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.


Concerns:

*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.

15 comments:

QuakerK said...

I assume you've seen the many letters in the recent Friends Journal on the topic?

David

earthfreak said...

I haven't, actually, as I'm not a suscriber, but a friend of mine told me about some of them, and we'd discussed it a bit.

do you have an opinion on the subject??

peace
pam

James Riemermann said...

Man, I am just completely out of the common left-wing perspective on this one.

To my mind, cultural appropriation is the very engine of culture, of art, of almost everything distinctive about human beings. In fact, the phrase "cultural appropriation" is really just a negative, dismissive synonym for culture itself. The primary reason cultures grow, change, acquire distinctive qualities, is because they steal from one another. Every culture that exists borrowed most of what it defines itself by from previous and neighboring cultures, most of which no longer exist. The exception is individual creativity, which also, of course, builds on top of culture.

Cultural appropriation is also one of the strongest weapons for combatting bigotry, because it smears the distinctions between groups, distinctions which are in reality not nearly as "distinct" as we tend to see them. When there is no other, xenophobia dies of malnutrition.

Paul Simon took some heat for "Graceland", a record that blended rhythms, instruments, sounds and themes from a number of different cultures, and blended them with his own ideas as well as the folk/rock milieu he came out of. I think it was brilliant, original, and completely valid, and required no more justification than his own interest and enthusiasm. It is a genuine plus that he did it in a completely open manner, seeking to fully acknowledge and even involve the cultures he was mining. But as an artist his only obligation was to follow the thread of his creative curousity wherever it led him--regardless of the possibility that someone in Africa might have been offended.

I would absolutely not presume to say that FGC was wrong to call off the sweat lodge program. I don't know nearly enough about all the factors and people involved, and I also acknowledge that it is sometimes wise to compromise for the sake of peace within and between communities. At the same time, the fact that someone says they are speaking for a community, doesn't necessarily mean that they are. Anyone who says "Indians think this" or "disabled people think this" or "[group of your choice] think this" is pulling the wool over your eyes.

earthfreak said...

Hey James

I understand where you're coming from, and I actually really like the "Graceland" album (though I felt somewhat conflicted about that when it came out)

I personally think that exchange between cultures is a wonderful, dynamic, living thing.

But I also believe that in this case (and maybe in all) "cultural appropriation" isn't referring to a neutral exchange between equals, but a form of cultural genocide. White people have historically wiped out indian culture - by killing people, by stealing their children, but punishing them for speaking their language. All of that is a backdrop to the current trendiness of "playing indian" and it is very hurtful to some (to be fair, from what I've heard overall, this particular sort of thing isn't a huge concern in indian communities, but if individuals say "I am hurt by this" I think it's worth taking some time, not necessarily letting them dictate everything you do (especially if it's only a few individuals) but considering their concerns respectfully.


My concerns with it as cultural appropriation could be addressed by things like:

- actually including some sort of activism and education in the process. This ritual is a "gift" (hopefully freely given) from the first nations of the americas - and this is what is currently happening to first nations peoples and cultures (see Pine Ridge, see Chiapas) - if we think they're so "cool" - let's join their struggles, instead of just stealing their ideas.

- by really thinking about what we value in the process and making it "ours" - as I said, I think there is power in the physical process of the sweatlodge, and first nations peoples are not the only ones historically to tap into it. If we are interested in tapping that power, how about doing it in a way that's part of our own cultural heritage? As I said, part of my concern is that we are not just tapping into a power recognized by another culture before us. We are playing at being that culture because we have shallow stereotypes about them as more spiritual or "natural" than us. - It feels like a minstrel show of sorts (potentially)



I don't think FGC was wrong to put a stop to the sweatlodge that year, but I am disappointed that no concerted effort was made to address all the issues that this raises. I think that we could grow a lot as people, as quakers, and as admirers of indian culture, if we faced these issues head on. It feels like instead we have shut down like a chastised child, afraid to actually discuss what was so wrong or so right about what we were doing.

Joe G. said...

Hey, Pam,

I'm really with you on this one. A sweatlodge by primarily whites on U.S. soil, even if it has the blessing of one or more First Nation folk, carries a lot of responsibility. There is a huge cultural backdrop of pain and domination no matter what the original intention might have been. This can not be avoided.

Tis true that Paul Simon got some flack for his album, but he seemed to make the album with the cooperation and direct involvement of musicians and singers from that culture. Many western artists have done the same since (and vice versa, although that is less known in the pop culture sphere).

I'd feel somewhat better about the sweat lodge if, in fact, there were Elders from the First Nations involved with the process to teach our youth about their ways and culture. It'd be great if First Nation youth were also involved. And then these folks could participate in and learn about some Quaker distinctives, too (not about how great Quakers were to Indians, BTW :)). How about having a Meeting for Worship based on the practice of silence with the Elders and youth??? This would seem more like an "exchange" of sorts that is done consciously and colaboratively.

The fact that some Friends think we need a sweat lodge for youth is in itself another issue, but that's another time... :)

Glad you shared your thoughts, much appreciated!

Paul L said...

The problem with the "cultural appropriation" argument is that its conversation ending. Like saying someone's being "defensive." ("No I'm not" . . . "See; you just proved I'm right.")

It's true that Friends Journal has had some good letters and responses on it this past winter & spring. But it's mostly been commentary, no real reporting on what happened.

There are so many strands to this story, so much coded language, and so many good people and good friends on both (all) sides that it's very hard to know what to think or say that could be positive.

I'm glad you made a try, and as a thoughtful participant your story carries more weight with me than some others. I hope it brings more light than heat.

James Riemermann said...

I agree, Pam, that it is wise to take some time to listen to anyone who claims to be hurt by one's actions, and consider their concerns respectfully. I also agree--how could I not?--that the treatment of Native Americans in the settlement of this country is one of the greatest ethnicity-based crimes in recorded history. Cultural genocide--an odd term in any case--isn't nearly strong enough to describe what happened. Like the holocaust, it was a failed attempt at *literal* genocide--the word needs no qualifier. The U.S. and various state governments didn't have the "grundlichkeit" of the Nazis--Primo Levi's term for the German cultural tendency to thoroughness in all things--so the U.S. never quite got to the point of building dedicated murder factories like Auschwitz. But there was a serious effort to exterminate the entire native population. Later attempts to force Indians into our dominant European culture took the brutality in another direction.

As you say, all that is the *backdrop* to white sweat lodges, but the two practices are hardly cut from the same cloth. I very much disagree that white sweat lodges, or any of the practices usually described as cultural appropriation, refer to "a form of cultural genocide." On the contrary, such practices are a peculiar and often shallow form of cultural preservation. But the problem is the shallowness, not the appropriation. Remember, culture is not race. It is transferred by behavior, language, artifacts--not genetics.

I also agree with you--perhaps more enthusiastically than you would expect--about our "shallow stereotypes about [American Indians] as more spiritual or 'natural' than us." I think whites and Indians alike have often been guilty of such shallowness in characterizing Native American culture and history. I think the sweat lodges are one potential example of such shallowness, and the negative response to the sweat lodges is another potential example. The latter perhaps moreso, as it assumes a unity of feeling and perspective and history among American Indians that is not in evidence.

On the arrival of Europeans to the Americas there was no Native American culture, but dozens of them, perhaps hundreds, each highly distinct, and individually diverse within that cultural distinctiveness. They were peacemakers, slaughterers, nomads, villagers, artists, philistines, hunters, gatherers, farmers, mystics, pragmatists, democrats, communists, tyrants. Most of that cultural diversity has been destroyed or assimilated over the past 500 years, but it is still a great mistake to assume or express any perspective as "the view of American Indians."

Finally, I think the cure for shallowness is not walking out of the water, but going in deeper. I agree with suggestions that a sweat lodge led by Native American facilitators has the potential to be far richer and deeper. But that doesn't make it fundamentally wrong to do it yourself. As the saying goes, "anything worth doing is worth doing poorly."

Anonymous said...

This is my first post ever to a blog, but this subject is dear to me. I have been a participant in a Lakota sweat lodge for several years. Our teacher is an elder in Pine Ridge. He is very welcoming to me and invites me to share in all their traditions. I have not moved beyond the Lodge cremony because of my personal concerns of being a "culture vulture".

For me, participation in the lodge increases my sense of being a member of a Sacred Family. This Family includes more than humans because we are all related. We all have one one Sacred Source.

I also believe that we Friends have enough creativity to explore our own cultures and use our own ancient traditions to express our own spirituality. Could the youth design and build a structure that expresses their view of the earth and life? What is common in the traditions? Using wood, rocks, fire, water, herbs, and prayer. All of these elements are gifts from the Creator.

I agree with Joe G. that it would be good to bring elders and youth of the First Nations to share with us. We need to encourage reconciliation. I actually began attending Quaker meeting because of my years in the lodge. The lodge gave me my first sense of safety within a group.

I also agree that if we think they are "cool", we should join their struggles. The Saint Louis Monthly Meeting provides one way to do this by assisting with building homes. The link is below.

http://iym.quaker.org/projectlakota/index.html

Thank you for letting me share. Blessings to you all. Jaede

earthfreak said...

Jaede~

Thanks so much for your post! It sent shivers through me.

Could the youth design and build a structure that expresses their view of the earth and life? What is common in the traditions? Using wood, rocks, fire, water, herbs, and prayer. All of these elements are gifts from the Creator.

I do think that there are powerful resonances between quaker meeting and sweat lodge practices.

Your description of your experience is beautiful.

And your story confirms, yet again, the overwhelming impression that I have that native elders are so generous and welcoming, and willing to "share". Which makes it all the more pressing to me when someone raises concerns.



I really like the idea of creating an exchange of practices and wisdom (and, as Joe points out, NOT "we were really nice to you guys 300 years ago"!!)


And also, especially, of doing some deep seeking - what about the lodge touches us? How can we create a uniquely quaker experience that taps into that? As you say, prayer and community and rocks and trees are all gifts of all of us.


Thanks for the link about the lakota project. I have thought about doing that, or something similar, in years past, but never have. Maybe this is the year.

peace
Pam

Joe G. said...

Jaede wrote:
I also believe that we Friends have enough creativity to explore our own cultures and use our own ancient traditions to express our own spirituality. Could the youth design and build a structure that expresses their view of the earth and life? What is common in the traditions? Using wood, rocks, fire, water, herbs, and prayer. All of these elements are gifts from the Creator.

Then Pam added:
And also, especially, of doing some deep seeking - what about the lodge touches us? How can we create a uniquely quaker experience that taps into that? As you say, prayer and community and rocks and trees are all gifts of all of us.

Lovely thoughts. Both of you speak my mind! I hope that these questions are also included in the laboring and seeking around the whole "Quaker" Sweat Lodge issue!

Liz Opp said...

Wow, Pam, thanks for taking so much time to consider your experience from a few years ago, to listen to the chatter in its various forms that has arisen in recent months, and to write as clearly as you have as to how you understand the concerns, etc.

Here are some things I myself am considering or have considered, especially in light of my participation in and service on the Central Committee of FGC in recent years.

1. I believe FGC--and especially some of its subcommittees--is caught between a horrible rock and a hard place: say too little about their ongoing reconciliation work, and Friends think that "nothing is happening." Say too much about their ongoing reconciliation work, and Friends will want to have their own input as to who or what is right, wrong, appropriate, inappropriate, etc.

Remember, FGC Central Committee is comprised of more than 150 Friends from Canada and the U.S., and include Friends of Color, young adult Friends, and older adult Friends.

And when I recently referred to the apparent "silence" in FGC about the concern for the Quaker sweatlodge, I heard back rather quickly from an FGC Friend who serves on one of the burdened committees that the matter is still very much alive. I know that at the very least, FGC's Committee for Ministry on Racism and FGC's Long Range Conference Planning Committee are both continuing to look at the concern around the Quaker sweatlodge. Also, FGC's Ministry & Nurture Committee (on which I serve) has been checking in with these and other Friends about ways that it might be supportive, including prayer support.

2. I do not know if the leaders of the "Quaker sweatlodge" have themselves revisited and tested their original leading from year to year to see if it still carries Life and Power for them to continue offering it. As I understand it, such discernment is (or at least used to be) part of the practice of Friend's care-and-accountability support committee.

3. Similarly, I do not know to what extent the original leader of the Quaker sweatlodge tested his leading within his monthly meeting and/or yearly meeting. I do know that potential workshop leaders for the Gathering are asked to submit a letter of reference (maybe 2?) and describe their own discernment process. I don't believe there is a question specific to How and with whom did you test your leading to offer this workshop...?

4. I also question if the Native American elder who apparently blessed the Friend originally (and a number of years ago) with bringing the Quaker sweatlodge to FGC Friends understood the nature of spiritual discernment among Friends, and if the Native American elder encouraged that Friend to abide by Quaker disciplines. I do think that there was a Native American co-leader for the first year or two (or more?) when the Quaker sweatlodge was offered as a workshop. (But again, as Pam asks, was there a Finn there?)

5. The objection that was raised about the Quaker sweatlodge workshop for the 2004 Gathering--as I have heard the letter and some subsequent follow-ups to it--came NOT from an individual but was signed by an individual who had been given the authority to speak on behalf of the group of Native Americans in that particular region, much like a clerk of a monthly or yearly meeting has the authority, when a minute has been approved or an epistle has been written, to speak on behalf of that body of Friends.

6. I make a distinction between cultural borrowing and cultural appropriation. The line between the two is horribly complex.

Each time this topic comes up, about the Quaker sweatlodge, I feel very very sad.

As Paul L. mentions, there are so many sides and so many strands and so much "history" to take into consideration... It is very hard to carve out the time and space to listen together for the pieces of Truth that are wanting to be revealed to all of us.

As Friends, my own sense is we need a whole lot more worship and whole lot more prayer and a whole lot more listening over this. I'm talking months and years, not hours or weeks.

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

Lorcan said...

Dear Friends:
This is about my own experience in sweats. I don't offer this in judgement of other Friends... but again, it is what I found...

I have worked for many years in native communities. Among hunter gatherers in north eastern Canada, I was very careful never to ask for anything, because, like the more remote US, native communities, there is no way within the traditions of hospitality for many native people to say no.

One day, after many years, I was asked if I was interested in a sweat. I said yes.

I found that the path to the sweat, for me, took years of becoming... not just learning.

I have seen others "do" a sweat, a sort of cultural tourism, and in one case, a fellow who asked to do a sweat, as he was visiting a native community, dashed from the sweat lodge, completely unable to experience the intense heat as intense, for him it was really painful...

The sweats Innu do, are so intense we have to be lifted and almost carried to a tent after. My first sweat was during a full moon on the every edge of the woods, at the beach, by the mouth of the Gulf of the St. Laurence estuary in the middle of the night. I can't say much, other than it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. And, like waiting for marriage for sex, for some it is not the life choice or even the right choice, but for me, the waiting until I was invited in... after a life of listening, hunting, being taught, it was the right time for the first time.

For me, only for me... it is not ours. It belongs to a culture that walked many miles to come to this and to be invited into that, was a sort of passage, almost a marriage. I am no practitioner of native faith, not one to set up a sweat lodge on my own, but I am comfortable, that if invited and it is time... I join in this extraordinary thing, in that it is mine, but mine with them, not mine to use, to ... I am lost for the words... not mine to take away with me.

Again, that is me... just me, and I know some Quakers find great meaning in sweats that Quakers do.

earthfreak said...

Hey Liz and Lor!

Thanks to both of you for engaging in this.

Liz - I have a terrible problem sometimes with thinking that if people aren't talking to me on a daily basis about their process that they're "not doing anything" thanks for the reminder about how alive this is within FGC.

And the distinction between cultural appropriation and cultural borrowing. It's a very important one, and something I think I was dancing around wtihout being able to pinpoint somehow. Like Joe said, Paul Simon worked in collaboration with the musicians he was learning from, and I think that his association and support actually helped them in some ways (though I'm not sure)

Lor- much of what you say is SO moving, and right-on. It sounds like you had an experience of a sweat that was so much more than we've had at gaterhing (according to my own value judgements)

A friend of mine who did the sweat at gathering as a young adult, with no preperation, was overwhelmed by it. She talks about it as simply a hard experience, because she wasn't adequately prepared. And the more I learn the more it seems that questions of "adequate" preparation about about years, not days (and certainly not hours)


It has put me in mind of the controversy a few years ago about leting motorized boats into the boundary waters. It is an amazingly beautiful place, and more so because there are no motorboats. The rhetoric was all about not excluding people by making it hard to go there (though there were plenty of people with the various disabilities that were supposedly keeping them out, who had been there, and were for the ban on motors!)

Sometimes things are sacred because they're hard to get to, and because they're a product of a whole culture. "cultural tourism" just doesn't work (not at all).




I am still really saddened that I havne't seen, or been a part of dialogue about this among friends. It's not happening on the listservs, it's not happening among those who have really gotten something out of the sweats (which would include me, and which is what I yearn for)

I am interested in what FGC does in an official capacity in terms of apologizing, or reconciling, with the tribe that complained, but I am more interested in what we do as a group amongst ourselves. I feel like all I've seen so far, in the larger body is a sort of childish exchange like:

"that's racist!"

"is not!"

"is too, and you can't do it anymore"

followed by a lot of anger and hurt,

but isn't there a point where we care that it seemed racist? even if it's eventually "exonerated" and "allowed" to continue???? Isn't our faith more alive than that? I would really like to feel that we are seeking a "sense of the society" on this issue, and maybe someone is, but they haven't asked me.

Liz, do you know if there are any plans to address this as a larger body?? Not in terms of issuing a statement, but in terms of actually trying to hear everyone, and seek light on this matter together???

peace and tenderness,


Pamm

Lorcan said...

Oh Pamm!

The image about places being sacred because they are hard to get to, and dysabilities... exactly... the fact is we also have to be careful to not sell short folks who loose parts we take for granted. I think of folks without eyesight who climb mountains, one leg who ski, and I would love to see the view from the top of Everest, but not enough to undertake the journey and certainly I know the view would not be the same, if there were an elivator!

These blogs... they are often not easy journies. There is such a rich possible view... but to get there, is a journey, not alone, we could be writing in little notebooks alone, we are reaching out in trust to each other... and some get fustrated, scared... all this though is journy.

Sweats are not even the end of a journey, but the trust, the unity of the road towards it, ( part of this I have to send thee by email, I realize... ) but the journey to begin the journey of a sweat, and the journey AFTER the sweat...

To begin to understand what journies we Quakers still need to take together, and with those we wish to learn about sweats from... I wrote on my blog about a journey back, last seventh month, to a place I love and where I am loved, where we strove to stop hydro damns, and lost... and I asked Friends to give an hour of electric a month ... a dark hour of reflection. The reactions were, a few, not very loving. But, it is not about me coming up with an idea. It is about, if Quakers were so much more involved together in those communities which are still undergoing the first taking of the land, among the Cree, the Innu, lands being taken so North Eastern USA could not have to think about the electricity which bears these words to ye...
Oh Friends, I'm not telling folks what to do, but rather saying that if we first engage our neighbors in undertanding, in doing what we may... gifts flow from that... weighty gifts - gifts that bear the weight of joy and responsibility. A prof. of mine, Nadia Sermatakis said that in Greece, one gives a meaningful gift because a little of thee stays with the gift, "I give a scarf and it becomes to the one who wears it, Nadia's scarf..." Before we "take" if we give, things are given back.
I am not saying Quakers have taken sweats from Native people... but, if as part of the journy we give without asking anything back... we might be given in return remarkable things.

Thanks for this post, it is a dear journey.
lor

Liz Opp said...

Pam, you ask:

Liz, do you know if there are any plans to address this as a larger body?? Not in terms of issuing a statement, but in terms of actually trying to hear everyone, and seek light on this matter together???

During the 2004 Gathering, the summer when the Quaker sweatlodge workshop was canceled, there was an open session for Friends to hear some history of what led to the decision, the various factors involved, and the letter that FGC had received from the Native American group, insisting that the Quaker sweatlodge not be held (scroll down the linked page to see the letter). There were Friends from all sorts of perspectives who addressed all sorts of concerns about what did or didn't happen. Those Friends who were noticeably absent were the scheduled co-leaders of the workshop: they had withdrawn their registration.

There have been other listening sessions, but none open to the FGC community--or none that I know of, anyway. At these invitation-only listening sessions have been the workshop leaders, young adult Friends, FGC staff, members of Long Range Conference Planning and of Committee for Ministry on Racism, and facilitators--Friends who were not part of the issue. I'm sure I'm missing a category or two of persons, since I wasn't there... I believe that a member or members of the Native American group were invited as well--and that they have been invited to other sessions--but did not choose to attend.

Oh-- also last year, at the 2005 Gathering in Blacksburg, VA, Chuck Fager and George Price (George being the Friend who was blessed by an Native American elder to share the sweatlodge among Friends)-- Chuck and George convened their own session about the sweatlodge, which I attended a part of.

Some of what I heard there was another "take" on the history of what led up to FGC's decision to cancel the sweatlodge workshop... I remain VERY concerned for the antagonistic approach that was being modeled, rather than encouragement for listening together for the Truth in what each "camp" was presenting.

As for another sort of "general session": I have heard that there may be a session about cultural appropriation at this summer's Gathering, which is connected to the sweatlodge concern but isn't specifically about the sweatlodge concern.

Let me stop here. It's such an emotionally charged topic for me, still...

Blessings,
Liz, The Good Raised Up

P.S. For the sake of transparency, here is Chuck's website that expresses his views about what is being called the Quaker sweatlodge controversy. I don't believe FGC has any corresponding website--which doesn't surprise me if committees are still discerning the way forward...