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Mary Klein


On Healers By their nature, living creatures seek nourishment and try to avoid pain. Each one of us comes up with our own strategies here. Most of us start with “The Way of My People.” After that, each of us comes up with our own odd twists on how we do things.

Issue: On Healers (September 2023)

On Dignity In meeting for worship on the occasion of heaven, we love to see everyone acting exactly like themselves. When we meet on the occasions of daily life, we often can’t quite remember where our true selves are. It’s a gift of grace to be in your right body, in your right mind, at the right place and time. And it’s a gift of grace to be in a community that encourages you to play your part for the truth, rather than for approval.

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

On Loss Many Friends in the West today trace our religious ancestry back to the arrival of Joel and Hannah Bean in California in 1882. The monthly meeting that the Beans enlivened in San Jose eventually became the root stock of three new yearly meetings – Pacific, North Pacific, and Intermountain (to oversimplify). Thirty years earlier, Joel and Hannah had traveled with the pioneer “Bean wagon train” that relocated dozens of Beans from New England to the brand new “free state” of Iowa. The Beans were central in the formation of Iowa Yearly Meeting, and Joel and Hannah clerked its two constituent meetings (men’s and women’s) for about ten years.

Issue: On Loss (May 2023)

On Perception Like circus cars ejecting impossible numbers of clowns right before our eyes, we humans emit endless parades of bright ideas into the crowded world. Then we jostle among all the world’s other creatures – animals, vegetables, minerals – and find ourselves wondering, now and then, about our own integrity, the coherence of our lives.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

On Conflict As Friends, it matters to us that we try to listen. Those times when we are forced to admit that, in fact, we actually have not been paying attention . . . well, we want to fix it. The impulse to repair misunderstandings is commonplace. But the ability to follow through on such repair often takes more patience and humility than a person can muster on a given day.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

On Science The allegory of the cave, attributed to Socrates by Plato in The Republic (375 BCE), depicts human knowledge as emerging from a struggle between our senses and our reason. In this story, prisoners are chained inside a cave so that they are only able to see one wall. A fire behind them projects shadows onto the wall, and all the prisoners’ knowledge derives from those shadows, known through their senses.

Issue: On Science (November 2022)

On Cooperation We are bags full of muscle and bone. And although we can see the leather of the bags, we can only guess at the contents, the memories and desires that propel any life, including our own.

Issue: On Cooperation (September 2022)

On Normality Elizabeth Fry, the “Angel of Prisons,” would pray, “Oh Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone.” As it turned out, Fry had done quite a lot by the time her life ended in 1845 – prison reform, social reform, education reform, philanthropy – had done so much and so well that her portrait is now on the British £5 note. Fry was aware of her own growing notoriety in her day. She wrote in her journal in 1817, “Newgate Prison and myself are becoming quite a show, which is a very serious thing. I believe that it certainly does much good to the cause [of prison reform] in spreading amongst all ranks of society a considerable interest in the subject, also a knowledge of the Society of Friends and of their principles.”

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

On Place A person can be nice to someone in order to cheat them, but they cannot be kind to them to cheat them; that would not be kind. When Micah taught, “Do justice; love kindness; walk humbly with your God,” the lesson was not to love persons, but to love an attitude towards persons. An attitude that honors the self-respect of every creature and accepts indebtedness to the common good (and hence, indebtedness to the particular creature one is facing) – this is kindness. When engaging in acts of healing, kindness is not over-cautious about insult or injury. The hard truth and the surgeon’s scalpel both cut when they are needed. Recovery is hard work, but healing is only possible when corruption is excised. Also, to enter into another’s healing is always an act of reciprocity.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

On Alternatives Many of the words I have said, I wish I could unsay. Many of the actions I have taken, I wish I could undo. If wishes were horses, then I would ride into the past to fix the many blunders and cruelties that lie on my conscience. Instead, I walk forward and try to do better.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

On Freedom A thrill is in the air when a storm is on the way. Some creatures run and shout and seek the highest vantage point. Others look for the nearest root cellar. Reckless versus responsible, selfless versus selfish – any reaction to danger can be seen in various lights. Some good neighbors rush to warn the rest to hurry up and take cover. Some keep busy in the cellar, shoring up the weight-bearing timbers.

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

On Words Language is a technology, a means of employing experience-based knowledge for practical purposes. Words are torches that beam from mind to mind, prompting individuals to turn their attentions in the same direction and to coordinate their efforts for survival. Many species rely on communication systems in this way. Homo sapiens, however, is a species that seems to have undergone a freakishly powerful cognitive mutation about 70,000 years ago. We became enabled then to speak of fictions.

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

On Cliques Semi-permeable membranes are essential to the flourishing of most organic life on Earth. From bacteria to civilizations, our lives exist within vibrant walls that delineate, protect, and provision us.

Issue: On Cliques (September 2021)

On Debt “Honor your father and your mother” can read:  “Honor all those whose actions, since before you were born, far off and up close, have brought you life.” Honor your debts. Celebrate life.

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

On Tricks A sense of belonging is a blessing. Whether we are animal, plant, bacterium, fungus, or protozoan, each of us has a place in our biosphere. If perfect justice existed, every creature would enjoy a feeling of belonging in whatever place it found itself. But actual creation is riddled with imperfection, trial and error, justice and injustice, an ocean of darkness flowing beneath the ocean of light.

Issue: On Tricks (May 2021)

Correction of a Quaker Baby Dear Editor: I’ve studied the cover of the Jan/Feb 2021 issue for many minutes, even inverted it. I used a magnifying glass on the reflections in the eyes. I still cannot figure out how one can tell that the pictured child is a Quaker baby.   What’s the giveaway?

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

On Relevance Throughout the ages, humans have kept reinventing the world, over and over again. Language, agriculture, kingdoms, credit, mass production, and social media – each innovation has turned our species upside down, and we’ve flattened countless others in the process. We are a species that is made for tinkering. We are a species with an inclination for figuring out how to make things better. Looking out at the universe, the interplay of chaos and order, we pluck particular observations out of our field of experience and string them together into explanations, arguments, stories, and plans. We are made to make meaning.

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

On Vision As Kenneth Boulding summarized in 1979, certain “Quaker distinctives” have held steady from the beginning: 1) faith in the presence of a universal call to perfectibility in all Life, 2) a profound unwillingness to use threat, even for supposedly good ends, 3) a passion for veracity, even in minute particulars of language, and 4) a sense of being upheld by grace, a thing not under human control, but responsive to human need. Boulding especially underlined the importance of veracity, “It is the utter abandonment of deceit in any form which lies at the very heart of the Quaker way of life.” (However, he also added, “[Veracity] does not necessarily imply not being in error.”)

Issue: On Vision (January 2021)

On Rules At the level of an individual family, an abused person can walk away from their abuser; they can start a new life elsewhere. That is also possible in a Quaker meeting or even in the Society of Friends – abused members of our Quaker family can leave, and they do. But it is not possible for abused members of the human family to leave the human family, even when humanity is twisted into morbid cycles of cruelty.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

On Teachers More than once, I have been humbled by being called racist. My first reaction, however, was not humility. My first reaction was to feel offended and misunderstood. Surely my accuser didn’t know me or my motives or my history. Surely, they were using the term “racist” too broadly – sloppy, really. A more precise definition would be more strategic for The Struggle (You’re welcome!), and would provide the added benefit of keeping me on the right side of history.

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

Corrections Regarding the July/August 2020 issue: Roni Burrows is not a member of Tempe Friends Meeting. Susan Cozzens is a member of Eastside Friends Meeting in Bellevue, WA.  ~~~

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

On Secrets Humans cannot actually view reality from a god’s-eye perspective, despite all the scriptures that have been written by some to help direct others in the name of God. At most, humans can intuit glimmers of insights that might align with a god’s-eye view. Consider the lilies of the field. The god’s-eye view continuously perceives and cherishes the individual agency of each and every creature in the cosmos, animate and inanimate. The god’s-eye view honors the spider in the corner and says, “There You are,” and traps it and releases it, rather than just squishing it. The spider has its own honor and agency, as much as it has its own role in the order of our planet.

Issue: On Secrets (July 2020)

On Wealth My guess is that, on average, across every dozen large Quaker gatherings, at least one person will share the insight that “We are human beings, not human doings.” (I’ve heard this said in non-Quaker circles as well.)

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

On Art I love to quote Frank Zappa on this, “Your life is a ribbon of time that you get to decorate.” Early Friends were rightly wary of decoration. They dissented from “high church” practices of pomp and circumstance, oratory and argumentation, frankincense and anointing oils. They were rightly wary of self-proclaimed prophets, state-funded theocrats, and peddlers of political revolutions and snake oil. In probably the first written expression of Quaker faith and practice, the Elders at Balby advised, “[As] any are moved of the Lord to speak the Word of the Lord . . . [it should] be done in faithfulness, without adding or diminishing.” (1656) Then just a few decades later, London Yearly Meeting extended this idea further and gave their “tender and Christian advice that Friends take care to keep to truth and plainness, in language, habit, deportment and behavior . . . and to avoid . . . all vain and superfluous fashions of the world.” (1691)

Issue: On Art (March 2020)

On Mediation Love and truth spring forth in all times and all places – even in the hearts of chaos and corruption. We strive to follow the Good Way, but only in vain can we define it. Dust devils of DNA whirl down the generations, rampaging, making things new, making things fit, breaking eggs to make omelettes. To our surprise, we arrive in this life. Then we do our best to do the right thing, never really knowing all the good and all the damage we are causing.

Issue: On Mediation (January 2020)

On Separation The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. The opposite of faith isn’t doubt; it’s certainty. Even though “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Article 1 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights), human dignity is not, in fact, universally respected, but is instead routinely trampled under the urgency to build, achieve, instruct, repair, etc. People rarely exercise much patience for actions or attitudes that don’t fit into their own plans.

Issue: On Separation (November 2019)

On Neighbors A lamb in a green pasture is like a kid in a candy shop, or a Friend in bookshop, or a teen at the mall, or a trader at the stock exchange. You’ll see agribusiness associates hectoring the lambs: “You’re so thin! You deserve more! Eat! Eat!” Then all the lambs will gambol around the pastures, nibbling on everything, hither and yon. But my shepherd makes me to lie down. So I lie in the grass and realize I don’t want anything.

Issue: On Neighbors (September 2019)

On Control “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to Adam to see what he would name them; and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19)

Issue: On Control (July 2019)

On Puzzles Organelles, cells, organs, organisms, families, cultures, planets – these bodies nest within each other in irregular concentricity, one within the next, each encased by its own semi-permeable boundary. In the jigsaw puzzle of incarnation, all the pieces slip and slide, expand and contract, ignite and extinguish, push, pull, infiltrate, and emerge. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Wondrous beings abound all around, in places where I am not.

Issue: On Puzzles (April 2019)

On Water Activists chant, “Water is life.” Introductory chemistry teachers instruct, “Water is the universal solvent.” Because of water’s exceptional ability to dismember all sorts of materials – carbon-based molecules, metals, salts – as well as its ability to absorb all sorts of gases – paleontologists tend to assume that life on Earth began in a body of water. And although the Book of Genesis sees life as beginning on dry land on the third day, it sees God as attending to water on the first day. “In the beginning,” after creating heaven and earth, after separating light from darkness and day from night, “God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.’” (Genesis 1:6)

Issue: On Water (March 2019)

On Weapons Dear Friends: Almost anything can serve as a weapon, even life-giving water. All living creatures on earth have evolved (are evolving) fortifications against attack. Cellular life is fortified by membranes, and human societies are fortified by lines in the sand. Nutrients and attractive ideas gain access through those fortifications. Poisons and slander are rebuffed. Inside our fortifications, ideally, scarcity and excess are minimized as we “give us this day our daily bread;” but in actuality, scarcity and excess are the pumping pistons of empire, trampling our planet today.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

On Mixture Dear Friends: Our bodies cannot live outside of history, nor can we live outside of history’s cruelty, its “mixing memory and desire.” Rowing our boats with our backs towards the future, we despair at the carnage we watch flowing out from our wakes – oceans choked by our poisons, lives crushed by our bigotry, truth and kindness twisted by our greed. Some bits of beauty bob along, too. But it’s easy to view the whole scene as basically grim.

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

Offensive Dear Editor: Since I first went to sub-Saharan African in 1964, I have often had to respond to negative and derogatory comments about Black Africa. For example, I have twice complained to Quaker publications where, in the captions for pictures, they gave the names of the White Americans but not of the Black Africans in the same picture. The greatest transgression is what I call African porn – using this definition of pornography: “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.” This is often extremely humiliating pictures of poor, starving Africans, frequently children. 

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

On Children In her autobiography, Life on Two Levels (1978), Quaker dynamo Josephine Duveneck tells of a year when she provided a foster home in Los Altos Hills, CA, to a seven-year-old Jewish boy from Germany, while Hitler was rising to power in Europe. “What a sweet little personality he was . . . He had been to school just before the time when Jewish children were banned, hence he was thoroughly indoctrinated with Nazi ideology. . . He told me that Adolph Hitler was the greatest man since Jesus Christ. I did not try to disillusion him. Soon, with the help of our horses, his hero worship was [redirected]. At Peninsula School, he learned English and also found out how to play games instead of how to march. I remember vividly the day when the portrait of Hitler that he had tacked up on his closet door had disappeared, and a poster with Franklin Roosevelt’s photograph on it took its place.”

Issue: On Children (September 2018)

On Bosses It’s hard to be shut out. It’s hard to be the one (or the family) whose name isn’t on the guest list, the one who is pointedly ignored in the meeting, the one on the roster of workers about to lose their jobs in the downsizing.

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

On Expansion Dear Friends: To be poor in spirit is not the same as to be poor materially or socially. Even so, material wealth and social authority tend to obstruct our view of the long arc of history that bends towards a world of justice and kindness. Although anyone is capable of recognizing justice and kindness as fundamental purposes of humanity – even persons with wealth and authority –  all too often, wealth and authority masquerade as justice and kindness themselves, a tricky sort of bait-and-switch that distracts us from keeping our eyes on the road.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

On Music Nothing is more intimate to life than rhythm. Even “dead” matter, gliding on entropy, throbs to the beat of E=MC2. The mystery of particles and waves as different aspects of the same reality, the mystery of being and doing as equivalent expressions of the same existence – these mysteries point to the great Mystery, which requires us to stand before it in awe, to love it with all our hearts and all our souls and all our strengths and all our minds.

Issue: On Music (March 2018)

On Captivity We have been created with gifts – awareness, comprehension, will, empathy – to do the work of Life. We can play with these gifts – and it is only by playing with them that we learn to use them well – but in play we risk falling into traps of self-indulgence, we risk blunting and distorting the vital purposes of our gifts and our lives.

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

“Amost Right” is Not “Right” Dear Editor: I deeply appreciate your publishing my poem “On Garbage” in the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of Western Friend, but I was disappointed that a word was omitted from the penultimate line. It should have read:

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

On Garbage Henry Ford, the father of mass production, is famously known for declaring, “History is bunk.” Thus, he relegated “History” to “the trash heap of history.” (The word “bunk” comes from the Dutch word for “rubbish,” bunkum.) Histories exist to make sense of people’s lives, to reveal the meanings of humanity. Assembly lines exist to maximize the output of people’s lives, to boost the means of production. Between history and industry, humanity and mass production, tensions are too often resolved by treating the sacred as garbage.

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

On Home Every living thing needs a certain amount of shelter to survive. Some humans cling aggressively to mighty castles; which is to say, they cling to piles of stones. Others remain ever ready to respond to The Call to pick up their tents and walk. The responsive ones are called humble; which is to say, they are blessed.

Issue: On Home (September 2017)

On Politics Dear Friends: We exist as finite creatures embraced by Something Infinite. Spiritual teachers throughout the ages have shown how love and joy can shine from these electrified lumps of clay that are our bodies – how love and joy can shine from this substance of darkness and pain. That is the mystery of incarnation. Our task is not to extinguish the impulses of our flesh, but to devote them to that Infinite Something all around us – to love it with all our hearts, all our souls, all our might; and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Issue: On Politics (July 2017)

Discussion Guide for articles in "On Balance" Discussion questions for five articles in this issue, available as a downloadable PDF.

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

Discussion Guide for articles in "On Insight" Discussion questions for five articles in this issue, available as a downloadable PDF.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

On Insight Dear Friends: Each one of us has been evicted from the nice, cozy home of our mother’s womb. Howling at the shock of it, we plunged naked into the winds of change. A newborn who isn’t howling is cause for concern; so rightfully, we voiced our complaints, strangers in a strange land. And over the years, sometimes more, sometimes less, we still feel the sting of it – free-market swindles, red-tape regulations, wage theft, job theft – we feel the sting on the left and the right.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Discussion Guide for articles in "On Competition" Discussion questions for five articles in this issue, available as a downloadable PDF.

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

On Competition Winning by cheating isn’t the same as simply winning. They may look the same. They may be rewarded with the same sets of prizes and glory. But they are not equal indicators of ability, even though prizes and glory might obscure that.

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

Carbon Offsets for Western Friend

Many new initiatives to promote "carbon offsets" have emerged since the letter below was published.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

On Flesh Dear Friends: Back to basics.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

Discussion Guide for articles in "On Flesh" Discussion questions for five articles in this issue, available as a downloadable PDF.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

On Media Immersed in stories as humans are – print, radio, television, internet, social media, interactive gaming, virtual reality – we can easily lose sight of truth. Especially when a story fills our imagination with images we dearly want to believe in, we can feel reluctant to break the story’s spell.

Issue: On Media (September 2016)

On Heritage Choose life: It’s a good rule of thumb. But the life I have inherited is one that’s built on killing. While I’m safely minding my own business (in a wealthy suburb in the richest nation that’s ever existed), killing and the threat of killing are adding to the wealth of the nation I live in. Killing and the threat of killing are holding the line between who has access to resources and who does not. Who ends up on which side of that line is based on no good reason. Rather, it is rote tradition that allows arbitrary distinctions between groups of people to be used to enhance the resources of some and limit the resources of others. No matter how convincingly such traditions are sanctified and rationalized, they remain fundamentally arbitrary and morally dead.

Issue: On Heritage (July 2016)

The Angel of Prisons A story about Elizabeth Fry.

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

On Limits As almost any four-year-old child could tell you, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a great big box, you’ll need to cut holes in it before you can make it into a house. Or as “the old man” (Lao Tsu) said, “Profit comes from what is there; usefulness from what is not there.”

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

On Beginning “This isn’t working. We need to start over.” Virtually nobody ever wants to hear that. Our natural tendency is to protect our accomplishments and hang onto what we’ve got, even if that might not be good for us. Our brains are not designed to assess risk accurately. We underrate the risks of the mundane (cars, bathrooms) and overrate the risks of the dramatic (airplanes, tornadoes). The Known typically appears safer than The Unknown.

Issue: On Beginning (March 2016)

On Countries In the earliest years of our faith, buoyed up by currents of the Enlightenment, Friends professed Truth as they drew it from individual revelations. Even though they shared a common Christian background and perspective, early Friends’ revelations multiplied wildly, leading to strife and confusion among them. By 1666, many prominent Friends had been executed or imprisoned, and the faith seemed destined to fizzle. What saved Friends’ faith was Friends’ invention of practices of corporate discernment, which allowed them to create some order among themselves, so they could truly function as corporate bodies (articulated), rather than merely as disperseable collectives of individuals (amorphous).

Issue: On Countries (January 2016)

A Good Chocolate Business A story about the Cadbury family in the 1800s.

Issue: On Money (November 2015)

On Money One of my sisters keeps horses. She has noticed that if she shows up to feed them later than usual, they seem especially happy to see her. The pathos of this scenario is all the more striking because, in general, we take such scenarios for granted. With carrots and sticks and clever deceptions, we humans purchase the loyalty of our fellow creatures on a daily basis, including each other.

Issue: On Money (November 2015)

On Play Let’s be friends. Let’s play a game, or play make-believe, or play around just to see what happens. Let’s play the Massively Multiplayer Offline Game called The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Each of us gets two characters – InnerFriend and OuterFriend – and the goal is to keep them together, as closely as we can, while we move them through The Valley toward The Eternal Mystery.

Issue: On Play (September 2015)

Love in the Desert A story about Jim Corbett and friends.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

Same and Different Coloring activity for all ages!

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

On Difference A six-year-old girl in South Carolina wrote a letter this summer. “Dear Daddy: I know you were shot at the Church and you went to Heaven. I love you so much! I know you love me and I know that you know that I love you too . . . Your baby girl and grasshopper.” Take more time to feel the sadness of that. Take more time to feel the wrongness of that.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

John Woolman, Pure and Simple Some words and phrases to know before you read

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

On Needs I need a miracle. I cannot bring into the world all the good that I want, no matter how much it is needed. But by some miracle, I can learn to play my part.

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

On Knowing Last January, police in South Carolina released a sketch of a possible murder suspect, drawn by artificial intelligence, based on information from DNA found at the crime scene. No eyewitnesses and no cameras had observed the murderer’s face, yet the computer produced an approximation of it, and the authorities believe it might help them solve the crime. (Pollack, NYT, 2/24/2015)

Issue: On Knowing (March 2015)

The Phoenix of Hiroshima Find a lesson plan here for using this article in First Day School.

Issue: On Knowing (March 2015)

The Quaker Nobel Peace Prize Some words and phrases to know before you read

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Puzzles and a Game (Jan/Feb 2015) Here are some fun things to do on your own and with friends.

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Fair Share Here is a picture for you to add to and color.

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

On Reconciliation Dear Friends: Through no fault of our own, through no feat of our own, we’ve all been born into this juncture in history together. So many of us. Too many of us. Things keep getting more and more crowded around here. Even so, it seems impossibly hard at times to say goodbye to people.

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Puzzles and a Game (Nov/Dec 2014) Here are some activities you can do on your own or with some friends.

Issue: On Temptation (November 2014)

A Quandary Draw two pictures of two possibilities.

Issue: On Temptation (November 2014)

Too Full of Himself “I abused my power,” James Nayler wrote to the Quakers. The year was 1659. Nayler was forty-one years old. He had just spent two years in prison.

Issue: On Temptation (November 2014)

On Temptation Dear Friends: “We come now to examine the state and condition of man as he stands in the fall: what his capacity and power [are] and how far he is able, as of himself, to advance in relation to the things of God.” (Robert Barclay, 1678). In an era when God is Dead, when the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation continues to rise (currently approaching 20%), Quakers continue to assert along with Barclay that “. . . whatsoever real good any man doth, it proceedeth not from his nature as he is man or the son of Adam, but from the seed of God in him, as a new visitation of life, in order to bring him out of this natural condition: so that it be in him, yet it is not of him . . .”

Issue: On Temptation (November 2014)

Busy Bees Here's a job for a detective.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

The Wedding of Seaweed and Fungus A dramatic retelling of a scientific theory

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

Puzzles and a Game (Sept/Oct 2014) Here is a page of fun things for Friends to do together.

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

Family Celebration This is a coloring page that takes some imagination.

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

On Family “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This was Cain’s retort to God after committing the first cold-blooded murder in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic record. And even though God banished Cain to a lifetime of “restless wandering upon the earth,” God remained silent on the question of Cain’s obligations to his brother. (Genesis 4)  An unknown number of millennia later, God finally clarified, “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. . . And you shall love your fellow man as yourself.” (Leviticus 19)

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

A Game, Drawing, and Two Puzzles (On Pride) Here are some activities to do alone and a game to play with friends.

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

Six Bold Colors This coloring page takes a lot of patience. (You can leave the spaces marked "7" blank if you want.)

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

On Pride Dear Friends: Stand up straight. Those words can sound scolding – or they can sound encouraging. Deciding whether or not to obey directions, we consider the source. We consider whether we think that source cares about our best interests.

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

Puzzles and a Game (May/June 2014) Here are some puzzles to do on your own and a game to play with friends.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

On Production After frolicking around The Garden all morning, Adam and Eve were starving. They filled their bellies with the fruit of The Tree, and it gave them such a headache! The knowledge of good and evil throbs in the ever-branching tangle of nerves that is the human brain. And the Tree of Good and Evil produces both kinds of fruit.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

Summer Camps that Made a Difference It was summer camp, but it sounded serious. Quaker Work Camp was a whole month of work and study. The camp sounded serious, but the campers made it fun.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

Picture Forever Here is a coloring page for you.

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

Waiting for Light to Come It’s no fun to feel sick – no fun to have an upset stomach or a stuffy nose. And getting hurt is no fun either. Burning your finger, banging your head, scraping your knee – not fun. You just want someone to take the bad feeling away. And nobody can do that. But if they see that you need help, they can try to help you.

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

On Time If we’re lucky enough to live long enough, we get to watch the miracle of babies turning into adults. And with that luck, we pay the price of watching tangible people in our lives turning into memories. And we watch those memories taking on lives of their own.  A baby’s first word, a teen’s first love, anybody’s last wishes – these moments burst onto the scene, disappear, and then echo.

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

Puzzles and a Game (March/April 2014) Here are some puzzles to do on your own and a game to play with friends.

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

On Patriotism Dear Friends: Our First Amendment right to free expression is sometimes called the “crown jewel” of the Bill of Rights. That somewhat oxymoronic metaphor – a fundamental democratic principle sparkling like a diamond in the coffers of a monarch – reveals an uneasy tension between our democratic freedoms and the worldly powers that guard them. Yet even though any government must place some limits on individual freedom, the expectation is that those limits will benefit the common good. In the document that established Pennsylvania’s first legislature in 1682, William Penn wrote, “The glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and end of government, and therefore government in itself is a venerable ordinance of God.”

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Hidden Picture Here is a page to color when you have some time.

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Puzzles and a Game (Jan/Feb 2014) Here are some puzzles to do alone and a game to do with your friends.

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Cruelty and Kindness in Wartime Josephine Duveneck loved adventure. She loved justice, too. In 1936, just a few years before the start of World War Two, Josephine took a trip to Germany with her family. They rented bikes and rode through the German countryside. The travelers were Josephine, her husband Frank, and three of their four children.

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

On Deception Dear Friends, Many of you have heard the story: Two old Quaker farmers are working together, repairing a fence. One farmer pauses, looks up, and comments that among a flock of white sheep, he sees a black one. The other farmer looks up at the flock and replies, “Well yes, it is black on this side.”

Issue: On Deception (November 2013)

On Love Dear Friends: Love, the bumper sticker, is simple and sweet. Love that moves through the real world can knock people down. Affection, friendship, romance, and unconditional loving-kindness – each seeks its place in our lives, and these forces can sometimes rush in and overwhelm us. Opening our hearts to love – both to its uncertainty and to its certainty – can be frightening. And we live in a finite world, in finite time, with finite choices to make.

Issue: On Love (September 2013)

Western Friend Forward The editor and board of Western Friend hear this from our readers: While our magazine is published six times a year, many western Friends want to hear from each other more frequently than that.

Issue: On Love (September 2013)

On Superiority Dear Friends:  If a king were to offer me a tract of land as a home for my family and friends, I might take it. Though if I were required to grovel in thanks first, I might turn it down, since I carry a peculiar temperament common to Friends. In “A Key,” which William Penn wrote in 1692 to explain the ways of Friends, he said, “We honor all men in the Lord, but not in the spirit and fashion of the world which passes away. And though we do not pull off our hats or give flattering titles . . . we treat all men with seriousness and gentleness . . . and are ready to do [our superiors] any reasonable benefit or service in which we think real honor consists.”

Issue: On Superiority (July 2013)

On Consumption Dear Friends:  Nobody ever taught us to pray, “Give us this day our stockpile of bread with a shelf-life of forty years.” Hoarding resources for private gain is a course of action that despoils the Earth and obstructs our right relationship with God. Humanity today consumes resources 50% faster than the Earth can replenish them. In the United States, we consume them 400% faster. (See footprintnetwork.org.) Habitat destruction and other factors caused biodiversity to plummet by 30% across the globe and by 60% in the tropics between 1970 and 2008. (See wwf.panda.org.) Dozens of species go extinct and a thousand people die of starvation each day, due to human greed, ignorance, and inertia.

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

On Power Dear Friends: We marvel at incarnation, at the way that Life walks the earth in carne, in these bags of flesh we call bodies. By some mysterious grace we are given the power to live and to think and to act. Then gravity holds us down. Biochemistry drives us. History and community constrain us. Information limits our imagination. A tangle of powers confronts us with a chaos of demands. It’s enough to drive you to drink. It’s enough to drive whole civilizations mad.

Issue: On Power (March 2013)

On War Dear Friends,

Issue: On War (January 2013)

On Seeds

The only promise Life makes is this: Things will change. And when they do, we can try something new. We will still be we. But we will be different.

Issue: On Seeds (November 2023)

On Division

So much havoc and pain have been wreaked on the world by people who were certain they were performing God’s will.

Issue: On Division (January 2024)

On Prayer

The Religious Society of Friends is a religion, not a political project.

Issue: On Prayer (March 2024)

On Balance

In the “capstone talk” of the American Friends Service Committee’s Centennial Summit last month, former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias framed his remarks with reference to an episode described by Henry Cadbury in his Nobel Lecture of 1947. In that lecture, Cadbury recounts, “In 1665, some English Quaker carpenters were building wooden ships on the Thames. They thought they were pacifists and had renounced war, and when there was danger of invasion by a Dutch fleet, these carpenters were required to carry arms. Naturally, they refused to do so, but it never occurred to them that what they were building were warships. It comes slowly, this discovery.”

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

On Prayer

At its core, every creature is beholden to all of creation. Every creature is also built to protect its own integrity.

Issue: On Prayer (May 2024)

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