Saturday, August 03, 2013

Just when I've been busiest with work and other stuff, I ran across an amazing Quaker story, one that would be good to make either a story or a play, or both, out of, one that has totally inspired me to write again, Quakerly things.

This would be the story of Norman Morrison, a Quaker who set himself on fire in 1965 to protest the Vietnam War. The bizarre thing about what he did was that he took his one-year-old daughter down to Washington DC with him, handed her to a passerby, and did it right in front of Robert McNamara's Pentagon office window. His wife was left with the care of his three young children.

Many years later his wife wrote that she was so busy in the following years that she couldn't really get angry. But, when their son died of cancer at the age of 18, she finally expressed some anger with him, that he'd left her alone to raise the children and essentially grieve alone. It was a complex situation for those who were left behind, somewhat selfish of him on a personal level. But the effect he had on the anti-war movement was more questionable. It was the strongest statement of anyone, ever (possibly), against the war, and it could have had a pivotal impact for that reason alone. Such things are hard to measure, I'm sure.

One reason it would make an excellent play is that high school students are always struggling with this issue, and it brings it out into the open. Plays are written for Friends' education (at least in my case), and this one is tailor-made for it. I have not finished a play in years, but I have entertained ideas of collating the ones I have into a single book, and adding a few more.

But another idea has crossed my mind, and that is simply compiling compelling Quaker stories into a storybook that would in itself span many years and generations, and be as true to the facts as possible. This actually would be my weakness; as I've written the plays, I haven't had to worry about the truth or factual nature of what they were about; I took liberties.

Most of my plays, by the way, are linked off of this very site, or appear here as one or several of this site's maybe 44 posts. Most of them need work before being published in book form. Some of them would probably not make very good stories; some could be either plays or stories. I'd have plenty of material, no matter what I do. And I have a friend who keeps throwing leads in my lap. Plenty of leads, plenty of material. I'm also considering Quaker calendars. I'm a wilderness Quaker now, out on the high plains, separated from my people, for the most part. I have to find ways to connect.

Speaking of ways to connect, I've taken to trolling Quaker Facebook sites, among them Association of Bad Friends and several others. Last night I posted to ABF and got, so far, 85 responses. It was a whimsical post, but carried an image that I've maintained for 20 years or so. I'd never got 85 responses for anything. It was an interesting experience, and solidified my general identity as a member of the wider Quaker community...

Grace like a Balm, review, Sojourners

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