Patsy and Tony Martin lead groups in chanting. In 2000, at the Friends General Conference Gathering, they attended a chanting workshop facilitated by Beverly Shepard. It was a transcendent experience for them. When they returned home, they began organizing local groups. Currently they host chanting at the Bower Center in Bedford and the Friends Meetinghouse in Roanoke. Patsy is responsible for scheduling the groups and contacting people about the dates. At the groups themselves Tony introduces the chants. He uses chants from participants and well-known chanters as well as ones he has created himself. The chanting begins, is interspersed and ends with silence. The participants create the chant as they chant: listening to each other, following each other, leaving space between each other. Occasionally rhythm instruments accompany the chanting. Although there is certainly creativity involved, Patsy and Tony are reluctant to call the chanting they facilitate an art form. To them, it is ministry and a form of worship.
Patsy and Tony are also active in community theater. They actually met in a college play. Patsy taught drama at Liberty High School, and Tony occasionally directed plays as the gifted resource teacher at Bedford Elementary School. Nowadays they appear with the Little Town Players in Bedford. Patsy takes photographs and does paper crafts, as well. She loves to write a friend’s name in color over and over while holding them in the Light.
Patsy and Tony are long-time members of Roanoke (BYM) Meeting. When they were serving in the Peace Corps in Malaysia, they were introduced to Quakerism. They returned to the United States and were active in Meetings in Salina, Kansas and Charlotte, North Carolina. They became members of Roanoke Meeting after moving to Virginia in 1985. Patsy worked for Friends General Conference for 13 years, serving in the role of Junior Gathering Coordinator. Recently they began participating in the School of the Spirit’s “On Being a Spiritual Nurturer” program.
I know Patsy and Tony as great people and experienced Friends. So it was a delight to attend one of their groups at the Meetinghouse and take part in their chanting. I encourage you to join them sometime!
Charlie Brooker (b. 1971) is an English satirist, critic, presenter and producer. He is known for his sharp and cynical observations. His main subject is the effect of media (television, radio, print, video games, social media) on people. Writing primarily for television, his shows have included TVGoHome; Dead Set; Screenwipe and, most notably, Black Mirror. Brooker has also written for PC Zone and The Guardian. His awards have included a BAFTA; a Royal Television Society Award; three British Comedy Awards; a British Press Award; and three Primetime Emmy Awards.
Brooker was raised a Friend at Wallingford (BrYM) Meeting. His grandparents were Quaker missionaries. His parents were actively involved in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Brooker’s Quaker upbringing was very relaxed, however. He says, “I wasn’t really aware they were a religious organization for quite some time…. No one tried to hammer the God nail into my forehead at an impressionable age. In fact, the best thing about being a Quaker was the lack of God in my life. As a Quaker, I got to duck out of religious education lessons at my Church of England primary school. I sat outside the classroom with the offspring of other godless heathens, sketching comic strips….” While he continues to call himself a Quaker, he has also identified as an atheist.
Brooker is a ferocious talent. His Black Mirror, for example, is extraordinary. A sort of darker Twilight Zone, it challenges people’s unquestioning acceptance of social media. “The Waldo Moment”, for example, eerily prophesizes the rise of President Trump. Highly recommended.
“Norman Morrison” is a poem about the Baltimore Quaker who burned himself to death at the Pentagon on November 2, 1965. He did this in protest of the Vietnam War. Adrian Mitchell wrote the piece. The poem comments on the consequences of Morrison’s act, rather than describing the act. The piece’s tone is quiet and musing. At the end the poem speaks about the fire changing Morrison’s pink skin to a Vietnamese’s gold skin.
Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008) was an English poet, novelist, playwright and journalist. His subjects varied widely, though he often wrote about politics. He used everyday language and images and, above all, humor. As well, he was influenced by his love of music, especially rock-and-roll. He was the first reporter to print an interview with the Beatles and later edited and contributed the foreword to Blackbird Singing, Paul McCartney’s collection of lyrics and poetry. Mitchell’s works included Out Loud; Ride the Nightmare; Tyger: A Celebration Based on the Life and Works of William Blake; Love Songs of World War Three: Collected Stage Lyrics; and Adrian Mitchell’s Greatest Hits – The Top Forty. He also co-wrote US, a play about the Vietnamese and American burnings, like Morrison’s. He was honored with the Eric Gregory Award, the PEN Translation Prize and the Tokyo Festival Television Film Award. A prominent pacifist and leftist, he often recited his poetry at political demonstrations. Kenneth Tynan dubbed him “the British Mayakovsky”.
Norman Morrison was wrong and misguided. We struggle for life, not death. But his act continues to haunt me.
“Norman Morrison”, the poem, is heart-felt and heart-breaking. Below is a link to Adrian Mitchell reciting it, starting at 1:35:
A handful of photographs of Dolley Madison exist. They depict her alone; with her niece, Annie Payne Cutts; and in a group portrait with President James Polk and others. They were taken by Matthew Brady, with the exception of the last, which was taken by an anonymous photographer. In the group portrait her face is blurred because she has moved. (They are daguerreotypes, requiring the subjects to remain still for a period). Circa 1845, they show her in her later years. Some paintings of Madison also exist, one of them done by Gilbert Stuart. As well, she wrote classical poetry and epigrams and was noted for her colorful dresses and trademark turbans.
Dolley Madison (1768-1849) was part of the Founding Generation of the American Republic. The wife of James Madison, the third Vice-President and fourth President of the United States, she was greatly influential in early American politics. In Washington DC, a brand new town in those days, American politicians largely did not know each other and related to each other with distrust and, sometimes, with violence. Women’s public role in politics was limited. Despite both these circumstances, with adroitness, Madison endeavored to create an attitude of conciliation and inclusiveness. Her salons and dinner parties in Washington DC were gathering places for elected officials to talk face-to-face and without rancor. Her tireless networking and letter-writing also supported this. Additionally, her political advice to James Madison and her influence on patronage were vital. Finally, Madison created the role of the First Lady. From hospitality to charity to fashion to decorating the White House, she established many of the parameters of the position. She was, in fact, the first Presidential wife to be called the First Lady. Greatly loved by Americans, who called her, with affection, “Queen Dolley”, she was the most famous American woman of her day.
Dolley Madison was born in Cedar Creek, a North Carolina Quaker community, and grew up in Virginia and Pennsylvania Quaker Meetings. She worshipped at Pine Street Meeting in Philadelphia, where her parents were prominent members. She always chafed at the Society’s narrowness in the 18th century, however. A charming and lively young woman, she enjoyed the good things in life. (A Quaker elder once admonished her about her behavior. Madison smiled sweetly and then, as the elder went on, fell asleep). She married John Payne in 1790, and they were known as gay Quakers. (In those days this referred to Friends who enjoyed luxuries, not to sexual identity). After Payne’s death, she married James Madison and was disowned by Friends for marrying a non-Quaker. (She recalled, years later, after visiting Philadelphia, “(I) really felt an ancient terror of them (Friends) reviving to a great degree. The Religious Society used to control me entirely and debar me from so many advantages and pleasures. (Now I’m) so entirely out of their clutches”. She continued, on occasion, though, to use both the plain language and dress. As well, that reconciliation and inclusiveness she fostered in politics may have had roots in Friends. Madison did not follow some Friends beliefs, however. Tragically, she owned slaves. Despite James Madison’s will, in her impoverished old age, she even sold them. She also supported the War of 1812 wholeheartedly. After the burning of the White House by British soldiers, she stated that she wanted to consign them to the bottomless pit. In 1845, late in life, she was baptized into the Episcopalian Church.
It is remarkable to see photographs of Dolley Madison. They are the only photos we have of a leader of the Founding Generation.
Sarah Mapps Douglass (1806-1882) was a writer, painter, teacher and activist. Her prose and poetry were written under the pseudonym “Zillah” (and possibly “Sophonisba”) and published in the The Liberator, The Colored American, and the Anglo-African Magazine. Her paintings, generally of flowers, were included in her letters. She taught school in Philadelphia and New York City, among them the Institute for Colored Youth. As an abolitionist, in 1833, Douglass helped found the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society, and she was active at national anti-slavery conventions. She lectured women on female hygiene and anatomy, based on her studies at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania and the Ladies’ Institute of Pennsylvania Medical University. She also founded the Female Literary Society to encourage women to learn to read and write.
Douglass was a third-generation Quaker. She attended various Philadelphia Meetings, including North, Arch Street and Orange Street Meetings. The Institute for Colored Youth, at which she taught, was a Quaker school. She was a friend of Lucretia Mott and Sarah and Elizabeth Grimké. Though she worshiped, spoke and dressed as a Friend, however, she never applied for membership. (As neither had her grandparents and mother). This was because Douglass was African-American, and racism was wide-spread among Friends. Black Quakers were made to sit apart from white Friends on “black benches” and were denied membership. (Though in advance of other parts of American society –Friends forbade slave ownership and supported African-American education –they retained other racist practices). Douglass published a letter in the National Anti-Slavery Standard, refuting the belief that African-Americans preferred music and excitement in their religious services. (She wrote, “I myself know some, whose hearts yearn for the quiet of your worshipping places, and who love the ‘still small voice’, better than harp or viol.”) She also contributed stories about her painful experiences with Quakers to Sarah Grimké’s “Letter on the Subject of Prejudice against Colour amongst the Society of Friends in the United States”.
It was a shameful time among Quakers when they treated this Friend in that manner.
Above is a beautiful watercolor she included in one of her letters.
Howard Brinton (1884-1973) was an author, theologian, professor and administrator. His books included Creative Worship; Guide to Quaker Practice; The Society of Friends; Friends for 300 Years; Prophetic Ministry; and Quaker Journals: Varieties of Religious Experiences Among Friends. Brinton came from a long line of West Chester, Pennsylvania Quakers. He graduated from Haverford College with a degree in mathematics and physics. At Haverford he met Rufus Jones, who became his mentor. He went on to teach at Olney, Pickering, Mills and Earlham. In 1916 Brinton was appointed acting President of Guilford College, during which time he visited the conscientious objectors at Camp Jackson. He performed relief work in Germany with the American Friends Service Committee after World War One. In the 1930’s he earned a Doctorate in Philosophy, spent a year at Woodbrooke, and he and Anna, his wife, became Co-Directors at Pendle Hill. In his later years he was involved in AFSC relief work in Japan, the formation of the World Council of Churches and the reunification of pastoral and unprogrammed Friends. He is buried with his wife in the Oakland Friends Cemetery.
Brinton greatly influenced unprogrammed Friends through his writings. His recommendations on Meeting for Worship, Meeting for Business, First Day School, service and vocal ministry were adopted by these Quakers. His popularization of the term “testimonies” was broadly accepted. Furthermore, his selection of certain testimonies –simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality, known by the acronym SPICE –was commonly used. (Previously to Brinton, the word “testimonies” was almost never employed by Quakers. Such topics were referred to as “advices” and dealt with numerous concerns). Brinton’s belief that Friends is an experimental religion, grounded in experience, also appealed to these Quakers. Above all, his conviction that the basis of Quakerism is mysticism as reflected in Meeting for Worship was generally shared. (Friends from other branches of Quakerism, however, disputed this emphasis on mysticism).
I read most of Howard Brinton’s books when I first encountered Friends. They are a clear, solid explanation of Friends principles as practiced by unprogrammed Friends.
Nelson Dawson (1859-1941) was a multi-talented artist: architect, painter, etcher jeweler, metalworker, potter and writer. He began as a painter and etcher, especially of marine scenes. Later he became a key figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement, creating beautiful, handmade objects. Working closely with his wife Edith, he designed a wide variety of items: ornaments, dishes, boxes, plaques, lamps and jewelry. Toward the end of his life he returned to painting and etching. He was an Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers and Engravers.
Edith Dawson (1862-1928) was also a multi-talented artist: painter, jeweler, metalworker and writer. As a painter, her main subject was flowers. A key figure in the Arts and Crafts Movement, too, she made the items that her husband designed. Her specialty was enameling. Among their pieces were the bronze organ grille in Holy Trinity Church; a trowel and mallet used by Queen Victoria; and an ornamental box presented to President Wilson. Their studio became very successful over time and employed other craftspeople to carry out their ideas. With Nelson, she published Goldsmiths’ & Silversmiths’ Work and by herself Enamels. Their work is represented in private collections, the Victoria &Albert Museum, the British Museum and the National Maritime Museum. Rhoda and Mary, their daughters, were also artists.
Edith Dawson was born a Friend. Despite Quaker opposition to art in those days, she pursued painting and as a young woman earned considerable sums. She was also noted to wear a Quaker bonnet but trimmed with real flowers. Her daughter described her mother’s workroom as having “….the portrait of George Fox on the mantelpiece”. Nelson and she were married at Whitby Meeting in 1893. Nelson, however, supported World War One, working in a munitions factory and then seeking a position as a war artist at the Admiralty. Only after Edith’s death did he become a member of the Religious Society of Friends. His memorial service was held at Hammersmith Meetinghouse.
Nelson and Edith Dawson created gorgeous things. Above is “The Chelsea Meeting”, painted by Nelson, an exquisite watercolor depicting a Meeting for Worship gathered at the home of Caroline Stephen, author of Quaker Strongholds. Below that is a striking enameled buckle created by both of them.