Hug your kids!

So you think you have them safely through the scary years. But it doesn't matter how old they are they can still drop your heart. Daughter #2 and her young man (both 19 an non-drivers) were traveling across town last evening in a car driven my the young man's father. Dad had a completely unexpected brain seizure in traffic- daughter in the front seat had the presence of mind to recognize quickly what was going on and pull the parking brake- hard! Other cars managed to avoid them. They were less than a minute from being on the freeway, on the bridge crossing the Willamette river where the parking brake would not have helped. Dad is ok, after a CAT scan. I got that weird call where perky voice child says "Hi mom, were at the ER".
Proud and grateful, I am.


The Hound of Heaven

Today's UPI column

So There I was…

eating a plate of nachos and watching the tube. I like TV -- no apologies no excuses. I am a teller and collector of stories, and TV grists my mill.

One of my favorite stories lives on the A and E channel. Duane “Dog” Chapman -- a.k.a. “The Bounty Hunter” is, hands down, the winner of the “Reality TV as morality play” award. He is so real that if he chops onions on TV you are gonna cry. Carl Jung would not have enough archetypes to describe this guy. Dostoyevski could not write a better po’ man’s Jesus.

Each week Dog and his crew of family and friends chase down Hawaiian criminals who have failed to show up for court. They always get their prey -- helped out by the fact that meth makes dumb criminals dumber.

This is how “Real” Dog is. His theme song is by Ozzy Osborne. His public success has propelled him to actually marry Beth, his beloved cohabiter of 16 years, the mother of his children. He has perfected the rooster-combed, feather bedecked mullet to a level that Billy Ray Cyrus could only dream of. Dog keeps it real by taking the viewer along to his boot maker in Denver who not only puts on the silver tips on his Cuban stacked cowboy boots but also puts in the lifts that make Dog stand tall, well, sort of tall anyway. How do you not love a testosterone soaked man who can run down criminals and jump fences in high heels and a bouffant?

But what I really love about Dog is the theology. This man embodies the key aspects of every great spirituality ever lived out on this planet; Justice, Mercy, Truth, Grace. He is especially good at living out the Divine paradox of justice vs. mercy. While out on the chase, Dog is all justice. He is heaven chasing you down for your sins with an unremitting persistence. C. S. Lewis called this aspect of the Divine the Hounds of Heaven. I am telling you, if Dog Chapman is barking up your tree you might as well come on down.

But the paradox flips as soon as the bad boy is cuffed and put in the back seat of the SUV. See, Dog is tough in crime, but soft on criminals. This comes from his personal experience as a repentant criminal.

The Gospel according to Dog

“This is a second chance business and we are good at it because we are second chance people.”

If that ain’t the Gospel, this Quaker preacher don’t know no Gospel! Life is a second chance business, and we live it before a second chance God.

On the ride from the capture to the jail there is “The Talk” -- truth, speaking what it knows. Humanity is found in the vilest offender as he is often given a chance to call his mother. Compassion is doled out with smokes lit and gently placed on the lips of the rather frazzled handcuffed. And then the lesson is taught.

My favorite example was a guy named Cliff. His girlfriend had gone his bail, but revoked it when Cliff got controlling, threatening and abusive. Girl steps out -- Dog steps in -- followed by a hard, adrenaline fueled, take down, then the ride. Dog takes one look in this guy’s eyes and sees the fear behind the aggression, and he melts, again.

DC: “Man, don’t you have any brothers?”

C: “No, man.”

DC: “Well, you got brothers now – What the (bleep) do you think you were doing!?!”

Dog gets Cliff to admit that his behavior was based on his fear that the girlfriend would leave him. Then follows the lesson.

DC: “Repeat after me. You cannot threaten a woman to make her love you.”

C: (dejectedly) “You cannot threaten a woman to make her love you.”

DC: ”You cannot hit a woman to make her love you.”

C: “You cannot hit a woman to make her love you.”

Dog asks again, this time leaving blanks for Cliff to fill in

DC: “You cannot”

C: “Hit”

DC: “A woman to make her”

C: “Love you”

Cliff repeats this lesson all the way to the jail, where Dog Chapman agrees to renew his bond because Cliff’s mother is in a wheelchair and needs her son’s help. Grace thy name is Dog.

Don’t you just wish we could dispense that kind of justice, mercy, truth and grace in some really high places?

Repeat after me, Mr Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove

“You cannot win hearts and mind by bombing people.”

“You cannot win hearts and minds by threatening to bomb people.”

“You cannot win hearts and minds by invading people.”

Thus ends the lesson.


It's Our
is two years old today!
On March 25, 2004 Freedom Friends Church was created by action of a Quaker business meeting.
There were four friends present. Since that time this fresh expression of Quakerism has grown quickly and vigorously.
We have:
gone from a living room meeting
to a backyard meeting
to a one-day a week rented room meeting
to seven day a week rented rooms meeting
built a kickin' website that gets a hundred hits a day
found nearly 30 people who come to meeting at least occasionally
taken in 11 full members, with one more pending; 3 by transfer from EFI, one by transfer from FUM, one by transfer from FGC and 7 new to Quakerism
participated in service projects
received Many Quaker visitors
had multiple education events
picnic, potluck, and movie watch together
sent a financial contribution to half a dozen Quaker and other humanitarian causes
Had a budget with a surplus each year
Kept our standing committee's to ONE - but have had task forces, clearness committees, healing groups, 12-step groups, and nearly everyone in the meeting has a ministry in the world
But my favorite thing that has happens regularly is to hear people talk about the work of transformation that God has done on them through this church
Party time at Meeting for Worship tomorrow! Funny hats optional
Let's try and not have the terrible twos!


A Fearless Faith

I believe that we are called to live out a fearless faith. By far and away the most common word that follows the word “Fear” in Scripture is “Not”. But please notice that I do not say that we are called to live out a fearless life. Jesus knew fear – it is shown to us in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peacemakers know fear. I have known fear working in Central Africa.
Fear is a fact.

But Quaker faith is not based in fear – not fear of death or hell or of anything natural or supernatural. Our faith is based in the certain knowledge that we can have an unmediated connection to the Divine; that this connection transmits leadings; and that we can act on these leadings with quiet, courageous confidence. Our faith is based on the experience of transformation, in ourselves, and in the world around us.

The next two blogs will be about the rightful and wrongful place of fear in our lives.


I will now start some short blogs hitting on the major topics that Marge Abbott and I brought to Berkeley under the title of God’s Agenda for us – Will we cooperate? The weekend felt pretty fruitful to us – we will probably do the thing again – mostly likely as a series of talks possibly under the title of Dangerous Quakers: a hopeful look at the future of Quakerism. I am not going to blog them in the order that we presented them. Friend Robin, who was present, has given some reviews here and following on her blog. I think Robin’s contribution is great – because while it seems accurate to my memory – it is always useful to hear how the ideas we meant to present were actually perceived. Saturday was prepared speaking – although lightly prepared – we had a mutual outline and several meetings to talk about what we felt led to bring. The Sunday message was a message in the Quaker sense – I did not prepare it much at all except to spend time with the scriptures – and did not share it with Marge before the fact. About messages; all I like to hear afterwards is “thee was faithful”. Although in Berkeley a very seasoned Friend did come up to me, and with a smile on his face, sincerely thanked me for the message, and said that he didn’t like it one bit! Which was great, since it was sort of prophetic – he knew this and so did I.

Three Safe

Thank-you Jesus, Really, we mean it.


Food Bank

One of FFC's members, Marie, spends an evening every month at Marion Polk Food Share sorting food to go out to the various food pantries in town. Several of Marie's teenage kids usually go along with her. Tonight they were otherwise occupied - so Alivia and I went along as her 'kids'. It was good work. There are standards for what they can accept - so we were inspectors as well as sorters. Among all the generosity, it is obvious that some people are clearing out cupboards that should have been cleared out decades ago. But most of the food that we had to put in the 'unusable' barrel would have still been a treat for those Quaker orphans in Rwanda.

When are they going to get that teleporter invented!


The Art of Joyful Subversion

today's upi column

So There I was…
Sliding the motorcycle into a freeway rest stop -- high summer, families out touring en masse. When riding, I am encased in a leather and Kevlar exoskeleton including full face, reflective, helmet. It is not real obvious who, or even what, I am. So when I whip the lid off, folks are often surprised to see a woman emerging from this cocoon. It’s a little like sipping your Coke and finding out that it’s a root beer -- disconcerting expectations. After the startle, some people are interested. Little girls are especially curious. Their dads and brothers usually compliment me on the machine -- girls want to know all about ME. Countless times I had had this conversation in nearly identical form.

Little Girl: “Are you a lady?” (By which she means gender female?)

Me: “Yes, Indeed!”

LG: “Do you have a daddy?” (Are you married?)

M: “I do – he’s at home.”

LG: “He lets you ride a motorcycle?”

And then I lean down close, look LG right in the eyes, and whisper to her soul –

“I didn’t ask – You don’t have to ask!”

Ah, the sweet taste of subversion!

LG rides off in the back of the minivan, eyes wide, looking back at me, thinking new thoughts.

Their moms ask similar questions, usually in the privacy of the ladies room, and they ask more obliquely.

“Does your husband ride with you?”

My answers to the mothers are also a little more oblique. I tell them that my husband of 28 years doesn’t care for motorcycles, but that we have an agreement that allows me all the safe fun I can handle. I leave alone the issue of what constitutes safe fun and who decides how much I can handle.

The mothers exhibit more surprise when I am off on a multi-state, multi-day ride. It is amazing to me how many adult women have never traveled farther than the mall unaccompanied by someone. They will travel in groups and gaggles, but rarely solo. Sometimes they get far enough into the questioning to ask where I am headed to that night. I often answer that I do not know, that I will stop when and wherever I get tired. I choose to trust God to supply the place. They usually stop asking questions at this point and back away. I become alien and a wee bit scary.

A Baptist minister once asked me how long Quakers had allowed women in the ministry. I answered,

“Oh, 350 years or so – from the get go.”

And we didn’t ask -- because you don’t have to ask.


Meet the new Steed

Joining Rocinante in the stable is this new kid

Asfaloth Bucephalus

(cementing both my Tolkein and Classics nerd creds)

I think I will call him AB or Abie for short

1000 cc's of engine
in-line four
shaft drive

7.5 gal tank
600 lbs dry weight

I think I may just be feeling the starting of a leading to visit some Friends who are far. far from here.

Noro Lim!


From the Pastor's Pod

My friend tanner she says
you know Me and Jesus we’re of the same heart
The only thing that keeps us distant
Is that I keep f***in up - Indigo girls "shame on you"

Here is a thing that I do not believe anymore

"Sin separates us from God"

I have been told that this is true, for my entire life.
But I have come to reject it as truth for two reasons.

It is not Biblical - God and sinners converse all the time in scripture
David, Jonah, Cain, etc etc etc

Paul says in Romans 8 (Amplified Bible)
38For I am persuaded beyond doubt that For I am persuaded beyond doubt that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,
39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The second reason I don't believe this anymore is my own experience.

I often feel God most near when I am doing that which I should not do, or refraining from doing that which I should do. God breathes down the back of my neck when I sin. God pokes me in the ribs when I sin. God does not seem repulsed, or offended by my sin. God just doesn't let go. I have no peace when I am off task, not because God is far away, but because God is VERY near.

This is my testimony.


Quaker Orphans update

As of yet, no one has stepped up to take on the Rwandan AIDS orphans project presented by Habimana Augustin of Rwanda Yearly Meeting. But I do have more information from our African Friend. Here is his e-mail to me in repsonse to my request for more specific information. (Frw means rwandan francs, $=US dollars)

Dear Peggy,

How are you ! What news do you have nowadays !
My family is okay and we hug you in the name of our Lord Jesus.
I would like to send you the Project Proposal we have for 70 orphans gathered in our Association.
The project proposal is to contribute to the amelioration of the life condition of 70 orphans garthered in "UMUTIMA W'IMPUHWE" association.
The project has 3 different parts which compliment each other.

I. The First Part of the Project

The first part of the project is about Feeding SOSOMA Porridge to 20 orphans of AIDS who are more vulnerables than others in the association.These orphans suffer from the bad nutrition,They need a kind of porridge (SOSOMA)which is rich in different vitamins which build and protect them from sicknesses.
If an orphan can get his simple food plus that SOSOMA ,the bad nutrition he is encountering may disappear.
If an orphan can get 3 kilos of SOSOMA per month,2 kilos of sugar per month,and 3 piecies of soap per month,this can help them to survive.
The first part of the project needs 840.000 Frw = 1525 $ US and this amount is found in the following:

* 3 kilos of SOSOMA x 400 Frw x 12 months x 20 orphans = 288.000 Frw = 523$
* 2 kilos of sugar x 700 Frw x 12 months x 20 orphans = 336.000 Frw = 610 $
* 3 piecies of soap x 300 Frw x 12 months x 20 orphans = 216.000 frw = 392 $
The Total for the first part of the project is : 1525 $ US

II. The Second part of the project

The second part of the project is about a "SEWING WORKSHOP"for 70 orphans of AIDS garthered in the association.
This project can increase their knowledge,help them to work together,help them to fight against stigma,and it can provide money to support them and their families.
The project needs the following :

* 4 sewing machines : 4 x 40.000 Frw = 160.000 Frw = 290 $
* 1 buttonhole machine = 120.000 Frw = 218 $
* 1 yard of cloth = 60.000 Frw = 109 $
* Spare parties of machines =60.000 Frw = 109 $
* 1Rrnting room = 20.000 Frw per month x 12 months = 240.000 Frw = 436 $
* 1 Teacher = 30.000 Frw per month x 12 months = 360.000 Frw = 654 $

The Total of money needed for this project is 1816 $

III. The Third part of the project

This project is about "Supporting 70 orphans" of AIDS to study and finish their studies in primary schools.
This project needs 2.520.000 Frw = 4581 $ for 70 orphans per year. This amount is to pay uniforms for 70 orphans, their school-fees for one year,their note-books for one year,their pens,soap,and their simple medicines.

I know the heart of love you have for unhappy people. Continue to pray for this project. We are with you in prayer and we hope that God will provide Friends who can support this project.

May the Lord continue to bless you in whatever you are doing.

Yours Pastor HABIMANA Augustin

OK - Friends $1525 to feed 20 orphans for a year
that is $76 a YEAR per orphan
or $6.25 per orphan per month

Somebody out there wants to go to sleep knowing they have fed these babies.

Props to Eugene Friend Meeting and Eugene Friends Church for jointly taking on the Trauma Healing center in the DRC Congo.

Props to Carolann Palmer and the women of the quilting society of North Seattle Friends Church for taking on the Women's Shelter in Giheta Burundi and well as a womens sewing project in Uvira DRC.


Today's upi column

You can read my column today over at United Press International's religion and spirituality forum at

It is a longer version of what I had already written about Tom Fox. I am the only overt Quaker voice on this forum,( MargaretBenefiel write about business and spirituality) and near as I can tell the most 'progressive' Christian. It felt like I should speak to our loss. It feels like a pretty huge responsibility.

There are a lot of good writers, also some very conservative ones and a sizeable minority of non-Christian writers. The editor says that he is looking for more non-Christian writers - I think he has his fill of Q's. So far my editor has fulfilled the promise of not editing the column for content - for this I am grateful. I would have you know that I do not have control over the title or the teaser - mostly he uses my 'suggestions' but not today - I submitted it titles as "Celebrating Tom Fox". You can find archived columns under the tag for 'columnists'. I send you that way so that you can see in the left hand column there is a bit of FUM Quaker news. I have a hunch that this bit might not have made the news column if I had not raised the awareness of Quakers. It is an interseting opportunity.


Our Loss

The Gospel of John 10:17-18

17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My own life--to take it back again.
18 No one takes it away from Me. On the contrary, I lay it down voluntarily. I have set it aside.

"What no man can own, no man can take" Bono in "Yahweh"

Tom Fox's life was not taken from him. Tom Fox laid his life down a long time ago. He surrendered it into the hands of the Divine. Because he knew it was safe there, he was able to walk unbound by fear, letting the Light within him control and impel him forward into the work of peace. Tom lived for two years in the most dangerous place on the planet without guard or gun. Tom's life was safe in the hands of God before he went to Baghdad, it was safe in Baghdad, it was safe in captivity and it is safe now. The loss is ours to bear. But it is a temporary, perceptual loss. For we have also put our lives into the hands of the Divine, and so our lives and his remain together.

Paul's letter to the Thessalonians

Therefore I would not have you ignorant, my brothers, we do not grieve as those who have no hope of the resurrection, for as Jesus died and was brought to life, so those who die among us will be brought to life.


Speaking Truth to Power

tuesday's upi cloumn
So There I was…

…Sitting in a Wednesday night Bible study. I was a very young adolescent. The church was small, Midwestern, Christian and conservative. A volunteer churchman was teaching the class that muggy summer night. He was going on about the creation story in Genesis with a special emphasis on the place of man and woman in the story. He was trying to make the point that because man was made first that this clearly put him in charge. I spoke up and said something that indicated that I didn’t think this was very good exegesis - I mean seriously, if that is the rule then the dolphins should rule us - ok, maybe not such a bad idea. My comment brought the undivided attention of teacherman who said;

“Really, Miss Peggy; and why, then, do you think that God made man first?”

“I dunno; ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’?”

I don’t remember his response, although I think there was minor sputtering involved. I do remember that my mother stifled a laugh, and shot me a look. I expected that look to involve disapproval. I was surprised to see amusement, and maybe a little bit of pride in my mother’s eyes. At the time she said nothing. Later she spoke to me, in private, and her words were about refraining from the temptation to humiliate and mock people in public.

You see, my father was a strong, good man -- a natural born leader. But he did not rule my mother. She had a sense of self, rooted in God’s love for her, and it could not be shaken, oppressed or ruled. She was my father’s -- any man’s -- true equal. At her breast I got not only physical antibodies, but also spiritual and emotional antibodies. I grew up resistant to oppression. I learned to listen, but I let no one do my thinking for me. I found my voice early. I practiced using it until it became strong and even occasionally disciplined.

I learned my Bible, and I learned it well, but I also learned that the purpose of religious education is not the indoctrination of beliefs, but the inoculation of invincibility.

A couple of decades later I found myself sitting in the anteroom of a guitar studio. I was eavesdropping on my 13 yr old daughter and her wise, gentle and gifted guitar teacher. Mr. Walt had student recitals twice a year. Emily loved her guitar and loved Mr. Walt, but hated recitals. At the age of eight she just went along with it, by ten she was resisting, but could be bribed. At early adolescence she found her voice -- she told me that she wasn’t going to play in this year’s recital, and none of my tricks worked. I liked the recitals. I liked seeing my beautiful child shine. I sat there hoping that Walt would talk her into it, one more time. He asked, he cajoled, he tried minor guilt and gentle manipulation. Emily held her ground. Then my thinking took a radical shift -- I felt my own, now deceased, mother’s presence in the room, and she was rooting for Emily. I realized that my daughter was holding to her sense of self in the face of the temptation to please someone she respected, but with whom she disagreed. I changed my allegiance.

Emily continued to play her guitar but never played in another recital. The inoculation took; like her mother and grandmother before her -- she was and is invincible – any time she wishes to be.

Home From Berkeley

The Weekend in Berkeley was good, very good. Pastor Max described it as a "Feast of fat things" - hopefully a obscure Quaker reference and not a description of me and Marge. Since it was Oscar weekend, I want to thank a few people - on this blog at least I don't think I can be 'played off' by the orchestra. We want to thank the Gages for their excellent hospitality - the last morning walk up the boulders of Berkeley was especially sweet - thank you for getting me good coffee when you don't drink it yourself, Nikki. Max Hansen just about worked himself to death recording the weekend for cable TV. It would never be a priority of mine, and I think that this is a big blind spot that I have, and so I am grateful. Max's crew was gracious, creative and attentive. Helen, dear, I would never have had the nerve to do improvised theatre without you - never plan to do it again - so you have that distinction.
The turnout was good and we are grateful to everyone who came - You stimulate us to better thinking. Having a pew full of bloggers was sick. Robin you were ubergracious in hosting dinner after a long day. The dinner conversation was fascinating - watching the bridge being built between EFC-ER and SF MM was a thrill. Pam, again you continue to be a provocateur a wonderful weirdness in my life and the Oscar Party was a trip.

The proof that the weekend was unctioned was how whipped I felt when I got home - well -used. Tomorrow I have to get back to my regular life. I am committed to trying to write up some of what we did - and will post some of it here. The folks at Freedom Friends church don't want to wait for the DVD.

gratefully yours,


Leaving on a jet plane

So Marge Abbott and I are leaving in the morning for Berkely Friends Church and Quaker Heritage Day. Many people have been working hard to make this happen. I especially want to thank Max Hansen for the overtime. We feel good about what God has given us for this weekend. It's midnight, I am almost packed ;0. I wish my notes were in order - but there is always the plane! Comments to this blog won't be posted till Tuesday. FFC'ers don't forget about Vail Palmer's class on Sunday. Hold us in the Light, as we will you