George, a man with shaggy, shaggy locks, is sitting at a news desk in a television studio. He is wearing a custom tailored, black Armani suit and a hat with a wide brim that looks as if it came straight out of the 1600s. Behind him is the Fox News logo with “George” above it, written in a seventeenth-century font. His cell phone rings. The ring tone is Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” George answers his phone, “Margaret! Not now! I’m just about to go on TV. . . . Yes, I love you too, sweetie pie. Text you later.”
George gives the camera a steely-TV-anchorman-type look and says, “Hello, this is the evening edition of Fox News. George Fox speaking. For our first story, let’s turn to Will ‘the Quill’ Penn at the sports desk.”
“Good evening,” says Will. “Well, it’s half-time over at Sierra Friends Center’s outdoor basketball court, and the Woolman Wombats are battling it out with the Quaker Oafs. Both teams just completed the league’s required workshops on nonviolent communication and the Alternatives to Violence Project. The score at half-time is zero to zero. We have some footage from the second quarter.”
On the screen are two college students dressed in basketball outfits. One is holding a basketball. He hands it to the other player and says, “Ben, you shoot.”
The other player hands the ball back and says, “No, Parker, you shoot.”
Parker tries to hand the ball back, saying, “Ben, when I hand you the ball and you don’t shoot, I feel sad.”
Ben refuses the ball. “Nice I-statement, Parker, but no go. You shoot.”
Parker tries to hand the ball to Ben again, and says, “So, you’re feeling reluctant to throw the ball at the basket. You shoot.”
Ben refuses the ball again. “Good active listening Parker, but no way. You shoot.”
Parker experiences a mild revelation, “Wait, Quakers don’t shoot!”
The camera cuts from this video clip back to Will “the Quill,” who says, “All right, that promises to be an exciting game. Now we have a report on the College Athletic Yoga Competition, where Earlham College and Guilford College are neck and neck. Wait! The ref has pulled the red flag, indicating a penalty. Apparently, the Guilford team leader was cheating at mindfulness. Earlham now gets a free pose. This is thrilling. Back to you, George.”
“Thank you, Will ‘the Quill,'” says George. “And now, we have a report from Pendle Hill, where the Quaker Olympics are taking place. Here is our Olympics reporter, Tricia Nixon.”
“Thank you, George,” says Trish. “The first event was competitive eldering. This year’s winner, who will be taking home the coveted recycled plastic medal, is Hank Cadbury from Tie Dye Monthly Meeting in East Kombucha, Texas. The second event was competitive sunbathing, and this year the person taking home the recycled plastic is James Nayler from the Brown Butts of Santa Cruz Monthly Meeting.
“Following this was the Quaker-themed Tattoo event. The winner in the elder division for Best Tattoo Below the Waist is . . . Margaret Fell. Boy, talk about an elder! Her tattoo was discretely inscribed just above her ankle, and it featured a heart with an arrow through it. Inside the heart is written, ‘Georgie loves Margie.'”
A heckler from the studio audience interrupts and cries out, “You know what they say. George was a fox . . .” (At this point George is looking visibly pleased with the compliment.) “. . . but Margaret was a cougar.”
“Hmph!” grunts George.
Tricia continues with her report. “Coming up is the Loopiest Vocal Ministry contest. Contestants will be judged by how quickly the judges leap to their feet and fold their arms with a stern look on their faces. Categories include Political Rant, Kazoo, Interpretive Dance, and Texting.
“Two new events have been added this year. Monthly meetings throughout the continent compete to see which one serves the worst tasting coffee during fellowship. There are more entrants in this competition than in any other event. This contest will be held as soon as judges can be found. The second event is dodging Nominating Committee, and it promises . . .”
George cuts in, “I’m sorry to interrupt, Tricia, but we have some breaking news. Let’s go to our sun-and-fun-loving reporter in Santa Cruz, California, Rufus Jones. So, Roofy baby, what’s happening there on the beach?”
“Stop calling me Roofy!” replies Rufus. “Well, George, it appears that there has just been a robbery at Santa Cruz Friends Meeting. During meeting for worship, an unidentified individual put a big sign in front of the meetinghouse’s parking lot that said: ‘USED PRIUS SALE! DRASTIC DISCOUNTS! EVERYTHING MUST GO!’ Every car in the lot was sold. All this happened while a member of the meeting named Diego was giving vocal ministry about getting up Christmas morning and seeing all the gifts under the tree.”
Puzzled and a bit annoyed by that last comment, George asks, “Are you sure that’s what he was talking about?”
Rufus replies, “Sure I’m sure. He was talking about ‘awakening to the presents.'”
“That’s ‘Presence,’ not ‘presents,'” says a frustrated George.
“That’s what I said,” replies Rufus.
“Oh, never mind,” says George. “Now let’s hear a report from the San Francisco Bay where a member of Junior College Park Quarterly Meeting has been seen walking on water. Here is our roving reporter, Lucy Mott.”
“Yes, after spending 40 days and 40 nights in the desert, this Quaker has been healing the sick and bringing the dead back to life. More recently, he has been feeding the poor with loaves of bread and fishes. And he has given extended vocal ministry on blessings. Here we have an interview with Pompous Pilot, the clerk of Ministry and Counsel Committee for his monthly meeting, Kale Smoothie Monthly Meeting.” As Lucy says the name of the meeting, it occurs to her what a kale smoothie would taste like and she makes a grimace.
Speaking pompously, Pilot says, “This is all very well and good, but I’m very upset that he didn’t take this leading to the proper committee first. How do we know if this bread he is giving away is gluten-free? Are the fish sustainably sourced?” He goes on in a mocking tone of voice, “And his vocal ministry, ‘Blessed are the so and so, because blah blah blah. They will inherit . . .’ Inherit my butt! His vocal ministry goes on far too long in meeting. And where was he for the 40 days he spent in the desert—Burning Man? He missed several committee meetings! If I have anything to say about this, we on the Ministry and Counsel Committee plan to elder him to within an inch of his life!”
The camera cuts back to George, who says, “Thank you, Lucretia. And now . . . wait, we have more breaking news. Let’s go live to Compost Monthly Meeting’s twenty-seventh threshing session on a crucial topic, and look in on what’s happening. We can hear the meeting’s clerk who, as usual, is clerking the hell out of everyone there.”
Looking exhausted, Compost’s clerk says, “OK. For two years, we’ve been discussing whether the recycled toilet paper should be the traditional white color or a more symbolic brown. I sense that we may be in unity about . . .”
Suddenly a person enters the meeting and says in a loud, whiny voice, “What? We’re talking about the color of the recycled toilet paper! I know I’ve missed every business meeting since 1997 and all the threshing sessions, harvesting sessions, scything sessions, and retreats, but I have some very strong opinions about this issue! Why aren’t we considering plaid toilet paper?”
The clerk is fed up and says, “That’s it! I quit! I’m going to become a Presbyterian!”
Speaking into the camera, George directly addresses the clerk, “No. Please don’t quit! You have no idea how hard it is to talk people into being clerk . . . no, I don’t mean that. Don’t forget all the benefits of being clerk: there are the epaulets, the stock options, the ability to push people arou . . . you don’t look convinced.”
The clerk continues to look unconvinced, so George says, “Well, even if you quit being a clerk, you should still be a Quaker! There are lots of good reasons to be a Quaker.”
“Oh yeah? Name five,” says the disgusted clerk.
George replies, “One, the government stopped hanging Quakers years ago.
“Two, you don’t have to walk around your neighborhood ringing doorbells, trying to convert people, and telling people things like ‘Those curtains are lovely’ or ‘What a cute pitbull you have!’
“Three, Quakers have the best vegetarian, lactose-free, sugar-free, vegan, gluten-free, free-range, fair trade, sustainable, locally sourced, organic, non-GMO after-service fellowship snacks of all western religions.
“Four, and this is the most important reason of all, Quakers tend to have the highest quality marijuana of any religion . . . well . . . except for the Rastafarians.”
“That’s it! I’m going to become a Rastafarian!” declares the clerk as she walks off camera.
“Damn! Another clerk up in smoke,” complains George. He faces the camera and says, “There will be a brief, all-night meeting of Nominating Committee after this news broadcast.”
“Well, that’s the news this evening. Goodbye and good night.”