Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Bookclub list 2010-2011

If the angel


to come

it will be

because you have

convinced her,

not by tears

but by your humble

resolve to be

always beginning;

to be a beginner.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

This is the poem I read out loud last Saturday. I read this after Laura and Jill had read beautiful poems but before Beryl and Ruth read excerpts (perhaps they will post them here or contribute them to the newsletter). It felt very grounding and was a nice end to what was a session where we talked about books. Many, many books. We've set up books for the upcoming year even though we didn't plan it that way. We just had so many books and it seemed to all come together.

Each month will be facilitated by a different member of the group. People feel free - and are welcome - to drop in to the books/months that only interest them (and a number of people who come along now are non-Quakers). Some even come along if they haven't read the book as the point of this is not just to talk about literary "things" but to get to know each other and more about "life" and other "cultures" and "experiences" (too many quotation marks, sorry) through talking about the themes of the book. Some of us do stay for food afterwards sometimes but not every month. If you feel hungry, invite people to stay afterwards with you though and someone usually will accept your offer.

Themes coming up this year (and continuing on from last year really): can we trust memory, perceptions of "truth", emigration, what is "home," how do our experiences with our parents affect our understandings of spirituality, can we connect to the spiritual or creative through food/nature/others?

Here is a quick list for the upcoming year (so far all planned for Saturdays from 4-5:30 at The Blue Moon but check the Sheffield Quakers website or the Newsletter to confirm times and books beforehand as these rarely but occasionally need to change).

July 3: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Aug 7: God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy


Sept 4: Palestine by Joe Sacco

Oct 2: Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald

Nov 6: When we were orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

Dec 4: Away byAmy Bloom

Jan 8: Eight Months on Ghazzah Street by Hilary Mantell

Feb 5: Poetry (T.S. Eliot audiobook cd reading Wasteland and Four Quartets etc)

March 5: The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

April 2: Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson

May 14: Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything by Elizabeth Gilbert

In June 2011, I suppose if it feels right, we will read bits out again to each other and plan for the future like we've just done.

The local Sheffield bookstore Rhyme and Reason (a fabulous establishment) is very friendly and can certainly order in any of these books for you: 0114 266 1950 or suggest "similar" books (as in "I've liked this book, can you recommend something similar?").

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Essay Competition Results

The Friends Quarterly has recently announced the winners of its essay competition on the theme of 'The Future of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain'.

Three essays were awarded prizes, written by Linda Murgatroyd, Simon Best and Felicity Kaal. You can read the winning essays here.

In all there were 106 entries to the competition, and all of the essays are available to read online or download here. I have only had a chance to read a few of them so far, but it looks like a fascinating collection of perspectives and insights on contemporary Quakerism. It would be interesting to read your responses to any of the entries, if you'd like to comment below.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Canadian Quakers and Raging Grannies

I've been in Canada for the past couple of weeks and I visited my first Canadian Meeting in Montreal. It was in a community centre in a lovely area of town. They set up the chairs for a certain number of people. Every couple of minutes of so, the door would creak open and someone else would tiptoe in. This went on the whole Meeting until they ended up with twice the number of people they usually have. It was wonderful to be somewhere different that felt so very familiar on so many different levels as well. As I understand it, this year there may be a first Canadian "Faith and Practice" ratified at their Yearly Meeting in August.

In the Notices, one of the women mentioned a protest some were going to in Ottawa in conjunction with the Raging Grannies. Now this is something I'd sort of forgotten about but is a wonderful Canadian way women have found to protest very effectively about 25 years ago, almost the exact same time the Quaker Women's Group here in England were giving their Swarthmore Lecture. Anyway, the Raging Grannies seem to have fun during their protests while mocking stereotypes about older women and getting a fair amount of media attention as well.

Here's an article on the Raging Grannies:

Rock on Raging Grannies. I think they're the bees knees.