Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A sacred moment: giving Kathleen's magic flute to the LA Innercity Youth Orchestra


With Charles Dickerson at Vroman's

Today I had the privilege and joy of meeting with Charles Dickerson, one of the most extraordinary composers and conductors in Los Angeles, and perhaps the United States. We met at Vroman's where I learned we have a lot in common.

Charles' sister, Martha Hardie. is a close friend of my wife Jill. Charles is music director at the Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, which is only a few miles away from Walteria UMC, the last church which Kathleen, my wife of blessed memory, pastored before her death. Charles is a good friend of Pastor Diane Rehfield, whom Kathleen mentored and helped to become pastor at Walteria UMC. So many connections!
Charles came to Vroman's to meet me because I had offered to donate Kathleen's Haynes silver flute to the LA Innercity Youth Orchestra, which Charles conducts. My first exposure to Charles' music was when Jill and I went to the First AME Church of Los Angeles and heard Charles' choral symphony based on Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech: we were blown away by the depth and complexity and beauty of this composition. Martha then invited us to an even more amazing event: the annual concert of the Los Angeles Inner City Youth Symphony at Disney. See http://icyola.org Charles is the conductor and director of this remarkable program that nurtures talented inner city youth, mainly Latino and Black, and helps them to realize their dream of becoming classical musicians.

Kathleen & me playing Xmas carols
To honor Kathleen, I felt led to donate her silver flute to the ICYOLA. Before doing so, however, I consulted with Kathleen's family, particularly my brother-in-law Jim and his son Edward, who is a budding musician. (He plays the fiddle beautifully.) They agreed that donating Kathleen’s flute to ICYOLA would be a fitting way to honor Kathleen’s memory.
Giving this precious flute to Charles felt like a sacred moment, both to him as well as me (and to the woman who took our picture and heard this story!). Charles told me when he finds a young musician worthy of this flute, he will take a picture and send it to me. I trust he will share with this young person this blog entry so he or she will know who made this flute magical.
This  flute was given to Kathleen by her father when she was a teenager taking part in the San Diego Youth Symphony. This group of gifted musicians went on a tour of Europe (Kathleen's father was one of the adult chaperone and said it was at times quite a challenging experience because teens will be teens). Kathleen played in some prestigious venues, including Richard Wagner's opera house in Beirut, Germany, which was built to play only Wagner's music. (Wagner was not a humble man.) Kathleen didn't like Wagner, but I like his music, esp. Parsifal and the Meistersinger.  Kathleen was gracious enough to go with me to one of Wagner's operas--Tristan and Isolde--about ill-fated lovers. She was a very good sport since she believed (like Mark Twain) that "Wagner's music is not as bad as it sounds."
Kathleen played the flute at church from time to time and it was always wonderful to hear her play--the sound of her flute was so pure. She and I played together for the first time at Pendle Hill--Renaissance music. It was always a joy playing duets with her. We continued to play duets throughout our marriage, usually simple stuff, like  "Simple Gifts," "Greensleeves" and Appalachian folk tunes. The last time we played was at Walteria UMC just before we left, and before Kathleen's cancer diagnosis, in June of 2009. I don't remember what we played, but I do remember we sang the "theme song" of our marriage:
 
We ain't got a barrel of money,
We may look tired and funny,
But we travel along
Singing this song
Side by side.

Through all kinds of weather
What if the rain should fall?
As long as we're together
It doesn't matter at all.
 
When all the others have parted
We'll be the same as we started
Just travel along
Singing this song
Side by side....
 
Kathleen loved her flute and I know she'd be thrilled and delighted  that a young musician of color will have the same opportunity as she had to play. She blessed this flute with her faithful, loving life and it will be a blessing to whoever plays it.  And I know she'd be  thrilled to see how Edward is progressing on the violin and mandolin. Music is like a river that flows from one generation to the next--a river of light and love that fills our hearts with joy.
 
Shakespeare once wrote: "If music be the food of love, play on!"
 
I gave Edward this avuncular advice, which I pass on to you: Play from your heart, and the song will come out right! Kathleen would add this caveat: Don't forget to pay attention to the notes!
 


 
 
 

 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Prophecy and Quaker discernment: a biblical perspective


"In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men [and women] will see visions, your old men [and women] will dream dreams. Even on my servants/slaves, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit and they will prophesy.” Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28. (In Greek, the collective plural is masculine even though it can include women and men, so it makes sense in this context to translate it inclusively, since that it clearly the intent of this passage.)

The theme of this year's Pacific Yearly Meeting was "Prophecy and Youth"--topics dear to my heart.  Prophecy was brought up because for the past few years our YM has been struggling over the question: do we as a Yearly Meeting still have the authority and/or leading to speak out on social issues, or should be follow the example of College Park Quarterly and cease to consider what are called "minutes of conscience." The bigger question is: does our Yearly Meeting have a prophetic role to play?
Our keynote speaker was Jonathan Vogel-Borne, former general secretary of New England Yearly Meeting, who has taken a keen interest in prophetic ministry and led a workshop on this topic at the Friends General Conference's annual gathering. He called to our attention the biblical passages that inspired early Friends to believe that the prophetic spirit continues to be “poured out” among us, when we open ourselves to the Spirit of God.
Marge Abbot has also become interested in the prophetic aspects of Quakerism and provides an excellent “Theological Perspective on Quaker Lobbying” that helps explain why “speaking truth to power” is part of our Quaker DNA. Her work makes it clear that Quakerism is a prophetic as well as mystic religion.
I realize that many Friends are not Christians, or even theists. But I hope that this reflection will help them as well as believing Quakers understand what is meant by “prophesy” and how how it relates to our collective work/calling as Friends.
Just to be clear about what prophets do: inspired by God, they challenge/warn their religious community to live up to its highest ideals (aka the "will of God") and 2) the challenge leaders to live up their highest ideals. (This is sometimes called “speaking truth to power.”)
What does it mean to be “inspired by God”? It means that we have taken time to be silent, reflect deeply and listen to the “still, small voice” that is within each of us. We can do this both individually and corporately.
Laura Magnani, whose work on prison reform I consider deeply prophetic, was part of a panel on this theme and asked a very important question. What does it mean to be a corporate body?
My response to that question is that Friends involved in peace and justice work often feel disengaged from the corporate body. What I have observed in my many years as Peace Committee clerk is that many Friends have individual callings to work on this or that cause,  and are not aware of how our Quaker practices and process helps us to become interconnected as a religious community. That’s why as clerk of SCQM peace committee, I encourage Friends with concerns to go to their Meeting and seek discernment and support. That’s how we become a corporate body, rather than simply a gathering of individuals (a "beloved community" rather than a collection of Don Quixotes).
The apostle Paul makes clear that within the body of Christ (what Martin Luther King calls “the beloved community”) there are many different spiritual gifts. And all these gifts need to be nurtured:
A body is made up of many parts, and each of them as its own use. That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. God also has given different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have been given. If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. …”  (Romans 12: 4-8)
This is a good description of how a Quaker body such as a Yearly Meeting functions at its best. Each committee has a gift as well as task to perform. And the body needs to affirm each gift, each function, in order to be whole. A Quaker community without a prophetic voice is not complete, just as a body without a mouth or heart is not complete.
Paul also gave good advice about the discernment process: “Do not crush the spirit. Do not despise the words of the prophets. Test everything: hold fast to what is good, let go of what is evil.” (I Thess. 5:21).
This passage describes the discernment process that Friends are called to follow. We are asked to be tender towards those who are called to prophetic ministry (and not be like the hard-hearted ones who put the prophets to death, or dismissed them with harsh words). We  are called to “test everything.” That means we need to  bring prophetic ministry before the body so that it can discern whether or not it  comes  from Spirit and whether or not it is beneficial.
Paul goes on to say if we follow this practice: “The God of peace will sanctify us through and through.” I am  confident that Spirit will bless our Yearly Meeting if we follow Paul’s advice.
 As Friends, we are advised to have faith that Spirit will work through us. “The one who calls you is faithful, and [God] will do this.” I know this is true since I have experienced it many times in my monthly meeting, as well as in other Quaker bodies, like FCNL, where hundreds of Friends gather together and come to unity on matters of policy relating to justice and peace. If we trust in and listen to Spirit, we will be enabled to speak prophetically!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Ocean of Darkness, Ocean of Light": a Reflection on the Peace Movement


I'm looking forward to rejoining my friends at Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace this Friday. Here's a reflection I intend to share:

I just spent a wonderful week camping and hanging out with nearly 300 Quakers at our annual gathering, which took place at Walker Creek Ranch in Marin county not far from Petaluma. We were surrounded with rolling golden hills and lots of critters—cattle, deer, foxes, owls, turkey vultures, hawks, and quail.  Not to mention, a few feral Quakers. I gave three presentations about my new book, and around 100 Friends attended each session and my book sold out! I co-led a workshop on ending war with David Hartsough, one of the leading Quaker peace activists of our era, co-founder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce. David began his career working with Martin Luther King and he’s been on the forefront of the peace movement ever since. I was also asked to serve as clerk of the Peace Committee for our Yearly Meeting. There were a few bumps in the road, but all things considered, it was very good week.

I am happy to be here among friends who care about peace and justice as much as I do, but my heart is heavy when I think of the moral decline of our nation. I am saddened and appalled that many Americans, including our elected officials, are responding so cold-bloodedly to the plight of children who are fleeing deadly violence in Latin America and are seeking a safe haven here. How can Americans be so heartless, so out of touch with God and reality?

I am also grieving and outraged at the plight of the Gazans who are being massacred once again by the Israelis,  with the full support of our elected officials and the tacit support of our corporate media. How can we call these periodic bloodbaths “self-defense”? When will the siege of Gaza be lifted, and Palestinians have the same rights and privileges as Israeli Jews?

I wish that Americans and Israelis would take to heart what God commanded in Levitticus: “Foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt”  (Levitticus 19:34).

George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, lived in a time of brutal wars when millions had been killed because of religious differences. In his journal he wrote that he saw “there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love, which flowed over the ocean of darkness.” That’s how I see today’s world.  The forces of darkness—militarism, racism, and predatory capitalism—surround us. But they are in turn surrounded by a much larger and more powerful force—there are over a thousand grassroots peace organizations in the world, and millions who are working for peace and justice. Peace makers don’t get much media coverage, but they are the leaven in the loaf, the faithful few who have changed the course of history. The Cold War ended without bloodshed not simply because of Gorbachev and Reagan, but because of the millions involved in the Nuclear Freeze movement and citizen diplomacy who said to these leaders: COLD WAR, NO MORE!!

As I study the history of the abolitionist movement, I am struck by how difficult and hopeless it must have seemed at time. But the abolitionists didn’t give up, they kept agitating until slavery was made illegal, and African Americans were emancipated. Sadly, prejudice persisted, and so did institutional racism, with Jim Crowe and now the new Jim Crowe, mass incarceration. But I’m convinced that this, too, shall pass. During our Quaker gathering, I had the chance to hear a presentation by Laura Magnani, an amazing woman who has been working for prison reform for forty years, and I am in awe of her unwavering commitment.

I know that my Quaker community will uphold our 350-year-old  Peace Testimony until war, like slavery, is made illegal. I know that every one in this room has made a life-long commitment to this beautiful struggle, and that fills me with joy and hope. We are not Don Quixotes tilting at windmills, we are the Beloved Community doing the will of the one who made us a little lower than the angels. And we will overcome!




 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Transition to Peace: a Defense Engineer's Search for an Alternative to War


Transition to Peace: A Defense Engineer’s Search for an Alternative to War by Russell Faure-Brac. Open Book Editions, 2012.

Russell Faure-Brac has unique knowledge and expertise about how to end the war system. He was a systems analyst. During the Vietnam War, he worked for the Stanford Research Institute, “calculating the most cost effective way to blow up the world” (p. xix). What turned him from believing that “war is a necessary evil” to “war is simply insane” was an assignment from the Department of Defense (DOD) in which he was supposed to do a cost-benefit analysis of weapons based on the probability of kill and the dollar value of an American soldier’s life (about $50,000 then). The premise of this project seemed so insane he began taking classes at the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence and became a convert to Gandhian peacemaking. He quit his job in the "defense" industry and began a more fulfilling career as an environmental planner—a profession he practiced till his retirement. After 9/11, horrified by the direction our country was taking, he turned once again to the questions he struggled with during the Vietnam era and decided to devote himself to ending the insanity of war.
Faure-Brac uses charts, diagrams and data to explain the military industrial complex, and writes with persuasive reasonableness about alternatives to war. He also includes engaging stories (such as Costa Rica’s decision to disband its military after World War II) to help readers understand how ending war is possible.
He offers practical steps on how to transiton from a war system to a peace system. For instance, he recommends that armies be used to provide humanitarian aid—why let the equipment and vast infrastructure of the world’s military go to waste, when it could be used to provide relief in crises, and to foster economic development? He calls for a “global Marshall Plan,” using funds now wasted on the military to rebuild our broken world.
He discusses the need for “selling peace”—based on the ideas of cognitive linguist George Lakoff: appeal to values, be positive, etc. He confesses that the first draft of this book was full of anger, but he felt it was important “go beyond anger and forgive those who perpetuate and participate in violence and destruction” (p. 90). He writes for those in “Middle America” who still believe that war is a “necessary evil.” He shows why war is evil, but not necessary, using language and examples that the average educated American can appreciate.
Faure-Brac is a realist who recognizes that ending the war system won’t be easy, though it could happen more quickly than anyone might predict. He foresees the possibility of a catastrophic “bubble bursting”—an economic or environmental collapse—that would wake people up to the need for a dramatic transformation of values, what Joanna Macy calls “a Great Turning.” According to Faure-Brac , a major economic or environmental collapse could happen in the next decade or so, unless we drastically change our behavior and attitudes. He is probably right.  Many experts foresaw the economic collapse of 2008 and were discounted; the Wall Street elite and their political minion in DC were self-deceived and oblivious about the true state of the economy. It is not unreasonable to predict that at some point, the war economy will cause the United States to decline and fall, as it did  the Soviet Union and other empires. What happens after this collapse will depend in some measure on how well organized and well prepared the peace movement is, and whether it can move hearts and minds in the right direction.
This is a short and concise book, bristling with practical ideas, and eminently readable. I recommend sharing it with your logically minded friends who have doubts about ending war. Faure-Brac’s common sense approach may help overcome their skepticism. You can find out more about his work at http://transitiontopeace.com.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Peace activists and peaceful warriors working together to end war


The End of War: How Waging Peace Can Save Humanity, Our Planet and Our Future by Captain Paul K. Chappell, U.S. Army. Eaton Studio Press, 2010.

In yesterday's blog I talked about the reasons why many experts feel that war is not inevitable. One reason to be hopeful about the transition to a peace system is that increasing numbers of soldiers and military leaders have come to see the futility of war and are organizing to oppose it. Organizations like Veterans for Peace challenge the war system from an insider’s perspective. Since the Vietnam War, anti-war vets and peace activists have increasingly worked together to enhance their effectiveness. Captain Paul Chappell is a prime example of this trend. Part African American, and part Korean, Chappel came from a military family—his father served in the army for thirty years, retired as a command sergeant major,  and suffered from PTSD (like many vets).  Chappell followed in his father’s footsteps, went to West Point, and served in Iraq. It was there that he began to question the military culture in which he had been raised. A thoughtful young man who reads widely, quoting philosophers from Plato to Spinoza, he paints a portrait of the military mind very different from the popular image in the media. Much of the book takes a philosophic look at the causes of violence, and how to nurture peace. I prefer his book’s final section, “Tactics and Strategies for Waging Peace,” especially the interviews with Deanie Mills, in which he draws from his military experience to make compelling arguments for ending war.
Chappell knows from his military training that men and women are not born with an instinct to kill; the army must rigorously train people to go against their normal humane tendencies. Based on this indisputable fact, Chappell concludes that war is not innate or inevitable. If people must be trained to wage war, they can be trained to wage peace. And waging peace is the best way to preserve what most of the world’s people yearn for: stability and justice and well-being for all.
Chappell also makes it clear that most young men and women enter the military because they believe that the only way to achieve peace is through fighting “evil doers” and “bad guys”—a view of life they acquire through comic books, popular media, and our pervasive war culture. A great deal of this book is devoted to exploring and changing this mind set.
Learning to understand the military mind is extremely important if peace activists want to be successful in changing it. Chappell reminds us that some peace activists during the Vietnam War treated returning vets with contempt, and this occasionally occurs today. Chappel’s attitudes changed when he met peace activists who treated him with respect and were “beacons of compassion and understanding.” He has come to believe that soldiers and peace activists share the same goal—peace—and many of the same values: cooperation, loyalty, commitment, and courage. They can and should work together.
I recommend not only reading this book, but sharing it, especially with those who are in the military or who have family members in the military. Chappell can also help peace activists learn how to dialogue with those who sincerely believe that war is a necessary evil, and the only way to achieve peace. Chappel gives workshops and gives talks both nationally and internationally, and you can see him in action at http://paulkchappell.com.

Is Ending War an Idea Whose Time has Come? Some essential readings

The End of War: How Waging Peace Can Save Humanity, Our Planet and Our Future by Captain Paul K. Chappell, U.S. Army. Eaton Studio Press, 2010.

From War to Peace: A Guide to the Next Hundred Years by Kent D. Shifferd. McFarland & Co, 2011.
Transition to Peace: A Defense Engineer’s Search for an Alternative to War by Russell Faure-Brac. Open Book Editions, 2012.
War No More: The Case for Abolition by David Swanson, 2013.
Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War by Judith L. Hand. Questpath Publishing, 2014.

“Armies can be resisted; ideas cannot be resisted.” Victor Hugo
worldbeyondwar.com

Over the last few years, a number of compelling books have appeared that address the question: Can war be abolished, like slavery? If so, how? As these authors make abundantly clear, there is a growing consensus among experts that ending war is not a na├»ve fantasy, but a real possibility as well as an urgent need.  In May, 2014, David Hartsough, well-known Quaker peace activist who helped start the Nonviolent Peace Force, convened the authors of these books along with seasoned peace activists for a strategy session at Ben Lomond Quaker Center to explore how we could launch a campaign to abolish war. I took part in this historic gathering, organized by World Beyond War, and was deeply impressed by the quality of people involved, particularly the writers.
All of these writers agree we must dispel the myths that make ending war seem unrealistic or impossible.

1)      War is part of human nature and therefore inevitable. Evidence shows this is simply not true. What scientific research reveals is that war is a “cultural invention,” not something biologically ordained. Violence and aggression are hardwired into our human genes, especially in males, but so are cooperation and compassion. We human beings have choices about how to express our natural impulses. Some cultures (like the Romans and the Huns) were extremely war-like, while others (like the Hopi) nearly pacifist. And cultures change: the Vikings once were fiercely war-like, while their descendants, the Norwegians, are relatively peaceful. The Iroquois nations once fought each other in bloody wars; they eventually formed a Confederacy that insured peace and stability for many generations. The European Union has forged a similar kind of peace system based on economic cooperation and shared security, reducing almost to nil the possibility of war. Prior to the Agricultural Revolution that took place around 4000-10,000 BCE, human beings lived in small nomadic bands of hunter-gatherers that tended to disperse rather than fight when conflicts arose.  These early humans did not engage in warfare as we know it. They were too busy hunting and trying to survive. Considering that there were no armies during 40,000 of the past 50,000 years or so of homo sapiens, we see that warfare is a fairly recent invention. It can and should become obsolete.

2)      War is a “necessary evil” and can be justified. The cost of war vastly outweighs any supposed benefits, as we have seen most clearly in recent times. Trillions have been spent on wars in Vietnam, Central America,  Iraq and Afghanistan, with few positive results. David Swanson documents with numerous examples how pointlessly costly wars can be, compared with the alternatives. For example, according to a transcript of a meeting in February 2003 between President George Bush and the Prime Minister of Spain, Bush said Saddam Hussein offered to go into exile rather than fight, if only he could take a billion dollars with him (see Swanson, p. 38). Having deployed troops and being eager to become a “War President,” Bush refused this offer. Although letting a brutal dictator escape with a billion in loot seems unfair and politically risky, it is certainly better than the carnage that resulted from war—in which over a million Iraqis died, with trillions of dollars in damages. The Afghan war could also have been avoided, if the US had been willing to negotiate with the Taliban for the extradition of Osama Bin Laden. These have been called “preemptive wars” or “wars of choice” rather than just wars. But as Swanson points out, if we look honestly at how wars are fought, and the number of innocent people who are slaughtered or maimed for life, the concept of “just war” is a contradiction in terms, like “benevolent rape.”

3)      War is such an entrenched institution it cannot be changed. The same was said about slavery, dueling, and depriving women of the right to be treated as equals. Attitudes change, and so do institutions. Sometimes changes occur with remarkable and unexpected rapidity, as was the case with the fall of the Soviet Union.

Given these facts, the question is not whether it is desirable or possible to abolish war, but what are the best practices to make this happen. Experts agree that ending war will not be easy. Warmongering is extremely profitable, and the war system deeply rooted. But the cost of war has grown so staggeringly expensive and destructive of life—both human and non-human—people of the world are becoming increasingly open to exploring alternatives to the current war system. Ending war will require a massive campaign of reeducation, nonviolent resistance, and organizing both globally and locally. The World Beyond War website lists dozen of ways to begin conversion from a war system to a peace system, including ending the international arms trade, strengthening the UN and World Court, creating Departments of Peacekeeping, encouraging cultural exchange,  promoting nonmilitary foreign aid and crisis prevention—a Global Rescue/Aid/Friendship/Marshall Plan, etc, etc. We know how to end war. We just need the political will to do it.
I will be reviewing the rest of these books in subsequent posts....

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

"Transformative Quakers"--my latest book--focuses on three amazing California Quakers


Transformative Friends

I am pleased that my latest book, Transformative Quakers, is now available online. It consists of biographies of three remarkable California Quakers--William Lovett, Robert Vogel, and Josephine Duveneck--who made a difference in the world, working for peace, helping the poor, and caring for children and youth.You can order this book through Amazon. https://www.createspace.com/4832073

The book is an outgrowth of a series of lectures called “Transformative Friends” that was started by Brian Vura-Weis at Pacific Yearly Meeting (PYM). Over the years, Transformative Friends lectures have focused on notable Quakers such as William Penn, Elizabeth Fry, John Greenleaf Whittier, Thomas Kelly and Howard Brinton. This booklet focuses on Quakers closer to home.

In 2013, Pacific Yearly Meeting established a “Bob Vogel Fund” to help fund youth projects. This fund came from the Pacific Friends Outreach Society (PFOS), of which Bill Lovett was a founding member. It therefore seemed appropriate to honor these two Friends who cared deeply about young people and Quaker education. Josephine Duveneck also cared deeply about young people and organized many youth activities at Hidden Villa Ranch in Palo Alto. It seemed fitting to include her in this volume, especially since Quakers from the very beginning have recognized the importance of women called to prophetic ministry. Peace and justice cannot be achieved without men and women at all levels of society working together.

Bill Lovett has been a beloved and respected member of the Pacific Yearly Meeting since coming to California with his family in 1965. A birth-right Friend whose family became Quakers in the time of William Penn, Bill was born in 1923 in Fallsington, a small rural Quaker community in Pennsylvania not far from the Delaware River. He has been a passionate pacifist all his life and served time in prison during World War II because of his uncompromising commitment to conscientious objection. Bill refused to seek CO status as a Quaker because he wanted CO status to be extended to non-religious people of conscience.  Bill became involved in helping low-income farmworkers in the Central Valley build affordable homes through Self-Help Enterprises, a precursor to Habitat for Humanity. He and his wife Beth helped to found Visalia Meeting and built its beautiful meetinghouse in a lot near their farm. In the latter years of his life, Bill became involved in efforts to establish a permanent site where Pacific Yearly Meeting could hold its annual session. This cause attracted many young Friends who became acquainted with the Lovetts through Quaker Oaks farm. When the permanent site project was no longer deemed feasible, its funds were turned over to PYM to be used for its fledgling Youth Service Program.

I came to know Bill through the Youth Service Program that I helped to start for Southern California Quarterly Meeting and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). In 1994, I took a youth group to the Central Valley to do a project with Self-Help Enterprises and we stayed at the Visalia Meetinghouse. There Bill shared with us his amazing story, much to the delight of our young volunteers. I must add that when my wife Jill heard Bill’s story at a PYM gathering, she was so impressed she insisted we stop off in Visalia and record it. The afternoon we spent with the Lovetts at Quaker Oaks Farm was not only an unforgettable experience, it was also the genesis of this booklet!

Like Bill, Robert Vogel (1917-1998) was a conscientious objector during WW II. Born in Rochester, NY, Bob became a Quaker during grad school and spent three years in a Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp rather than join the military. There he began working for the AFSC—an organization that he served faithfully for over forty years. Bob moved to Pasadena with his wife Etta and lived there for the rest of his life. During his years as AFSC staff, he worked on peace education and traveled through the world visiting and supporting Quaker work in China, Japan, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Soviet Union—as well as visiting Friends throughout the United States. He built bridges not only with America’s “enemies,” but also between different branches of Quakers: he was a true ambassador for peace. He also worked on local issues, moving into a low-income, multicultural area of Pasadena, serving on the Pasadena Healthy Start Program, the LA County Children’s Planning Council, and the ACLU. In addition, he and his wife raised a family of four children: Janice, David, Jonathan, and Russell. Jonathan Vogel-Borne followed in his father’s footsteps, worked for the Friends Meeting in Cambridge, served for many years as yearly meeting secretary of New England Yearly Meeting, and is currently giving the keynote address at Pacific Yearly Meeting’s 2014 annual session. Thanks to Jonathan, I was given permission to publish excerpts from Bob’s unpublished memoir in this booklet.

I first became acquainted with Bob when I moved to California and had scruples about signing a loyalty oath after landing a teaching position at El Camino College in 1989. He gave the support and materials I needed to explain to the dean why, as a Quaker, I could not sign such an oath in good conscience. As I came to know Bob, my respect and admiration for him grew. My most memorable experience occurred when I was helping to start the youth program in Southern California. During a somewhat contentious meeting, Bob calmly stood up and spoke with deep feeling about the need to support youth programs. As he spoke, he put his hands on my shoulders and I felt a surge of energy course through my body that I can only describe as the Holy Spirit. At that moment I felt confident that the youth program would be approved and succeed, and it did. I knew that Bob was truly a man in touch with the Spirit, as his life and writings clearly testify.

Josephine Duveneck (1891-1978) came from a well-to-do Boston family and had a deep concern for social justice, peace and young people. In a memorial address (July 8, 1978) Paul Seaver, a history professor at Stanford University, wrote: “Josephine Duveneck joined Palo Alto Meeting in 1937 and on several occasions served as Clerk of Meeting for a total of nine years. She was largely responsible for the fact that our present meeting house is located in one of the few interracial neighborhoods in Palo Alto. Her contributions to Friends’ concerns were manifold and manifest: let me just mention her work with Japanese Americans, interned during World War II, and with Native Americans, which led to the Indian Program of the AFSC’s Northern California office...” Seaver goes on to point out that many of the children of Palo Alto Meeting spent time during the formative years at Hidden Villa, a ranch that the Duvenecks turned into a summer camp and retreat center. As the Los Altos Historical Society notes, “Hidden Villa became a center for social, educational, environmental, and humanitarian activities. In summer it was a youth camp, to which the Duvenecks brought minority and disadvantaged children, and minority counselors, which given the mostly white demographics of the San Francisco Peninsula, was particularly unusual and innovative. It had the first youth hostel on the Pacific Slope. World War II refugees and Japanese-American victims of the World War II ‘relocation’—internment—were released to Hidden Villa. Gatherings included church outings, interracial parties, and fundraisings. Minority groups were welcome. The hostel accommodated a Moslem group which met to instruct children in Moslem faith and rituals. Native Americans met for dancing and feasts.”

I read Josephine’s spiritual autobiography just prior to becoming editor of Friends Bulletin in 1996, and it was a profoundly moving experience. I felt led to write something about Josephine so I toured Hidden Villa with her daughter Elizabeth Duveneck Dana. Exploring this ranch was an unforgettable experience. In Hidden Villa Josephine’s spirit lives on, in its natural habitat: the California landscape, with its cattle and rolling hills and trails winding through bay laurel, live oak and chapparal—the land virtually untouched from the days it was inhabited by the Ohlone Indians.  I am glad I finally have an opportunity to lift up the example of a Quaker who loved the land, and loved people,  and found a balance between activism and spirituality. As Paul Seaver wrote, “As long as [Josephine’s] memory remains green among us, we will possess an enlarged vision of the potentialities of our common humanity and of the work God calls us to do in our time.”

Peace, justice and young people—these are the concerns that link these three Transformative Friends. May their lives inspire and challenge us to be transformed, and to transform others, through the Spirit of Love and Truth.

At the end of this booklet is a section containing “queries”—open-ended questions—designed to help you think more deeply about the lessons you can learn from the lives of these Friends. I hope you will share this booklet with others, start study groups, and reflect upon important queries, such as, What are you being called to do with your life? What inspires you to make a difference in the world? What brings you deep and lasting joy? How is your life speaking?

 
“Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone; whereby in them you may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you.” –George Fox, 1656.

“Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.”