October 2018 – Minutes

CLJP Minutes October 9, 2018
Monticello Room, Westminster Canterbury

Present: Taylor Beard, Hal Horan, Dave Warren, Peter Weatherly, Bob McAdams, Chip Sanders, BL Catron, Eugene Locke, Ed Murray, Diane Murray, Carroll Houle, John Peale,    Burnie Davis, Carol Muntz, Jim McDonald   Guest: John Surr, introduced by Peale

Sanders opened with prayer and presided.

The Minutes of the September 11 meeting prepared by Horan were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Since the September 11 balance of 2,466.85, Beard reported an income of 110.00, consisting of dues paid by Houle and Newsome, and an expense of 100.00 as an Honorarium paid to our September speaker, William Weatherly, resulting in a balance for October 9 of 2,476.85.

Beard said that he would be sending out a list of inactive members as well as the current members list and asked for any corrections.

Beard also stated the death of member Joyce Kerns and said that her memorial service would be held on Saturday, October 13, at 2:00 pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church, praising Joyce for her many active years in the cause of peace and justice.

McAdams gave two announcements:

The annual United Nations Founding Day Dinner will be held on Sunday, October 21, at 5:00 pm, at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church, to raise funds for UN Refugee  Schools and to honor Khizr and Ghazala Kahn.  Tickets are $25 and are going fast.  Contact Susan Roberts, sgwroberts@gmail.com soon.

On Sunday, November 18, at 3:00 pm, at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, the Blue Ridge VA Chapter of the UN Association—USA will present a GRAND DEBATE on the question, Is a Nonviolent Society Possible? Facing each other in the form of the British House of Commons, Proponents (led by McAdams) will argue its possibility, while Opponents will maintain that such a society is not possible.  To join the party of Proponents or the Loyal Opposition, contact Bob McAdams at rsm1539@earthlink.net.

Program: Eugene Locke on Parker J. Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy

Long an admirer of Parker Palmer’s Quaker flavored spirituality, Locke has taught the book for both and Olli class and his church.  The motivation came from the surreal feelings of shock and trauma of the Aug. 2017 events, standing as he did “just a stone’s throw” from the center of the Aug. 12 occurrence.  “I wanted to find a way engage in civic life constructively. . . So, I offered this course. . .and found that it was useful to people who wanted to understand the obligations of citizenship more deeply and could be moved, with the encouragement of those who were willing to listen, to find ways to make their own contribution to the common good.”

Since the syllabus Locke distributed is six pages long, these minutes will only include a few of what this scribe took to be some of Palmer’s more salient points. Attached is a pdf of the hand-out, and readers are urged to examine the prospectus with its quotations, questions, and bibliography charting what one commentator has described as a “cold civil war.”  Palmer’s own video links, some of which Locke shared, are a great help. Just “google” the book!

Palmer’s use the word, “Heart,” is more than the seat of one’s emotions. It is also one’s mind and the ability to reason, as in Tocqueville’s well known phrasing, “Habits of the Heart.” More often than not, our reasoning is filtered through our emotions for better or worse.

We’re all in this together, even those we regard as “other.”  So what are some of the possibilities for and obstacles against interconnectedness? Develop an appreciation of otherness that leads to sharing stories of extending hospitality beyond one’s “tribe.”

In this political climate, we are all suffering from heart disease. As Locke eloquently  described his own situation, “[I]f I just sat around, wrung my hands and suffused myself in outrage at the daily news cycle, I would have spiraled down into helplessness and depression, and would have been no good to anyone!”  The healing use for a broken heart is to break open rather than apart, in the way Lincoln, who suffered from profound depression all his life, broke open this own heart, “to bind up the nation’s wounds,” so evident in his two greatest speeches, the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural.

Two questions. Mindful of Tocqueville’s critique of two values Americans hold dear, individualism and communalism, how are these often contradictory but important values balancing today? How well is that vital center holding?

Remember that democracy is an endless experiment and we will never get it exactly right.  That is why the framers of the Constitution placed the three branches of government in what they took to be a beneficial creative tension. A good antidote for nostalgia is to be mindful that the golden age of a nation or a church is always in its future, not in its past.

And finally, a few quotes from the syllabus itself:

“The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human modesty, and in human responsibility.”
–    Vaclev Havel

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”- James Bald

“The country has to awaken now and then to the fact that the people are responsible for the government they get.” “The people have often made mistakes, but given time and the facts, they will make the corrections”  Harry Truman

“Restoring democracy will require more from each of us than the casting of a single election ballot. It will demand a sustained commitment to renew American institutions, reinvigorate common citizenship, and expand national prosperity. The road to autocracy is long – which means that we still have time to halt and turn back. It also means that the longer we wait, the farther we must travel to return home.”

David Frum, The Atlantic  October 2018

The meeting adjourned at  2:02 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Hal Horan, Recording Secretary