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.


Lorcan said...

How nice to read a post about the Diggers, as Kelly and I set out to busk this morning... take back the margins!

They make the laws, to chain us well
their cleargy dazzle us with heaven
or they damn us into hell...
I will not worship, the god they serve
the god of greed who feeds the rich
while poor men starve...

Thine in the light

Anonymous said...

I'm generally in tune with your sentiments, but I do want to point out that there's actually quite a bit more to that story than "poor urban farmers kicked off their farm by the police."

In fact, quite a few of the farmers already have other places to farm. The foofaraw you saw on TV or in your newspapers was basically a publicity stunt committed by the same idiots who had already completely screwed up any chance of a deal with the land's owner by acting like total jerks for several years in a row.

I'm all in favor of urban greenspace -- Goddess knows we need more of it! -- but this was a case of exactly the wrong way to go about securing it.

earthfreak said...

Anonymous -

If you had given your name, or any detail about how you know these things (or even what exactly you mean by "acting like jerks") your input might be really helpful and instructive.

I live in Minnesota, and didn't know anything about this until quite recently. I also have experience with "activists" who seem much more intent on being bratty and anti-authority than in the actual cause at hand, and tend to assume that there were at least some involved in this situation (as they seem to show up everywhere - and sometimes are so extreme you've gotta wonder if they're "plants")

Can you shed any more light on this issue??

Lor - I still don't understand, what is busking??? Whatever it is, here's hoping you had a good time with it :)


Liz Opp said...

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.

This is elegantly said, Pam. I also appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable, as in your previous post.

It seems as if you are being faithful to Something that is growing you in significant ways. It does not matter to me that we agree on what to call that Thing. What matters to me--at least from a Quaker perspective--is that we are discerning and faithful to how we are called.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Zach said...

Hi Pam!
Busking is playing music on the street for change (or bills when you're lucky).

"The Friend speaks my mind..."


James Riemermann said...

Ah, yes, the diggers! I had never heard of them, or of their leader Gerrard Winstanley, until I went to a weekend workshop on nontheism among Friends at Pendle Hill last summer. Winstanley's writing absolutely blew me away, both in how it expressed all the essential themes and images of the early Quakers, and in the muscularity and poetic richness of his prose. He did most of his work several years before Fox's first opening, in his part of the country, and I can't imagine our esteemed founder didn't read them and find some inspiration there. By my tastes, Winstanley is considerably more compelling as a writer than Fox, Barclay, or any of the early Quakers for that matter.

Unfortunately he's out of print. I did manage to find a couple used collections of his work, but I want more.

James Riemermann said...

Actually, I take back a little of my last message. I had "heard of" the diggers, as they are usually mentioned with seekers, ranters, etc, as one of the radical sects extant at Quakerism's birth. What I didn't know about was Winstanley, or their beautiful experiment on St. George's Hill.

earthfreak said...

James - I completely agree about Winstanley. We have a book about Diggers in the TCFM Library that has quotes from him (it's all that I've read of him) and he was amazing. I haven't even managed to read any of George Fox's writings (except those small bits that make it onto first day school t-shirts and blogger headlines!)


earthfreak said...

Zach, which Friend speaks your mind?????

Thanks for explaining busking to me. I thought it might be that.

that may be the most significant thing that I miss about new york - people playing music on streetcorners and in the subway. It happens occasionally here, but never with steel drums, which are my favorite :)

earthfreak said...

Just in the name of full disclosure,

I apparenlty didn't learn the song from the benefit cd, that was only the first recording that I found of it (Karan Casey, who is in my sidebar links, also has a recording of it, as does Billy Bragg)

My sweetie at the time learned it at a "noon sing" at gathering in river falls in 1998. And I must have learned it from her (I'm pretty sure I didnt' go to them that year, though I have since, and highly reccomend them!)


Anonymous said...

I meant you, Pam.


verbalchameleon said...

I love that song! I learned it from Billy Bragg.

Natalia said...

Hi! This post is ancient and you don't know me from Eve, but I was one of the people who struggled to protect those sacred oak trees from the destruction of Highway 55 and it makes me really happy to see that people are inspired by us and carrying on our work. I was raised Quaker, and as my ancestors say, I am holding you in the light.