Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Association of Bad Friends

"So you're a Quaker?" I get that question a lot since I travel a good bit schlepping my books. People always seem a bit intrigued -- as if surprised any of us still exist. I usually answer, "Yes, a bad Quaker." Eyebrows generally raise at that. Then I go on to explain that, though I have been a member of the Religious Society of Friends all my life, I'm just not very good at being a Quaker. I find that I frequently fail to live up to the ideals of our Religious Society -- I'm not always peaceable, humble, truthful, ... well that's enough confession. While confession might be good for the soul, too much is enough to send a depressive like me into an emotional tailspin. But now you know why I say I am a "bad Quaker."

I have been comforted to find that I'm not the only one. Indeed, there are a number of us out there. Not that I'm going to name any. As I've discovered in my 58 years of Friendship, those who some people consider bad Quakers are often quite good Friends and some quite bad Friends are considered good Quakers.

So, other than obvious exceptions (like John Dillinger above), I think "bad Quaker" needs to be a form of self-nomination. One has to name one's-own-self a bad Quaker -- no one else can do it for thee.

I was thinking about this for lots of reasons (for one, there's a good deal of talk around these parts of Indiana about who's a good Quaker -- as defined by a certain Yearly Meeting's book of Faith and Practice -- and who's not), but mostly because one of my favorite self-named "bad Quakers" by the name of Jacob Stone sent me an email containing the following questions -- "Should we form the Association of Bad Friends??? Or Rogue Quakers of America???"

Whilst RQA has a certain ring to it (and slightly parallels the RSF), I think I'd go with the Association of Bad Friends (ABF). I've never thought of myself as a rogue -- I do like to heckle the herd from within, not lead it off into a new direction. And I think "of America" is a little too parochial. There are bad Quakers across the globe, aren't there?

So, I am hereby feeling led to begin the first local chapter of the here-to-fore non-existent Association of Bad Friends. You can only self-nominate. If you'd like to join, just reply to this blog or send me an email at brentbil@brentbill.com.

Non-Friends are eligible to join the Friends of the Association of Bad Friends (FABF) -- so long as they would consider themselves bad Friends were they actually Quakers.

I'll be designing membership cards shortly.

-- Brent

P.S. As Jacob also noted -- "When I think about being a recalcitrant Quaker I am always reminded of a line from Rumi's poetry: 'Your sweet blasphemy is the truest devotion.'" Indeed.

27 comments:

Brent Bill said...

Folks on facebook who are interested in the ABF can join the new facebook group there -- Association of Bad Friends.

Laurie Kruczek said...

I love how one of the labels you chose for this post is "evil."

Nate Swift said...

Darn, I wanted the second name for our association, so I could suggest the lovely Rogue Valley here in Oregon as national headuarters for the Association, thus bringing it out of geographical obscurity..... oh, well.

Brent Bill said...

Hey Nate -- you can form your own group. That would be the hallmark of a truly bad Friend. Our first separation!

Carol Holmes said...

And then we could form Bad Friends United Meeting! Centering on the Rogue Valley Declaration.

Brent Bill said...

Oh, I like that Carol!

Martin Kelley said...

I'll gather the Philadelphia nominee into a committee where we will discern whether to affiliate with the Bad Quakers or Rogue Quakers. We should have our answer by 2043.

Brent Bill said...

2043? Isn't that a wee bit hasty?

thomasrmarkham said...

Hey! Hey! Sign me up! I definitely qualify (by my own estimation/nomination) for the "Association of Bad Friends". Actually, I have to admit that I qualify for membership in "Rogue Quakers of America", too. Maybe I should start up that association for us "prophetic provocateurs". It’s a challenging calling, but someone has to do it!

Thomas R. Markham said...

Hey! Hey! Sign me up! I definitely qualify (by my own estimation/nomination) for the "Association of Bad Friends". Actually, I have to admit that I qualify for membership in "Rogue Quakers of America", too. Maybe I should start up that association for us "prophetic provocateurs". It’s a challenging calling, but someone has to do it!

Thomas R. Markham said...

Hey! Hey! Sign me up! I definitely qualify (by my own estimation/nomination) for the "Association of Bad Friends". Actually, I have to admit that I qualify for membership in "Rogue Quakers of America", too. Maybe I should start up that association for us "prophetic provocateurs". It’s a challenging calling, but someone has to do it!

Thomas R. Markham said...

Hey! Hey! Sign me up! I definitely qualify (by my own estimation/nomination) for the "Association of Bad Friends". Actually, I have to admit that I qualify for membership in "Rogue Quakers of America", too. Maybe I should start up that association for us "prophetic provocateurs". It’s a challenging calling, but someone has to do it!

Thomas R. Markham said...

Oops! I didn't realize that all of my drafts got saved! :{

Brent Bill said...

Hey, Thomas, that's okay. Hey, Thomas, that's okay. Oh, but I repeat myself. A truly bad Friend. ;-)

Brent Bill said...

And then we could form Bad Friends United Meeting! --

or should it be "Bad Friends Un-tied Meeting?" A thought.

Will T said...

If I am going to be a bad Friend, I want to be the worst I can be. Anyone want to join me in Execrable Friends Alliance, Or maybe, if we are really evil, Fiends General Conference?

Will T

Tom Smith said...

Maybe we could then develop the nick-name Fakers since we are calling ourselves "bad" Friends when in fact we are truly being seekers.

patrickruth57 said...

I have to nominate myself to the ABF- my sister constantly observes that I've "fallen off my Quaker"when I display some bit of "unFriendly behavior" in her presence. OK even when I'm not in her presence... Thanks Patrick

sta┼Ťa said...

Brent, this is awesome. Thank you.

Brent Bill said...

I like "Fiends General Conference" and the "falling off your Quaker." Too cool.

Rich in Brooklyn said...

Count me in. I not only waste a lot of time on frivolous enterainment such as the David Letterman show, I also speak very frequently in meeting for worship.

WeaverRose said...

Oh dear, I'd like to join the association too. Keeping up appearances has been exhausting.

James Riemermann said...

Definitely sign me up as a bad Friend. I particularly like the absence of irony. I really am not very good. A lot of the people I know think I'm much better than I am.

Quick, burn this, before anyone reads it.

Dave said...

I must be doing something wrong (wouldn't be the first time), but I can't find that group on Facebook. Any clue as to why, other than my own in-techno-tude?

Dad (Rich) said...

J. Edgar Hoover - now THAT'S what I'd call a 'bad quaker'. you lot just ain't in his league. I'm not talking the 'devil incarnate' a la Hitler and Stalin, but let's face it he was half way there... self-appointed overseer of prominent America's wrongdoing and 'vices' for life - all but his own, of course...

maybe you should appoint him honorary president (deceased) ?

but somehow I don't think you goldarned swearing rootin' tootin' quaker ruffians and rebels had that kind of REALLY BAD Quaker in mind, huh?

Dad (Rich) said...

CORRECTION

Darn it, I got it slightly wrong. There was a Hoover Quaker Pres, dear old Herbert, that very rare commodity, a caring republican president. But I knew there was a really bad apple in your barrel somewhere - it was good ole Tricky Dicky Milhouse Nixon, warn't it?

He was such a BAD WIDDLE BOY (especially for a Quaker?)

Nixon for your honorary Pres.?

What do you reckon?

Oh, of course I know how I got J. Edgar mixed up, he was a member of two other favourite Quaker minorities.. guess not one for the gay-crossdressing-black pride hall of fame, though, huh?




Now *THAT'S* A 'BAD QUAKER' comment! Bad like Michael Jackson, yo fellow Quaker mofo's

Callan Reinke said...

I nominate myself too. It's been a while since I've gotten my Quaker on.