July 21, 2005

A humbling invitation

The day that the 2005 FGC Gathering was getting underway in Blacksburg, Virginia, I received a humbling, warm invitation to share more publicly some of the teaching ministry that I am now carrying, on Quaker identity.

The publications manager of Friends General Conference has encouraged me to submit a book proposal on the subject.
I am humbled by the invitation and by the affirmation.

Publications manager Barbara Hirshkowitz and I had been talking about the workshop on Quaker identity into which I was about to embark for the week. I had been in touch with her a month or two prior to the Gathering, wondering if there was something within The Good Raised Up and similar Quaker blogs that would be worthwhile to pursue in book, pamphlet, or anthology form. Some of my thinking along these lines had been inspired by Martin Kelley and his online writings, a sampling of which are compiled in his self-published Quaker Ranter Reader.

When I got together with Barbara at the start of Gathering, she soon was telling me about FGC's process of reviewing and considering materials for publication.

I had to interrupt her: "You mean, you're affirming the work I've been doing?! ...If it seems like I'm caught off-guard, it's because hearing that affirmation is so very different from what I typically had been hearing."

Barbara calmly said, "Yes, I want to encourage you to submit a proposal to FGC... This is a topic that I think is very important for today's times."

It feels a bit surreal. The Gathering and all its "separate from the larger world" gestalt has happened between now and then, for one thing. For another thing, it's taken me this long to put the reality of that original conversation into the context of other conversations I am having among Friends back home, including here on The Good Raised Up.

I pray that a clearness committee and a care-and-accountability committee on my behalf can be put into place very soon.


P.S. From time to time, Quaker bloggers and their readers touch on the topic of a book-form compilation or anthology of some of our posts. For example, see Beppe's comment on the post What is it with the Quakers and Jesus Christ?, by Brooklyn Quaker.

Food for thought, then:

Is there enough interest for such a collection?

UPDATE: In Ninth Month 2005, I heard from Barbara that the committee that reviews manuscript proposals is encouraging me to narrow the focus and resubmit a revised proposal, saying the topic I lift up, about developing and sustaining our Quaker identity, is important and relevant. Now I feel a pull to go back to listening within, to understand more fully the kernel and seed of what I am holding...


Anonymous said...

Liz, I am delighted to hear about this development. A care-and-accountability committee sounds like a good idea.

In answer to your question: Yes!

Here's what I said in the above-referenced post on brooklynquaker:
"Beppe said wouldn't it be nice to have a book of blogposts. I agree, and had the same thought the first day I read the Quaker Ranter, and it turned out Martin Kelley had already created a print-on-demand self-published book of posts from his site!"

(I risk repeating it here because Rich's original post was so long and there were several thoughtful responses after it, and want to be sure my mite made it into the treasury. :)

-- Chris M.

Anonymous said...

Humbling, my foot! Awe-inspiring maybe. Way to go, Liz.

I agree that the question of how we develop a Quaker identity - how that relates to our theology, to membership, to participating in a community of real people, all the stuff we've read about here and elsewhere on the Quaker blogs and especially your thoughtful, loving, challenging perspective - deserves to have the widest possible audience, both an insider and an outsider audience, and needs to be put forth in a variety of formats. Maybe you should do pamphlet and then a book.

And then maybe you'll come lead a workshop for my Meeting and my local Friends School on how one develops a Quaker identity.

When I first think of a book of blog posts, I am nonplussed. I think, who else would want to read this? But then I realize how often I forward posts and links to my Friends about something we were just talking about, or that I would like to be talking about more with them.

And then I thought about how often a set of papers from a conference gets published as a book, and I think this would be a little like that, a series of short essays (mostly) together with their comments. It would have to include the comments because they are part of the story. Would there be issues in getting permission to republish people's comments? Or is it already granted because it's been published on someone's blog?

Part of the interest in reading blogs and the comments is how they play back and forth - which would be hard to do in a book. For example, how would you show that Martin wrote a post and then Joe commented on it, then posted on his own blog about it which I read and commented on before I commented on Martin's post. I suppose you'd still have to have the dates and times. But it is as much the excitement of You've Got New Mail - someone commented on something I wrote or I read first that makes a blog interesting.

I also think there would have to be some more blogger identity revealed in a book, that comes across over time in a blog but wouldn't necessarily be evident in a single post. Like Amanda's writing is more interesting because I feel like I know a little about her background and her journey; she is more than the sum of her blog profile and any one post. And the breadth of Alice's interests make her blog more interesting - would you choose one about her organic garden, her high tech studies, her Christian theology, her plain dress?

And of course, who would choose? Would each blogger get to choose their favorite post? Would a committee choose the best written ones? The most controversial? Who decides who decides?

Um, Robin, that will be quite enough. It's just that tonight I have time to write back. Lately, I've just been able to read and then think after I log off, not to form coherent words to send back to you. But I have been reading, every word.

May God bless and keep you always Liz.


Liz Opp said...

To Chris M. and Robin M., thanks for your enthusiastic encouragement on all counts. It seems as though the Quaker blogosphere—and its participants, both bloggers and readers alike—are often dancing on that line of how will we know if we are called to do something further with blogs?

I would say, we'll know it just as we know any other leading: There'll be nudges, testing, some synchronicity thrown in for good measure... and shepherds—human and Divine alike—to bring it all together, as Way opens.

We just have to show up, hearts and minds prepared.


Sadiq said...

Nice blog. Praise be unto God.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations again!

I have a very strong feeling that your biggest question should not be whether enough people are interested. That question has to be asked and answered by someone else. I think there are better questions that belong more to you.


Liz Opp said...

Sadiq, thanks for the compliment and for dropping by. I sometimes wonder how this and other Quaker blogs are received by non-Quakers. But I suppose they are received in a similar way as how I read blogs from faiths other than my own: I learn, I find commonalities and universal truths, I find differences that are not to be part of my path right now.

Elizabeth, I appreciate and agree with your comment, that other questions belong more to me. As I had prefaced the question, "Food for thought...," I meant it for others to weigh and discern—an intention which likely doesn't come across with such cryptic language here. As you say, I shall leave it for others to ask and answer, unless or until I am led otherwise...