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INDEPENDENT QUAKER JOURNALISM SINCE 1843
CONTENTS – VOL 167 NO 51 3 Greetings
Judy Kirby Christmas cheer from Copenhagen? Laurie Michaelis 4-5 Time for climate justice: countdown to CO2penhagen
Sunniva Taylor reporting from the summit city 6 An Evangelical Friends’ Christmas
Ron and Carolyn Myers 7 Christmas in the West Bank
Hilary Browne 8 Celebration or challenge?
Christina Saarinen 9 No christmas tree…
Robina Barton 10 Wartime Christmas memories
Stanley Holland 11 A German Christmas
Isabel Evens 12-13 Every day can be Christmas for a Quaker
Willem Furnée, trans. by Mariecke Faber Clarke 14 Christmas Greetings 15 Friends & Meetings 16-21 Holiday reading
16 History of Christianity
Trish Carn 17-19 Beck and Ball: The London Friends’ Meetings
The team at the Friend wants to thank our many contributors over the past year and wish them all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Without you, we wouldn’t be able to publish.
Peter Daniels 20-21 Holding it together
Annette White and Clare-Marie White
.Letters will return in the 8 January 2010 issue.
Cover image: Winter photo: VeryBigAlex/ shutterstock. Images on this page: Quaker girl. Courtesy the Library of the Religious Society of Friends.See pages 17-19.
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the Friend, 18-25 December 2009 ‘And when the time called Christmas came, while others were feasting and sporting themselves I would have gone and looked out poor widows from house to house, and have given them some money.’
George Fox, writing in his Journal, in a slightly disparaging manner about Christmas. It is a season of complexity for British Quakers, offending their sense of simplicity and justice, and cutting across their belief that one day above others should not be celebrated. Many modern Quakers do celebrate Christmas, however, even with misgivings, as is evident from our contributors in this issue. Around the world, Quakers see the season differently. Some are indifferent, others ecstatic.
The British general public notice our sobriety, witnessed in the recent Quaker Quest poll, which indicated a perception of Quakers as ‘purists’. They may have this image bolstered by encountering Quakers who ignore the season of goodwill and jollity. Christina Saarinen of Finland Yearly Meeting appears to have worked out a Quaker-shaped strategy – why not just accept the celebrations as part of a national tradition? The spiritual dimension can be lived every day (page 8).
One of my brothers used to say: ‘if you can’t enjoy Christmas you’re a Scrooge.’ Sadly, many people have good reasons not to be happy at Christmas, and many of us have just seen one too many festive seasons, whether we’re Quakers or not. Yet my brother’s words have a meaning. So, casting aside principled reservations, may I wish all our readers a heart-warming time and may your troubles be few. As Peggy Lee would say during a concert: ‘you’re a wonderful audience.’
Christmas Cheer from Copenhagen?
Climate change is a complex, messy and huge problem. At the time of the Friend going to press, the antidote being brewed in Copenhagen seems complex, messy and inadequate. Negotiators are working on two main documents. Both are full of the square brackets used to indicate alternative possible wording and figures.
One document aims to update and strengthen the Kyoto Protocol. It would set specific emission reduction targets for industrialised countries beyond the first ‘commitment period’ of 2008-2012. But there are major problems with the Kyoto Protocol, not least that the United States is unlikely ever to ratify it.
The second document sets out a framework for ‘long term cooperative action’ under the UN climate convention. At the moment everything in that draft text is up in the air: will governments try and limit global warming to 1.5°C or 2°C? Will they reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by fifty per cent or ninety-five per cent by 2050? Will rich countries reduce their national emissions from 1990 levels by ‘twenty-five to forty per cent’ or ‘forty-five per cent’ in 2020?
The United States has offered only a four per cent reduction from 1990 levels in 2020. The European Union has committed twenty per cent, rising to thirty per cent in the context of similar commitments by other rich countries. But analysis released last week suggests that because of loopholes, the real commitment from industrialised countries amounts to an emission reduction in 2020 of less than four per cent. There are ambiguities in accounting for agriculture and forestry; international shipping and aviation are not included in national targets; rich countries can meet their commitments by investing in reductions in the developing world. Most governments seem to believe steep emission cuts would harm their interests and damage their national economies. Only the states most vulnerable to sea level rise are arguing for much more urgent action. But it is increasingly clear from the climate science that such action would serve everybody’s interests. If the news from Copenhagen seems discouraging, take heart. Government negotiations will not decide our future. They are more a bellwether of a process of global awakening to the challenge we face, and to the response required of us. There are green shoots in Copenhagen – not least in the huge civic society presence both inside and outside the negotiation venue. Whatever the outcome of the talks, it is we who must act.
Laurie Michaelis Environment editor
See pages 4/5 for scenes of that civic presence and watch for a Copenhagen overview from Mary Gilbert of Quaker Earthcare Witness in our 1st Jan issue.
the Friend, 18-25 December 2009