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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.