“More powers and personalities than are visible”


[Chevy Hubcap; San Diego, 2015]

I was ten years old the first time I saw “Friendly Persuasion”— at a small-town movie theater in upstate New York.*  Surrounded by classmates and friends, devouring, sating myself on an entire box of Welch’s Pom Poms, I watched lots of movies at that movie theater. Kids did that in those days.

Later in my life, after I had become a Quaker, I watched that 1956 movie again and was pretty horrified by this schmaltzy version of Jessamyn West’s best seller. But by then I’d understood enough about child development—and movie making—to realize that this “In Magnificent Colour”  feature, with its simpy theme song sung by simpy Pat Boone and its other Hollywoodisms, had nevertheless made a real and lasting impression. About war. About the challenges of living out one’s faith. And, to some degree, about what it means to be a Quaker.

So last week, when I spotted a used copy of Jessamyn West’s short stories for sale at my Quaker meeting, I eagerly bought it, curious about this Quaker writer who may be better known these days as a distant cousin of Richard Nixon than as an accomplished writer in her own right/write. And as a Quaker writer, myself, I was also curious if I’d discover overt or covert references to her faith in her writing.

What a beautiful writer! For the past week I’ve been sating myself as if devouring Pom Poms again. A fairly frequent visitor to southern California, I have especially relished her exquisite descriptions of Inland Empire wildlife and small-farm family life as it once was.

But, no, I haven’t come across much “Quakerly” writing—but perhaps I’ve missed them. Because, as you will see, West was a SLY Quaker writer:

“My God, my God,” Mr. Fosdick said.

Mr. Fosdick used the name of God, Christ, Jesus, heaven, hell, the devil, and damnation very often. I wouldn’t exactly call it cursing. It was more as if he felt himself the resident of a universe where there were more powers and personalities than were visible, and that this was his courteous way of letting them know that he was aware of them and was trying to include them in his life. (from “Up A Tree”)

*Think “Bedford Falls”—which was actually Seneca Falls, NY—from “It’s A Wonderful Life”

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Patricia,

    Hello, there, Patricia, my so, so very For Always dearly special and dearly precious sisterfriend who you are For Always so, so very much!!!!!! Sister, wow, wow, wow, and wow and wow and a zillion wows here, my so, so very dearest friend, Patricia!!!!!! Wow, I so, so very much love and like this brilliantly magnificent blog post article of yours, Patricia!!!!! The title of this blog post article is just so, so very right on here, and I really so love and like the great selection which you so, so very graciously and generously placed at the end of your so, so very cool blog post article from “Up A Tree.” The picture which you have featured here with this astute and acute so full of sagacity blog post article is just perfectly placed here, Patricia! Wow, sister, wow Patricia-I learn so, so very many fun and interesting things very, very eagerly and delightfully from you, sisterfriend, and from your wondrously wonderful blog post articles and other remarkable writings, my so, so very dear friend! I’ve never seen this fascinating movie, Friendly Persuasion, all the way through its entirety. I want so to see this all the way through to completion, sister. Usually when it is on the timing doesn’t work out so well for me and I have something to do or need to go out the door and I miss seeing it all, or I’m too tired too sleepy to stay awake all throughout it. When I record it on my DVR to see it later I have so many items recorded on the DVR that if I don’t watch this movie soon enough it gets erased on my DVR because of having too many things on record on the DVR, sister. This interesting movie is often on Turner Classic Movies, sister. I so enjoyed reading about how you and the other children watched lots of movies at that movie theater back then, sisterfriend. Sister, this sounds like it was such grandly great fun, my friend!!!!!!

    Patricia, I didn’t know the movie was based on a best seller, and that the author was Jessamyn West, She sounds absolutely marvelous and like such a splendidly astounding writer and author, Patricia! I must check this out and read this, sister, and also for her other stupendous writings, Patricia! I have For Always so, so very much loved, admired, and loved the Quakers and with all of their current and historical allyship, activism, and advocacy, sister, like with how you mentioned all of your pacifism against war, the challenges for you and other blessedly pure in heart Quakers of living out all of your faith, and what it means for each and every one of you to be a Quaker. Sister, I’ve For Always so, so very much loved YOU, sisterfriend, and other Quakers as long as I can remember, and highly honored and valued you and other Quakers for these very same reasons, and how there were very, very many Quakers back in the day who were abolitionists, and very, very anti-slavery, and how very, very many Quakers helped so valiantly as heroines and heroes for the Underground Railroad very courageously and lovingly helping the escaped slaves, sisterfriend!!!!!! Sisterfriend, this has so For Always just so, so very moved me and touched me in my very, very heart, and my very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit, and I can even remember as a little girl learning about how many wondrously wonderful Quakers were anti-slavery abolitionists and how they back in the day so bravely assisted the escaped slaves in the Underground Railroad, sister! Yay for you For Always my so, so very dearly special Christian Quaker, sister and friend who you are For Always, Patricia!!!!!! Yay for other so, so very blessedly pure in heart Quakers like at your spectacularly holy Meeting, and other Quakers both back in the day and at present!!!!!!!! Yay sisterfriend yay my friend Patricia-yay for YOU, Patricia, and for each and every one of you!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Sister, I just thank-you so, so very much for very graciously and generously providing the links and the great info with this blog post article, Patricia! For some strange reason my very silly computer won’t open the links for “Friendly Persuasion” and the one for Jessamyn West’s short stories, but I was able to successfully open the one for Inland Empire. Sister, I’ve only been to California once when I was twelve the summer before seventh grade for me in July 1974. What an awesome state, sister, and just beautiful, scenic, and picturesque, sister. I so, so very much love, like, and enjoy the great link which you very graciously and generously provided about Inland Empire, my friend!!!!!! I learn so, so very much from you, sister, and such great info and facts that are just absolutely amazing, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Wow, sister, wow here-I so, so very much loved and liked all of this great blog post article in all of its superbly super entirety, and I also so, so very much loved and liked revisiting just how much I so love, honor, and admire YOU, sister Patricia, and other wondrously wonderful Quakers!!!!!!! Yay yay yay yay!!!!! Patricia, as usual as For Always I am very emboldened, uplifted, and inspired by this so enlightening blog post article here, as well as your other blog post articles and other very fine and excellent writings, sister!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Sister, please have such a wondrously wonderful Wednesday, rest of your week and weekend, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!! I pray, hope, and wish that you and yours had an absolutely fantastic and blessed Happy Easter, and as for usual For Always I pray for and think of daily and very often sending positive energy all of your to YOU, Patricia, my friend, to your dearest and darling husband, David, to your Loved One in the long term care facility, to all of the rest of your very precious, special, and beloved family, For Always for your blessedly pure in heart and holy friendsfamily at your Friends Meeting at Cambridge, and for all of your other friends, sister!!!!!! I thank-you all each and every one of you for your lovingly heartfelt and sensitively caring prayers and thoughts for me-I can for sure feel them and I feel the Great Holy Spirit Dove coming from each and every one of you, Patricia!!!!! I thank-you all so each and every one of you so, so very much and so, so very profusely For Always, Patricia!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my For Always sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman Patricia who you are For Always so, so very much, with such Peace and Love To You For Always, my friend, and with such Blessings and Even More Blessings To You For Always, my sister,

    Your sisterfriend Christian lesbian black woman For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon

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