Tuesday, June 25, 2024

What is PRO-LIFE? Neither right nor left, but Moral Truths of the Center

Definitions of PRO-LIFE:

"The Friends Witness for a Pro-life Peace Testimony witnesses to the value in each human life, regardless of stage of life or life circumstances. As Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). We deeply feel the call of the Spirit to move away from the violence of war, the death penalty, abortion, and euthanasia towards life-affirming approaches. We seek to educate Friends across the wide spectrum of the Religious Society around this concern, and to unite with others inside and outside of the Society of Friends who are responding to a similar call."

Completely Pro-Life by Professor Ronald J. Sider
author of books--Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and
one against nuclear weapons, and 3 for nonviolence

“Whatever is opposed to life itself such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction – whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself...subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society . . .” --Vatican 11 Council in Gaudium et Spes

to be continued

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Good Grounds Coffee Shop--how a few individuals are helping those caught in the sex-industry

Living the Jesus-inspired Way---caring, kindness, peace-making, hope...

Planting in Good Ground:
"The Seed – gainful employment can transform a survivor’s life

"Employment at Good Ground is more than just a paycheck. Survivors are enrolled in a holistic program including trauma therapy, life skills building, and robust support from volunteers and other survivors.

"Peace Promise started as a prayer gathering of moms at Mechanicsburg (Pa.) BIC who learned about the realities of sexual trafficking and exploitation in their region. The group grew and mobilized; the “church ladies” began reaching out directly to women in the sex industry, first at truck stops and then at strip clubs.

"Building relationships with survivors quickly revealed that many did not have the life skills needed to get and keep traditional employment. Susan Vigliano, co-founder of Peace Promise and associate pastor at Mechanicsburg BIC, discovered that simple things like budgeting, meal planning, and finding affordable transportation were insurmountable challenges. “They’re making decisions from a place of desperation and survival,” Susan says. Additionally, some had criminal records or substance addictions that disqualify them from many employment options.

"Seeing woman after woman struggle with many of the same issues, Peace Promise started to think: how could trauma-informed businesses with robust emotional, mental, and spiritual support offer an escape to women who may want a different life?

"The Soil – two college students [at the BIC university] with a dream and a building for sale."

"On a busy corner in Camp Hill, Pa., you’ll encounter a commanding house with white siding and a green roof. Peek through the windows and glimpse the beginnings of Good Ground Coffee Company, a coffee shop that has two clear missions: serve good coffee and empower survivors of the sex industry. Good Ground is an..."

To read the rest of this wonderful story go to:

https://bicus.org/2024/05/planting-in-good-ground/?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTEAAR36mHr1ScfX2ttez98YwKvirDE0s3G1sCcIqWtMhwTT-B3XqTB2MxhrGtM_aem_AZbPP96BXmw3TD1aOYBc3nAg9kRBJhVZhPzZ2_k3wp4jhW1rrAUoTS5g3-6ulc7Xo70FT5o7yLaY1-B5Zs6fG_mS and
Escaping the Sex Industry: One Woman’s Journey through Peace Promise!


"Human trafficking is a 32 billion-dollar-a-year business with sex trafficking growing at the fastest pace. It is an industry that exploits the most vulnerable members of our community. Those who experience poverty, little or no protection from family or friends, believe they have low personal worth or value and have a history of childhood sexual abuse. Sex trafficking is happening right here in our own community – in truck stops, strip clubs, erotic massage parlors, in our streets, and through escort services and online prostitution.

"Since 1997, the accessibility and anonymity of Internet pornography use have significantly contributed to the abuse of trafficked men, women and children. In the United States, teenagers are targets and sought after by pimps and traffickers. Most teens are lured into the industry by a pimp posing as a boyfriend and remain there by brutal force, coercion, drug dependency, and a sense of belonging. Once trafficked, very few victims of prostitution and sex-trafficking are rescued. The average life span of a person being exploited in prostitution is seven years and the most common causes of death are drug overdose, suicide, and murder.

"...Peace Promise was an all-volunteer, grassroots organization that assists in recovering hope and strengthening the lives of those impacted by sexual exploitation in our community. In 2019 we hired our first full-time employee, an Executive Director, Patty Seaman.

"Peace Promise addresses the complexities of sex trafficking in the Harrisburg region by offering: outreach, intervention, and advocacy for those involved in commercial sexual exploitation; healing support and restorative care for sex trafficking survivors; and community education and awareness regarding the dehumanization and identifiers of sex trafficking, prostitution, and pornography."

"On a weekly basis, Peace Promise Outreach Volunteers visit adult entertainment venues forming friendships with the women who work there...The dancers affectionately refer to the outreach volunteers as "the church ladies” who bring homemade dinners and desserts to share during the visits. Outreach volunteers communicate a simple message:

“You are precious. You are valued. You are loved. We are here for you.”

"Once a survivor is safely transitioned out of the industry, Peace Promise offers an individually customized care plan based on that woman's specific needs and goals. The plan is intended to facilitate meaningful employment, healthy relationships and loving self-care."

"...sex trafficking...is huge. It is complex. And yet, it is very personal. It is ONE face.

"One woman. One name. One very specific set of circumstances that brought her to this place of exploitation. Despite the debilitating trauma, abuse, and addictions, there is hope."
"There is a community of women who will welcome her home and who long to see her restored and whole...the mission, vision, and motivation for the work of Peace Promise.


Saturday, May 18, 2024

in present critical crises, LIVE in Deep SINGING of HOPE

In the past, at an extreme crisis in our family life, I came to Friends meeting on 1st day, hopeless, despairing. WITHOUT my ever sharing, in the midst of worship, one woman rose and began singing acapela a wondrous song of HOPE.

This was one of those incredible transcendent events in which I encountered the LIGHT.

I don't know if that particular song the other Friend sang was a spontaneous creation or a some classic spiritual song she knew.
Now, 15 years later, in my old age, I don't remember the lyrics, but still the wondrous, fervent singing of HOPE.

Here are a few songs of Hope and Transcendence for these present times of critical crises worldwide:


By Carrie Newcomer

Winter is the oldest season
But quietly beneath the snow
Seeds are stretching out and reaching
Faithful as the morning glow

Carry nothing but what you must
Lean in toward the Light
Let it go, shake off the dust
Lean in toward the Light
Today is now, tomorrow beckons
Lean in toward the Light
Keep practicing resurrection

The shadows of this world will say
There's no hope why try anyway?
But every kindness large or slight
Shifts the balance toward the light

Waters wind and open wide
Lean in toward the Light
Don't just walk when you can fly
Lean in toward the Light
When justice seems in short supply
Lean in toward the Light
Let beauty be your truest guide

The shadows of this world will say
There's no hope why try anyway?
But every kindness large or slight
Shifts the balance toward the light

The prayer I pray at eventide
Lean in toward the Light
All left undone be put aside
Lean in toward the Light

When forgiveness is hard to find
Lean in toward the Light
Help me at least to be kind
Lean in toward the Light

George Fox - by Sidney Carter

1. There's a light that is shining in the heart of a man,
It's the light that was shining when the world began.
There's a light that is shining in the Turk and the Jew
And a light that is shining, friend, in me and in you.

Old leather breeches, shaggy, shaggy locks...
You are pulling down the pillars the of the world, George Fox*

2. With a book and a steeple, a bell and a key
They would bind it forever but they can't (said he).
Oh, the book it will perish and the steeple will fall
But the light will be shining at the end of it all.

3. "If we give you a pistol, will you fight for the Lord?"
"But you can't kill the Devil with a gun or a sword!"
"Will you swear on the Bible?" "I will not!" said he,
"For the truth is more holy than the book to me."

4. There's an ocean of darkness and I drown in the night
Till I come through the darkness to the ocean of light,
For the light is forever and the light it is free
"And I walk in the glory of the light," said he.

"...Friends were also called Quakers by people who did not like them because they sometimes "quaked" when
they were preaching.
George Fox "was trained to be a leather worker. Even though he gave up that job to be a preacher, he wore clothes that he made...Fox also did not spend a lot of money to get his hair cut and so he had shaggy, shaggy locks."

Fear Is Not My Future
Song by Chandler Moore, Kirk Franklin, and Maverick City Music

Let Him turn it in your favor
Watch Him work it for your good
He's not done with what He's started
He's not done until it's good
Hello, peace
hello, joy
Hello, love
Hello, strength
hello, hope, It's a new horizon
Hello, peace
hello, joy
Hello, love
Hello, strength
hello, hope, It's a new horizon
If you're ready for a breakthrough, yeah
Just open up and just receive, yeah
'Cause what He's pouring out is nothing
You've ever seen
You've ever seen, yeah
Hello, peace
hello, joy
Hello, love
Hello, strength
hello, hope, It's a new horizon
Hello, peace
hello, joy
Hello, love
Hello, strength
hello, hope, It's a new horizon
It's a new day
Fear is not my future
You are (You are)
Sickness is not my story
You are (You are), You are (You are)
Heartbreak's not my home
You are (You are), You are (You are)
Death is not the end
You are, You are (oh)
Fear is not my future
You are (You are), You are (You are)
Sickness is not my story
You are (You are), You are (You are)
Heartbreak's not my home
You are (You are), You are
(Death is not the end)
Death is not the end
Jesus, You are (You are), You are
So hello, peace
hello, joy
Hello, love
Hello, strength
hello, hope, It's a new horizon (the sun is coming up)
Hello, peace
hello, joy
Hello, love
Hello, strength
hello, hope, It's a new horizon (Fear is not my future)
Fear is not my future
You are (You are), You are
(Sickness is not your story)
Sickness is not my story
You are, You are
(Heartbreak is not your home)
Heartbreak's not my home
You are (You are) You are
(Death is not the end)
Death is not the end
Jesus, You are

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Brandon Lake / Hannah Shackelford / Jonathan Jay / Nicole Hannel
Fear Is Not My Future lyrics © Capitol CMG Publishing, Essential Music Publishing

Niyonu Spann singing "Live Up to the Light That Thou Hast" (Caroline Fox, 1841 - Music Composed by Susan Stark)

To be continued

In the LIGHT, Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Excerpt of Interview with Palestinian leader Eli Chacour, follower of Jesus, author of Blood Brothers

From SOPHIA Vol.54 number 2, Spring 2024

“Unless We Share the Land Together,
We Are Doomed to Disappear Together.”

An interview with Archbishop Elias Chacour,
Author of Blood Brothers (his own family’s
tragic story of how his father and brother were
kidnapped by the Israeli Army, their church was
blown up, and they were banished from their
village, yet his father said they needed to love
their enemies—the Israelis as Jesus taught)

Elias Chacour is
Melkite Catholic Archdiocese
of Akka, Haifa, Nazareth, and All Galilee
and Leader of Mar Elias Educational Institutions including a high school with 1200 students; 60% Muslim, 40% Christian, Druze... There are some Jewish teachers, but no longer any Jewish students.

Sophia: Westerners were quick to condemn Hamas’s
killing of Israeli civilians last
year, yet have been more
likely to excuse or ignore the
atrocities being committed
by the state of Israel against
Palestinians. Why do you
believe that is?

Elias Chacour: It is the traditional way in the Western world to
justify everything Israel does. Israel
is considered a divine entity. It can
do no wrong. That’s why there is so
little sympathy with the Palestinians.

We have to understand that the
violence did not happen out of the
blue. It’s like a circle in the chain.
Palestinians have been suffering for
75 years. They lost their homes. They
lost their independence. They were under siege in Gaza. All the people in
Gaza are Palestinians from Palestine, but they were reduced
to refugees in their own country and scattered around the
world. So, it’s understandable that, at some point,
they would revolt.
But it was too atrocious.
Of course, I condemn it. But
what has been done to the
Palestinians, both before the
Hamas attack and after it, as
retaliation, is also atrocious.

It is unbelievable and unacceptable. Israel is demolishing a whole section of Gaza
and reducing the people to refugees, without
any excuse. They want to destroy, and they want to demolish.
They want to finish with the existence of the Palestinians.
We are used to seeing the Western world being one-sided
and say that whatever Israel does is legitimate and good. Even
to massacre, kill, and destroy is good because they are the chosen people. My goodness, this isn’t God’s judgment!

The Palestinians lost everything. Their country, their independence,
and their dignity. Everything. They are a scattered people.
They have lost everything. What Israel has done in Gaza is an
atrocity. It is an act of revenge.

The Jews have a good memory. They remember the Holocaust, which is good. They don’t want to forget it, and they shouldn’t!

But they blame Palestinians. How can they blame us?
The Jews say they are here because this was their home 2,000
years ago. Fine. They were deported by the Romans, and we were
We were here, too. We stayed here. We waited here. And
then we welcomed them when they came in. But we cannot accept what they are doing to us.

SOPHIA: There are many in the West who say that there’s no
such thing as Palestine and that Jordan might as
well be the Arab homeland. But you clearly have a
deep Palestinian identity.

Eli Chacour: Absolutely. Why do you think that Westerners have a hard time
understanding that all Arabs are not alike, and that Palestine is
a real place with a real people?

I think it is because the Zionist propaganda convinced the
Western world that they have to compensate for what was done
to the Jews during World War II—the Holocaust...
I remember my father told us, within a few days, we might
have Jewish soldiers come to our village. That was in 1948. He
said, these are the survivors of a certain satanic plan in Germany
aiming at destroying all the Jews... And
some would be coming to our village. We need to show them that
somewhere in this world, they are welcome. They are our blood
brothers. That’s why I wrote my book, Blood Brothers.

SOPHIA: That was a beautiful part of your autobiography.
Initially, your father wanted to welcome the Jews
because they had nowhere else to go.

Eli Chacour: I want to say something very dangerous. The land of Palestine does not belong to the Jews. Yet, it cannot belong to the Palestinians either.
The land is God’s and both have to share the land!

That’s why I wrote my second book, We Belong to the Land. The Jews can say that. The Palestinians have the right to say that also. Unless we share the land together, we are doomed to disappear together.

SOPHIA: The State of Israel has sometimes claimed that they
are trying to protect Palestinian Christians from
Islamist terrorists and radicals. Have you found
this to be the case?

Eli Chacor: No, no, no, no.... The Christian Palestinian villages
that were destroyed by the creation of the State of Israel are
many—about twenty villages...the Jews who
came, and they were welcomed by us, and then as a response
to our welcome, they destroyed our villages...

Eli Chacour:
... two Christian women were going to a church in Gaza, and the
Israeli snipers shot them...

To read the whole interview go to:
The Journal of the Melkite Catholic Eparchy, page 15-17

Those wishing to support Archbishop Elias’s educational apostolate can
donate to the Pilgrims of Ibillin (pilgrimsofibillin.org/donate-now/)

In the LIGHT of Justice, Sharing, Kindness, Peace-creating,

Daniel Wilcox

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Excerpt from AN EYE for the BEHEADING novel on Palestine-Israel crisis

An Eye for the Beheading

Copyright 2024
All rights reserved
ISBN-13: 978-1495380341
ISBN-10: 1495380343

To the People of Palestine and Israel--
that they may share in peace

Historical Prologue:

Beheading enemies is a very ancient custom. The Hebrew Bible describes David cutting off the head of Goliath and carrying it to Saul. It also mentions that the Philistines cut off the head of Saul.
1 Samuel 17:51, 1 Samuel 31:9-10

“And pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.” Judges 7:25

“When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads.”
Holy Quran, Sura 47

“Your Lord inspired the angels with the message: ‘I will terrorize the unbelievers. Therefore smite them on their necks and every joint and incapacitate them. Strike off their heads and cut off each of their fingers and toes.”
Quran 8:12

An eye for an eye: “…eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Just as he inflicted an injury upon a person, so shall it be inflicted upon him.” Leviticus 24:19-21

unknown artist
Chapter 1: Sea Dog

Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja Mexico, June, 2026

Smoking debris filled the horizon; nature’s smudged sun set on another aeronautical disaster.

But pawing through swirling water and small waves, a Labrador retriever didn't know anything of plane dynamics or Islamic
terrorism, or why it was swimming in strange waves, only that it was very thirsty and hungry. And Two-Leg who regularly fed and patted it was missing.

Momentarily, the dog raised its head and barked roughly, but got salty water in its jowls—oily off-taste. Barked again. Gagged. Then paddled on. No sounds except painful thunder; intense acrid smells.

The yellow retriever swam around a large cabin section, passed more burning objects, on past broken flight chairs, discolored suitcases, and charred bodies, but didn't find his owner.

He paddled and paddled in amongst hundreds of yards of abandoned things. Finally, tiring, the dog spotted a large chunk of meshed baggage that floated in the distance, swaying back and forth, up and down on rolling heaving waves.

Swimming to that bunched island, the lab then pawed at the webbing, and on his 3rd try, succeeded in climbing out of the oily water up on to it.

His large dog nose sensed possible eatables and, hurriedly, he chewed through black webbing and a synthetic cover, until he got a plastic packet in his teeth, bit through that, not eatable. Tried another, found and ate tuna, scarfing up delicious morsels.

Then the sopping retriever lay down by empty packets, put his jowls onto his fore-paws and slept, despite intense rain and the rocking and swaying of the webbed baggage. In the black night, it rained and rained.

Later Lab woke in in the heavy rain and lapped shallow water which had accumulated in dips in the baggage.

Suddenly, he spotted movement over to the right on a large odd-shaped orange float. Earlier no scent had come to him of anything living, but now a wet-man smell filled his nostrils, a little like his owner’s when they played in the surf at home in Maryland. But this wasn't his owner’s smell.

Getting up, the retriever growled and then barked loudly. Repeatedly. And paced back and forth, with defensive hostility, yet interested to meet this other life.

He hesitated whether to swim over to this 2-legs on the orange object as it floated closer on low waves, indistinct in now in the constant rain. Or stay at this safe place where plenty of food in packets lay beneath his paws.

His keen ears picked up sounds from the man’s mouth.
“Here boy, come over here and help me.”

The human sounded friendly. But there was something wrong. This two-leg’s right leg looked twisted, and discolored. It smelt of blood. So, the dog still hesitated.

Then suddenly a rogue wave shoved through acres of debris, and the storm exploded; lightening spiked down, and then thunderclaps ached in the retriever’s ears. He howled and howled. Then drenching, torrential rain lashed down.

Wreckage on the high sea lurched back and forth, various objects jostling and smashing into each other, and the man’s orange float rolled closer toward the dog’s baggage-island.

The lone survivor tied his open Swiss-army can-opener to a long length of thin rope, and then anxiously swung it through the blinding downpour, and pulled back trying to catch the hook on any ridge or strap of baggage. But it slipped across the webbing of many bunched boxes and whipped down into heaving waves.

Trying over 31 times, but failing, failing…Exhausted and weak from blood loss, the man wrapped rope around his torso, tying himself to his large orange float, then lay down and slept through incessant lashing rain.

Across churning waves, the hunched wet dog on its island, hungry again, pawed deeper into its life raft, chewed into deep into boxes until it found a sack of strange tasting meat and wolfed it down, filling the emptiness within.

Then the dog bit and pawed further until he could squirm into the cavity, escaping the chill wind gusts and incessant torrent.

Later when the yellow retriever woke from a short nap, he saw the human, again; it was up and swinging its long rope again. Past images of play came to the Lab; he barked excitedly, dove into shoving waves and caught the rope as it rolled back away. Maybe this man, like his owner, wanted to play keep away.

Swimming back to its island, the Lab scrambled up on to baggage, turned toward the slumped man’s float, and gritting its teeth pulled back on the taut rope, and backed up across a flat area behind it, uttering a friendly growl.

Just after another thunderclap, the animal heard the man yelling, “Yes! Good dog!” whatever that meant, not what his owner always said, but the voice sounded positive; and seemed excited, maybe did like to play. So, the retriever continued pulling backwards, while the man pulled back.

Gradually, the two floating islands moved closer, though at times the rope almost ripped from the dog’s mouth, as counter waves crashed them away from each other. The man also had his end knotted around his waist.

When the rope slackened due to downward swoops of waves, the dog chewed on the rope’s wet cording; not like a rawhide bone, but enjoyable.

Soon the storm sea grew even more violent, rising waves becoming 7 footers, then 11, rocking and rolling the two life rafts. The rope got yanked back and forth, and the dog pulled back, and the man held on till his hands bled.

Despite wind and wave, the two life-rafts finally came within about 3 feet of each other on a down-swing of a huge wave. Ignoring stabs from his broken leg, the survivor shouted to himself, “Now or never!”

Desperately, he did a one-legged jump toward the dog’s island. Short! Not enough.

Throwing out his arms, he clawed at the dog’s baggage clump, despite raging waves. Gagged on salt water. Sunk. Coming back up, gagging, he caught one hand on loose mesh hanging in the sea, puked, got his breath back.

He hung on, and then finally managed to pull himself up, and squirmed onto the top, just as another huge wave swept over them. He rolled dangerously close to being heaved over the far side of baggage island, but managed to hold on. And the large yellow Lab pulled back again.

Then their rope fell slack as the baggage-clump slumped down into a dark canyon of water. And the man lay, almost unconscious from pain, too groggy to do anything. Blood seeped from his compound fracture. And he didn’t care.

The retriever backed up and growled. This wasn’t his owner. Lying down, he chewed on the rope end, jawing at the knife’s plastic sides.

Suddenly, a 15-footer crashed, almost washed both man and dog overboard. The cascade of water gouged through the human’s mental fog, and he opened his eye and pulled on the rope, “Let go, boy. I’ve gotta secure us.”

At first the dog wouldn’t but then lost interest in their contest and sat on its haunches watching this stranger.
The human took the loose rope end and began threading it through binding cords of some boxes. The dog watched, but growled whenever the man pushed the rope his way.

“There, there, boy, no offense. Just securing us.” But then a sharp pain ripped up from his broken leg and he moaned again. “Now then, what if I attach this end to that leather collar around your neck?”

Tensing, the retriever growled and prepared to attack if this man tried to grab him.

“Okay, I get it. You’ll share your land, but we’re not friends. Got it.”

While the ocean surface rose to 18-foot rollers, and their island hell-bucked and plummeted, the man fell
unconscious.Cascades of rain lashed down endlessly.

The Lab retreated into his dug-cave and slept.
But then later as the storm lessened, he belly-crawled over to this crumpled sleeper, sniffed, and finally lay down next to this two-legs like the dog always did every night with his owner.

Morning came bright and cool, shining its brilliant sunlight down on the floating graveyard and its two castaways.

Chapter 2: Sniper Attack

“And he [Khalid] ordered his [Malik’s] head and he combined it with two stones and cooked a pot over them. And Khalid ate from it that night to terrify the apostate Arab tribes and others. And it was said that Malik’s hair created such a blaze that the meat was so thoroughly cooked.” 633 AD
The Beginning and the End (al-bidaya we al-nihaya), an Islamic history by Ibn Kathir

“Crusaders…laying siege, first, to the Asia Minor city of Nicaea, where they used catapults to hurl the severed heads of Muslim defenders over fortified walls.”
Historian James Carroll

“The Muslim leader Saladin ordered each cleric in his army personally to behead at least one Christian knight. Saladin singled out for special treatment the approximate 230 Knights Templar and Hospitallers who had surrendered.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin, Reserve Attaché, U.S. Embassy Israel

News Alert Exclusive! KNXTV LOS ANGELES:
“There’s been a shooting in Orange County. Our reporter Shelia Cameron was on location doing interviews near South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa when shots rang out. One Muslim young woman has been wounded. No assailant has yet been apprehended.”

“The shooting took place during a noisy demonstration by over 103 Muslim students from the University of California Irvine and Orange Coast College. They are protesting Israel’s renewed bombings 3 days ago after a an Islamic attack in the West Bank.”

“That seriously injured woman in Orange County hasn’t been identified, but she was flown by Medevac helicopter to Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. Her condition is unknown at this time. Police are investigating the attack.”

“Here’s the disturbing video from earlier:”

>>“Free Palestine! From the River to the Sea! Allah Akhbar! God is great!”

Chanting rows of Muslim protestors walk up and down in front of South Coast Plaza near the 405 Freeway; carrying signs and waving Palestinian flags; some of them yelling to passing motorists.

Suddenly, there’s the unmistakable retort of several gunshots and one young woman lets go of her protest sign, spasms, and crumples to the concrete. Swathed from head to foot in Islamic clothes, she lays silent, red blooding her robe in the stomach area.

Chaos erupts. Screams and shouts in Arabic and Urdu—a few in English: “Oh Allah! Help her! Where's the shooter? Protect the others!”

Camera footage jitters as the KNXTV news crew tries to get past male protesters. Angry men shove their hands up in front of the lens and shout in Arabic.

Protesters run out onto Bristol Avenue; cars shriek to grinding stops. Harsh crunch of metal—two vehicles collide, then a BMW smashes into the back of a Lexus.

More deafening shouts, a cacophony of horns blare; screams in Arabic, Urdu, and English; demonstrators running back and forth;

Reporter Sheila Cameron talks loudly into her microphone over the yelling, and repeats what has happened, is happening.

The newsreel cameraperson videos the chaotic scene; angry male students shoulder-around a line of head-covered women, and hold their hands out like shields; they scan the area--from Plaza buildings near Bloomingdales, and southward toward the 405 Freeway overpass to honking vehicles crowded on Bristol Avenue.

Fearful; expecting more gunshots. Except for repeated shouting and blaring of car horns, and heavy traffic noise on the freeway overpass, a dangerous silence engulfs.

Then finally everyone pulls out cellphones, punching numbers while Cameron pushes closer, continues to summarize the attack. Suddenly she and her cameraman are shoved, the camera view swings up and back capturing clouds and a sunny sky and sideways to heavy traffic and swirling around, tops-turvy.

To be continued

In the Light of Peaceseeking, Equality, Justice, Sharing,

Daniel Wilcox

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Review of a controversial Melville biography alleging a married woman was the cause of Melville's writing Moby Dick

MELVILLE in LOVE by Michael Shelton

Shelton in the past was nominated for a Pulitzer for one of his previous biographies. So I thought this was going to be a powerful biography.

But in this recently released biography, Shelton alleges, despite very little factual evidence, that Melville had a many-year'd fervent adulterous relationship with Sarah Morewood. The latter was a flirtatious, lively secular married woman living in the Berkshires where Melville had moved with his wife of 3 years and their 1st child.

Though Melville in Love is listed as biography not fiction, Shelton speculatively guesses as to what exactly Melville and other characters are thinking and intending. Such guesses would seem to make this fiction, not factual biography.

Then Shelton glorifies Melville's alleged affair, as if such an immoral and unjust action were one of the great romantic loves of history and literature.

And Shelton does this, too, by mischaracterizing Melville’s faithful, conscientious wife Lizzie, accusing her of being priggish, shallow, puritanical, etc.

But Melville had only married 3 years to Lizzie before his alleged affair began. Some literary commentators wonder why Melville married such a nonliterary, conservative wife and guess it must have been for her money because her dad was a well-known judge with lots of money, which he showered on his daughter and son-in-law for years. The father often helped Melville get out of debt when his books, beginning with Moby Dick, failed to sell.

However, Melville's, alleged, odd choice, not that different from other famous writers who lived off of their wife’s money so they could write full-time and who picked wives who were conservative, non-literary, etc. Just to start the list--especially true of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Bob Dylan, etc.

The old cliché, of opposites attract does seem to be true of Melville (and some other famous writers), though it is tragic, that after the wedding, Opposites often do ATTACK.” :-(

Allegedly, the only possible time that Melville and could have slept together in the small village without townspeople and family knowing was on a small gathering of young adults who hiked up Mt. Greylock one day and stayed there all night. It’s Shelton’s contention that somehow they managed to slip away in a couple of hours midnight hours, while others slept, to “sleep.”

Shelton fails to acknowledge that while it is true Sarah was very flirtatious in her letters to Melville and with him in person (until she died at the early age of 40!), she often was that way to other married men, too, including Oliver Windel Holmes, etc.

During a few of her young adult years, Sarah was living alone in the Berkshires, while her absent distant, business-focused husband lived and worked in New York City. Their relationship seems odd, though he did care for her in his own way, even had a piano shipped out to her at their estate in Pittsfield, etc.

I thought maybe I was being too critical of Shelton’s very doubtful biographical claim, but then I read a few literary reviews on Melville in Love. They were even harsher than my conclusions—skewering the biography and its thesis as almost ridiculous.

Especially, Shelton’s claim that Moby Dick was written because of Sarah’s ‘freeing’ intimate influence so contrary to the alleged very puritanical, restrictive views of Lizzie.

Besides, Moby Dick is extremely male-centered narrative, with hardly any women even mentioned! Some critics have even labeled it homoerotic, for such parts of the story as Ismael and Queequeg’s relationship, including hugging in bed. The long very odd novel shows no trace of any illicit romantic love affair.

From Wikipedia:
“Lizzie described their marriage as "very unexpected, and scarcely thought of until about two months before it actually took place".[83] She wanted to be married in church, but they had a private wedding ceremony at home to avoid possible crowds hoping to see the celebrity.[84] The couple honeymooned in the then-British Province of Canada, and traveled to Montreal. They settled in a house on Fourth Avenue in New York City (now called Park Avenue).

“According to scholars Joyce Deveau Kennedy and Frederick James Kennedy, Lizzie brought to their marriage a sense of religious obligation, an intent to make a home with Melville regardless of place, a willingness to please her husband by performing such "tasks of drudgery" as mending stockings, an ability to hide her agitation, and a desire "to shield Melville from unpleasantness".[85] The Kennedys conclude their assessment with:

“If the ensuing years did bring regrets to Melville's life, it is impossible to believe he would have regretted marrying Elizabeth. In fact, he must have realized that he could not have borne the weight of those years unaided—that without her loyalty, intelligence, and affection, his own wild imagination would have had no "port or haven".

“Biographer Robertson-Lorant cites "Lizzie's adventurous spirit and abundant energy," and she suggests that "her pluck and good humor might have been what attracted Melville to her, and vice versa".

“An example of such good humor appears in a letter about her not yet used to being married: "It seems sometimes exactly as if I were here for a visit. The illusion is quite dispelled however when Herman stalks into my room without even the ceremony of knocking, bringing me perhaps a button to sew on, or some equally romantic occupation".[87] On February 16, 1849, the Melvilles' first child, Malcolm, was born.”

Despite my negative review of this shallow Procrustean effort and Shelton claiming that Moby Dick is the result of his affair with Sarah, I did find it worth reading because of a few intriguing facts about Melville, and I was opened to the possibilities of speculative ideas that no other biographer has ever raised!

But Herman Melville lived such a tragic-misguided life; even worse, he treated his wife horribly often drunk in his 50's. Then his life winded down to a tragic end. Also, one wonders why his 3 main books are so very pessimistic, almost nihilistic in tone and detail with their main characters ending tragically.

Lastly, like often in American literature, AUGUSTINIAN-CALVINISM RAISES ITS SATANIC HEAD. It turns out that the central horror of Melville’s family background was the fatalism of Augustinian-Calvinism that he sought to escape from:_("

Notice Ishmael's statement in the 1st couple of pages: "Call me, Ishmael. Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a whaling voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces--though I cannot tell why this was exactly;
yet, now that I recall all the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs and motives which being cunningly presented to me under various disguises, induced me to set about performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment."

A biography one can learn from, but not really a winner.

In the LIGHT of the GOOD, the TRUE, the JUST, the CARING...

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Question of Non-Theism

In some of his many books, John Shelby Spong, the Bishop of Newark, New Jersey for 21 years, succinctly and lucidly describes key concepts of the New Testament and Christianity and explains keen insights.

A creative theologian at times, he has made startling statements including that “God is not a noun” but “a verb that invites us to live, to love and to be”!

(Probably, in that phrase, he is alluding to Process Theology which speculates that God is process, not substance). According to Process thinkers, God is very real, but God isn't a substance like most Creedal theologians believe.

However in the latter part of his leadership, Spong started denying many of the key doctrines of orthodox Christianity.
And most shocking--indeed, incomprehensible and incongruous--Spong promulgated in a few of his later books that there is No God! That Nontheism is the Truth!

Non-theism didn’t start with him, but is central to one branch of modern liberal religion, including one branch of Quakers in Britain and America. This is very strange since the Society of Friends is centered on God, has been for 380 years!

From Wikipedia:
“Non-theism among Quakers probably dates to the 1930s, when some Quakers in California branched off to form the Humanist Society of Friends (today part of the American Humanist Association), and when Henry Cadbury professed agnosticism in a 1936 lecture to Harvard Divinity School students.

The term "non-theistic" first appeared in a Quaker publication in 1952...In 1976, a Friends General Conference Gathering hosted a Workshop for Nontheistic Friends (Quakers).”

And in 2024 at Haverford College, June 30 through July 6, 2024, FGC is hosting an atheist leader, Tom Kunesh.
"His website on ‘atheisms‘ has an interesting typology of atheism (and agnosticism) and is well worth exploring..."
"Of particular interest is the page on ‘religious atheisms‘ which includes a short, very recently updated, biography of tom..." "Tom writes:
"What is a god? A god is an idealized human being, human characteristic or human creation to which is attributed with super-human powers of giving meaning to human existence. Examples of gods are Jesus...but no atheist, shaman or otherwise, knows a real god.
Knowing all the gods, the atheist must take care not to fall into the worship of any god."
"The following link takes you to a book by Kunesh, available there as an easy to navigate html file: http://atheisms.info/shaman/

How can this religious atheism be central for spiritual seekers? Especially for Quakers since their central focus is on gathering for “Worship” every 7th day?

One well-known Quaker in the U.S. stated that he doesn’t worship at Worship but, instead, pays close attention to the moment. Another, claimed that he agrees with the hard materialism of famous new atheists.

Of course, there has been a major fracturing of Quakerism in the 20th century, into many different, even contrary meetings, manily as a counter moivement against the quietist, often stringent, Quakerism of the 19th century where Quakers were removed from Yearly Meetings for many reasons including marrying a non-Quaker, being an abolitionist and part of the “Underground Railroad,” for deviation from required clothing styles, etc.

However, it is one thing to strongly oppose rigid, narrow, demanding Quakerism (even early Quakers often disagreed about major points), but it's entirely different to centrally identify with Non-Theism, to deny that the Light is real.

Such modern non-theist Friends appear to strongly agree with Spong’s Non-theism, not only that many of the doctrines of Christianity aren’t true, but that there is no God. They appear to be promoting religious atheism.

How can Spong or Henry Cadbury, an agnostic, be so knowledgeable and inspirational, yet think the Light doesn’t exist, that no transcendent Creator is real?

Such claiming is contrary to the inspirational witness of George Fox, Margaret Fell, other early Friends, and many visionaries all the way back to Jesus?

It is possible that some Quaker Non-theists aren’t denying the True God, but only denying the concept of God in Creedal Christianity. A number of them had very severe experiences in creedal denominations, and so want nothing to do with the Creeds and other doctrines.

If that is so, then they aren’t really Non-theists but deniers of the creedal God.

If that is the case, then such a Friend is completely in line with George Fox who found no succor or belief in the religious denominations of Christianity in Britain.

And I agree with such unbelievers. As a devout theist of a Friendly sort, I’ve never believed in the Creeds of orthodox Christianity and Evangelical Christianity.

As I reflect about this odd, tragic development in modern, fragmented, Quakerism, and think about my previous article on the tendency of modern Friends to lean to rightwing or leftwing ideologies, I admit I feel discouraged. But then I remember, the present isn't that different from how Britain was in the 1640's--rife with all sorts of contrary movements, beliefs, etc.

More later

In the LIGHT of the Good, the True, the Just, the Caring,

Daniel Wilcox