the friend online
00 2000

Reweaving the web
'The Wonders Of Electronic Technology' – first story. I woke with a start. It was my oldest friend's birthday and I'd forgotten it! She lives in New Zealand – all the more important to remember. But all was not lost. I flung on my dressing gown, rushed to my computer and wrote her a celebratory email. Magic! A bit late in the day, but I hadn't let her down.

'The Wonders Of Electronic Technology' – second story. Walking home one day, I saw a large new car slap in the middle of the road, stalled while trying to turn right. Inside was a driver rendered completely helpless. Her 100-per-cent-electronic vehicle was paralysed. With her magic key broken, she couldn't open a door or a window. We couldn't even release the handbrake and push it to the side of the road.
The word 'magic' appears in both those stories. The electronic world does seem like magic. It flies our thoughts across the world in an instant. It opens up vistas of information and expertise at the click of the button. It empowers us – and disempowers us. If it works – heaven. Smiles, connections, action. If it fails (crashes!) – hell. Disorientation, disconnection, rage.

I'm one of those who benefits most from the electronic revolution. I used to spend half my evenings on the telephone, exchanging news with family and friends, making working arrangements and doing Quaker business. Now that I do these by email, evenings are free for relaxation. My work as a creative writer needs a steady supply of abstruse information and my reference books quickly get out of date. Now I'm connected to a 'search engine', these facts are available at a few clicks of a mouse. In a Quaker context, I've noticed how tenderly our overseers use email: a gentle 'How are you?' when they've not been at Meeting, a bit of news to someone who's isolated.

But there are big down-sides. In a two-thirds-internet-using population, the one-third who aren't electronic are marginalised. When my PC crashes in the middle of a task, I get consumed by 'web rage'. Ask any teenager how they feel when their broadband is cut off – you might as well throw them into a Neolithic cave. And don't tell them to consult a helpline. These are like Tantalus's torture, the grapes (in this case, assistance) dangling just beyond our grasp. 'Please hold… Your call is important to us...' Cut. The line's dead.

A couple of decades ago, if something was broken you could find someone nearby to fix it. Car – typewriter – washing machine, you summoned someone who understood nuts and bolts. Now each of these machines is controlled by a computer and needs a specialist. So we're made helpless. And useless: a Friend in our Meeting wailed, 'What computers do is, they make you feel stupid!' They do. They talk in a language many people can't understand, in ways that confuse them, panic them, alienate them. All of which feels particularly hard to Quakers, who want to be calm, reasonable, connected. However handy the world wide web may be for campaigning and mail-outs, it often feels like a breach of the more subtle web of human connection.
So what can we do to help us through this new 'industrial revolution'?
I think, first, to realise that it is a revolution. Within twenty years, our personal and working lives have been totally computerised.

Let's not underestimate the human adjustments that this requires. We must treat ourselves, and each other, gently. Watch out for Repetitive Strain Injury; don't stare at the screen all day. When we email our 'local Qs' address list, we must remember to send postal copies to those who need them.

Next, we must allow time: time for training, time for learning. Clerks, wardens, treasurers, may have to drop old systems and adapt to new ones.

Lastly, we can apply the Advices & Queries to our newly electronic world. Try to discern new growing points in social and economic life... Yes, easy communication and access to information can be a growing point. Be discriminating when choosing means of entertainment and information... How does this relate to gambling and pornography, which the internet encourages, normalises? Do you keep yourself informed about the effects your style of living is having on the global economy and environment? Who made my personal computer, in what conditions, and how much were they paid? How is it disposed of when I've finished with it? Try to live simply... That one seems the most difficult of all, but to paraphrase William Penn, for that reason, it should be most our care to learn it.

In a world with the world wide web, it's time to learn some re-weaving.


This week's .pdf
In this week's online edition... rss edition
Discernment, or passion ?
Mic Morgan
Canada Yearly Meeting - 721 words
John Courtneidge, Hertford and Hitchin MM
Armed police: a dilemma
Chris Gwyntopher
Something Special - 871 words
Mario Molinari
Quakers and climate change
Gwen Prince, Llanidloes PM
(faith: 28 July) The Radical Tradition
Craig Barnett, Balby MM
Conrad Adams: brief life history
Wendy Burke
Quaker in a Quandary
Dennis Craig Nichols
Lancashire & Cheshire General Meeting
Douglas Stewart
Does belief in God damage our health?
Helen Cullum
A good deed long ago
David Hickson
Bible parables
John Gibson
Quaker fundamentalism?
Sheila Cooke
The Creative spirit at Glenthorne
Bronte Bedford-Payne
NFF weekend
Barry Williamson
Roger Iredale, Mid-Somerset MM
Armed Police and the cycle of violence
Chris Gwyntopher, Ratcliff and Barking MM
Still destitute in Britain
Michael Woolley
How we live
Diana Francis
How we experience the divine
Stevie Krayer
Alice Oswald, Woods etc
Sheila Savill, Hampstead MM.
‘Being an Elder’ - A weekend at Woodbrooke for new elders
Craig Barnett, Balby MM
‘Being an Elder’ - A weekend at Woodbrooke for new elders
Craig Barnett, Balby MM
The puppy that was born in Bethlehem
David May-Bowles
Meetings for Clearness
Cathy Eglington
Denmark Yearly Meeting
David Penn
The history of the life of Thomas Ellwood
Colin Billett, Worcestershire and Shropshire MM
Beyond Capitalism
Barbara Forbes
My mediaeval neighbours of the world village
Peter Arnold, Alderney (part, Southampton and Portsmouth MM)
6th and final letter from the West Bank
Gerald Conyngham
Is your Quakerism punk enough?
Stuart White
The Quaker Business Method
simon gray, Warwickshire Monthly Meeting
The spirit has its songs
Barbara Clark
Lesser evil
Rod Usher
(faith: 28 July) Quaker Business Method - from Quaker Faith & Practice
simon gray, Warwickshire Monthly Meeting
Love your neighbour as yourself
Robert Daines
A Quaker graveyard
Harriet Martin
Malcolm Elliott
Lorna Watson
Quaker Open Christmas 2005 200wrds
Colin Rendall (Clerk to QHA)
A New Door is Opening
Martin Gibson, Saffron Walden Meeting
The Survival of Religion
Peter Arnold, Alderney Mtg
Jessica Fagerstrom
Energy and environment – a perspective
Dave Feickert
Review: Questioning the Comet
Felicity Cox
Remembrance Sunday
Ann Lewis
The Green Man – a rejuvenated archetype?
Ben Francis
Quaker Voluntary Action moves onwards – and southwards
The root of all evil?
Judy Kirby
Welcoming the new Dean of Manchester
Christopher John Green
On being Friends
Harvey Gillman
Darwin revisited
Frank parkinson
Multifaith and hope in the West Bank

Living Adventurously
Judith Smith (Pontefract MM)
Submit a link
Obituary: Carol Hamer
Alan Sealy
Friends: an element or compound?
Peter Lawless
(action: 11 August) Is there a Quaker economics?
Simon Cohen, Gloucester and Nailsworth Monthly Meeting
Why Richard Dawkins is Right but for the Wrong Reasons
Simon Cohen, Gloucester and Nailsworth Monthly Meeting
Neighbourhood Friends
Jen Taylor
**Special? Where can we go from here?
Richard Hilken
MP's Commitment to Africa
Jill Allum

An Interview with Alice Beer
Anne Stewart
Making terrorism history
Anthony Wilson, Staffordshire MM
Resistance to conflict resolution
Sue Bowers, Marion Wells-Bruges
To CRB or not CRB?
Rosemary Jambert-Gray
A little bit of torture
Jenny Webb, Colchester & Coggeshall MM
Bench Marks
Peter Lawless
The magic of discernment
Roland Carn, Hampstead MM
Fleas and Strictly Come Dancing
Roland Carn, Hampstead MM
Between things past and things to come
Roland Carn, Hampstead MM

**Special? Standing Still in the Power of God
Marge Abbot
Journeying On
David Ford, Banbury and Evesham MM
Nominating for the Nobel Peace Prize
Beryl Milner, Leeds MM
Plain Speaking for Grown-ups
Sarah Richards, Northumbria Monthly Meeting
From the hitherto undiscovered novel ‘MoonQuaker’
Sarah M. Richards, Northumbria MM
What Kind of Power?
Pam Lunn
Quaker Cottage, Belfast
Nancy Mottram
**Special? Day Outing to Woodbrooke
Pat Gosling
q-eye (for publication on blog)

q-eye (for copying, publication on blog)

Iran today
Kath Worrall, Carlisle & Holm MM
Climate Change and Governance Conference
Margaret Glover (QPS-Futures Link)
Is nuclear fuel spent or bent?
Peter Lanyon, vice chair, Shut Down Sizewell campaign
Tony Haynes, Guildford & Godalming MM
Elizabeth Grill Watson
Minneapolis Friends
**Special? (set 26/5 folder) To answer that of God
Jonathan Griffith
On poetry
Herbert Lomas
(set 26/5 folder) Peace Pledge Union’s CO Project
Oliver Haslam
Halfway there and still going strong…update on a work in progress
Claire Greaves
Promoting Restorative Justice at the UN
Marian Liebmann

The Advert
Margaret Cook
Researching Quaker Ancestors
Michael Hargreave
A Visit to the West Bank, Palestine , March , 2006
Alan and Pauline York
Promoting non-violence in the West Bank
Gerald Conyngham
Britain Yearly Meeting special issue
A Letter From Iran
Emily Johns
Thoughts … on the big transition into silence
Gerald Drewett
Article cleanup

Trustees in the tool room
Dave Feickert, Balby Monthly Meeting Representative on MfS
** Set 14 July folder Houses for Meetings
Mary Brown
**Special? Why do I still go?
Alan Russell
Inspiration from Chechnya
Chris Hunter
Drafting a Yearly Meeting Epistle
Geoffrey Carnall
All God's creatures
Rev. Feargus O’Connor
Factions and Frictions
Michael Oppenheim
Conscience remembered
David Boulton, Kendal and Sedbergh MM
**Special? Voices of dissent
Janet Hyland
** set July 7 folder The humanist challenge
Jan Arriens
Responsibility to Protect – Resolving the dilemma
Richard Lawson
The Case of David Hicks
Christopher Nordin Adelaide Meeting South Australia
** Special? Finding the Rainbow
Richard Hilken
Qeye 28 july

test article


Open Sundays at Ettington Meeting House (1684)

Quakers who helped Jews
Peter Kurer
Educating for Life: Johann Christoph Arnold
Joe Hine
'Faith's new age' at Woodbrooke
Judith Smith, Pontefract MM
Housing Needs of Single Older People:
Edith Jayne, Kingston PM
Evil and the god of all creation
Noel Staples
Helping Children to develop spiritually… a joyful challenge.
Sarah Piercy, Luton and Leighton MM
Supporting HIV Counselling in Kenya
William West, Hardshaw East Monthly Meeting
Survival – Duality into Unity
Harry Underhill
The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life
Anthony Gimpel
Understanding young Muslims
Brian Hawkins
Silence and other similarities
Judith Lazarus
Open House weekend
Emily Milner
Share the silence
Kathy Baroody
Clare: tagging log - 5 May (inc) 2200 - 2250

The Last Taboo
Barbara Prys-Williams
Getting to grips with wickedness
Laurie Michaelis, Witney MM
Helping young people to deal with the past
Diana & John Lampen
Discovering the obvious
Roger Sanderson, Notts & Derby MM
Reweaving the web

Report from the Middle East
Franco Perna
Communities Resisting Violence in Colombia
Lani Parker
Christmas Eye

International Edition: Quakers enter Korea (1953)
George W Whiteman
No charges pending in Quaker college brawl
Simon Risley
Judy Kirby &
‘Quaker slave traders’ behind Barclay’s Bank sports stadium fracas
Simon Risley
Low wage Britain continues
Alan Sealy
The cost of abstinence
Helena Chambers
Quakers in Criminal Justice
Julia Richardson
Facing down the Obama-crunch
Oliver Robertson

Things to do, where to stay, people to see etc...

download this issue

save this page

most recent comments:
Letters, Ala
Quaker approach to business under the spotlight, David Hitchin
Tackling the pay gap from both ends, anonymous poster
Some more equal than others?, anonymous poster
Climate Camp experience, Frances Laing
Climate Camp experience, Frances Laing
The centrality of worship, Andrew Hatton, Maldon LM, Essex
In the care of the Meeting?, chrissie hinde
Lockerbie grief and justice, Jennifer Barraclough
The centrality of worship, Peter Arnold
The top ten reasons (plus three) why bottled water is a blessing, Fee Berry
Letters, David Hitchin
Marriage and committed relationships, Fee Berry
George Fox and same gender partnership, Chris Bagley
Marriage and committed relationships, Chris Bagley
Meeting for meditation?, Barry
Meeting for ‘weorthscipe’?, Gerard Guiton
Report shows that all is not well in multicultural Britain, chrissie hinde
Johann Sebastian Bach and the Jews, Peter Arnold
Prisons: our growth industry, Peer Arnold

Save on your phone bills with:
the phone co-op - your voice counts