Quakers and privilege

Via QuakerQuaker and Martin Kelley, I found Jeanne’s Social Class & Quakers blog and her blog game on class. As she says,

It’s based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. . . . The exercise developers hold the copyright but have given me permission to post it here and ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.

Go on over to Jeanne’s blog for a link to the creators, in addition to wonderful comments and links (in the comments) to others who have done the exercise.

Bold items are advantages I received.

  • Father went to college
  • Father finished college
  • Mother went to college
  • Mother finished college
  • Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
  • Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers (my father owned a business)
  • Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
  • Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
  • Were read children’s books by a parent
  • Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 (oil painting)
  • Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
  • The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
  • Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
  • Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
  • Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs (to put it in context, I went to a land‐grant institution with no tuition for in‐state students)
  • Went to a private high school
  • Went to summer camp
  • Had a private tutor before you turned 18
  • Family vacations involved staying at hotels (the first family vacation we took was the summer before I started college)
  • Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
  • Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand‐me‐down from them
  • There was original art in your house when you were a child (painted by my Grandma Sutton)
  • Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
  • You and your family lived in a single family house
  • Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
  • You had your own room as a child (eventually)
  • Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course (not to brag, but I was my class valedictorian; if I had needed such a prep course, I could and would have taken one)
  • Had your own TV in your room in High School
  • Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
  • Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 (my mother, sister, and I flew to the East Coast to visit D.C., Philadelphia, and my Aunt Martha in N.Y. state the summer I turned 13; and I flew to Europe for a FFA program the summer I turned 16)
  • Went on a cruise with your family
  • Went on more than one cruise with your family
  • Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
  • You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family (more to the point, I was unaware of cooling costs)

Jeanne adds:

To participate in this blog game, copy and paste the above list into your blog, and bold the items that are true for you. If you don’t have a blog, feel free to post your responses in the comments. Once enough people participate in this little game, I’ll do a Part II post about what all this has to do with Friends. (And you can, in your blog post, ponder what it means to Friends).

Go on over to Jeanne’s blog if you do this exercise, and let her know.

Teasing out Harry Potter’s Christian elements

I’d love to quote the conclusion of Nancy’s Apology: Harry Potter and the Eerie Silence, but that just wouldn’t be cool. It’s longish for a blog post, and worth every moment spent.

I don’t think it was the pagan or magic aspects of the Potter books that drove the conservatives nutty: I think it was the Christian elements.

Rowling, who is not a professed Christian, took 2000 years of christendom–in the form of symbols, legends, archetypes, allegories, and values–and put it into a new story.

(Hat tip to Johan Maurer and QuakerQuaker.org)

RP Redux

Today I came to a degree of clarity about the role‐playing situation in Caledon, the Victorian Steampunk region of Second Life. Here’s the entry I posted to caledonforums this evening:

Dear friends and neighbors,

I have today come to the conclusion that I can no longer support Caledon’s military activities. While the original goals are nothing but laudable, and many of you have poured untold hours of heart and soul into the activities of the current situation, I have chosen to visit abroad with my cousin Mr Paderborn until Caledon returns to a state of peace.

Perhaps it may be that I will find a way to contribute to the larger cause by taking some humanitarian role, and I may return from time to time for functions that are purely social in nature.

I look forward to the day when Caledon becomes once again a place of uncomplicated peace and contentment, and I return to my home in Tamrannoch, and to my lakeside cabin in the Highlands.

Yrs, etc.

Miss Hermione Fussbudget

End of roleplay

As Miss Fussbudget has noted above, the creators of the current scenario have shown nothing but the highest of ideals and best of intentions. I, however, have felt increasingly confused and put off not only by the activities within SL, but by the discourse concerning the affair on these forums and in the blogs that are fleshing out the story.

I don’t like feeling confused, and so I am choosing to absent myself from the situation.

One of my confusions is the on‐again, off‐again nature of the role‐playing. It is unfortunate that, once having taken up the burden of villainy for the laudable purposes of the scenario, the typists of said villains seem to tire of the role. Having no experience of that burden myself, I hesitate to complain, but I feel it is rude to ask the rest of us to treat them now this way, now that way, and indeed to complain (via these forums and on blogs) when others, within SL, respond in a way appropriate to the role of the villain.

A much greater sense of confusion, all along, has been the question of whether any good can come of playing at war. In RL I have spent most of my adult life as a practicing Quaker. Quakers, as you may know, bear a corporate testimony against war. But I thought, this is just RP, and it makes for some fun opportunities for play‐acting, and it’s all just make‐believe, right?

But in fact, the choice of a war scenario to raise funds for SLRFL has led directly to ill will and real‐life conflict and disaffection. I now believe that these RL ramifications are a result not only of inexperience (which is surely one part of the problem, as described by Her Grace of Loch Avie elsewhere in these forums), but also inherent in the choice of plot.


the typist for Hermione Fussbudget


I’ve been having a lot of fun (and spending a lot of time) in Second Life. My original avatar, created on November 20, 2006, is Otenth Paderborn. Otenth has dabbled in land speculation, done a fair amount of shopping, and created a Quaker meeting in SL (First Friends Church of Second Life, SLurl: Quaker/155/22). He’s about to teach a four‐week Quakerism class.

I’ve also created several alts, including one for work purposes named Thoreau Alcott. Only one of my alts is active, however—but she is very active. Hermione Fussbudget was created on January 22, 2007 in order to try out a new part of the orientation experience. Due to technical glitches, I wasn’t able to do that, and I thought, “oh well.” (Part of Hermione’s genesis is the result of how one creates an account in Second Life: You are presented with a limited number of surnames from which to pick; you can then add any forename that results in a unique combination. How could I pass up “Fussbudget”? And “Hermione,” well, I have very fond memories of Hermione Gingold on talk shows when I was a child, and it’s a killer combination. My friend Sonja then helped me create a realistic female shape, in contrast to the many, many Barbie‐doll figures found in SL.)

Hermione was on her way to the inactive list with my other alts, until I discovered Caledon, a multi‐sim, privately‐owned area with a Victorian Steampunk theme. It’s a beautifully executed environment, less cluttered and more manageable in size than the mainland, and with a thriving social community. And thus Miss Hermione Fussbudget found an engaging home and secured her future.

One of the activities in SL is the Second Life Relay for Life (SLRFL), an adjunct to the American Cancer Society’s annual fundraiser, the Relay for Life. It’s a major activity in Caledon, and there are many fundraising acitivities. Hermione invited Miss Ida Keen, the creator of very fine animated knitting needles, to create a special set of needles for Caledon, and she really outdid herself, creating needles that, when worn in SL, actually result in clothing and objects that you can give away. (You can get a set from the SLRFL vendor beside Hermione’s house in Caledon Tamrannoch.)

So, this year’s meta‐theme for the Caledon SLRFL is a “war” with Port Neualtenberg, another region on the mainland of SL. So far, so good. Hermione’s knitting fundraisers used the trope of “keep our boys warm,” appropriating images used by the American Red Cross during the First World War. She also bought a commission in the Caledon Militia, along with a suitable uniform and weapons (She is, apparently, not a Quaker!). So far, still so good!

But the people organizing the “war” events held an event last night that took a bizarre and, to me, offputting, turn. There was a Reconciliation Ball to which all the militia were invited, as well as Neualtenbergers. Broad hints were proffered that all was not as it seemed. And indeed, explicit instructions were delivered that a machinima was being filmed and that principals in the event had scripted roles. Since the war talk had been going on for quite a while, I thought it a good idea that some slight would be offered one way or the other during the ball and that, finally, we would arrange a straightforward shooting melee at some civilized, appointed time. I was happy for Hermione to attend the ball and, in effect, serve as an extra.

What happened, though, was a complicated (and long!) bit of scripted interplay that involved armed conflict between citizens of Caledon, with a confused conclusion.

As an inexperienced role‐player, I don’t know what to make of it. I’m happy to role‐play a slightly saucy Victorian spinster. I’m happy to be an extra in a machinima (albeit that part was extraordinarily boring!) I was happy to make low‐key war talk in a good cause. But I’m not happy, as the real person sitting at the computer enjoying myself in SL, to be made confused and at loose ends by some unknown group’s script. As a bystander last night, Hermione saw one of her neighbors in Caledon act reprehensibly as part of the scripted RP. What does an RPer who isn’t in on the larger picture do? Ignore it all until there’s another scripted event? Write and play my own script? Shun the neighbor?

I guess what I’ve discovered about myself is that I do not want, personally, to experience confusion and conflict that was created on purpose by other people RPing in SL. I felt like I was used as an object for other people’s enjoyment, rather than as a participant. (Once the scripted violence started, we were instructed to move back and shut up, in effect.) And I’ve discovered that I’m not sure how I feel about creating a mock war as a fundraiser. (War as a metaphor is fine. Even defined as “armed conflict against an enemy,” I don’t think all weapons are physical. The Lamb’s War is a sadly ignored concept from early Quakerism.)

And now I’m rambling, so I should end!

(P.S. Otenth and Hermione share a blog: Tenth Life.)