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Helen Mallon's Blog

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ON QUAKERS AND PLAIN DRESS  The early Quakers (17th Century) didn't necessarily decide ahead of time to look like the guy on the Quaker Oats box, but they emphasised equality among the classes, shunned personal vanity for spiritual benefit, and tried to live simply.  This led to a pare-down of...
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  Racism, it seems, is a Sleeping Monster. http://www.salon.com/books/int/2010/01/19/hidden_brain/index.html?source=newsletter An excerpt from a Salon.com interview with Shankar Vedantam. Vedantam, science writer for the Washington Post, speaks about his book The Hidden Brain. Thomas Rogers: ...
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  My friend John Timpane wrote a terrific op-ed piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  He says it better than I could: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/currents/81907482.html#comments I was in sixth grade at a Quaker school in Philadelphia when Dr. King and...
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 http://www.nwscc.cc.al.us/english/101/James%20Baldwin.jpg A QUAKER CHILD READS JAMES BALDWIN  I read James Baldwin's novel Go Tell It On the Mountain when I was maybe 12 or 13, still tied to my mother and father. Did I have to read it for school? I think not--I automatically hated most required...
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  http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/literature/80465507.html My Philadelphia Inquirer review of Anne Tyler's latest novel, Noah's Compass.
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 A QUAKER CHILD CONSIDERS RACISM IN AMERICA  Imagine trying to convince a fish, happily finning around in its native element: "You're wet!" This image, for me, sums up the elemental condition of many white people regarding racism in the United States. And yes, this has to do with my...
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A QUAKER CHILD SENDS MITTENS TO ALGERIAN REFUGEES  In our large meetinghouse, which was all in tones of brown, there was a mitten tree. I was young enough that this apparition of evergreen and bright color, placed between the raised facing benches where the elders sat, was a marvel.  What a thing...
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A QUAKER CHILD WISHES THERE WERE LIGHTS ON HER HOUSE, TOO Christmas was good in our family. I even managed to behave well, once putting on a dress I loathed (and my mother adored) on Christmas morning. It was 'darling'--hand smocked, sash, full skirt--and I was 9 or 10 and already had a crush on...
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Lately, I've been wondering why I forget my dreams even before waking up. And wondering what my dreams would tell me if I remembered them.  Last night, I obliged myself.  There must have been a few grains of will involved; I didn't think I could pull off remembering a dream just because I wanted...
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Hi, Everyone,  I am a freebie 'member author' of Red Room, and I'm thinking of plunking down the money to actually join.  Money is almost nonexistent these days, but if it's worth it, I'll take the plunge.  I have a poetry chapbook to sell and am trying like the dickens to publish short stories....
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SINCE THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER CHOSE NOT TO PUBLISH THIS, I THOUGHT I'D POST IT HERE.  ENJOY!! IN THIS worn-out, fame-gobbling, invite-yourself-to-the-White-House, Botox-brained age, there is still a Mount Olympus. Its heights are remote, its atmosphere pure and sharp, and only the truly beautiful...
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 A QUAKER CHILD LEARNS ABOUT SKIN COLOR IN AMERICA  My first lesson in the long and torturous history of race in this country came in the lap of someone I loved, but only later I realized that this moment signified something much larger than either of us. Our family had a black cleaning lady who...
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A friend of mine posted on Facebook, "What is everyone doing for Thanksgiving?" My response didn't take much thought: "Holding my breath till it's over." Sometimes I think that holidays are a celebration of my lizard heart.  I'm just not one of those hold-hands-around-the-table...
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THE ONLY DARK THING IN THE KITCHEN I got the Quaker bonnet out of a large box that came from my mother's house.  It smells like my mother's house, like her bureau drawers--a mellow, clean, much-cared-for smell. The word "bonnet" suggests something quaint or coy.  But this hat, poised  on...
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A Quaker Child Reads Malcolm X and Virginia Woolf  When I was a kid, I thought Quakers were the most boring people on the planet. At least one family in our meeting had no pictures on their walls. The 4th Commandment: Graven images and all that. I was glad that wasn't us. We were dull, but the...
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