West Scotland Quaker Newsletter November 2017
Clerk’s Letter p. 2
Report of Area Meeting – Tarbert p. 3
Report of Area Meeting – Dunblane p. 4
George Lakey, Campaigning & Quaker Faith p. 5
ICAN wins the Nobel Prize for Peace p. 8
News from Parliamentary Engagement Group p.10
New Books in Glasgow Meeting Library p.10
Violence Against Women Concern p.11
Book Reviews: Headscarves and Hymens p.13
Living Doll p.14
Poem from She Who Dwells Within p.16
Margaret Fell, mother of Quakerism p.17
Women Against War p,18
Some Modern Quaker Women p.19
The Story of Inanna p.21
Events: Kenosis – getting ready for silence p.22
Woodbrooke on the Road p.32
News of Meetings p.24
2 Clerk’s Letter
The first time I plucked up courage to attend my local Quaker Meeting I aimed to be a
couple of minutes earlier than the stated time for the start. Inside the meeting house
found a doorkeeper by the open door of the meeting room and, nervously, I said a
‘good morning’ very loudly as I went in, not expecting a room already mainly full and
silent. Since then I’ve tried to be a bit quieter!
You always have to pick up the unwritten ways of a new group and Quakers are quite
good at not always telling you how things work. This despite all the leaflets we give
you! So this is an explanation for ‘what actually happens number 1’.
We generally advertise our meetings for worship as beginning at 10:30, or 11:00, or
whenever. They don’t. They start when the first person sits down. In my meeting, with
its meeting house and separate lobby, this is usually about a quarter of an hour before
the meeting is scheduled to ‘start’. By the time it reaches 11, the scheduled ‘start’, a
large number are already present and those able to be earlier have helped ‘settle’ the
meeting and provide a stillness to enter. In other meetings, especially in a hired room,
there may not be a lobby so this is more difficult, but Friends are often wise to this and
try to ensure some stillness in the room before the appointed time.
Quaker faith & practice (Qfp) 2.41 uses Alexander Parker from 1660 to describe this
The first that enters into the place of your meeting … turn in thy mind to the light, and
wait upon God singly, as if none were present but the Lord; and here thou art strong.
Then the next that comes in, let them in simplicity of heart sit down and turn in to the
same light, and wait in the spirit; and so all the rest coming in, in the fear of the Lord, sit
down in pure stillness and silence of all flesh, and wait in the light… Those who are
brought to a pure still waiting upon God in the spirit, are come nearer to the Lord than
words are; for God is a spirit, and in the spirit is he worshipped… In such a meeting there
will be an unwillingness to part asunder, being ready to say in yourselves, it is good to be
here: and this is the end of all words and writings to bring people to the eternal living
So meeting for worship is a process in which we all take part, even if we can’t all get
there early. My old friend and mentor, Tom Bodine, describes the end result in Qfp
2.47: As a meeting ‘gathers’, as each individual ‘centres down’, there gradually develops
a feeling of belonging to a group who are together seeking a sense of the Presence. The ‘I’
in us begins to feel like ‘we’. At some point – it may be early in the meeting or it may be
later, or it may never occur at all – we suddenly feel a sense of unity, a sense of
togetherness with one another and with that something outside ourselves that we call
Michael Hutchinson, 20th October 2017
Report of Area Meeting, Tarbert, 26th August
We went to Tarbert again this year for our Area Meeting at the end of
August, I find going on a bus through the lovely countryside of Western
Scotland really interesting, however often I have been previously. It is a
long journey, but with good friends to travel with and good food when we
get there and a good place to stay overnight, it feels like a short holiday.
The small Meeting in Argyll are welcoming and the Area Meeting is well
organised, so that it is a pleasure to be there.
Area Meeting was positive. The first business started with thoughts about
the outcome of the last three years consideration of ‘How we live out our
Faith’, the exercise initiated at Yearly Meeting three years ago. Not having
been able to be at Yearly Meeting this time, it was interesting to hear
Friends discussing what it had meant to them, and continuing to express
what their attendance at this Yearly Meeting had felt like. The enthusiasm
of Friends who had been there for the first time was encouraging.
There was quite a bit of business which went on longer than had been
expected. For me it was exciting to hear of the two Attenders who had
applied for membership, one of whom I know well. Each one of us there
will have our own memorable items to remember, but having rightly spent
most of the time on the first two discussions, there was still a good bit of
business to be dealt with quickly later on. It is frustrating for clerks to
realise that there should still be business to deal with when the time has
gone in which to do it, but our clerk this time had carefully worked out how
to get through the main part so that there was not too much to have to
carry over until next time.
I think we all from Glasgow got a lift home with someone else who was
there. We certainly had a quicker drive than coming with the bus and of
course our driver did not have the stops to make that the bus did, but she
did have to do the taking each one of us closer home than he did. For me it
was a happy day spent with good company, good clerking and positive
Joyce Minnis, Glasgow
Report on Area meeting, Dunblane, 14th October
For me, and several others, this was an AM where travel and worship featured most. A
perfect autumn day with glorious colours on trees in and around Dunblane. The
railway line is being electrified and the bridge at Dunblane is being raised to facilitate
the work. The result for the faithful on Saturday morning was scenic diversions, as
well as some frustration.
The Meeting for Worship is at the core of our being and organisation. Without that
we are just a group of people who sit quietly once a week, and chat over coffee
afterwards. But we ARE a worshipping community and this AM we spent more time
than usual focusing on the experience of worship. We considered the question “What
is important for good worship?” I found the experience stimulating as we Worship
Shared. We heard what works well for some Friends, what works not so well. How we
prepare for worship: the time ahead of Meeting for Worship, how to focus better so as
to hold the quiet space and not allow serious disruption. Study or Reading Groups are
a very useful vehicle for deepening ones spiritual life, and are enjoyed by all the many
participants of the recent Groups. There is a leaflet from FH which is well worth
reading and contemplating. ……………….. and is also available at Glasgow MH or online.
After the delicious lunch provided by Dunblane Friends, we heard reports from the
treasurer, the clerk and the nominations for the new triennium beginning on 1st
January 2018. (This is the 3-year period for which appointments are made for Friends
to serve the AM) The visit of George Lakey, the American Friend, best known for his
peace work and writing, was very popular across the UK, with more than 50 Friends
and others attending his Glasgow presentation. Another interesting event was hosted
by Ayrshire Friends for Quaker Week, with a theme of Peace.
Something that struck me again was the variety of work undertaken by Friends, both
locally and nationally, in the name of Quakers, and how much time and money are
invested in the work. We are always pleased to hear about this work, often feeling
proud when we hear of this in the mass media, but I realised again how much it costs.
From the early days of Quakerism investment was made in the individual Friend’s
spiritual development, as well as the social development and care of communities, and
society in general. (Joseph Rowntree being the name most familiar to non-Friends.)
We have a budget of £25,000 for the coming year but our income is declining. We
were reminded that the price of a cup of coffee donated each week to AM, by each
member/attender, would be enough to cover AM expenses.
Margaret Morton, Glasgow
George Lakey: Campaigning and the Quaker Faith
George Lakey cut a sprightly octogenarian figure as he spoke in Glasgow Meeting
on Sunday 8th October about his recent book, Viking Economics. He opened by
describing how his wife is Norwegian, but they chose to move to his native
America because Norway was too much of a sorted society to give vent to the
campaigning activism with which they wished to live their lives’ witness. As the
years went on, he came to ask himself more and more what it was about the
economies of “Viking” nations – specifically, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and
Iceland – that led to their consistently high ranking on measurements of
national happiness. Ergo, Viking Economics, the title being deliberately chosen
to grab attention.
The bottom line, as he discovered from studying political science, is that
national happiness varies in direct proportion with equality. Nordic societies
have chosen paths of socio-economic development that have promoted relatively
low differentials between rich and poor. This results in fewer social stresses.
Readers of The Spirit Level will be familiar with this argument.
However, as a life long campaigner for peace and social justice his question went
further. Nordic societies had not always had such healthy national profiles. In
the early to mid-20th century they also had fascist leanings. What had they done
that has marked them out from many other parts of Europe and, especially, from
the United States of America? His conclusion is that they have developed an
approach to society and economics that places the emphasis on people more
than capital. Throughout the 20th century, Nordic people have actively
campaigned for social justice. “Campaigned” is the operative word. George is
convinced that what is needed is not one-off actions, but sustained and carefully
strategised campaigns, such as Saul Alinsky advocated in his book, Rules for
Radicals. The Nordics came up with a vision for a fair society and they worked
consistently and methodically to realise it, targeting their attention right where
the power lay, including the individuals with whom power lay, such as the now imprisoned
Quite where that vision first came from he did not get round to explaining.
George’s style of presentation had us laughing so much, with many funny
anecdotes and such a grandfatherly storyteller’s style, that our critical faculties
were perhaps suspended. After all, the marauding Vikings were hardly paragons
of social justice. Was it something in their predominantly Lutheran faith
background? Is it something about small nations on the periphery, of which
Scotland is also an example? Or something about societies not far removed from
their rural roots? We didn’t quite get round to asking those questions.
We didn’t, because much of the lecture was taken up with George’s fascinating
account of how a group of Quakers whose organisation he co-founded – Earth
Quaker Action – had campaigned on mountaintop removal as a method of
extracting coal in the USA. 500 mountains have been blown up by corporations
to take the coal out without the need to mine. The result is local environmental
devastation in areas such as Appalachia, that are already poor.
I would have appreciated deeper spiritual insight at this point in the discussion.
My question to George was how they communicated a Quaker understanding to
activists who might not be Quakers. How was the spiritual ground held, so that
it didn’t become just another form of political activism? He said that the Spirit
achieved this. He gave an example of an action where one young man stilled the
whole gathering with his ministry, even to the point where the police officer
turned off his chattering radio out of respect.
I would like to have heard much more on that theme. Do the roots of our
nonviolence not press us to go more deeply into the spiritual foundation and
dynamics of action for a transforming world? As the preamble to the chapter on
the peace testimony in Quaker Faith and Practice has it, our testimony’s “roots
lie in the personal experience of the love and power of Christ which marked the
founders of the Quaker movement.” Have we fully understood this? George
Lakey mentioned “Spirit”, but I don’t think he spoke at all of God, let alone the
nonviolent example and teachings of Christ. It may be that such an approach is
passé. It may be something to be edited out in the next revision of what was
once called our book of discipline, or discipleship – that which we follow. But do
we really understand what is found there? Do we understand what it means to
follow something that goes beyond the ego domain of human reason? And if we
do not, can we, with integrity, claim to be ready to move on from it whether
passively, by not speaking of it, or more actively abandoning ship?
As I listened to George, I thought how much we need not just the strategic skills
in campaigning that he so aptly addressed. We also need a sustained explicit
grounding, a shared practice and literacy, in those “sources eternal” that are of
George said that for him it is not about kindness, it is about “tough love”. I get
that. But there’s also much more that could be said, and needs to be said, about
how we do that. Winning a campaign is one thing. Winning over ones erstwhile
enemies is quite another, and it is not always as impossible as it might sound.
George emphasised that we must campaign, campaign, campaign. I couldn’t help
feeling that while confrontation is important, it must also be about
transformation, and had time permitted I should have loved to have heard more
from him about that theme. Such is what can distinguish Quaker activism, or
spiritual activism, from the activism that any other group for social justice can
do with only a materialistic basis.
I must be careful here. It is not that these things were not implicit in what
George said. I just think we need live in times when we need to find the courage
to turn the inside out, to show how and why the spiritual is crucial. George’s
lecture was witty and inspirational. Perhaps it is a token of its richness that it
raised many questions, some of which were only partly answered and others,
perhaps, unanswerable. His presence both in what he emphasised, and what was
underemphasised, widens the window on what it can mean to be a Quaker in
today’s world. His visit to our Meeting was a blessing and I am thankful to
whoever made it possible.
Alastair McIntosh, Glasgow
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize
This happened just a matter of weeks after the UN opened its new Treaty to Prohibit
Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) for signature and ratification. This new Treaty stands with
the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in importance,
and by speaking about the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons and including the
perspective of states which do not have nuclear weapons, it addresses the shortcomings
of both of those treaties. It will come into force as soon as fifty states have ratified it
through making it part of their national legislation. One of the incredible things about
the Nobel award and the UN TPNW, is the recognition of the work done by ICAN’s
400 partner organisations in 100 UN member states . We are the drops of water in the
ocean of light flowing over the ocean of darkness, we are the grains of sand that will
change the course of the river.
Of course four ICAN partner organisations are in Scotland – Scottish CND, Edinburgh
Peace and Justice Centre, Medact and UN House, but Scotland didn’t send diplomats to
the negotiations at UN because Scotland is NOT a member state and the UK,
shamefully, is having nothing to do with it. Scotland has been represented at all the
TPNW negotiations through its partners, and our First Minister sent a strong message
of support. Her position in supporting the TPNW and in opposition to Trident is the
majority view supported through the Scottish ballot box over a few years now,
irrespective of who is representing us at Westminster. I was very pleased that I was
able to deliver a message to the initial working group and present a briefing about the
Scottish position at the negotiating conference; both documents are part of the UN
The TPNW absolutely prohibits not only ownership, use and stockpiling and storing as
one might expect, but also sharing, assisting another state, or threat of use. There are
positive obligations as well; to recognise, for instance, the disproportionate impact on
women and girls, and to remediate the effects on victims and the environment, so it
will undermine the position of the nuclear armed states and make it difficult for them
even if they do not sign up.
In the Vatican’s presentation to the UN working group that called for the conference to
negotiate the treaty, it is made clear that peace can not be achieved through a balance of
power between enemies, but requires a profound respect for strengthening mutual trust
amongst all nations.
ICAN understood the need for the participation of civil society organisations in the
negotiations and campaigned for that. It also appreciated the need for the evidence of
environmental and scientific experts, as well as the testimony of the Hibakusha and
other victims which was fundamental to the success of the conference.
Accelerating climate change and environmental degradation endanger us through
resource shortages and conflict, and human migration in turn increases the urgency.
But all of the efforts made to project the likely impacts of climate change and find
ways to reduce escalation would count for nothing in the event of any use of nuclear
weapons. The Faith Groups delegation at the negotiations understood this, and
underscored “the duty to protect the vulnerable and to exercise the stewardship that
will safeguard the planet for current and future generations” in their written
The TPNW will enter into force as soon as it has been signed and then ratified by 50
UN member states. We have enough signatures already so only a matter of months is
needed for states to ratify by ensuring that the TPNW enters their national legislation.
It is now incumbent on us to do all we can to encourage Westminster to understand that
it is Scotland – the country where all their nuclear weapons are based – that has the
right end of the stick, along with the majority of world states, and Westminster which
is holding fast to an antiquated and deranged idea that nuclear weapons are not a
danger to everyone on the planet and an indiscriminate and inhumane system of mass
murder that could catapult the world into irreversible global warming.
Parliamentarians should be encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org and state their support
for the TPNW and a commitment to challenging the UK Government to support the
Treaty and scrap Trident.
Janet Fenton October 2017 Parliamentary Liaison Scottish WILPF
I attended the negotiations over the last few years with support from WILPF, SCND,
NFPB, Trident Ploughshares and others see nuclearban.scot and icanw.org for more
10 News from the Parliamentary Engagement Working Group
The Parliamentary Engagement Working Group (PEWG) welcomed Ed Tyler from
Argyll who recently joined the group (and took part by Skype at our last meeting).
PEWG has focussed on the concept of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) as the most
practical way of taking forward our concern about economic inequality. However, we
recognise that not all Quakers in Scotland are fully behind the idea and so we are
planning a meeting early next year which is provisionally titled ‘UBI – friend or foe to
economic justice?’ which we hope will give Friends the opportunity to discuss the
advantages and disadvantages of UBI.
Joyce Taylor (PEWG Clerk) and Mairi Campbell Jack (the Parliamentary Engagement
Officer) attended the SNP conference in Glasgow on 9th October. The motion brought
by Young Scots for Independence, calling for the age of military recruitment to be
raised from 16 yrs to 18 yrs for all roles requiring combat training, was
overwhelmingly carried by Conference. Meetings were also held with Ivan Mckee
MSP for Glasgow Govan, John Mason MSP for Glasgow Shettleston and Angela
Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities who
were sympathetic to our concerns about militarism in schools and the principle of
Universal Basic Income. However, they questioned our idea of creating a Cross Party
Group on the subject and suggested looking for an existing CPG where the UBI agenda
Martin Mansell, Glasgow
NEW BOOKS IN GLASGOW MEETING LIBRARY
Quaker Social Action 150 years of Quaker Social Action. QSA  29p. S/QUA
Britain Yearly Meeting Epistles and testimonies. BYM 2017 98p. O/BRI
Miller, Annie A basic income handbook. Luath Press 2017 303p. S.MIL
Pearn, Jane The language of leadings: a reflection on faith, action and concern.
Quaker Books 2017 94p. Q/PEA
Librarian, Paul Burton will send books at cost of postage. email@example.com
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
16 days action 25th November – 10th December.
A group of Quaker women have come together to highlight these 16 days of action
around the abuse and violence against women in our immediate and global
communities. As women of faith, it is felt prayer and action are both necessary.
Kate Arnot, Mary Kennedy and Margaret Roy amongst others.
We have organized a programme of events and workshops which will be informative
and based on women’s lived experience. See poster overleaf.
We hope to engage the participants to find areas in their own lives where they
can progress as women and engage with other women in their families,
friendship networks and wider communities towards activism against genderbased
We would like no one to leave any of our events without feeling unable to speak out
(when safe to do so).
We would like women to know where they can go for support, for themselves & others.
We would like to see participants pledging to whatever level of activism they are ready
Why should Quakers support this concern?
There is gender inequality everywhere. It feeds on poverty and creates a cycle of
ignorance that underpins war and conflict. Attitudinal changes in a society are very
difficult to assess never mind deal with but as Quakers we are uniquely positioned in
the ways we can explore this and hold it in the Light.
There is gender inequality everywhere and this is not good….gender-based violence
is totally unacceptable and requires action to end it.
What follows are book reviews and articles in response to this – Ed.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
16 days of action
25th November – 10th December
This is an on-going action much needed when ‘ Violence against women and girls is a
global pandemic. In many countries there is a culture of impunity for those who carry out
this kind of violence. It is seen as normal, acceptable, and even Christian churches very
often hide, tolerate, perpetuate and even practice violence against women’ – Kathy
Galloway writing for Side by Side.
Talks and Workshops and Vigils
28th November on FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION
with Hilary Burrage (author and member of Global Media Campaign to end FGM),
and Wura Ogunrotimi …… of KWISA (African Women in Scotland)
1st December on WOMEN AND POWER –
with Clare Phillips of Castle Douglas Meeting, who stood for the Green
Party in Holyrood elections,
and Helen Minnis of Glasgow Meeting consultant paediatric psychiatrist in the NHS.
Both of the above at Glasgow Quaker Meeting House, 38, Elmbank Crescent,
6.30 food sharing then 7pm talks and interaction.
5th December UNDERAGE MARRIAGE
With Judy Wasige and Juliet from KWISA
at 39 Napiershall Street, Glasgow (Venue to be confirmed)
6.30 food sharing then 7pm talks and interaction.
Vigils – Thursdays in Black
30th November & 7th December 12.30 – 1pm at Donald Dewar Statue
Towards a world without rape and violence.
Wearing black on Thursdays shows others that you are tired of putting up with violence and calls for
communities where we can all walk safely without fear.
Follow-on Workshop – Alternatives to Violence
16th December 2pm Held at the Sikh Temple in Albert Drive, Glasgow.
(Venue to be confirmed)
For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
13 Book reviews: Headscarves and Hymans: why the Middle East needs a sexual revolution. Mona Eltahawy, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2015
Mona Eltahawy is Egyptian but spent some time growing up in the UK, partly in
Glasgow. She moved to Dubai when she was 15 years old. Currently she lives in Cairo
and New York. As a journalist she travels widely talking on Arab and Muslim issues
(CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera). Newsweek named her one of its 150 fearless women of 2012.
The book is well illustrated with cases of people she has met on her travels but her
priorities may come as a shock to those who feel we have moved on from the early
days of Women’s Lib. For those who have never come across the polemic it is a
challenge. Much comes from her own experience. She first came across feminism
when a lecturer pointed out books in the library of her college in Dubai.
The first chapter is entitled Why they hate us. The discrimination is more than
institutional or even cultural. She says it is nourished at a deep psychological level by
religion so woman’s body is to be feared and controlled. She describes the ordinary in a
way that pulls you up. It challenges your reality of what is normal. ‘The clerical
obsession with women’s organs continues today. My favourite recent howler: driving
will damage your ovaries’. Some of it would be hilarious if it wasn’t real, or if it didn’t
remind you that your mum wasn’t allowed to wear trousers or go out to work, and had
to have dad’s meal on the table at the right time. But, my father was civilised: he never
beat mum and we did do things as a family, sometimes, and he supported my
education. One of the first actions of the Taliban was to close girl’s schools. As a
woman, the author could only sit in the back two rows of the bus – ‘What does that
remind you of? Segregation is the only way to describe it.’
She speaks out strongly regarding the Arab Spring. . . ‘But for women, there have
always been two revolutions to undertake: one fought with men against regimes that
oppress everyone, and a second against the misogyny that pervades the region’. In
2013 Thomson Reuters Foundation labelled Egypt as the single worst country for
women’s rights, scoring badly in almost every category, including gender violence,
reproductive rights, treatment of women in the family and female inclusion in politics
and the economy. There are plenty of statistics in the book. There are the horror stories
of ‘virginity tests’, of FGM, rape, underage marriage and Shira law. One eight year old
dies of internal bleeding on her wedding night to a 40 year old man – the family sold
their daughter because of poverty. Then, to escape the shame to the family, Filala and
Tamira were forced to marry their rapists – ‘trapped in a state of perpetual victimhood
as the wife of your rapist, where is the chance to heal, to mourn, to grieve over what
happened to you, to overcome and overpower the trauma, when your rapist is there
with you every day?’ They both committed suicide. She puts you in touch with the
personal but not as a voyeur. Your heart is deeply touched. However, I don’t think we
westerners can understand a culture in which even a 51 year old widow has to ask
permission of her 11 year old son to remarry. A woman’s body may be even the
property of her baby – in UAE . . . according to a law passed in 2014, a mother’s
breasts are her child’s property. A clause that is part of the child’s rights law makes it
mandatory for a mother to breastfeed her child for two years . . .
Whilst laws to ameliorate women’s circumstances are on the statute book, the means of
carrying them out do not exist realistically. How can a woman complain of abuse when
she has to go to the police station under the ‘protection’ of a male guardian, often the
abuser, her husband or father for example. The laws are often made under the pressure
of the West.
This book gives a detailed insight into life as a woman in the Middle East, mainly in
the Arab countries. However she has sharp words for Western liberals who prefer to
hide the misogyny as ‘culture’. She challenges that Western governments, the UN, etc.
fail to see the ‘reforms’ as in word only. She talks of the irony that men confined to
house arrest do not realise that women are always under house arrest, of the patriarch
outside the house and another within it.
Review: Living Doll, the return of sexism, Natasha Walter, Hatchette Digital, 2010
It may be easy to look at other countries then congratulate ourselves for how far we
have moved on. Indeed one commenter on the Violence Against Women project said
we had gone beyond the blame culture and angst to try to understand how violence
arises. So, after all these years of feminism, what is the current status of women? This
book challenges so many of our assumptions and describes the price women pay in our
society for ‘liberation’.
Can we really assume that Women’s Lib pioneered a society in which women are free
to follow a career outside the home, to earn equal pay to men, to be free to have sex
without fear of pregnancy, to have better consideration of the needs of childcare in the
work environment? The recent increase in sexual violence and more recently attention
given to sexual language used in argument and debate even towards female MPs are
themes current in the media which is beginning to take note that there is something
unacceptable but how did we arrive at this state? Something is changing. The author
contends that women are even more sexually exploited. It is not only your granny that
tuts at some of the on-goings in today’s society. I bet you have indulged yourself. Two
words leap out of the author’s argument: hypersexualisation and unindividualism.
They are not in the dictionary yet!
The book states that sexual freedom has not led to a milieu in which women can
explore their sexuality more openly, but for most women it is the opposite. The ‘book
makes a disturbing, passionate and compelling case for revisiting our notions of
equality’. It is not pleasant reading as she exposes the brutality behind the sex industry’s
‘increasingly sophisticated façade’. Pole dancing might be fun (don’t you have one in
your bedroom?) but . . . as she visits clubs to observe. it is not fun she finds – men
demand the girl to take off more and more of her clothes, to strike sexually explicit
poses, etc, jeering and shouting obscenities. The women she interviews find it
degrading and humiliating but they see the ‘glamour modelling’ as a quick way to fame
and fortune. She states that it exploits poverty, poor education opportunities and poor
career possibilities. And yes, she deals with the educated,’ middle class’ girl who says,
why not? She looks at the glamorisation of prostitution in modern film and literature.
She smashes the idea that there is ‘choice’.
The living doll title comes from the view that girls no longer only play with dolls but
are expected to model themselves on Barbie & co – the brilliant marketing strategies of
these brands are managing to fuse the doll and the real girl in a way that would have
been unthinkable a generation ago. Ever tried to buy a present for a girl that is not in
pink or does not have a motif of a Disney princess? And what about the playboy logo
on little girls’ lunch boxes? And little girls’ clothes?
Her concern that the sex industry has moved from the margins to mainstream changes
the way we see women. Dealing with the increased availability and use of
pornography, she speaks of sex without intimacy or emotion and the increasing
brutalisation of women by men who see them as objects. This leads to the breakdown
of relationships because of unrealistic expectations. Above all, she talks of the pressure
on young girls to conform to new stereotypes, even to having plastic surgery to reshape
their bodies to ‘modern expectations’. Sex dolls now come with 11 different choices of
vagina, different breast sizes and different heads and personalities!
This is the first part of the book. The second part looks more at statistics and
experiments. What is male and female? Do little girls really go for pink when before
WW1 it was the preserve of little boys?
Her arguments are challenging. Her prose is a bit long-winded but full of examples,
personal interviews and comments on social research projects. Alas, I did not get to the
end of the book as I found it too challenging, but it raised the question for me as to
where the real war is today and how our truth and integrity can apply to social
Margaret Roy, Lanark
Poem from She who dwells within., A Feminist Vision of a Renewed Judaism
In this book by Lynn Gottlieb, a rabbi, she captures the glimpses of women in the Bible then uses the myths of the Middle East to rediscover the feminine spirituality in Judaism. Here is one of the poems to the Shekinah, the female counterpart of the Judean god.
Wise Woman Psalm
Our elders taught us at the gate
Shekinah is present
When we sit and study Torah,
When we assemble in prayer,
when we taech our children to be kind.
Our elders taught us at the crossroads
Shekinah is present
When we visit the sick,
Attend the dead to their graves,
Celebrate at weddings,
Receive guests into our homes,
Give assistance to the poor,
And care for the earth.
Our elders taught us in the marketplaces
Shekinah walks with us
when we bring justice into the world.
They say: As Shekinah walks
so you shall walk, following in Her
They say: Justice,justice you shall
Our elders taught
Bloodshed, rape, and economic crimes
cause Shekinah to weep.
Lashon HaRah and bearing false witness
Cause Shekinah to depart.
She does not dwell where She receives
Our elders taught
that to which you cleave will come to
rset upon you.
One who cleaves to Shekinah,
upon you will She rest.
17 MARGARET FELL, 1614 -1702 Mother of Quakerism
Born in Marsh Grange near Dalton, she moved a few miles to Swarthmoor Hall on her
marriage to Judge Thomas Fell. There she welcomed the itinerant Quaker preacher
George Fox. Many other Quakers visited so it became a centre of the new movement.
Margaret herself became a Quaker spending several years in prison for her beliefs.
Her grasp of the Quaker vision captured ‘the very essence of the message of George
Fox, a pristine distillation of all that was most important.’ * Lewis Benson: Unlike Penn,
Barclay and Pennington, Margaret Fell was not an apologist for Quakerism. Like Howgill
and Crisp she belongs to an era of prophetic proclamation. Launching the early Quaker
movement would have been difficult without her help.
She is cited as being one of the first women to write espousing women’s spiritual equality
with men, as being a timeless promoter of the establishment of Women’s Meetings, in which
women were responsible for their own business affairs within the body of believers’.
Here are some of her words:
Therefore all people who desire to know the living God . . . turn your minds within to
the Light . . . this will rip you open and lye you open and make all things manifest.
The Truth is one and the same always, and though ages and generations pass away, and
one generation goes and another comes, yet the word and power and spirit of the living
God endures forever, and is the same and never changes.
We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity; it is
our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same, and do deny and bear our testimony
against all strife, and wars, and contentions that come from the lusts that was in the
members, that war in the soul, which we wait for, and watch for in all people, and love
and desire the good of all . . . Treason, treachery, and false dealing we do utterly deny;
false dealing, surmising, or plotting against any creature upon the face of the earth, and
speak the truth in plainness, and singleness of heart.
And God hath said that his daughters should prophesy as well as his sons; and where
he hath poured forth his Spirit upon them, they must prophesy, though blind priests say
to the contrary, and will not permit holy women to speak.
Margaret Fell, Mother of Quakerism Isobel Ross 1949 William Sessions Ltd., York
*A Sincere and Constant Love Terry S Wallace 1992 Friends United Press
Undaunted Zeal, the letters of Margaret Fell Elsa F. Glines 2003 Friends United Press
Women Speaking Justified booklet edited by Christine Trevett 1989 Quaker Home Service
18 Women against War
In 1962, A group of Swiss women gathered at the UN in Geneva , with babies in
prams, and a banner, “We have had enough”. This in response to an accident at the
French underground nuclear test in the Algerian Sahara on 1stMay 1962 when a
hundred soldiers and officials were irradiated. If they’d had enough in 1962, they must
be beyond patience at this stage. Increased health risk for pregnant women and children
is one reason for women to be active against nuclear weapons and power, even if their
actions are forgotten.
Powerful readiness for military action or wielding a weapon are recognised masculine
behaviours. Wanting to talk, put the weapons down, or abolish them altogether is seen
as weak, feminine and ineffective. Gendered perspectives which equate effectiveness
with military spending and dominance exclude women from authoritative roles in
addressing threats or offering any solutions.
Women evacuees from Fukushima, and Korean nuclear survivors tell of gender
discrimination. To add insult to nuclear injury, they are considered not marriageable,
damaged goods, a liability, poisonous or even a threat to stable marriages. This is a
democratic deficit that beggars belief in a modern world with technology that can put
people on the moon and transplant the human heart.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) contributed to
establishing United Nations and its first resolution, for nuclear disarmament.
It has two main UN programmes. Reaching Critical Will works for an end to the
legitimacy of the use of weapons and force as a response to conflict. Peace Women
works for including women’s voices in conflict resolution and upholding women’s
human rights. Both programmes aim for women’s’ direct experience of conflict to be
authentically articulated at the highest diplomatic level.
Militarised response to crisis usually creates, rather than resolves conflict. Military
expenditure is rising so fast that governments cannot meet the needs of their people or
provide resources to tackle climate change, a major cause of resource shortages and
conflict. Women are referenced as vulnerable victims, grouped with children and the
elderly which reinforces the idea that gender based violence is not about social
constructs. It confirms women as inherently vulnerable victims of male violence that is
unchangeable or capable of deconstruction. Military expenditure by the US per day
would fund the UN’s programme for women for seven years. This must change for real
progress to be made.
Janet Fenton, Scottish WILPF Parliamentary Liaison, Vice Chair Scottish CND
Women Against War
19 Some Modern Quaker Women
Meg serves as Elder and Overseer at Lanark Meeting where she sets the tone with flowers
from her polytunnel, often also welcoming us with a roaring fire on cold days. During the
summer she walked from Edinburgh to Wiston creating a ‘bee tunnel’ raising awareness of
the plight of bees.
She started attending Quaker Meetings while being involved in the Peace Movement.
“I felt I needed something to ground me.” Her first involvement in the peace movement
was as part of Campaign Atom – an antinuclear a group campaigning in Oxford against
cruise missiles which were originally intended to be based at Upper Heyford in
Oxfordshire. Following a visit from CND, Campaign Atom organized a 15 mile
march of round 1000 people from Oxford to Upper Heyford, ending with speeches.
When it was decided to site the cruise missiles instead at Greenham Common, in 1980,
a group from Campaign Atom spent between Hiroshima and Nagasaki Days, August 6th
to 9th, outside the gates of Greenham Common base, and were joined by a group of
monks from the Peace Pagoda at Milton Keynes. Many of those outside Greenham
were women. This same summer, a group of women set off to walk to Greenham from
Carmarthenshire in South Wales. When they arrived they set up the Greenham
Common peace camp. Over time, the peace camp grew and increased, spreading to all
the gates of the base. A number of women gave up everything, leaving jobs and
families. The camp was supported by women from Oxford and Newbury Quaker
Meetings. In the years following, the peace camp was joined by large demonstrations
like Embrace the Base in which thousands of woman linked hands round the whole
site. A mixed gender peace camp was established later at Molesworth, the second
cruise missile site.
Following this Meg worked for European Nuclear Disarmament – a campaign both
anti-nuclear and designed to break down the opposing blocs. Started by
E.P.Thompson, END was supported by Peggy Duff a founder of CND and Mary
Kaldor. After this Meg became General Secretary of CND for 5 years – Bruce Kent
replaced her in the role. At the end of this period, Helen Stevens invited her to a
conference at the Iona Community in the West of Scotland. There, sitting outside the
Abbey, she heard the sound sheep make eating grass, and remembered she was a
country woman, so why was she living and working in London? A week later a
telephone call from a friend said the Iona Community was advertising for a gardener;
She part-shared this role until she took over as Staff Co-ordinator for another two
years. There, she sometimes led the silent grace at mealtimes but found that for many
of the guests even a minute of silence was difficult. On Sunday evenings, sometimes
she and others, mostly Quakers, led a fifteen minute silent worship in the Abbey.
Her next move was to Wiston Lodge where she worked initially with Jean Oliver and
Donald Scott, a Church of Scotland minister. It was not much used at the time, few
groups visited, so they had to build up a new set of user groups. Significantly, this
included setting up activity weeks designed for young people from homeless hostels –
the brain child of Gil Gillies who had also come from Iona and before that as a
volunteer with the Corrymeela Community. At this time Meg made contacts with local
Quakers, Elizabeth and Ian Allen, and Margaret and Peter Whyman.
When YMCA Scotland decided to sell Wiston Lodge, a small group set up an
independent charity, Wiston Lodge, which has now been running for 10 years. The
centre now flourishes as “a place to grow” for those with disadvantaged backgrounds,
and of course there are also regular visits from Quaker Meetings, music and arts
workshops such as The Tinto Summer Schools, and Buddhist and Sufi retreats, and
residential weekends for Quaker Meetings from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Meg was brought up in a pacifist religious community. When the war broke out, her
father was working for the BBC. As a conscientious objector, he was given the choice
of prison, or work in ambulance, mines or agriculture. He decided on farming instead
of going to war. Her grandfather was a novelist, who was involved in the formation of
the Peace Pledge Union.
Ironically she married a serving officer the RAF – another very different kind of
community – but within time, and after having two sons, she realised she was not cut
out to be a service wife. At the start of her married life they spent two years in Libya
close to Tobruk where she observed the position of women in society. Much later, and
after her marriage ended, she took a degree in Comparative American Studies at the
University of Warwick. This included studies of “Women in the family” and the black
power movement – all political wake-up subjects which led naturally to the
involvement in the peace movement. During this time she met a number of feminist
thinkers including Sheila Rowbottom, Joan Smith and Mo Mowlam – all later involved
in END and CND. She has strong feelings that women such as Mo Mowlam are not
given the credit for their roles in political and public life. In reality it was Mo Mowlem
who pioneered the breakthrough in Northern Ireland politics (accredited to Tony Blair).
As a student of history, she has strong feelings about the revisions of Quaker Church
Government from the traditional functions and roles of Preparative and Monthly
Meeting to the current practice of Local Business Meetings and Area Meeting. Is this
where we lost our roots back to George Fox? It is important to keep the historical
perspective alive as through this we develop our thoughts of what Quakers are about.
Today there is a different spiritual significance: is it run more on a business model?
For Meg, taking the long view, it is deeply significant that the early Quakers grew up in
times of great political turmoil, just as Thich Nhat Hanh did during the Vietnam War.
And today, Meg can’t separate Quakerism and Meditation . Together they keep her
grounded. When she looks at the Engaged Buddhism of Thich Nhat Hanh and the
Community of Interbeing, she draws great parallels with spiritual needs today.
Nuala Watts Being a Quaker (Disabled) Woman
I was recently asked to write about any difficulties I have experienced as a woman and
to relate these experiences to Quaker values. My first response was that most
challenges have been caused less by being a woman than by having multiple
disabilities, visible and invisible. I’m not convinced it’s sensible to focus on a single
characteristic when we live all of our aspects at once.
There is a common assumption that disabled people must be asexual and/or childlike.
This shields disabled women from some, though not all, sexual harassment. Instead it
can lead to silly questions – ‘Where’s Mummy? Are you dying?’ Both those questions
came from adults. Children are much more accepting.
I am now very obviously pregnant. In biological terms this is a purely female
experience. To my delight the silly comments have almost vanished. Pregnancy is
stronger than disability. People like talking about it and they know how to react. It acts
as a protective charm against some of the harassment I generally receive. It encourages
equality. It is true that some maternity staff infantilise pregnant women but they do that
One aspect of pregnancy that has shocked me is the profound inequality that underlies
prenatal testing, especially for non-fatal conditions such as Downs Syndrome. When I
was seven weeks pregnant I received a 58-page booklet on screening. Of course some
conditions are dangerous or life-limiting and should be screened for. But the eugenic
aspect of this troubles me. I chose to undergo the first, non-invasive test because it
would help us to know and prepare. In the interests of honesty I must admit that I was
hugely relieved when the test showed low risk. Admitting this later to a roomful of
disability activists was hard.
I was relieved because disability lags behind other protected characteristics in terms of
equality. It’s not an experience I want for my child, though of course they will
experience it second hand. It complicates life on many levels, because society is poor at
accepting non-standard perspectives. If you are disabled you will experience challenges
related to at least some of the following: education, employment, poverty, toilets,
roads, attitudes and sometimes, if your disability is perceptible before birth, to simply
staying alive. We have a long, long, way to go compared to non-disabled women.
The lives and value of disabled people have been insufficiently imagined. We are all
unique and precious, regardless of ability or medical status. As an activist I aspire to a
society that fully acknowledges this in practical as well as theoretical terms. In a more
accessible world the problems caused by disability would diminish. No more crawling
into buildings or squinting at unreadable pregnancy tests. True equality will take a long
time to appear and may never come, but I think as a Quaker it’s a reasonable goal.
Nuala and Alastair’s baby arrived safely at 9.51 on 2nd November weighing 7lbs. 8oz. Welcome Isabelle Grace McIver .
KENOSIS – GETTING READY FOR SILENCE
25TH November 10.30 for 11am
Glasgow Quaker Meeting House
We will listen to recordings of Alastair McIntosh and Cynthia Bourgeault
on the subject.
Lots of Silence and Discussion.
A bit of chanting: embodiment and release of the spirit.
Celebration of Joy with Bob Mandeville.
For more details contact margaret.roy@btinternet or firstname.lastname@example.org
The unexamined life is not worth living – Socrates
The Story of Inanna
Inanna was a very powerful queen, loved and feared by many, worshipped
many, especially women who saw the all-powerful goddess as protecting
them in so many ways, including granting them children in a world where
barrenness was to be despised.
Alas, Inanna had a regret. She had let down her sister. Ereshkigel was raped
and kidnapped then descended to Hell on her marriage. She was the dark side
Eventually, Inanna decided to meet up with her sister. To do this, she herself
descended into darkness. She had to pass through many obstacles each of
which cost her dear. At each of these gates, a layer was peeled off until she
was exposed, raw and naked. It was in this vulnerable condition that she faced
her sister who killed her and hung her up on the wall.
Thank goodness, she had taken precautions. Before she left on her journey
she had left instructions with a friend, Ninhursag who now reached out to
rescue Inanna. Contacting Enki her father, he send out little spirit helpers that
were so small they could sneak past the seven big gates. In Hell, they found
Ereshkigel in the process of giving birth, in the pains of creation. When they
eased her pain Ereshkigel granted them a wish. They choose the remains of
Inanna that they took back to the light, to the upper world where she was
revived and envigorated.
Moral: Don’t despair in your darkness. The Light will find you.
How do we rehumanise men and women when we are so dehumanized by patriarchy? How do
we help people dialogue with their inner teacher? How do we help people reconnect with the
Verene Nicolas, Glasgow
25 Notes from Meetings
Life for Milngavie meeting has continued in the familiar pattern of meetings on second
and last Sunday each month. We have welcomed visitors to our circle of around 12
worshippers on several occasions, always good to hear their news. On last Sunday of
the month we take our contributions to the local food bank. They are now recognising
that we are regular contributors, which raises the Quaker profile. We also take our turn
to contribute to the “Yours Faithfully” column in the Milngavie Herald on a rota basis.
White Poppies were sold at meeting in October, ready for Remembrance Day. Barbara
brings us back news of Quaker Housing Trust, where she is a Trustee. Recently QHT
have funded two projects in Scotland a flat in Glasgow for Street Connect who support
people with addictions. The flat is for those who have completed rehab, to learn or
relearn homemaking and tenancy skills. The second is a flat in Glenrothes where the
YMCA have bought an empty flat which they refurbished for a homeless family.
Cairns along the way
In his book “The Old Ways “ Robert McFarlane refers to the thousands of
footpaths in the Western Isles which are defined by “intervisible cairns or
standing stones.” These cairns were guidelines especially for children who
marked their moment of coming of age by finding their way to the family
shieling on their own. My “coming of age”, my path into Quakerism, was
through the Dunblane meeting, which I joined in 1986. Looking back, I can
identify a number of “cairns” that were waymarks on that pathway.
I joined the Dunblane meeting in 1986, but knew of its existence from the
beginning. When we moved into Tannahill Terrace in 1967 we were welcomed
with great kindness by the neighbours opposite at no. 6, Bill and Betsy Aitken. I
became aware of groups getting together in their home for worship, and learned
that it was a Quaker group. So when almost 20 years later I was looking for a
new spiritual home I felt drawn to explore Quakerism. I felt immediately at
home in the quietness and relished the freedom of belief and acceptance
I found in my local meeting at Dunblane. The more I learned of the emphasis on
that of God in every human being, the more I tried to put behind me the
damaging emphasis on sin and guilt within the evangelical church. I had started
a life-saving journey towards spiritual growth and self-acceptance.
A high point on my Quaker path was reached in 1994, when, along with my
husband Jim, I set off as a representative of Britain Yearly Meeting to teach
English at the West China University of Medical Sciences in Chengdu! Links had
been kept with a small group of Quakers there who had been persecuted during
the Cultural Revolution. Their courageous faith stands still as a beacon of light
to the power of the human spirit when imbued with the Divine. One of our
students commented that if he hadn’t been a Communist he would have become
Cairns as well as marking high points can be memorials to losses too. My new
found confidence was shattered on March 13th 1996 with the tragic events at
Dunblane Primary School. My main memories of Dunblane meeting a few days
later are of hugging 6 year old Debbie Garner and listening to Bill Aitken’s
ministry on hope. Several of the meeting were heavily involved for many years
after, trying to support the bereaved families. Within the meeting itself, the
years 2007-2016 were particularly difficult, with tragic accidents, terminal illness
and death hitting us hard. Times spent at Woodbrooke College where I was able
to share the heartbreak helped a lot, and on one occasion I found in a little
notebook in the gazebo the following lines:
When you come to the edge of all that you know
You must believe in one of two things
There will be earth on which to stand
Or you will be given wings.
Dunblane Meeting over the last thirty-one years has remained the foundation
stone of my spiritual life. I have had different roles within meeting and served on
varying groups within the Society of Friends which greatly enriched my life,
especially in the realms of friendship and mental stimulus. To my great
astonishment along with Richard Thomson quoted below I found myself leading
a day of spiritual enrichment in Worthing in 2006. My basic nervousness has not
gone away but the encouragement and compliments I have received from
Friends have helped me to believe in my personal qualities and skills.
As well as a foundation stone, is the meeting perhaps also like a gathering stone
for those who believe that “truth is the daughter of experience, not of authority”i
and that “everyone is born lovable, sociable and non-violent”?ii In a recent talk at
Glasgow Meeting House, Alastair Macintosh asserted that “at our best, meeting
for worship is where we magnify our community together.” This strengthening
of bonds of community and friendship is perhaps, as Richard Thomson has said,
the only hope for the future.iii The Quaker meeting has contributed much to the
life of Dunblane over the last fifty years; as the meeting faces the challenges of
the present and of the future, could the communal life developed within it
perhaps serve as a cairn pointing the way ahead for the wider community as a
i Bertolt Brecht, Life of Galileo.
ii James Naylor Foundation.
iii Richard Thomson, Fear and Reciprocity at the Brink, John Macmurray Fellowship Newsletter, Spring 2017.
Margaret Munro, Dunblane
HOLD IN THE LIGHT
Muriel Robertson who continues to be restricted to her home with arthritis.
Jean Oliver who has recently lost another member of her family, her sister.
Marion Fairweather who has recently lost her father.
Support for Friends World Committee for Consultation
Representatives serving on Friends World Committee for Consultation
(FWCC) ask for your prayerful upholding and fi nancial support of
FWCC’s work. Quaker concerns cross continents and varied ways
of worship and theology. We hope you can help support FWCC as it
continues to connect Friends in our work, our worship and our lives.
Marleen Schepers, 020 7663 1143, email@example.com
West Scotland Quaker News is published by West Scotland Area Meeting of the
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), 38 Elmbank Street, Glasgow G2 4PS.
Telephone 0141 248 84 93
The opinions expressed in this Newsletter are those of individuals, They do not
necessarily present the views of the religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
The deadline for contributions for the next issue of WSQN is 31st December
Copy should be send in Word format to the editors Alastair McIver or
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Dates for your diary
18th November GENERAL MEETING in Elgin.
25th November KENOSIS Thomas Group/Bible Study Mini-Conference
25th Nov – 10th Dec Action on Violence Against Women
4th December AREA MEETING by telephone.
9th December Woodbrooke on the Road – what can we do with what we’ve got
12th January AREA MEETING in Glasgow.