Winter 2015 Among Friends
The Purpose of the Yearly Meeting
Every so often, organizations are well advised to step back from their ongoing activities so they can contemplate what they are doing, why they exist. Illinois Yearly Meeting is no exception. After all, the heart of Quaker worship lies in its monthly meetings and worship groups. What, then, is the purpose of ILYM, or of any yearly meeting?
Are We Kin: Some Thoughts about Anthropomorphizing
A dear friend traveled a thousand miles to join siblings and assorted grandchildren, who had never seen their little cousins before, to attend a family funeral. The grandkids immediately began to play together, and did so happily the entire weekend. She recalled lots of awkward play dates she had helped arrange, where the kids spent most of their time together just getting comfortable enough with each other to begin playing. My friend watched the little cousins getting along so famously so quickly and marveled, “They knew they were kin!” I remembered how important it was to me, in my mid-thirties, to meet for the first time my cousins on my father’s side of the family. I was so excited to discover that certain aspects of my personality were family traits—I was not alone in the universe. There were others like me—I had kin.
Finding Home in a Neighborhood and a Movement
Just over five years ago, I was sitting anxiously at a county tax sale auction—going up against a room full of people in an attempt to buy a home for a group of us who had pooled together our money. We had researched, settling on three abandoned houses in the neighborhood where the seven of us are renting, and where we would like to put down roots.
As the first home comes up, I bid for our group—but the bids rise quickly out of our range. The first house goes to a speculator from Dallas. Our luck is better with the next two houses, and we win both bids—eventually coming away with both—and for less than $10,000 total!
On God Loves Uganda, Issues of Solidarity, and Gay Politics
The excellent documentary, God Loves Uganda, directed by Roger Ross Williams, is about Uganda as the epicenter of a U.S. fundamentalist Christian evangelical drive to convert all of Africa. This campaign is led or inspired by people like the extremely homophobic Scott Lively, currently standing trial1 for crimes against humanity in a suit brought against him by the group Sexual Minorities Uganda. Men like Lively openly avow that their aim is to wipe homosexuality and homosexuals from the earth. As a result of such U.S. evangelicals working in collusion with conservative patriarchal forces in Uganda, the country’s legislators had drafted an anti-homosexuality bill, which guaranteed the death penalty for anyone convicted of what are defined as homosexual offenses.