever, you know.

* Sweden - we did this field trip to other "scandinavian capitals" I loved the community gardens in stockholm, and the city in general

* Russia - the USSR then. The second city on our trip was Leningrad. This was maybe October of 1989, everything changed a lot right after we were there. It was very grey, and I felt like I didn't get to see much (you had to have a guide with you, and the people I was with were mostly disdainful americans)

* Finland - next was Helsinki, which I don't remember very well, except the big wool handknit socks I bought at the pier and never wore for years. Now I wear them all the time.

* Denmark - I was super into the ice cream and bicycling in Copenhagen.

* Germany - A really good friend from high school lives there with his wife. in 1989 they were just dating, and living in the US, but home in Cologne for christmas, so I stopped and spent some time with them.

* Switzerland - I spent a day in Luzern on my way to Italy, and loved it. I met up with a friend in Italy, and we decided to spend xmas in Luzern - arriving there the night of the 24th with money from the US, Britain, Italy, Norway, Germany in our pockets, but only about 50 cents worth of swiss francs. Who would have thought you couldnt' change money in the Venice train station??? I'm sort of sad about the euro, but it would have been handy then. These two young women from Argentina rescued us and lent us bus fare to ride to the hostel with them (we didn't really know where it was either) It's still probably my favorite xmas ever, because it was so low-pressure. We didn't get each other presents, spent the day watching kids try out their new trikes by the lake, and ate dinner in the train station (they only place we could find open)

* Holland - another sort of cheat. I took the boat to England from Rotterdam.

* UK - my last stop on that last tour of europe. I stayed with a guy on whom I had had an INTENSE crush 4 years earlier and his fiancee. It was great, and awkward. It was so weird to be in a place where they spoke english for the first time in 4 months, but they weren't speaking it "quite right"

*Guatemala - I decided I needed to travel again last year, and took myself off to Guatemala for 9 days to study spanish and have an adventure. There were all sorts of scary travel warnings, and I was pretty sure I wouldn't come back alive (worrier that I am) but it was overall an awesome trip.

*Mexico - Just about a month ago, my sweetie and I returned from a week in Cancun. Well, not Cancun, Tulum, which is about the closest town that's near the beach and not freakishly touristy. (2-3 hours south) There were many things that were wonderful about it (even though I got sunburn and tummy trouble) but I think in future I'll make more of a point of avoiding tourist spots.

States I've visited

I didn't get tagged, but I got inspired by Robin to play this silly game. I'm ashamed I haven't been to more states (some I'm not sure about whether to count)

but here's the states I've visited:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

1. Arizona - My mom has cousins there. I visited them as a child and as a teenager now and then. I loved being so HOT. I had my first real kiss there.

2. California - I thought I wanted to go to college at Pomona, so I flew into LA for the day from Phoenix and visited when I was 17. Taking the bus in LA was an experience

3. Colorado - I think the only time I've been there was when I flew through Denver going somewhere. I dont' think it really counts. But I almost moved there after college, my best friend from high school lived in Boulder at the time (Now she lives in Portland, OR)

4. Connecticutt - My mom had cousins there too, and had had a vacation home there as a child. We went and visited when I was in junior high at some point. I mostly remember the ocean and buying sparkly nailpolish with my cousins.

5. DC - We had friend there when I was a kid, and as a teen and adult I've been there for marches. It's a freaky city, in my opinion.

6. Delaware - I grew up in Philly, and my Dad still lives in a suburb that is closest to the Wilmington stop on the train. I'm sure we drove through it lots when I was a kid, too, but I'm not sure.

7. Florida - not since I was little. My dad had business trips to Miami when I was 3 and 5. I caught pneumonia there - my mom says from wet hair and air conditioning.

8. Idaho - I've been through it on the train from Minneapolis to Seattle, but not sure if I've ever actually set foot there (it's pretty narrow, I don't know if the train has a rest stop there)

9. Illinois - I spent a semester of college in Chicago, and take myself to lunch and a dip in the lake (if it's warm enough!) there when I take the train through going to Philly.

10. Indiana - same best friend from high school went to Earlham for a year. I visited her there. Was that my only time there?

11. Iowa - I went to a Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Luther college in Decorah. I've also been to a camp there to sing with Quakers (Nightengales)

12. Maryland - I visited Johns Hopkins when I was looking for a college, and have just been there - I think most often on weekend drives to buy booze with my Dad, because it's cheaper there than in PA (doesn't that sound wholesome??)

13. Massachusetts - My sistser lives in Wellesley now, but last time I visited she lived in Cambridge.

14. Michigan - My Dad was born in Detroit and grew up in Croswell, 3 hours north. I visited there a lot as a kid.

15. Minnesota - Home sweet home! Y'all don't know what you're missing.

16. Montana - the train again, but I know that we stopped and walked around there. It was a train with no smoking car, so they had to stop and take smoke breaks. I hate smoke, but crave fresh air, so I would hold my breath and run past the cloud by the train and skip around until it was time to go. I think we also had a long break to go buy food there. I really want to visit Glacier Park, it was just beautiful, what I could see of it.

17. Nevada - My cousin from AZ got married in Las Vegas when I was 14. I thought it was really funny, but his girlfriend was from there, and it wasn't a cheezy wedding at all. I wasted a lot of money on slot machines though.

18. New Jersey - The shore, what else?

19. New York - My mom grew up in Manhattan, and much of her family is still there. We lived in the 'burbs there a few times when I was a kid. I visited the finger lakes region after Gathering in Rochester a few years ago. It's beautiful there.

20. North Carolina - another college visit. I really wanted to go to UNC, but I got waitlisted and never called up. Stayed with a (Michigan) cousin there.

21. North Dakota - train again. Again, I can't even say for sure I've ever set foot on the ground there.

22. Ohio - Cousins in Cleaveland when I was a kid, plus trains, plus my sweetie is from there (rural OH, not Cleaveland) but I haven't visited with her yet)

23. Oregon - I have a good friend from high school and a good friend from college there now. I have visited a few times. It's perhaps the only other US city I can see myself living in aside from Minneapolis (though, really, really, I do like nice weather!)

24. Pennsylvania - I grew up there. I miss crocuses and stone houses the most (we have both here, but much fewer and farther between)

25. South Dakota - my ex's parents live there. Plus we went to the Badlands once - breathtaking!

26. Texas - my (NY) cousin lives in Dallas now, but I've never visited. Perhaps only stopovers on the plane.

27. Vermont - My NY cousin's other Grandma lived there. I went up there with them one summer, and swam in a quarry. The coolest thing.

28. Virginia - Family friends in a DC suburb when I was a kid.

29. Washington - Have visited Seattle a few times. It's a great city, but I feel consistently not hip enough when I'm there.

30. West Virginia - Only drive through and train throughs. Though I know I have set foot in it. I made a point of doing so so I could count it on something like this when I was in college.

31. I can't believe I forgot Wisconsin, my closest neighbor. My newest dog, Jordan, is from Wisconsin (or at least was fostered there before coming to me) My ex is from Eau Claire, where her parents still lived when we met, so I've been thre a lot. Also Madison and Milwaukee for Nightengales, and the first time I went to FGC Gathering was 1998, when it was in River Falls (where it will be again next year, if I'm not mistaken)