Welcome to Unction.org

This is the central location to acquire Books and CDs
from Peggy Senger Morrison and Alivia Biko.
You can scroll down and find the offerings or
look over on the right hand side and quick link to the item you want.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Larry Moffitt's review of...
MIRACLE MOTORS: A Pert Near True Story
By Peggy Senger Morrison
By way of full disclosure, I used to be Peggy Senger Morrison’s editor at ReligionAndSpirituality.com, the religion news service of United Press International. Editors are real bastards. We change people’s perfectly good prose. We mess up art. Occasionally an editor will get a truly exceptional writer about whom he/she recognizes they are unworthy to edit, aside from delousing for typos and changing every instance of “that” to “which” and every instance of “which” to “that.” Peggy is a truly exceptional writer.

Miracle Motors is way more than a motorcycle travelogue seen through the prism of a Quaker pastor, raised by straight-arrow parents, who tried to be a good girl and mostly succeeded. She comes with a few quirks acquired from having an extraordinary ability to really see people and the flaw of giving a crap about what happens to them. A good girl she is, but not exactly the pastor’s wife her parent’s envisioned.

It is precisely those quirks that make Peggy Senger Morrison, storyteller and self-described “provacatuer of grace,” such a readable writer. She is a fully realized human being endowed with a set of empathetic feelings and the jaundiced shields required for survival and humor. She is a biker. Not a biker chick. A biker. Think of finding yourself in line next to a leather-clad motorcyclist at the Starbucks in a truck stop. The two of you sit down with your mocha fraps and she proceeds to make your jaw drop telling your about her newly adopted congregation being struck by a quadruple homicide. Or the conversations she has with God.

Reading her book is like that. Along the way, we also learn a few things about the Quakers. They’re not Amish and they don’t manufacture oatmeal.

She writes eloquently about the motorcycling experience and the rest of her life that transpires in and around her ministry. The bike saddle is her prayer room. Riding is where she gets most of her talking with God done.

Regarding the book’s subtitle, “A Pert Near True Story,” she quotes a cowboy poet she knew who told her “pert near true" is defined as "something that is so full of truth it doesn't matter whether it actually happened or not.” Every few pages has that kind of workable truth, often rendered with great humor, and things I wish I had thought of first.

She is a woman of deep and practical faith who chats up God frequently with the expectation that the conversation will not be one-sided. God’s voice doesn’t come to her through burning bushes or booming out of an offstage sub-woofer. She has trained herself to recognize the voice via her own intuition and in the words of others. A medical student from Central Africa asked her out of the blue, “When are you coming to Burundi? I need your help.” In those brief words Peggy heard God’s unique voiceprint, or the “Present Christ,” or whatever you want to call it. It was all she needed to motivate her for three trips to an African country that hadn’t seen many straight-talking, motorcycle-riding preacher women. Like maybe none.

She reveals enough about herself to indicate she has been has honest in telling her story as it’s possible to be in such a book. She’s clearly not your father’s Quaker pastor.
The world is full of people who can write well but have nothing to say. Conversely, there are those who see what goes on but can’t articulate it worth diddly. Peggy observes and describes life with clear eloquence. Unforced wisdom, useful and harvestable, abounds throughout. Peggy Senger Morrison is a gifted storyteller who knows jack, and has given us a book of true-life adventures tuned to a frequency appreciated, not by theologians, but by you, me and joe sixpack.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Sidecar – A Companion to Miracle Motors

The Sidecar – A Companion to Miracle Motors

This photo of Drs. Indiana and Henry Jones can stand for so many things in my life: the loving but fraught parental relationship, my relationship with my God, even my relationship with my own belief system. Sometimes my world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket, and there sits my faith in the sidecar – all smug and self-contained. Its suitcase is packed; somehow it still has an umbrella. My faith is supposed to help me, but I am not sure that it is doing anything but weighing me down. It certainly can be critical at times. Yet, I know I can’t afford to lose it, and then, just when the bad gets worse, my faith can bail me out in unexpected ways.

This study guide is an exploration of the sidecar. Miracle Motors: A Pert Near True Story, is a rollicking tale, but it raises many more questions than it answers. There are problems of consistency and heresy in there. If you take what I am saying seriously, you either have to do some interior re-arranging or get out the torches and pitchforks.

The gospel writer said that “Jesus never spoke to the crowds without using parable, but when alone with his disciples – he explained everything.” If that is what you are hoping for in this sidecar study guide, you are going to be disappointed. And when you think about it, even with the explanations, the disciples with an all-access back stage pass to the Son of God, didn’t really appear to get it.
I don’t either.

But I don’t think that should stop us from wrestling with the realities.

Sometimes you wrestle a blessing out of the process.

So the goal of this study guide is two-fold. First, to lay out some of these very messy ideas – just to wrestle with. Maybe you will find some answers - maybe you won’t. I bet you will have some stories of your own to share. Eventually there will be a section of exercises. Real world suggestions for activities you can do to encourage your own inner hero. Because nobody else is going to do it for you.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Any Decent Inquisition

I am aware that I am lucky to live when and where I do. In any other age and in many other places, my brand of uppity women don't tend to last long.

Above and beyond my tendency to mouth off, and not do as I am told, there is the fact that some people take offensive offense about the loving relationship that I keep. And yet we live with expansive liberty and joy. Mostly unharassed.

And just to push my luck I have freely published a book that would get me burned in any decent inquisition.

Now to top it off I can put onto the world wide web a brazen list of the heresies contained or implied in Miracle Motors: A Pert Near True Story.

Here they are, not complete, just the Top Ten.

10. God doesn't get mad, or even sad, when you reject God.
9. Humans are not fallen - We do not inherit sin as a birthright.
8. God speaks to me directly and often contradicts religious authorities and their interpretations of the Bible.
7. It is not possible to be disconnected from God.
6. Subverting the dominant paradigm is often a very good and Godly idea.
5. The death and resurrection of Christ had nothing to do with punishment.
4. God is often closer during sin than during righteousness.
3. Hell as a place of eternal punishment is a false construct.
2. Salvation is a transformation from good to better , not a reprieve from doom.
1. The Bible contains the best pert near true stories that I know.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Me an Nadia hanging at Chapters Bookstore in Newberg. 
Nadia looks a little downcast, or perhaps 
she is just contemplating Richard Rohr at our feet!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

St. Orville's Day

August 13th is St Orville's Day.
I believe deeply in keeping your own calendar. 
It should be populated with saints and commemorations.

Orville was my father. In his youth he was wild and reckless. It is a multiple miracle that he lived to procreate. As an adult he was steady, and funny, and  observant. He had no cusswords that anyone else would recognize. He never hit a child, or a woman. In the 48 years I knew him I never heard him raise his voice, or use a racial slur, or treat any human as anything less than fully human. He was crazy about our mother. In old age he liked to prank nurses. He was musical and painted. He was an amateur botanist, geologist and astronomer. He was thrifty, but never cheap.

Appropriate ways to celebrate St Orville's Day.
  • Go out and watch the Perseid meteor shower that comes for his name day.
  • plant something, anything - especially a tree
  • eat a bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich, but only if you grow the tomato
  • Indulge in a Green River Float.
  • Paint in watercolors
  • enjoy some bluegrass
  • pull a good but harmless prank
  • tell a tall tale
  • read the funnies (or anything) to a child
  • repair something rather than throw it out
  • Tell someone you love them


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Extreme Unction

 My writing career is now old enough to get a driver's license...

In the Spring of 1998 I took a little motorcycle ride. To San Antonio, Texas and back. It was fun. I had some interesting experiences there and back again. I did not have the good sense to shut up about it.

My friend Marge Abbott started pestering me about writing the stories down. As Christmas rolled around I decided to write the story and make a few copies for my nearest and dearest as Christmas presents. My daughter Emily, a senior in high school, did the interior design and the cover for what became Extreme Unction: Christ and the lure of the open road. I was fond of the cover then and and still am today. I made the books at LazerQuick. The first run was about 20. The recipients were not discreet enough to keep it to themselves.

I made a batch of a hundred, and asked for money. I figured that would dry things up. Then I made another hundred, or two. Then I got tired of that and refused to make any more.

Barclay Press publisher, Dan McCracken, and one of his board members took me to breakfast at the Donald Cafe, and told me that it was good. And with work, publishable. But not by Barclay Press, because motorcycle travelogues were not really their thing.

At their insistence I put together a book proposal, which was ignored by many. I was relieved.

I was doing more preaching, and I never write sermons down before the speaking of them - very bad juju. But people thought I did, and kept asking for the messages. Bob Rodriguez, editor of a small town newspaper, offered to edit them if I would try and write them down after the fact. Marge thought this was a good idea. Alivia helped me print and mail them out. 

Then I ran off to Africa, which generated a couple more stories.

I tried the blogging thing, which had the advantage of not involving late night runs to LazerQuick.

In the winter of '06 Pamela Calvert forwarded me a call for writers. United Press International wanted a broad spectrum of weekly religion writers for a spirituality page to appear on line. I sent them a column-length piece, expecting to be ignored. Within 24 hours I heard from Larry Moffitt, VP UPI.  I had a gig.

I tried running off to Africa again, but Larry just sent me off with press creds, and I posted from the field.

When I had two years of columns done, I quit. But 100 columns makes a pretty good book, so I had it printed up by a real printer. Batches now came 250 at a time. I think I did it three times.

People said they wanted more about Africa - so I did one about that.

I tried making a book of ten years of sermons. Alvia painted me a very pretty cover for that. But people like motorcycle and war zone stories better than Gospel sermons and that one did not sell as well.

So I ran off to Africa Again. 

When the 15 year anniversary of the Texas ride rolled around, I thought I might re-issue it. Now I had a day job, and some spare change, so I hired and editor and a designer.  Kathy Hyzy, is pretty good at the double-dare-ya thing. She challenged me to make it much bigger than a one-ride-story. She dared me not just to write about weird stuff and my courage in face of it, but to actually tell the truth about the source of my courage. The whole thing got out of control.

Now I have a Summa Theologica Motorcyclica on my hands. 

And yeah, its got the 1998 story, and a bunch of those columns and blog posts. But it has a whole lot of stuff I have never had the nerve to write before. And now it seems to have a story line under and through all the other stories that is much more important than the stories. Its got subtext - geez, when did that start to happen?

And now I can do it print-on-demand, and you can get it at any real bookstore, if you know what to ask for, or that under-cutting, on-line, behemoth that starts with an A.

And it makes me a little nervous.
But the cover's pretty, don't you think?
(I still like Emily's)

If it gets too big, I'll be picking up my mail in Bujumura.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Out and About

This very impressive line of bikes was out in front of Chapters Books on August first for the release of Miracle Motors.  We also visited NPYM. Rosie and I would be happy to visit your local Oregon Book store, church, or book group. Dates have to be arranged around my day job, but the rains won't start till November. Message me if you are curious.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Miracle Motors: A Pert Near True Story

photo credit Brandon Buerkle at brandonbuerkle.com

Miracle Motors: a Pert Near True Story

This book is the culmination of Peggy's writing to date. Part memoir, part free-lance theology, part page-turning travelogue, you will enjoy the ride! Long time readers of Peggy's writing will remember some of the stories, but there is a great deal that is new, and some that is stunning! It's got God, Texas, Africa, and heresy, what could go wrong?

How to get it: 
First Choice - Walk into, or call, your local bookstore and ask them to order you a copy. When you pick it up - ask them to stock a few. The ISBN is  978-0981998930. They can look it up on Ingram if you have the title and author. It will cost 15.00

The print on demand people have a printer in the UK - it should be orderable over there. Maybe even Australia.

Chapters Books in Newberg, Oregon is stocking this book.
Second choice - use the paypal button on this site and order one from me. $15 plus $2.50 for postage. Or see me if you are local.

Third choice - It is up on Barnes and Noble - print and ebook. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Alivia Biko's second CD. Traditional hymns presented with acoustic guitar. This CD is a soothing balm to the soul. 

Currently offered only as a package-less Add into to one of the other CD's  Add 5 dollars to you order to add another 12 tracks of beautiful music.

Use the paypal option

Glorious - a Christmas CD

This is Alivia Biko's Third CD. With Brilliant instrumentation by Christopher Buckley, this collection will set your holiday mood. The mood is rich, acoustic and more than a bit Celtic. 

A wonderful Christmas gift for any music lover.

$10 dollars and 2 dollars postage. Use the Paypal button on this site. Make sure to name the CDs you want and give a full mailing address. They will be shipped out within three days.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A letter from a reader - about Refugee Planet

Hi Peggy,
So, I read Messages to a Refugee Planet, and loved it. I read your introduction on not really wanting comments after preaching because perhaps people should listen to what God's Spirit is saying instead of analyzing the preach. Good comment, I thought, but then I thought, that is exactly what I'm about to do! That gave me pause for thought. So, I waited to see if the Spirit would give me anything to say back, and I waited and I waited. Finally I have had to settle for saying something which is not from God, but I think it's OK with God that I say it.

"Messages to a Refugee World is a revelation that brings us up short with the rare and astonishing truth that God thinks we are wonderful, and rejoices over our creation still. The book tells us that communities of faith can be places of restoration and Delight! That far from letting us sink in a mire of guilt and negativity, the Spirit of God urges us to speak kindness to people because kinds speaks of the deepest truth, that we are made in God's image. We are all made in God's image, not just the men, not just the whites, not just the rich or the stable, or the sorted, but everyone. When we walk guided by the Spirit of God we are unbeatable, even if we lose. With a message like this, who wouldn't choose to read this book!"

Hope all is well with you. Keep up the great work!


Phil Lane
Director, Oasis Belgium

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review - Messages to a Refugee Planet

From William Ashworth is a member of South Mountain Friends Meeting in Ashland, OR, and of the Ministry and Oversight Committee of North Pacific Yearly Meeting. 

Another stimulating and thought-provoking essay collection from Peggy Parsons, based this time on vocal ministry instead of blog entries.

Vocal ministry is one of the constants across all branches of the Society of Friends, from the most conservative evangelical Friends church to the most liberal unprogrammed meeting. It is why Quakers quake. True vocal ministry does not consist of the thoughts of the minister, but of pass-through from the Source of the message; the minister may tinker with the wording, but never with the content. One of the signs that you are given a message, rather than just thinking it up, is the "quaking before the Lord" described by early Friends and still felt by Friends preparing to minister today. The principal difference between a Friend who merely rises in Meeting to give a message and Peggy Parsons is that, as a recorded and released minister, she is expected to be able to hear and give voice to God's messages, in detail, at previously scheduled times and places.

Peggy spends her first chapter describing her methods of listening for ministry and of shaping its delivery to its intended recipients while attempting to avoid shaping the message itself. Most of the remainder of the book (all but the last chapter) is devoted to specific ministries she has given, written down only after the fact to avoid too much wordsmithing ahead of time, which would impose her own mind too far into the message before its audience receives it. The audience and the date are noted for each message, which helps the reader understand differences in style among them. For the most part, even when speaking to liberal Friends' groups, Peggy couches her ministry in evangelical Christian language. Do not be fooled by this. This is a book for everyone: the truths she captures are universal.

Those who know her previous books will find stories they have read elsewhere. Bear with her: they are placed in a different context here - the context of vocal ministry - and although the truths they publish are the same, the views of those truths provided here are far more subtle and complex than when she uses the same stories merely to kick off blog entries. It is difficult to read this book at one sitting. Not because it is long (it isn't) or difficult (it isn't that, either), but because there is so much meat in it that the reader needs to regularly pause and contemplate. A chapter that stopped me in my tracks was the message viewing a Quaker Meeting for Business - another constant across all flavors of Friends - through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. Or perhaps vice versa. Other readers are likely to be grabbed at different places. But be warned: you will be grabbed.

And speaking of the Sermon on the Mount: do not miss Peggy's last chapter. It is a joyful retelling of several well-known scriptural passages, including the SOTM, in modern colloquial English. The translations are not just tossed off - Peggy has drawn carefully on her knowledge of ancient Greek and Hebrew as well as her considerable knowledge of Biblical exegesis - but neither are they stodgy. Friends often speak of the "Light within" or "holding in the Light." One of the functions of this book is to remind us that one of the meanings of "light" is "not heavy."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Messages to a Refugee Planet

Now Taking Orders!

Messages to a Refugee Planet is a collection of Gospel Ministry given to Peggy between 1996-2004.  It consists of nine messages, an essay on preaching, and a selection of Peggy's work with scripture translation and paraphrase. The messages cover Genesis to Apocalypse, and represent a generous, free, post-modern exegesis. As quick and uplifting a trip through the Bible as you are ever likely to take!

110 pages,$10 plus $2 postage.
please add $1 per copy for paypal orders.
for e-book options please see unction.org

Only available from the Author at this time.
Write to Unction Press, 710 Thompson NE Salem OR 97301

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What grace looks like when provoked ... A review

By Kody Hersh - an edited version of this review appeared in Friends Journal.

So There I Was...
By Peggy Senger Parsons, self-published, 2009. 267 pages. $20.00/paperback.

    The summer of 2006 saw me, an 18-year-old Quaker boy in the honeymoon period of a call to ministry, wandering the west coast of the United States. I started out in Seattle and, with an ultimate destination of San Francisco, somehow developed an itinerary that included Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Iowa. I've never been very good at geography.

    About a week into my trip, I ended up at Peggy Senger Parsons' house for a couple days. We'd never met, but I'd been reading her blog, where she was steadily publishing the essays that are collected in her new book, So There I Was.... I wanted to hang out with Peggy because I needed accompaniment as I figured out how to be faithful in life and ministry. It turns out that spiritual accompaniment is a gift Peggy has not just in person, but also as a writer. It is equal parts wisdom, humor, pastoral care, and prophetic challenge.

    Peggy describes herself as a "freelance provocateur of grace," and in So There I Was..., she tells stories that illustrate what grace looks like when provoked. She rescues a pig-tailed runaway on a tricycle, avoids calamity by following the instructions of mysterious strangers, and plants small, subversive seeds of feminist thought in the minds of children. Her essays on 21st-century spiritual practice include things like "the Discipline of Spiritual Adventure," and her biblical exegesis is heavy on motorcycle metaphors.

    So There I Was... could easily be gimmicky, if it weren't for the authenticity and depth of the author's underlying message. Peggy has been a pastoral counselor for a couple decades. She has done trauma healing work with survivors of genocide. When she writes about healing and grace, truth-telling and mythology, it is with palpable conviction and depth of understanding.

    Peggy's colorful, creative facility with language often comes at the expense of grammatical convention. Also, she makes more than one oatmeal joke. A single oatmeal joke, in a single publication, might be a forgivable offense-- but two? Potential readers will need to exercise discretion in this matter.

    As a whole, this wide-ranging collection of essays maintains a lively energy while presenting meaningful, substantive content. Friends and others with both a deep yearning to be faithful and an irreverent streak will find So There I Was... a valuable resource, a challenge and a comfort. I believe and hope that, in addition to serving these individuals well, Peggy's book may prove a significant contribution to Quakerism as a whole. We need more thoughtful voices speaking from beyond our binary perceptions of liberal vs. evangelical Quaker thought. We need more passion, and we need more public Friends embodying anachronism so that we may begin to face our preconceptions with fresh eyes.

    Peggy, as a passionate and compassionate narrative essayist, does all of these things.

Kody Gabriel Hersh is a member of Miami Monthly Meeting (Southeastern YM), currently living in Philadelphia. He has been active with the FGC Youth Ministries Committee and Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book Review - So There I was... In Africa

So There I Was ... in Africa  
This review was written by Derek Lamson, of West Hills Friends Church in Portland Oregon. He is a good friend of mine and we were in Burundi at the same time for two months in 2007, but I did not solicit this review.

This is the original, a version of this appears in this month's Western Friend.  WF is a fine Quaker publication. 

Derek goes a bit over the top here. But that's just his charism.

  So There I Was…  In Africa, by Peggy Senger Parsons, is an introduction to several fascinating subjects.  One is Burundi, a tiny overpopulated African appalachia so far off of our maps – literal and otherwise – that it might as well be Oz, for all we know.  Peg’s twenty-eight pungent sketches, compiled from ministry trips from 2003 to 2007, are vivid correctives, detailing the strength, beauty, humor, and profound spirituality of this people and land.  Like the Burundians, Peg looks squarely at the genocide, the nagging confusing civil wars, ongoing deforestation, poverty.  Like the Burundians she also witnesses to the country’s youthful energy, hope, and eagerness to do better.  You will like it that she never condescends to them

              David Niyonzima is central to this collection, as he should be. Peg and David partnered in bringing simple effective PTSD therapies to help lay the ghosts of Burundi’s violent recent past.  It was why she went in the first place.  Do read about David’s pilgrimage in his book, (Unlocking Horns, Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Burundi, Barclay Press).  Get more of the man’s walk with God, his work and ministry, his incredible church, and cool family, from Peg’s book

              Finally, these articles are great introductions to Peg herself.  I probably should take this opportunity to scotch a little rumor going around:  sorry, there is no Peggy Senger Parsons action figure doll.  I know, I’ve heard it too, all about the motorcycle accessory, matching leathers, etc., but there’s no truth in it.  The simple truth is that the woman is courage in boots, and she is all about encouraging othersThe essence of her irresistibly fun energy is that she is grounded in Christ.  I believe she is one of the most important Quaker ministers at work today.  Read this book and see why.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Art of Life - Alivia Biko's first CD


Your one-stop shop for the things that your soul craves.

This is Alivia Biko's first CD.
Mostly original music.

Alivia's voice has been proven to calm colicky babies and folks who are going through withdrawal.

$10 plus $2 shipping.
e-mail for quantity discounts.

Available by Paypal  - make notation of which CD you want and you mailing address. We will ship media mail within 3 days.