Remembrance Day

I haven’t managed to maintain posts here (in Spain) since leaving Portugal but now I’m back in London for a while I’m prompted to catch up a bit by an email received from the American Quaker Blog ‘Among Friends‘ with a new post from ‘Thy Friend John’.

It’s ‘Remembrance Day‘ in Britain (at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month since 1919 one year after the end of ‘the war to end all wars’) and there was an interesting and reflective ‘Thought for the day‘ on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

The Quaker ‘Peace Testimony‘ is perhaps the most difficult for me to fully accept.  Whilst there may be no such thing as a ‘just war’, it does seem to me that sometimes evil cannot be re-buffed by ‘non-violence’ and that there are times when co-ercion, therefore force and therefore violence are not only justified but required for the ‘greater peace’, of the many or the threatened or oppressed, at least in the short-term to protect lives, the ‘innocent’ and so on.

I believe even Ghandi who sought always to use non-violence or ‘ahimsa’ in political struggles, did support Britain in the Second World War because he felt that Hitler’s evil had to be resisted by military means.  War crimes may have been committed by the ‘Allies’ in that war and it would be difficult to defend the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  ‘Dresden’ might have been a ‘war crime’ and/or it may have saved lives.  But would the world really have been a better place if Hitler had not been resisted or the war fought?

Another example might be the pre-Iraq war intervention by Britain in Sierra Leone – a military operation involving death but which appears to have benefitted (and saved the lives and sufferings) of many in that country with a significant contribution to ending the civil war.

On the ‘domestic front’, I did manage to maintain an hour for silent worship each Sunday on a sunny rock in Spain for the last 4 weeks and look forward to returning to my London meeting next Sunday

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Worship in Portugal/Quaker Quest

As I have been in Spain-Portugal since 29th September I am not able to attend meetings. Last Sunday (10th October 2010) I went for a walk along the cliff-top and beach at Cabanas in the eastern Algarve at 9am. and didn’t get back until 1pm.

For part of that time, from 10.30 to 11.30 – the same time as in England – I sat on the beach in the sun and acted as if I was at the Brentford meeting with some periods of meditation and otherwise thinking about Friends at that meeting – Frank, Bessie, Deborah, Deb, Andrée, Jim, David, Brian, Vince, Kate, James, Keith, Lesley and others who’s names I do not know or can’t just now remember.

Anyway, you were not forgotten; the sun was lovely (though it did cloud over but I managed without putting my shirt on!). I wonder if anyone perhaps thought of me?

I ‘completed’ my attendance at Quaker Quest on 28th September and have begun a page about that experience – see QuakerQuest above.

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Advices, Queries, History

At the Sunday meeting at Brentford & Isleworth yesterday, there was quite a lot of spoken ‘ministry’ about ‘Preparation’ as in ‘Be prepared’ (with acknowledgement to Baden-Powell!) and ‘failure to prepare is preparation for failure’. (see ‘Advice’ no.9)

In an ‘afterwords’ session (after the meeting for worship), Bessie (co-clerk to the meeting) led a sort of workshop on our understanding of and responses to ‘Advices and Queries’.

Taking a short break from ‘rendering unto Caesar’ (doing my tax-return) I have today added a provisional ‘History’ page to this site and hope it will be useful to me or others.

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Nagaland and Naxalites

On 12th September, local Quaker meetings were asked to participate in a day of prayer for the Naga people.  Several members of the meeting spoke (‘gave ministry’) on this issue and David, whilst recognising that ‘pride comes before a fall’, felt that Quakers could take some pride in their Peace Activities.

It would seem that the prayers were answered (no, I’m certainly NOT claiming this was a result of the prayer!) – see the News from Nagaland for 18th September here.

But mention of Nagaland took my mind back 33 years. I had been in that part of India then (1977) but couldn’t remember if I had been to Nagaland itself until I looked it up on the map and realised that I had almost certainly passed through Kohima (the capital) on my way to Imphal from Gauhati under ‘house arrest’ by the Indian police. I can only remember flying out of Imphal (to Calcutta?) under orders from the police – I assume they must have arranged the ticket or paid for it as I’m sure I would have refused to pay on principal (not my wish to leave that way). I had been arrested for taking photographs (in the vicinity of an impending Congress Party rally with Mrs. Ghandi) and whilst the police were courteous, gave me tea and sweets and didn’t keep my camera, they did take the film (and writing to request return of the prints received no answer) and insist that I got on that flight from Imphal. As far as I know I was not arrested because I had earlier been accompanied by a Naxalite sympathiser but…? In any event, I don’t have those photos of the beautiful Brahmaputra river.

Now, the Naxalites are in the news too:
Naxalites, in the Independent, April
Naxalite Revolution – the view from the other side
Naxalite Homepage on Blogger
Naxalite Homepage on WordPress
Naxalites in Wikipedia
Violence and injustice (in this case by the state and establishment of India) begets violence.
Judge (non-judgementally?) them (whoever) by their fruits.

For quaker work relating to naxalites see this. (pdf)
New Internationalist item
Common Ground – originating in USA
A common word – from the Islamic world

(Still ground for hope?)

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Hull Quaker Meeting

It’s my general intention to make frequent short posts – 5-6 lines – but today I feel rambling prose coming on. (sort of ‘long and winding road‘ x ‘ramblin’ rose‘ in words).

Being ‘up north’ I managed to get to the Hull Quaker Meeting House in Bean Street this morning in time for the Sunday worship. I was geeted at the door by Denise and a very beautiful German Shepherd (dog). The meeting was very quiet with some deep silence, a little spoken ‘ministry’ and some fidgeting. (I’ve read from Ben Pink Dandelion that flogging a video might be ‘ministry’ but not so sure about the sound of a bag being unzipped). (If words have single quotes round them they might be ‘Quakerspeak’ – which isn’t, as far as I know –  so you could look them up from the Quakerspeak page shown above).

The meeting generally conformed to the pattern amusingly described in the Theo Hobson article mentioned in my very first post. The ‘Friends’ were friendly and I’d hit upon the Sunday, once a month, on which they have lunch after the meeting, so no Tea but I did have lunch and it was the ?0th (big round number?) birthday of Lois so there was cake too. I also met Theo, John, Susan and Margaret and others.

I had a long conversation with Lois about sailing on the Humber and ‘dahn sarf’ (it seems Lois and her husband had been members of the Humber Yawl Club upto about 1985 – I joined in 1987 and am still a member and webslave.) Then I found that John too had sailed with them and started sailing about a decade before I did in the same part of Essex (Leigh on Sea) as I had (in the 50’s and 60’s) and, like me, with a scout group who had built (like us) an 18-20ft clinker built boat. (Small world or something to do with string theory?) (We, 4th Seven Kings, later went on to build (video clip) a 40ft ketch (website)).

Well, is that what being a ‘new attender’ is about?

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Too many hours on this today. Hope the extensive links to Quakers past and other additions will be useful for me and any visitors.

Have read a great deal, learnt a little more. Expect the site/blog to grow more slowly in future but will try to update it fairly frequently.

A little heavy on History at present but hope to develop contemporary ideas and links in future.

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George Fox – his journal

Following a link from ‘Quaker Jane’ – see ‘Quakerspeak’ above, brought me to this version of Fox’s journal from Google books.

There is a forward by William Penn and introductions by Margaret Fell (later Fox’s wife) and other early Quakers after his death.

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