Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Spirit was willing, but the flesh had a job

Well, that's my excuse anyway. So much for "live blogging" at the QUIT Conference...it's a week later and I'm just getting around to writing something. And once I recharge my digital camera so that I can download the photos I took, I'll even post some pictures.

First of all, I really enjoyed meeting other Quakers from around the country (mostly the East coast) and even Canada. Canadian Friends number about 2,900 strong, according to the 2001 Statistics Canada. If big numbers are your measure of success and influence, then the Religious Society of Friends is obviously not the church for you. Not in Canada or in the U.S., where you'll be one of about 200,000 (cool map with distribution of US Friends here). But I don't really enjoy crowds, anyway.

Had a great ride down with my two companions, neither of whom is a Quaker. And I found out how great it is to go on long-distance car trips with women. They make lots of stops! This actually makes the time go faster...and it's a lot more comfortable. Great conversation. I really feel like I have two new friends now. All three of us decided that we'd like to live at Guilford College. The campus is just so beautiful with its red brick buildings nestled on a small, cozy bed of green. (The college had an unfortunate incident a few months ago involving aggression toward some Palestinian students --alcohol consumption seems to have played a role-- but the administration has apparently handled the situation well.) We were served great food in the cafeteria and embarrassingly sumptuous snacks in the conference building during breaks.

Here are the principal events of the conference:
  • Friday evening: lecture by Dr. Alfred McCoy, followed by signing of copies of his book A Question of Torture.
  • Saturday morning: lecture by Col. Dan Smith, who calls himself "The Quakers' Colonel" on non-violence and the military ethic and a presentation by Jeanne Herrick-Stare, FCNL staff member, followed by break-out discussion groups on actions that attendees can take to organize and involve others. (Former Army interrogator and Arab linguist Tony Lagouranis was, unfortunately, unable to appear as planned.)
  • Saturday afternoon: original dramatic presentation by torture survivor, artist, and activist Hector Aristizabal, followed by an interactive workshop
  • Saturday evening: screening of films The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib and The Torture Question, followed by discussion
So, that's the synopsis ...highlights to come.

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