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Faith and Practice of New. England ... Friends, we affirm the following common basis of faith. .... The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures.

Friends Newsletter of the

Duluth-Superior Friends

1 st Q u a r t e r 2 0 1 0

Welcome Friends …

This is the return of a newsletter to connects us as a community. We intend it to come out quarterly. Some events will be listed, but Dorothea Diver will continue to send weekly announcements via e-mail. Please send news of families, reviews or other items to me at [email protected] for the next installment (sometime in May, I suspect).

I thought it might be nice from time to time (especially when I need to fill space) to excerpt approved parts of the Faith & Practice of Northern Yearly Meeting (www.northernyearlymeeting.org). Ð Konnie LeMay

Excerpted from the Chapter: Faith of Friends of Northern Yearly Meeting Approved at Yearly Meeting session, May 2005

“Friends find their essential unity in their profound and exhilarating belief in the pervasive presence of God and in the continuing responsibility of each person and worshipping group to seek the leading of the Spirit in all things. Obedience to the leading of that Spirit rather than to any written statement of belief or conduct is the obligation of their faith.” Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting 1985, p 205 While professing no creeds, we have strongly held beliefs for which Friends both past and present have suffered, gone to jail, and even died. While acknowledging the diversity of expression among Northern Yearly Meeting Friends, we affirm the following common basis of faith.

We believe that within each person there is the Divine Spirit. We refer to this “true light that enlightens every one coming into the world” (John 1:9) by different names: the Light Within, the Inward Christ, that of God, the Seed, the Inward Teacher, the Holy Spirit, the Divine Companion, the Word, a Higher Power, and other names. John Woolman in the 1700’s stated this fundamental belief: There is a principle which is pure, placed in the human mind, which in different places and ages hath different names; it is, however, pure and proceeds from God. It is deep and inward, confined to no forms of religion nor excluded from any, where the heart stands in perfect sincerity. (1) Quakerism grew within Christianity, and many of the terms reflect that. However, throughout our history, Quakers, in giving testimony to their experience, used a variety of other rich and descriptive religious languages, which many today find meaningful, freeing, and more inclusive. The expectation or the possibility that one may have a direct experience of the Divine remains a central testimony of Friends today. The Light within is available to us all and we seek to be attentive to it and to align ourselves with God’s direction. Divine leadings guide our worship, our corporate business, and our personal lives. Thus, Divine revelation continues. We state with George Fox that “the Lord God is at work in this thick night.” An inherent danger in claiming a direct experience with the Divine is misinterpretation of that experience or leading resulting in inappropriate action. This can be minimized by testing leadings against Scripture, Friends testimonies, and our Friends community. Individual and collective worship is waiting upon and listening for the voice of God. This practice is

central to discerning Divine leading. Our corporate worship can be unprogrammed, semi-programmed or programmed. Whatever the form, we state with John Woolman that we worship “to distinguish the language of the pure Spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart.” Some Friends believe in this inner power which may be called love; yet do not identify the source of this power and love as being from an external Higher Power or God. These Friends share the belief that each person has worth and is precious and agree that everyone should be treated with dignity, mutual respect, and love.

We believe that all life is sacred; that all people are children of God who can be baptized by the Holy Spirit; and that every meal has the potential to become a sacred means of receiving God’s grace. We choose to emphasize the spiritual meaning of practices such as baptism and communion rather than the use of the outward forms. We understand communion to be those times when we truly experience the Divine presence. We believe communion can be experienced at any time, alone or with others, not only during worship.

Quaker Events, Gatherings & Good Things to Come


The Committee of Peace and Social Concerns hosted the inaugural Fourth First Day Sharing on March 28 with a program by Michael and Kristin Stuchis (in the photo). Michael and Kristin talked about their experiences tracing the migratory destination of the monarch butterflies that leave Minnesota for Mexico. The Minnesota-born generation of these long-distance travelers live 8 months rather than the usual 2 month lifespan, which allows the long journey. Michael and Kristin found a community of interesting people as well as butterflies in Mexico and have developed friendships and a new understanding of the “migratory” travels and travails of humans between Mexico and the United States. Fourth First Day programs in April and May will include Chris Rubsch sharing experiences in Nepal and Margie Nelson talking about her participation in the annual School of the Americas protest last fall. There are more Fourth First Days to fill, so Friends are encouraged to consider other offerings – not necessarily connected to travel. Contact: Michael Gabler.

The Spring Retreat on “Community” will take place at the Meeting House from 10 a.m. sharp until 2 p.m. or so on Saturday, April 24th. Tera Freese will give a talk on “The Meaning of Community among the Early Quakers,” a panel will address the questions “How Did You Get Here? Why Do You Stay?” and we will conduct an “Inventory and Vision” exercise to survey what we are doing well, what we are missing, and what we might do to strengthen our community. There will be plenty of opportunities for discussion. We will come together in song. We will break bread and spoon soup (lunch provided but additional contributions are welcome). Contacts: Bart Sutter, Lorraine Turner or Tera Freese

rrr The Northern Yearly Meeting Annual Session will be May 28-31 at Lion’s Camp, Rosholt, Wisconsin (about four hours from Duluth, near Steven's Point). This year’s theme is “Let Your Life Speak.” This annual event gathers Friends from all Meetings in the Midwest associated under Northern Yearly Meeting, which is about 35 Meetings in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. The annual session is packed with lots of family-oriented activities, workshops covering a wide array of issues and perspectives, recreational and worship opportunities. Cost for the weekend is about $100 per person and scholarships are available. Contact: Maryb Newcomb


A few moments from past gatherings: Hannah Marty-Konklin and Ellen, Julia and Lorraine Turner (and Kiah Lindgren in back) join in song. Emma Ambrosi takes time to hang out with the resident flora.

Friends Summer Retreat Mark Your Calendar Now!

Annually members and attenders of Meeting have gathered for a weekend at Mesaba Park near Hibbing. This year the gathering is set for Friday evening, July 23 through noon Sunday, July 25. A suggested donation for food and campsite is $50.00 per adult (or $5 per meal). Please bring a dish for Friday evening’s potluck and a tent for overnight. Do join us for a family weekend of worship, singing, swimming, camping and spending time together! For more information contact: Michael Gabler: 218728-4591; Mary Alice Harvey: 218-724-5171 or Lorraine Turner: 218-728-0541. To learn more about Mesaba Coop Park, founded in 1929 by Finnish progressives, go to www.mesabawordpress.com (or ask Mary Alice!).

Did you know …

We are blessed to have several Friends with carpentry and other skills that keep our Meeting House in shape and fill our needs. You probably notice this beautiful table each time you enter the Meeting House. You may not know that it has special meaning for David Harper, who crafted it for his father so that his wheelchair could fit comfortably under it. Few desks take into account that need for extra space and this one allowed David’s father to have a desk at which to work. After his father died, David brought the desk here and now it welcomes guests with information and our guest book. (The contributions box is here, too.)


David said the desk pleasantly reminds him of his father each time he sees it.

On Our Shelves

Some books found at the Meeting library: The Discovery of Quakerism by Harold Loukes A Procession of Friends by Daisy Newman Silence and Witness, the Quaker Tradition by Michael Birkel Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster The Life and Adventures of a Quaker among the Indians by Thomas Battey Mary Magdalene by Lynn Picknett The Gospel of Judas by Kasser, Rodolphe, et al Loaves and Fishes by Dorothy Day God's Politics by Jim Wallis Bury the Chains, prophets and rebels in the fight to free an empire's slaves Plan C, Community Survival Strategies for Peak Oil & Climate Change by Pat Murphy Juvenile books The Story of William Penn by Aliki The Life of the Prophet Muhammad by Leila Azzam & A. Governeur Fiction Lamb, the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore Lamb's War (fiction) by Jan deHartog


The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures by Nicholas Wade The Penguin Press, New York, 2009

This is an important book for thinking about the role of religion and its flexibility to address the needs of humans in community. It provides a means for discussion with Quaker youth about why Quaker understanding is fundamental to all human understanding. In this Review book, the author is neither for nor by Larry Spears against religion, but describes the universal reality of religion in the context of evolutionary history. The book has 284 pages of text, 10 pages of notes and a careful index. There are even two index references to Quakers in the text. The author is the science reporter for the New York Times. He testifies to a personal religious education debt to the English king Henry VI, who founded Eton, a preparatory school in England, where Nicholas Wade attended daily religious services in the Christian tradition as a student. Wade is the author of several books. The most recent and acclaimed book, Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors (2007) describes new scientific information about the human genome and how this

genetic component explains much of the story of human origins. It examines the last 50,000 years of human history in light of the new knowledge of the human genome. In writing that book, the author recognized the important evolutionary role of religious behavior in shaping all human societies and the important genetic basis of religion in all humans. Wade’s analysis in this present book is also highly lauded by evolutionary scientists. For Wade, religion itself is universal because religion is a human instinct (the “faith instinct” of the title). It has evolved to the present because it is genetic in origin. Religion provides the context and skills for social evolution and social survival. Religion has endured to meet that purpose. The bedrock for this faith instinct is a deeper moral instinct, found and shared in higher animals, which roots all religious behavior. 50,000 years ago, as humanity diffused out of Africa across the globe, all religions went through the same process. In the first 35,000 years, religion was the forum for managing the tension between self-interest and community interest in hunter-gatherer communities. In the last 15,000 years, religion has managed the tension between self-interest and community interest in the transition from huntergatherer communities to settled societies. All religions evolved and became more organized, ritualized and cerebral in providing a common source of cohesion and religious leaders asserted greater control by suppressing the ecstatic religious forms of music and dance. According to Wade, the institutionalizing of human morality through religion produced the significant elements for social trust among humans within and between societies, which permitted the specialization within societies and the practical institution of trade between communities. Also, religion regulated intimate family life and human reproduction in this process. Religion managed the tension between the self-restraint needed for social cohesion within societies and religion managed the aggression against those outside the society. This management of morality and community bonding became the binding mechanism, along with ethnicity and language, within nations, mixing selfrestraint internally with aggression externally. Finally, Wade argues from the evident changes in religion over time that religions are alterable and are in need of a new transformation comparable to the great transformation of religion from the religion of hunter/gatherers to the religion of settled societies 15,000 years ago.

This book mentions Quakers twice. On one occasion, Quakers are used as an example of religious ecstasy curtailed. On the other occasion, Quakers are used as an example of maintaining the original religious impulse to nonviolence in conflicts in the face of religious advocacy for wars against outside groups by other religious groups. Wade fails to mention Quaker idea of continuing revelation in the discussion of the mechanisms for flexibility and change within religions. Wade addresses what is common and universal among all religions. What are universals that provide our common religious foundation? He suggests that genetically based human behaviors are flexible and evolving and, therefore, universals cannot be easily determined. The exhibited religious behaviors need not be expressed exactly the same in all religions to be recognized as universals, or to the same degree, in order to evidence a genetic basis for religion. For example, avoidance of incest is both ancient and evident in a preponderance of societies and their religions, which is certainly under genetic influence, but incest cases still occur. Wade cites other common characteristics including supernatural beliefs, rites of passage, rituals, efficacy of ritual and intercession to change the physical world, dream interpretation, dance, music, word and food taboos, afterlife beliefs, spiritual beings with special powers, spiritual causality of illness and misfortune, spirit possession, moral obligation and rewards and punishments for behavior. Unlike the current religion bashers Dawkins, Hitchins and Harris, etc., Wade describes the evolution of religion in our societies and offers that analysis as applicable to all religions. When we read this analysis, it sounds like self-analysis in our Quaker tradition as well. It is interesting for Quakers, who are comfortable with ideas of continuing revelation and discernment of truth, that Wade argues so forcefully that all religions are flexible and alterable to meet human needs. In this sense, Quakers do not fully appreciate the dilemma of religious leaders who have embraced the closed nature of the scriptural canon and truth as they provide the evolutionary leadership that our genetics require in our communities. We are all groping in the fog. That groping is a common task, whatever our religious tradition. This book is a must read for anyone talking with Quaker youth about the spiritual journey of mature adults and any adults on their spiritual journeys.

For Wade … religion is a human instinct … genetic in origin.

Notes from a Friend in Ely

I have been receiving Duluth Friends’ e-mails for a while and when I saw that Konnie suggested an electronic newsletter, I offered to contribute. I’ll share some thoughts about being a Quaker without a Meeting. I look by Betty Firth forward to hearing the thoughts of others and getting to know you more in this way. When I moved to Ely 11 years ago from Minneapolis, I knew that leaving the Minneapolis Friends Meeting and the wider Quaker community would be difficult … and it has been. When I visit Duluth or Minneapolis Friends, the discussions re-energize me and the silence refreshes me as a drink of water does after a long, dry walk. I had thought I would be visiting Duluth Friends regularly, but realized that I wanted to build my life within this community, focusing my time and energy here, not spending hours on the road to build community elsewhere. I moved here with the clear intention to get involved and get acquainted and to invite people into my life, refusing to be categorized as “not from here.” Meaningful friendships are the family I create for myself, and I was starting over. Through my years here, I have searched for and met like-minded people, joined groups, started groups and consciously worked on getting to know some people well. I have made many acquaintances and developed deeper friendships, although the busyness of our lives seems to make it difficult at times to find time for friends. As a single woman and a relative newcomer without family in the area, I have sometimes felt like the “odd one out” as others focus on their families and existing network of friends. Often one finds connections in a community of faith. I visited various churches, but I could not imagine regular attendance at a church with a programmed liturgy. I have been spoiled by Quaker silence. The busyness of responsive readings, scripture readings, hymns, anthems and sermon felt like a 3-ring circus, moving too fast, leaving no time to breathe, no time to worship in the manner to which I was accustomed. For such a small town, there is a surprising variety of small groups practicing alternatives: transcendental meditation, some practicing Buddhists, Tai Chi, Qigong, Sufism and independent meditation groups that come and go. I have been part of an alternative spirituality group (started around 1993) that explores various philosophies and practices. We call ourselves the Thursday Group, never having come up with a satisfactory name other than that, and

we have come to know each other well, developing trust and support. In spite of the richness of our explorations and discussions, I still felt something was missing. I wanted a community of faith with which to worship. In the summer of 2008, I heard that there was a new, dynamic minister at the Presbyterian church, and I started attending. It is a small, mostly aging congregation; the majority are around my age (64) or older. As the consummate volunteer, I became involved quickly, offering my skills in various ways, including reviving their quarterly newsletter, since I had published newsletters as part of my home-based business for more than 20 years. While I have enjoyed deep discussions with the minister, meeting new people and worshipping communally, I have truly felt like an alien in many ways. For a long time I felt like I was living an “I Love Lucy” episode during worship, scrambling to find the right page, stand up at the right time and figure out what was next in the order of worship. I was unfamiliar with the language and structure of the worship and the church bureaucracy. I had to learn how things got done … or didn’t. After years of being in a Quaker environment of consciousness about so many parts of our lives, individually and culturally, I have often been surprised and judgmental when the awareness levels of others seems so different regarding so many things: meeting facilitation, consensus-building, taking leadership, openly discussing issues, peace and justice concerns, environmental concerns and, of course, the use of language. And truly shocking, they rarely have potlucks! I shouldn’t have been surprised by any of it, but I was rather naïve. The minister told me once that often church congregations are resistant to change even things they don’t particularly like because they prefer the familiar to something new. That is not to say there aren’t many good people I enjoy, but I am aware that putting a lot of my time and energy into this church is not feeding me in ways that are important to me, and if I continue to bang my head against the walls of differences, I deserve the headaches that will result. So, I am stepping down my level of involvement and have been meeting with the Sufi class, which gathers once a month in a private home. Many of the Thursday Group people attend and it feels like a better fit in many ways with its inclusive spiritual perspective and meditations. I am not particularly good at “letting go,” so I will have to figure out this transition along the way. And I really wish Duluth wasn’t two hours away.

And truly shocking, they rarely have potlucks!

A Random Roundup of Events and Invitations

From Mark Leach, Chequamegon Prepatory Meeting in Ashland, Wisconsin: Here is an announcement about my radio show. I've been doing it for over a year with a variety of co-hosts I think many Friends would enjoy it. I produce and co-hosts the twice-weekly, one-hour radio show, “Ecotopia Soon!” It streams on wrnclp.org Fridays at 5 p.m. and Mondays at 8 p.m. It also can be heard over the airwaves on 97.7 FM, for those close to Ashland. “Views, clues, and news you may choose to use. Your home for slow talk radio and music worth listening to.” From Jay Newcomb: April 9 there will be a series of activities focusing on the story of the Israeli occupation of Palestine as part of the Twin Ports Break the Bonds Campaign. At noon on the University of Minnesota Duluth and College of St. Scholastica campuses there will be a rally and march to the corners of College and St. Marie Street for informational sign holding. At 7 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House, the group will show a film by Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American journalist, who speaks about the current situation for Palestinians and the continued expansion of the Israeli occupation. You can find out more about Twin Ports Break the Bonds Campaign from Jay and at twinportsbbc.blogspot.com. From John Sterling: The annual trip to the Minnesota State Capitol to rally for homosexual rights will be Wednesday, April 21. A bus will leave from the University of Minnesota Duluth at 7 a.m. by the statue in Ordean Court and will return in the evening; cost is $5. For more information and to register, contact Angie at [email protected]. More information available at the website OutFront.org. Konnie LeMay notes that the founder of Marry Me Minnesota is her cousin originally from Duluth, Doug Benson. Doug and his marriage partner Duane Gajewski, also from Duluth. They married in Canada and now are among those suing the state of Minnesota for the right for same-sex marriage. Find out more (or support the cause) at www.marrymeminnesota.org. From Larry Spears: Some folks are exploring the possibility of providing an opportunity to Shape Note Singing in the Sacred

Harp Tradition in Duluth. Shape Note Singing, which joins multiple voices, is part of the heritage of American music; the Sacred Harp tradition is noted for its power, egalitarianism, emotional depth and communal integrity. All “singings” welcome newcomers, with no musical experience or religious affiliation required. The tradition was born from colonial singing schools with the purpose of teaching beginners to sing. The method continues to reflect this goal. Sacred Harp, not affiliated with any religious denomination, does express a deep spiritual experience for all involved. Sacred Harp “singings” are not performances. There are no rehearsals and no separate seats for an audience. Every singing is a unique and self-sufficient event with a different group of assembled participants. The singers sit in a hollow square formation with one voice part on each side, all face inwards within sight and hearing of each other. Visitors are welcome to sit anywhere in the room and participate as listeners. but the best way to learn about Sacred Harp singing is to join in singing. To accomplish an experience of the Shape Note Singing tradition in Duluth, we need 20 voices; all are welcomed, trained or untrained. For more information about this American musical tradition, see fasola.org. To find out more about the Duluth effort, contact Larry Spears at [email protected] or 727-8462.

Questions What gifts was I given that I carelessly laid aside unopened? Was there a entrance meant for me alone, and I hunkered like Kafka's petitioner all these years, let a guard in a flea-bitten coat keep me out with one threatening gesture? Of course I've forgotten, but weren't there dreams pointing to a distant place? And words I could have spoken but kept behind closed lips? Words that still need saying? To ask why, however, has never been helpful since the beginning of time. – Ilze Mueller, 2009

Dorothea Diver’s friend, Ilze Mueller, attends Twin Cities Meeting and recently sent her this poem. Dorothea suggests that its querying mood and open-endedness seems just right for a Quaker newsletter (and contemplation).