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Healing the World

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On Heelers In the world of working dogs, there is a breed called Blue Heeler or Australian Cattle Dog. The names derive from these dogs’ inborn tendency to work cattle from behind, their origins in Australia, and the typical “blue” coloring of their fur. They are often somewhat aggressive and may need to be approached with caution.

Issue: On Healers (September 2023)

Abortion and Community “Community” is central to Friends’ faith and practice, and of course, it is central to all of humanity. Life starts with a community of two – the mother and her infant. A baby’s community grows as she grows. Eventually it may include her father, other siblings, and many others.

Issue: On Healers (September 2023)

Nuclear Waste and States Rights On March 17, 2023, the last evening of the state’s legislative session this year, the New Mexico House passed Senate Bill 53 (SB 53), sponsored by State Senator Jeff Steinborn and State Representative Matthew McQueen. This bill concerns state oversight of a private company – Holtec – and prevents state agencies from issuing permits for a “temporary” nuclear-waste storage facility in southeast New Mexico, a facility that Holtec wants to build to hold all the nation’s high-level nuclear waste, even though zero nuclear energy plants are sited in New Mexico.

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

What Friends Bring to Politics

A few other Oregon Quakers and I were in an online book group. We read We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People’s Campaign. This book consists of fifty-three essays, each just two or three pages long, each including Scriptural references. It’s by and for people who are working towards more dignity for poor people – by challenging the ways that our institutions keep people in poverty. This book makes one thing clear to me – local government policies and actions have been major drivers of economic inequity throughout the history of our nation, especially in terms of housing inequality. It also seems clear to me that this level of democracy – the local level – is a critical place for us to work to make a positive impact on these issues.

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

Dignity and Civic Life We can envision a universal parameter of dignity for individuals: Each person is owed fundamental respect simply by virtue of being human. We can also appreciate the importance of ensuring dignified treatment of the myriad of groups that comprise our society, and in particular, those that have been exploited, marginalized, and disempowered. For Friends, the importance of human dignity rests on a strong spiritual basis:

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

Spiritually Clean – A Social Laundromat Ministry For a few years, San Francisco Quaker meeting has been meeting Christ outside its doors, literally. The voiceless, forgotten, and politically marginalized gather outside our building to seek refuge. We welcome them to service on Sundays, make sandwiches and food, and charge their phones on Fridays, and that’s all needed. Another quiet ministry is the washing of laundry – which a few Friends take back to their places to wash and return.

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

Global Blue-Green Zone for COP28 Despite its significant limitations, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the principal setting for the international community to gather and confront our catastrophically destabilizing global climate. As the need for ambitious action from governments becomes more urgent, broader public engagement with the UNFCCC also becomes more urgent. Grassroots involvement is critical for assuring that negotiations are both effective and equitable.

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

My Slaves Many listeners get the wrong idea from hearing me talk about the fact that so many of us in 2023 own child slaves in the Congo, children who are mining cobalt for our electric vehicles and coltan for our cellphones, computers, and other electronic contraptions. Upon hearing this, most American slaveholders (like me) tend to think of cruel and evil plantation masters, sole proprietors who use their slaves to enhance their personal wealth. Such ideas are based on the way cotton was raised in the South before the Civil War, then sold to mills in the North and to England. Merchants would personally buy and sell human chattel when opportunities arose or when personal economic setbacks forced them. Ancillary enterprises also benefitted, of course, like the production of manacles and chains. Slave catchers had a healthy business, too.

Issue: On Loss (May 2023)

Living Grief, Finding Connection As climate disasters, species extinctions, and the relentless unraveling of the Web of Life on Earth become ever more impossible to ignore, eco-anxiety becomes ever more widespread. There’s now a name for this unique mental anguish – solastalgia – a term created by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht in the early 2000s. Unrelenting hurricane seasons, devastating forest fires, smoke- and smog-filled air, prolonged drought, extreme heat, clear-cutting – all these can trigger solastalgia. Buddhist deep ecologist, eco-philosopher and activist Joanna Macy expresses this well in The Bestiary:

Issue: On Loss (May 2023)

Martyrs for Conscience’s Sake “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” These words were written by Lord Acton in 1887. Throughout the ages, we have seen this: When autocrats exercise power corruptly, heroic persons stand up to challenge them. This essay is a brief history of just a few of the countless individuals who have spoken truth to power over the past 2500 years and who sacrificed their lives for it. Let us not forget them.

Issue: On Loss (May 2023)

In Solidarity with Migrants Annunciation House is a non-profit organization that sustains a network of shelters, facilities, and services for migrants in El Paso, Texas. When I applied to be a volunteer, I had no expectations or even knowledge of what lay ahead, no idea what I was getting into. I only knew I wanted to help migrants.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

Can You Believe? Johan Maurer is a member of Camas Friends Church in Washington State who has been publishing a blog called “Can You Believe?” since June 2004. He is also a member of Moscow Friends Meeting in Russia and is a recorded Friends minister. In his blog, which he produces virtually every Thursday, Maurer reflects frankly on religion, politics, philosophy, and more.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

The Commodification of Quakers Quakers of the early 1800s would not have approved of the flamboyant lifestyle of the poet Lord Byron. But they might have approved of his poem “To a Beautiful Quaker” (1806), in which he associates Quakers with the attributes of peace and virtue. And although Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling anti-slavery book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), was written in a genre not approved by Friends – a novel – Friends would not have objected to Stowe’s portrayal of heroic efforts by Quakers to help their fellow man. When Quakers are portrayed by others as positive role models, depending on the circumstances, such portrayals might deserve praise, sufferance, or condemnation.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

What Friends Can Bring The Institute for Ecological Civilization (EcoCiv) was founded in 2015 as an outcome of an international conference convened at Claremont Colleges, attended by 1,500 people. Focused on the theme “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization,” the conference sought to build a systematic foundation for a global transition to an ecological civilization. Along with serving as president of EcoCiv, I am also a member of Claremont Friends Meeting. I would like to share some views of our world’s ecological crisis, as seen from the perspective of traditional Quaker values.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

New Structures, New Life Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends (SCYMF) is a relatively new addition to the yearly meetings of Friends in the West. Many SCYMF Friends have been involved with other Western yearly meetings, formally and informally, for years, including involvement in “Convergent Friends” – a fellowship which has met occasionally for more than a decade, bringing together members of liberal “Friends Meetings” and Christian “Friends Churches.” Some of us have also participated for many years in the Pacific Northwest Quaker Women’s Theology Conferences, another opportunity for Friends from different branches to share ideas, worship, and fellowship. So, SCYMF is new, but not new.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Community v. Crisis Recently, I had an opportunity to learn about the  fragility of our country’s current health care system and its social safety net. At the same time, I renewed my appreciation for my community and my Friends meeting.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Peace – One Yard at a Time Gila Friends Meeting reactivated our Peace and Social Concerns Committee a couple of years ago, after several years of inaction. Many “social concerns” had begun attracting our attention, and we wanted to act on them. Then during one of our committee meetings, someone asked about the “peace” part of our mission. What would we do about “peace”? And thus, it began.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Palestine, October 2022 As we have done before, my wife Janet and I traveled recently in Palestine. We joined a two-week journey in October with the British organization Quaker Voluntary Action. [pullquote]We visited Tel Aviv, Jifna (a small village near Ramallah in the West Bank), and Jerusalem.[/pullquote] As a group of eleven, we visited a settlement, harvested olives, roamed the Old City in Jerusalem, visited Ramallah Friends School, shared meeting for worship twice at Ramallah Friends Meeting, and – in worship and conversation – faced the predicament of this “much too promised land,” as Aaron David Miller has described it.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Compassionate Listening in Alabama Last October, with the help of Friends, friends, and the community college where I teach, Tim Reed and I took the “Compassionate Listening Journey to Alabama.” This is a fantastic trip conducted by the Compassionate Listening Project, a legacy of Quaker peacemaker Gene Knudsen Hoffman, designed to cultivating compassion for ourselves and others. [pullquote]The Project has organized similar journeys to Israel and Palestine for many years. This was their second journey to Alabama.[/pullquote]

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Persistence Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) is a major military base on the island where I live. One of the noisiest planes in the world is stationed here, the EA-18G Growler. When deployed during bombing missions, the Growler works from an aircraft carrier deck and provides electronic jamming of enemy radar. While stationed on Whidbey, Growler pilots practice their maneuvers for landing on aircraft carriers. This practice involves multiple approaches to a small landing strip in central Whidbey, where the planes do touch-and-go exercises, sometimes for hours at a time, both night and day.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Please Do Not “Believe in” Science Cautious confidence in the scientific process is, I believe, the best perspective. Science is akin to continuing revelation and undermined by groupthink. However, modern science is fundamentally materialistic, and we do not live by bread alone.

Issue: On Science (November 2022)

Scientific and Moral Reasoning I am a Quaker and a scientist. To be more precise, I am a Quaker and a computer scientist. Some would dispute whether my field is a true science, but what I do is pretty scientific, with gathering of empirical data and testing of hypotheses.

Issue: On Science (November 2022)

Toward a Science of Nonviolent Action [The original version of this article, with footnotes and more detail, is published online at: westernfriend.org/media/toward-science-nonviolent-action-unabridged]

Issue: On Science (November 2022)

Botany on an Endangered Planet I have spent my whole life learning about the natural world. I am a professional botanist whose career was focused for fifty-plus years on trying to use science to understand and “save” specific unusual components of our earth’s ecosystems. I have learned a lot about climate change over the many years since Al Gore published Earth in the Balance in 1992, which my life partner, Dr. Charles Avery, used as a textbook in his Northern Arizona University conservation classes.  However, in recent decades, I have become increasingly sad, frustrated, angry, and sometimes depressed that humans in general, and climate-change-deniers in particular, are threatening the health of our whole earth.

Issue: On Science (November 2022)

Uplifted in Witness Together What stays essential and what needs to change in the Religious Society of Friends? I remember thinking when I was a teen that many older Friends seemed to have lost the ability to listen. Fortunately, older Friends in my own local meeting believed in us young Friends.

Issue: On Cooperation (September 2022)

Positively Quaker My smartphone bristles with news every day. I mostly ignore it, knowing the news items trend toward the sensational and quirky, not balanced reporting. But recently, the words “Toxic Positivity” appeared as a headline, and that got me to thinking.

Issue: On Cooperation (September 2022)

Widening the Welcome In late February 2020, I was selected to “travel in the ministry” among Friends in Oregon. This was a part of the “Knitting Us Together” project of the Outreach and Visitation Committee of North Pacific Yearly Meeting (NPYM). I traveled virtually by Zoom with my elder, Jay Thatcher. We visited Quaker meetings in NPYM and Friends churches in Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends (SCYMF).

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

Three Numbers Three numbers to remember: 2, 16 and 20,000. What’s the story behind three such different numbers, and how are they all related?

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

It’s OK to Talk about Quakerism Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our Quakerism with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In my (so far unpublished) research on expressing Quaker spirituality in the workplace, I interviewed one person who said that when a co-worker found out he was a Quaker, he was stunned. “I worked next to you for five years and had no idea you were a Quaker.”

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

Individual and Collective Anti-Racism I was in my twenties when I came to Quaker faith and practice, and learned a new normal. It was the first time I saw social justice concerns centered by a faith community. Spiritual development was nurtured and encouraged for all ages and was treated as a personal responsibility, something one did for oneself and for the community. Although I had been raised in a religious home, this was my first exposure to faith as a way of life, not just individually, but communally. Quakers didn’t just “go to church together,” we shared the world and made sense of it as best we could together.

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

Reckoning – Quakers and Indian Boarding Schools Schools don’t have graveyards. At least, that is what many believed until some gruesome recent discoveries.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

Two Quakers Living with the Military We are two Quaker women who raised our families in towns dominated by the U.S. military. Rather than shun the military and look away, we have lived our witness amidst strong military presences. One thing about being in a military town is that you can’t look away from how big a machine the military is. Each of us found that it was hard to raise a Quaker family in a community with a tiny Quaker presence and a huge military presence. It was hard for our children to find peer support with so few Friends in town. [pullquote]The military has certainly created plenty of occasions for us to talk about our testimonies and our practices in the face of headwinds.[/pullquote] Both of us have found that our situations have actually helped strengthen our faith, since we often have to live our witness when sustained by faith alone.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

A Place to Work for Peace and Justice I am new to this place, Woolman at Sierra Friends Center. I am meeting it as it is now, not as it once was, before the fire. I walk the trails and wander between the buildings, each day learning something new: where and when the deer like to cross Woolman Lane, where gophers’ paths and pipes run underground, where to stand to get cell phone reception.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

Loving Earth Project Last spring, Cynthia Black from Eugene Friends Meeting published an article in Extra! Extra! – Western Friend’s email newsletter – which described a project being organized by British Friends at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, England. Called “The Loving Earth Project,” it invited Friends to reflect on persons or places they love that are endangered by climate breakdown and then express their love and concern by creating 12” x 12” fabric art panels. Friends from around the world have responded to this call, and the Loving Earth exhibit has grown to include over four hundred panels. This is the story of how the project has inspired Friends in the Sacramento Friends Meeting and how you can help to bring an exhibition of Loving Earth panels to the US in 2023.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

9th Street Ministries A cold Wednesday evening in May 2017 found me standing, as usual, in front of the meetinghouse on 9th Street in San Francisco. Few people passed by that night. In front of me, one of the many drug dealers who worked our neighborhood was crouched, his back to me. I grappled with conflicting feelings.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

Nurturing Integrity on Colonized Land My grandfather descended from a family of farmers – homesteaders, given cheap land after the government committed genocide to clear it for white families like mine. When my grandfather married my grandmother, he was welcomed into her family’s business: the lumber mill, turning forests into 2x4s.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

Now or Never We must stay on our mission of being witnesses of Earthcare. Will everyone restore rare rainforest in Hawaii? No. Some will restore their aina (sacred land) by planting a small urban garden or one tree in their small yard. Some may sing songs for a local nonprofit forest refuge to raise donations and awareness. Some will talk it up on Facebook and have a window garden. “Kokua” (ko kew ah) in Hawaiian means to share and care, to take responsibility enough to take action that shows care. Easy to say, maybe not so easy to do.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

Alternatives to Childbearing John’s son, Adam, spoke glowingly of his father at John’s memorial service. Adam and his sibling were adopted when they were small. Adam knew what his life would have been like if they hadn’t been taken away by social services from their alcoholic mother.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

A Search for an Honorable Bank About a year ago, Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon, asked all of its committees to examine how their work might be upholding or breaking down structural racism. For our Finance Committee, one aspect that was specifically raised and addressed was the choice of a better banking partner.  Over the summer of 2021, we researched banking alternatives with the hope of finding a partner more aligned with our Quaker values, as well as working to advance racial justice.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

Alternatives to Prison Prisons rank high on the list of institutions that Quakers want to eliminate, very close to war. The most recent statement of legislative priorities by the Friends Committee on National Legislation (possibly the most widely-discerned document in the Quaker world) includes advocating for a system that “eliminates mass incarceration and promotes law-enforcement that is community-oriented and demilitarized.” The Board of the American Friends Service Committee, after producing an extensive background paper, took the position – back in 1978 – that it supports the abolition of prisons. Clearly, Quakers by and large want to live in that Light and Love that takes away the occasion of all prisons – along with jails, detention centers, and other places where people are held in cages.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

The Search Committee “It just isn’t done that way,” the experienced voice responded when a Friend of Color on the Search Committee asked why we weren’t posting the salary. The committee resumed silent reflection. “Keeping salaries confidential is a longstanding way of maintaining wage inequality, especially when persons other than White males apply, not knowing how much others are paid.” More reflection. “It is insulting to qualified young adults to ask them to go through a hiring process, then offer to pay them less than a living wage.” More reflection. In the end, the committee united around our decision to include the base salary in the solicitation.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

Healing with Native Peoples through Truth (abridged) [The following text was excerpted from the keynote presentation to Lake Erie Yearly Meeting on July 30, 2021. The unabridged text is published online at: https://westernfriend.org/media/healing-native-peoples-thru-truth.]

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

Freedom, Fraternity, and Friends (abridged) [The following text was excerpted from: https://westernfriend.org/media/freedom-fraternity-friends.]

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

Are We Ready for Anti-Racism? Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (John 3:18)

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

Delights and Downfalls with Words I admit it, I’m a word nerd. I grew up with Scrabble and Boggle, then progressed to New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles. At one point, I even wrote my own twelve-page dictionary of invented, adapted, and deliberately mangled words and meanings.

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

23rd-Century-Ready Quaker Institutions Upon my arrival in Richmond, Indiana – after years of ministry in San Francisco, California – I would often walk the campus in the awareness that Earlham College had been standing at the time of the Civil War. I think often about the tension between spectacular, Ezekiel-like revelations from God and what happens when we attempt to translate such revelations into structured communities.

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

Unfamiliar Arid Country “Before going into unfamiliar arid country,” the late Jim Corbett wrote, “study maps that show the location of water.”

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

Richmond Anti-Draft Declaration of 1948 Friends are exhorted to adhere faithfully to [our] testimony against all wars and fightings, and in no way to unite with any warlike measure such as a Selective Service Draft or Universal Military Training . . . A living concern having been expressed that Friends’ practices be consistent with their professions, Friends are urged: 

Issue: On Cliques (September 2021)

The Long-Term Project of Anti-Racism This is a time when many Quaker meetings have approved statements denouncing racist violence and pledging their efforts to uproot and dismantle systemic racism. Many individual Friends are engaged in anti-racist work in their communities and are educating themselves about the history and impacts of racism in our country, the better to discern how they might act to promote racial equity and justice.

Issue: On Cliques (September 2021)

Talking Truth about Military Recruitment [Join Kate Connell online in November to talk about Truth in Military Recruitment. See https://westernfriend.org/event/truth-and-military-recruitment-nov-16]

Issue: On Cliques (September 2021)

Friends, Racial Justice, and Policing The following text is a compilation of excerpts from the Worship Leader presentation that Cherice Bock made to the General Committee of the Friends Committee on National Legislation at their annual meeting in Novmeber 2020.

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

Pay Vaccines Forward with COVAX Have you received your first COVID shot?  Have you been fully vaccinated? It is a nice feeling to be more protected from this disease.  

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

DIY Divestment Some tasks seem to take a long time to get started. Doing dishes, weeding the garden, and paying bills come to mind. Once I’ve finally gotten going, I wonder why they ever seemed like a big deal. Divesting my family’s bank accounts from fossil fuels was like that.

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

An Invitation to COP26 Few people need to be reminded that the past year and a half have been particularly tough for the entire human community. A seemingly unending stream of crises have made exhaustion, confusion, and anger all too commonplace. At times, it feels like the best we can do is simply hunker down and ride out the storm. However, as the storm gets worse, even that strategy doesn’t work so well.

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

Bitcoin: A Consideration for Friends In 1779, Quaker abolitionist Warner Mifflin wrote and circulated a tract that was both thoughtful and provocative: “Statement Concerning His Refusal to Use and Circulate Continental Currency.” (A copy of this tract can be found today in the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College.)

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

Spiritual Service through Showing Up When my husband and I moved to the Bay Area during the dot-com boom, we didn’t know a soul. We needed to get involved with a community and get to know people. After checking out the Buddhists and the Unitarians – even though we didn’t come from a faith tradition in DC – we decided to visit the Quaker Meetinghouse in San Francisco. It featured a prominent sign and was situated at the edge of the Civic Center, Tenderloin, and South of Market (SOMA) neighborhoods, which are also advancing edges of tech gentrification in the city.

Issue: On Tricks (May 2021)

Towards Peace in Yemen Early in January 2015, my world changed. My dad called to inform me that my cousin Muath Safi Yousef al-Kasasbeh, a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot, had been captured and burned to death by the militant group ISIL – after Muath’s F-16 fighter aircraft malfunctioned and crashed over Syria. Although I had never met this cousin of mine, my heart pounded with grief, listening to the rage and despair in my father’s voice. He was devastated, and he vowed that Jordan would take revenge.

Issue: On Tricks (May 2021)

A Puzzling Grave in a Quaker Cemetery With his death approaching, I asked him, “John, who was Martha Jones?”

Issue: On Tricks (May 2021)

Faith on the Border Pima Friends Meeting in Tucson, Arizona, is 60 miles (106 kilometers) from the International Border with Mexico. Our meeting is widely known for the leadership that our member Jim Corbett gave to the sanctuary movement in the 1980s, helping refugees from the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala find sanctuary in U.S. churches.

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

An Unfinished Revolution [This text has been excerpted from the author’s upcoming book, An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021).]  

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

Wisdom at One with the Earth Bring into your mind the Holy, the Mystery, always within us and always around us. This Holy Mystery, I call “Christ.” I feel Christ flowing like water, blowing like wind, surrounding us, penetrating us, flowing outward from us. In this awareness, we can know that all of us belong to one another and to all creation. Now imagine that we might pivot, all together, into caring for all creation – with immediate personal and corporate action.

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

The Quaker Spa I’m no expert on Quaker history, but I’m familiar with the basic outlines. One general observation I can make about Quaker history is this: Early Friends started by getting imprisoned often for breaking the rules, and then they continued as rule-breakers throughout the centuries. Quakers have broken both government laws and cultural conventions. This pattern of rule-breaking emerges from the same source as our testimonies do: Quaker worship.

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

Off the Shelves Last year, our Library Committee worked diligently to create a wonderfully complete online library catalog of all the books held by Santa Monica Friends Meeting. Then, the pandemic hit. Our meetinghouse closed in March 2020, and virtually all our books have been sitting idle for a year. I have a deep love of physical books: the smell when you crack one open, the texture of a page in your hand, the way you can find a passage you’ve read by remembering where it was on the page. Physical books are absolutely delightful. I believe that everything we treasure, we should use often and reverently, not tuck it away into oblivion. [pullquote]In using the things that we value, we are able to understand what their value is.[/pullquote]

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

In a Quaker Minute Most people know several different ways for drawing a large group of people to a decision. I’ve experienced many: Robert’s Rules, the Lakota talking circle, the old-fashioned town-hall meeting, the top-down company-wide memo, a method I’ll call “spokes and wheels,” as well as Quaker meeting for business. These give us “outward forms” for grappling with messy social processes. None of them are sacred, although the sacred may work through them. Do I think some methods excel above others? Yes. Do I think we should change Quaker process? No! However, if I could change one thing in the Quaker mind it would be the errant belief that, in order to be good process, it must proceed at a glacial pace.

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

Vaccines and Community The coronavirus pandemic marches through its surges and plateaus, changing with congregating behavior, pandemic fatigue, and doubts about the seriousness of Covid-19 disease. At this writing in January, new virus variants are appearing with mutations that increase the efficiency of transmission, which means more deaths. The more transmission there is, the more the virus will mutate to escape immunity. The history of influenza is repeating itself. The distribution of two effective Covid-19 vaccines is far short of demand at this time. Even though production and distribution are solvable, practical problems, they are not getting the resources necessary. While cosmetics production remains at full strength in the U.S., vaccine supplies depend on imports. While the country continues to manufacture obsolete fighter jets, it has not built nursing schools to meet our pressing need for healthcare workers over the last fifty years.

Issue: On Relevance (March 2021)

Integrity Investment Shelley’s Story: Imagine a billion dollars being taken out of fossil fuel development and more than a billion being put into renewable energy. This is exactly what the University of California (UC) did in 2020. What did it take for UC to divest from fossil fuels in such a big way?

Issue: On Vision (January 2021)

Bridging the Generational Divide Quaker meetings in the U.S. are generally filled with whiter, older, highly educated, middle-to-upper class, or in other words, very privileged people. Today’s youth face far fewer options than their parents had at the same age. Consequently, a disconnect has been growing for some time between generations, both within and beyond our Quaker community.

Issue: On Vision (January 2021)

Speaking Truth This article has been abridged from a longer original, which can be found at: westernfriend.org/media/speaking-truth-unabridged.

Issue: On Vision (January 2021)

Anti-Racist Giving Sierra Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends (SCYMF) is only a few years old. Not that long ago, most of us were members of Northwest Yearly Meeting (NWYM). After a lengthy conflict, we were informed that we no longer had a place at the family table. To its credit, NWYM chose to acknowledge that we’d made a contribution to the yearly meeting – sometimes over many generations – and decided to share some of their accumulated wealth with us. We won’t know the dollar amount until next year, but for a fledgling yearly meeting with few expenses, whatever we receive will seem like a windfall.

Issue: On Vision (January 2021)

Vision for the Day to Be Peace I ask of thee of river, Peace, Peace, Peace. When I learn to live serenely, cares will cease. From the hills I gather courage, vision for the day to be. Strength to lead and faith to follow, All are given unto me. Peace I ask of thee of river, Peace, Peace, Peace.                     by Gwyneth Walker

Issue: On Vision (January 2021)

since funding is first since funding is first who gives any attention to the substance of things is never going to pay you;

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Rules of Engagement Some rules are written down, like those in law books. Others are unwritten rules, which can be even more stringent and unforgiving than statute, like the unwritten rules that whisper to dictate which emotions each gender is supposed to feel and show, or not. Lately, various new and somewhat inconsistent rules have arisen concerning speech that some people experience as offensive, and these rules have been causing occasional havoc.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Abolish the Police Jed Walsh and Mackenzie Barton-Rowledge are close friends who do police and prison abolition work together. They sent Western Friend a conversation about what abolition means to them, and how it fits into their lives as Quakers.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Get Out of the Way Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon, has a reputation of being one of the “more liberal” Quaker meetings. This is Portland, after all. There’s plenty of action and donations of money in the meeting around climate change, immigrant rights, and many other worthy social-justice causes. But when it comes to action around supporting Black Lives, there seems to be a hesitancy.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

This Is the Work I am a twenty-year veteran teacher. I’ve always taught the littlest ones – first grade, kindergarten, and preschool for four-year-olds, otherwise known as early childhood education or ECE. I teach ECE today in a predominantly black district – Denver Pubic Schools – at Hallett Academy, where 99% of the students are black.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Evolution of The Peace Testimony [The following article is abridged from a more complete original text, which is available at: westernfriend.org/media/evolution-testimony.]

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Daily Justice and Injustice As part of her Senior Project last spring, my granddaughter Bailey asked me to tell her my reasons for working on behalf of immigrants, migrants, and refugees. My reasons are probably similar to those of many other Friends.

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

Epistle of the Friends of Color Retreat 2020 To Friends Everywhere: We begin by remembering our ancestors who were strong enough to make a way for us. Friends of Color and their families met for Pre-Gathering Retreat on 26 Day through 28 Day Sixth Month 2020. This is the eighth year Friends of Color have met for our Pre- Gathering Retreat.  First-timers felt welcomed and validated.   This year, we met virtually with our largest attendance yet. There were 47 attendees, ranging in age from 11 months through 77 years from Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and the United States of America.

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

An FCNL Education in Civic Engagement Future generations will likely study the events of this year and scratch their heads. Just considering a global pandemic (and the failure of our leaders to address it) and racial injustice reaching a fever pitch, one can almost envision an entire college course examining the calamities of 2020. Add to that the voter suppression, gun violence, hunger, poverty, wars, and extinctions of plants and animals that were already in play before 2020’s headline events, and it almost sounds like a fiction course.

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

International Friends School The International Friends School (IFS) has a guiding spirit. This spirt teaches us, ultimately, that consistent renewals of joyfulness and love provide the sturdiest framework for everything we will experience in life. The smallest acts of love and joy – pulling beets, helping someone after a bike scrape, hanging towels to dry in the sun with a friend – are meaningful. Together with other gestures, behaviors, and practices, these have the power to change the world, as they multiply and create a generation of people who are world-wise and heart-strong. This spirit is evident every day at IFS, a dynamic new school that is intentional in design, molded by Quaker testimonies and practices, and braided gently together by love and joy.

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

Racism, Housing, and Cities Eight years ago, I married Jill Shook, a housing justice advocate and Evangelical Christian who loves Jesus and justice. She also loves Quakers and attends Orange Grove Meeting (and the Methodist Church). The more I walk or drive around Pasadena with her, the more I see a side of this city that I never even imagined before. I have come to see the “secret life” of this city – how housing policies determine where and how homes are built and businesses are situated. Cities don’t just happen, they are created and shaped by policy makers with values that are often colored by classism, xenophobia, and racism.

Issue: On Secrets (July 2020)

The Face Under The Face When I first went to the Soviet Union in 1984, I expected to meet a hospitable people, if not outgoing. The first thing I learned was that Russians never smile. They look grim. They stare. The women especially would often stare at me and then turn away abruptly. In U.S. culture, this could be interpreted as distancing, judgmental, even hostile. It was definitely uncomfortable.

Issue: On Secrets (July 2020)

Secrets in the Friendly Home I’m getting very tired of this. Sometimes I am afraid of the person I am stuck with in this house during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Issue: On Secrets (July 2020)

The Messy Ethics of Giving Why do Quakers soft-pedal the importance of financial giving?  It’s true, our unprogrammed meetings don’t need as much as conventional churches since they typically lack paid staff and large buildings.  But beyond those differences, we seem to be quite uneasy in even bringing up the topic.

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

48 Windows [This article is abridged from a longer version, which is at: https://westernfriend.org/media/48-windows-campaign-unabridged]

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

Fulton & Larkin This evening, we were witness to a large community that has grown at Fulton and Larkin streets. There are at least sixty persons currently living at this location.

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

Frontline Housing for Healthcare March 2020 was daunting for everyone, but especially for frontline healthcare providers: doctors, nurses, CNAs, social workers, paramedics, and chaplains. In addition to the daily stressors of ever-changing workplace policies, harrowing statistics, and not enough PPE (personal protective equipment), frontline workers in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest Regions have had to contend with the juxtaposition of their usual daily tasks and constant vigilance towards the ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in the hospitals and nursing homes where they work.

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

Gasoline and Leadings William Penn became a Quaker in 1666, and immediately realized he had a problem. He was a member of the court of King Charles II. As a courtier, he was expected to wear a sword; as a Quaker, he had abjured the sword’s use. What to do? Legend says that he approached George Fox with this conundrum, and Fox cut through it with a simple test: Wear thy sword as long as thou canst.

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

Poetry Heals “Way has opened” countless times over the past five years, as I followed a calling to create a nonprofit organization called Poetry Heals.

Issue: On Art (March 2020)

Craftivism Craftivism is craft plus activism. It is creating and sharing art that expresses a political or social message. Writer and activist Betsy Greer coined the term in 2003, and since then, it has spread around the world. Many activists share testimonials about the ways that craftivism has changed their lives, making them calmer and happier people.

Issue: On Art (March 2020)

Conflict or Pseudocommunity Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) is an eleven-month service program for people aged 21-30 who are ready to enter into an experiment in community centered on Quaker values. Fellows have full-time social justice employment and participate in an intentional program of spiritual deepening. We are in our eighth year and have houses in Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Portland OR, and Minneapolis. I served as a Fellow in Boston in 2016-2017, and since then, I have been on staff as the Recruitment Coordinator and am engaged in equity work.

Issue: On Mediation (January 2020)

Better than a Club When I was a kid, I told my little sister that we were forming a club. The two of us held a meeting to discuss possible club names and what kinds of things we would do as members of this club. We decided we would call it “The Do-Gooders Club,” and we would do good things. Creative, right? I’m not sure where things went after that.

Issue: On Mediation (January 2020)

Non-Adversarial Communication Mindful, non-adversarial communication is one of the best tools we have found for seeking Truth and for seeing “that of God” in ourselves and each other. For Quakers, the result of such seeking is a life lived according to the guidance of the Light, and a life that offers ministry to others, which includes vocal ministry. Historically, another important form of Quaker ministry has been for Friends to place themselves in conflict situations and engage in peaceful actions to heal harm.

Issue: On Mediation (January 2020)

Testimonies of Separation I have litigated divorce, paternity, custody, child support, and Order of Protection cases in Arizona for over three years. My work has largely been funded by a grant for crime victims’ rights. Almost all of the patterns described in this article appeared many times in many cases and do not refer to particular cases or individuals.  I have omitted all identifying information and, where necessary, have changed particularizing details to preserve confidentiality.

Issue: On Separation (November 2019)

A New Story for Earth “Tell me a story.” How often we said that as children! “Tell me a story.” Narrative has the power to shape our world; indeed it is how we understand the world and our place in it. “Tell me a story.”

Issue: On Separation (November 2019)

Haregewoin’s Wail For a single moment, time collapsed in the Tucson International Airport. Heads turned abruptly. Passersby stopped dead in their hurried tracks. A soul-deep wail erupted from the throat of a sturdy woman with a mighty set of lungs. Haregewoin’s cry shattered the hubbub and echoed off the sterile walls, like thunder. All throughout the terminal, from baggage claim to the Homeland Security screening lines, a haunting stillness presided. Haregewoin’s two children and her husband had just arrived by plane from Africa, just stepped into view, and stood there atop the arrival ramp escalator, fifty yards away from her. [pullquote]Haregewoin had not laid eyes on her family in years, had not been sure that she ever would. Her wail was a wail of anguish and ecstasy, like the prophets of old.[/pullquote]

Issue: On Separation (November 2019)

Gossip, Friends, and friends “To put it in the language of Friends, community happens as that of God in you responds to that of God in me.” 

Issue: On Separation (November 2019)

Expanding the Concept and Practice of Nonviolence (abridged) The following text is an abridged version of a recently discovered, previously unpublished article. The full version is published online at: westernfriend.org/media/expanding-nonviolence

Issue: On Neighbors (September 2019)

Tom Friendly, A Fantasy On Monday night, I went to bed fretting about how very little we old people in retirement communities are able to do about all the problems of this world.

Issue: On Neighbors (September 2019)

Making Peace a Reality OUR principle is, and our practices have always been, to seek peace and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to the peace of all. . . All bloody principles and practices, as to our own particulars, we utterly deny; with all outward wars and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretense whatsoever; this is our testimony to the whole world world.

Issue: On Control (July 2019)

Black. Christian. Anarchist. I am an African American whose encounter with God is more an attitude than belief system, a certain swagger and daring in the face of what black liberation theologian James Cone would refer to as “obvious failure.” By all quantitative standards, the post-Reconstruction experience of African Americans would meet the definition of failure. Today, the median wealth of single Black women is – prepare yourself – five dollars. In San Francisco, African Americans are only five percent of the population. If all religious practice is a response to a set of particular historical circumstances what can speak to this collective misery? The African American religious experience is ultimately about the quest for freedom and self-determination.

Issue: On Control (July 2019)

Where Have All the Flowers Gone? * I became a convinced Friend the first time I walked into a Quaker meeting for worship. I was twenty-one, and I experienced the best of what Quaker worship can be. Compared with my previous experience of religion –  a “stand up, sit down” experience of being “preached at” – I said to myself, “this is the real thing.” That was fifty years ago.

Issue: On Puzzles (April 2019)

Be a CASA Be a CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate

Issue: On Puzzles (April 2019)

Two Quaker Observers to COP24 2018 was a year of climate records. The fourth warmest year since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it featured intense drought and wildfires in western North America, a devastating hurricane season in the Southeast, unprecedented flooding in southern Asia, and continued loss of Arctic sea ice. It was also the year that the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that humanity had twelve years to stave off global climate catastrophe.

Issue: On Puzzles (April 2019)

A Progressive Water Policy Platform The San Joaquin Valley of California is the most productive agricultural region in the world yet also has the highest levels of poverty, pollution, and hunger in the United States. This paradox did not occur by happenstance, nor should the poor be blamed for their condition. Geographies are planned and constructed; by definition, imprinted with our designs.

Issue: On Water (March 2019)

“Tell Our Story.” The stories I have heard told, graphic and heart-rending, by northbound migrants and asylum-seekers along the Arizona-Mexico border and by Latinx and indigenous campesinos in Central America, have transformed me. Where I was once a concerned but passive on-looker, I am now a determined human rights activist, intent upon bringing stories from the southwestern borderlands to the American public.

Issue: On Water (March 2019)

Dispatch from the Edge We had heard about the Snowflake Museum from friends in Kansas City and decided to make a pilgrimage for the holidays. The kids of course had never seen snow, though they had heard the occasional story. Our parents, after all, were the last generation to witness it first hand in Kansas. But there are several spots along the Continental Divide where a skiff of snow may appear from time to time, though it is very rare any more. It’s been ten years or so since the last sighting up on Monarch Crest, according to Professor Fairdiwel, the curator of the museum.

Issue: On Water (March 2019)

Minute on Immigration Equality, community and integrity are foundations of Quaker belief. Therefore, as immigrants and refugees in our community encounter trials such as family separation, incarceration, internment and deportation, Santa Fe Monthly Meeting is called to put these beliefs into action. We will support these neighbors in their daily lives, providing aid, companionship, friendship and safety in whatever ways we are able.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

Quakers and Gun Violence In the United States, gun violence is not a mere veneer on the surface of an otherwise peaceful society, but something deep and dark, with roots in the colonization of the continent and the founding of the nation, in ethnic cleansing, enslavement and the seizure of land from Mexico. White settlers, armed to the teeth, faced the constant prospect of insurrection by Native peoples and enslaved populations, as well as violence on contested borders.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

Locking the Gates of War On Father’s Day, June 17, 2018, thirty people gathered at noon for a vigil near the Naval Magazine Indian Island weapons transfer depot on Port Townsend Bay in Washington State. The depot is the largest weapons transfer facility on the West Coast.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

A Brief History of Friends Peace Teams Val Liveoak recently shared with Western Friend the text of her keynote presentation to 2018 PeaceQuest, which is online at: westernfriend.org/media/friends-peace-teams-our-history. The following is a compilation of some excerpts from that text.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

Bullet Points On the “open wound” of border between Nogales, Arizona, U.S.A., and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico (actually one city, divided), a steel-tube fence stretches thirty feet high and miles to the east and west – beyond our seeing. Dozens of people entered a restricted zone beside that wall and enacted a die-in last November, to remember 123 migrants who died in the nearby desert during the previous twelve months, as a result of U.S. “preventive deterrence” border policies. The die-in also honored the lives of people killed or disappeared by U.S.-trained, U.S.-equipped, military and police forces in Latin America.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

Gun Control and/or Civil War? It is currently popular to call for “gun control” in the United States, especially in the wake of senseless mass shootings that have rocked the nation. However, most proposed “gun control” legislation has at its center the punishment of blameless people for the violent acts of a few. That is, these measures restrict or prohibit gun availability to citizens who have broken no laws, have harmed no one, and have merely exercised their rights under the Constitution to buy and own weapons. Promoters of strict “gun control” often seem to vilify gun owners as a sub-class of humans who do not merit recognition, rights, or respect. This polarizing attitude makes effective communication almost impossible.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

Nineteen Children Dear Friends: I am Hellen Lunkuse Tanyinga, a member of Bulungi Tree Shade Friends Meeting in eastern Uganda. We are a new Friends meeting, inspired by David Albert of the Olympia Friends Meeting. We have worked with David for many years and have felt a lot of love and admiration for him, so we started asking him questions about what it means to be a Quaker. He answers fire pumped us, and in February 2018, sixteen of us met under a mango tree in Kamuli and resolved to start a Friends meeting. We now meet every Sunday, 9am to 11am, under that mango tree in Kamuli. [pullquote]We agreed on the name “Bulungi Tree Shade,” thanks to our mango tree, which gives us shade during worship.[/pullquote] The word “Bulungi” means “welcome,” and we are welcoming to all. On any given Sunday, we have at least 53 adults and 75 children, many of them orphans and children with HIV, as we meet on the campus of a school and orphanage.

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

#MeToo and Quaker Men A year ago, when the phrase #MeToo went viral, it created an opening for women to talk about negative patriarchal experiences that they have been forced to put up with for years, and it drew widespread attention to sexual assault and harassment of women in all walks of life. #MeToo actually began in 2006, when social activist and community organizer Tarana Burke created the phrase “Me Too” on the Myspace social network. Her goal was to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who had experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities. Burke was inspired to use the phrase after finding herself unable to respond to a thirteen-year-old girl who had confided in her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke later wished she had simply told the girl, “Me too.” On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano made a very public invitation to women everywhere to spread the #MeToo meme on Twitter. She later gave Burke credit for the meme.

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

The Long View In the mid-1730s, John Bartram, a Quaker living near Philadelphia, wrote the following in his journal: “One day I was very busy in holding my plough (for thee seest I am but a ploughman), and being weary, I ran under the shade of a tree to repose myself. I cast my eyes on a daisy; I plucked it mechanically, and viewed it with more curiosity than common country farmers are wont to do, and observed therein very many distinct parts, some perpendicular, some horizontal. What a shame, said my mind, or something that inspired my mind, that thee shouldst have employed so many years in tilling the earth, and destroying so many flowers and plants, without being acquainted with their structures and their uses!”

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

Faith and Discernment in Times of Crisis When our lives and organizations go according to plan, decisions flow naturally from our commitments. We experience little controversy. Our friends and families don’t question the direction we are headed. We don’t spend our days agonizing over choices.

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

White + “There’s nothing wrong with dating a black guy,” blonde-haired, blue-eyed Julie Boyle said to her friends in our seventh-grade classroom. “My cousin is dating one, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Issue: On Mixture (November 2018)

Child Protective Services When I was a young man, I worked two years for Child Protective Services (CPS). It’s a strange job, going to people’s homes to talk to them about complaints that other people have made about how they treat their children.

Issue: On Children (September 2018)

A Girl with Vision and Resolve When Veronica Obodo-Eckblad is asked about her escape from war-torn Nigeria as a seven-year-old, she is cryptic. That’s because her emphasis – actually, her life’s focus – isn’t on herself. What drives her is her commitment to others and to a dream. That dream morphed into conviction and then into reality. But we are getting ahead of ourselves in this gripping story, so let’s settle down.

Issue: On Children (September 2018)

Two Views of One Quaker Workplace Katie: I’ve worked for Linda Seger for six years, mainly doing her typing. Linda is not supposed to work at the computer because she has a neurological condition called dystonia, so she has hired me part time to do typing and office management. However, that is not my background. I have an M.A. degree in Early American Culture and a B.A. degree in Art History. Before working for Linda, I had a thirty-year museum career at various institutions, the most recent being the curator of the Colorado Springs History Museum. 

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

A Great Place to Work An Interview with Robert Levering

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

Unite for Dignity and Respect It’s 7PM the first time I answer the phone. “Hi. My name’s Amy,” I hear on the other end, “I’m calling because we need a union at my clinic.”

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

Loving Stolen Land We travel East each year to see my husband’s family in Pennsylvania, where we spend two weeks in the verdant, fertile, sticky forests and fields of the eastern states – eating fresh blackberries on the trail by the stream, fresh corn from the roadside stands, peaches that drip juice down your chin. It is glorious. The water, the leaves, the grass, the flowers bursting forth from every crack – life in every crack and corner.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

Beyond Red and Blue The creatures in the ocean were dying. An old woman sneaked up to the shoreline and quietly picked up a few emaciated fish – red ones and blue ones. She put them in her pockets and took them away. She nurtured them back to health in a clean pond where they thrived and propagated. When she had a large number of each, she took them back to the sea. Everything turned purple and flourished.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

Towards a Quaker View of Love [The author chose the title of this article to honor the ground-breaking 1963 pamphlet from Friends in England, Towards a Quaker View of Sex.]

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

Beyond Enemy Thinking I want to start by distancing myself from the concept of objectivity, as any good feminist would – that is, I want to start by naming my point of view. I choose to focus on certain themes, movements, and social actors because I come from a working class background in the United States. I began developing an anarchist, anti-capitalist philosophy at an early age. I now identify as queer, though I have not always felt welcome in LGBT spaces due to my sense of “not being gay enough.” I have many friends and associates who are transgender, and I consider myself gender-fluid.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

Journeys through Faith and Time The following text is an assemblage of excerpts from a public presentation that Lee and Asia Bennett made to the Horizon House community on June 4, 2017. For the complete text of their presentation, see: westernfriend.org/media/faith-life-story.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

Daily Practice This past year, I started coming to grips with the fact that I am not a political scientist; I am not a sociologist. I have finally, after more than a decade, let go of some of those college textbooks. I accept that I will never rewrite the thesis I should have written for Poli-Sci. I am not a debater. I am not a diplomat. As it turns out, I am a musician.

Issue: On Music (March 2018)

Song Powers a Movement

I learned about the power of nonviolence and nonviolent action in the spring of 1960, while participating in sit-ins at lunch counters in Maryland and Virginia with African American fellow students at Howard University. Most Saturdays we would go to a People’s Drug store, sit down at a lunch counter, get arrested, and then sing freedom songs in our jail cells all weekend.

Issue: On Music (March 2018)

The Airtight Cage of Poverty “We are tired of smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society,” said Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963). To address this crisis, Dr. King (along with Quaker activist Bayard Rustin) launched the Poor People’s Campaign, focusing on economic justice, especially around jobs and housing. In February 1968, King announced the Campaign’s specific demands: $30 billion for anti-poverty programs, full employment, guaranteed income, and the annual construction of 500,000 affordable residences.

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

Prisoners Transforming Prisons Something truly historic has been happening in California regarding solitary confinement. Prisoners and their family members are leading the movement against it, dramatically reducing the number of people held in isolation.

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

Freed from Crushing Poverty in Bolivia The current century is one of political, economic, and cultural upheaval in Bolivia, which has long been the poorest country in South America. Extreme rural poverty, lack of educational opportunity, and discrimination have held the indigenous majority captive for centuries. These are the Aymara – people who have lived high in the Andes for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In 2006, Evo Morales, an Aymara peasant leader, became the first indigenous president in South America.

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

Fifty Years of Right Sharing A few months ago, I visited a Friends church in Indianapolis. They have a tradition that, for the first few minutes of each worship service, the children go up to the front row for a brief lesson.

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

Faith and Sewage Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi (translated into English in 1993) has been my theme book for years. While it was written with toilet trainees and their eager caregivers in mind, I have other reasons to display the book prominently in my office. I work for a program in our local health department, the program that monitors water quality in streams, lakes, and groundwater, the program responsible for ensuring that the septic systems in our county are adequately treating the sewage that flows through them. That’s where “everyone poops” comes in.

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

Chickens on the Cheap Ever since we moved to rural Honduras in 2006, Sister Alegría and I had wanted chickens. Our imaginations became reality when, in 2012, friends gave us some pullets and a young rooster. We quickly discovered that raising fowl wasn’t so straightforward. The second night the birds were here, perching in the branches of a tree, a possum helped himself to the rooster! Some months later, a vampire bat killed one of the hens. Eventually, our friend Mateo built a henhouse in the backyard so the chickens could sleep protected from nighttime predators.

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

Stewardship of Stuff An intense pleasure of my profession as a chemical engineer is the practice of balancing. Not the balancing of a body in movement (although I do know that pleasure – in dance and in Aikido), but the balancing of accounts of the earth itself. Everything that comes out of the earth goes back into it. Or almost everything.

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

A New Thing Springs Forth The following two epistles were written in July 2017 to introduce and welcome a new Quaker yearly meeting in the Pacific Northwest – Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends, a community of evangelical Friends churches that affirm same-sex relationships and welcome the participation of LGBTQ+ people.

Issue: On Home (September 2017)

Queer Quaker Kinship The first time I worshipped with the Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns (FLGBTQC), I experienced a profound sensation that spirit was moving in a way I had never felt before. I entered the room after navigating a sprawling and meticulous college campus in Greeley, Colorado, and encountered an energy that I could immediately tell was unique among spaces at that FGC Gathering. I don’t even remember any of the words spoken in ministry that day, but I do remember feeling that a weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I could breathe more freely.

Issue: On Home (September 2017)

Emancipation without Freedom Racism and white supremacy, the malignant cancers plaguing America today, are a joint system destroying black and brown bodies. In the past, the Klan did that destroying. Today, statistics do. Those statistics amount to the erasure of people. The destruction of black and brown bodies is hidden in statistics on poor health, poor housing, inadequate schooling, over-policed communities, and mass incarceration. These social ills, which overwhelmingly affect black and brown communities, are ills that Friends can help to correct. With the realization of their whiteness and their dominant position within a racialized country, Friends have the power to define spaces outside their communities, as well as the opportunity to break the past and change the future of race relations.

Issue: On Politics (July 2017)

Run for Public Office! Run for public office! It’s the best way a single person can influence the decisions that affect the citizens of your community. You and your opinions will be taken seriously. You will influence public opinion. If you win the election, your vote won’t be just one out of thousands. It will be one out of five-to-nine members on a governing board. More than being taken seriously, your ideas will be sought.

Issue: On Politics (July 2017)

Resistance, Resilience, and Restoration The following article was excerpted from the text of a presentation that Bill Durland made to the Colorado Regional Society of Friends, April 23, 2017. To read the full text of this presentation, see: westernfriend.org/media/resistance-resilience-and-restoration-unabridged.

Issue: On Politics (July 2017)

Spiritual Reconstruction The following text is an abridged version of a longer article found at westernfriend.org/media/spiritual-reconstruction-unabridged.

Issue: On Politics (July 2017)

Trapped in the Temporary Part One: Chios, Greece, May 2017 – Each morning we wake to the contrasts of this place. A sea of luminous blue, rugged mountains, and clear skies – these surround a lively tourist strip along the water, with its overpriced but friendly cafes and restaurants. From the vantage point of a cafe chair, it is hard to imagine the underside of this place. If one ventures just a bit further down the coast, though, one finds a long strip of UN tents and “containers” – large plastic boxes that serve as tiny temporary houses – awkwardly set beside the remains of an old castle wall.

Issue: On Politics (July 2017)

Look into their Faces Surely life is more than waiting at the center of a wheel of fortune that spins and stops repeatedly to point out countless causes and concerns. Finish one task and then hang on as the wheel spins and points out the next one. Will it be immigration, prison reform, nuclear disarmament, climate change, indigenous rights, racism and white privilege, or . . . ? This inner image of a spinning wheel reflects how my life can feel these days – juggling and shuttling among various tasks and commitments.

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

A Lesson for Three Characters Three members of a Quaker meeting answer the question, “Why are you here?” The first says, “To benefit from group meditation, which helps my personal well-being.”  The second says, “To be part of a community that benefits the world.”  The third says, “To seek and serve God.”

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

Quaker PopOffsets Wanna buy baby?” I was eleven years old and traveling with my family in Latin America. We were climbing up a dirt path in the humid heat when we passed a young woman, perhaps only five or six years older than I was. She was holding an infant in her arms.

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

Tangible Somehow, my idea of a kid picking up a small plastic grocery bag of neighborhood litter proceeded to a $10,000 anonymous donation and a fulfilling volunteer occupation. Incidentally, I didn’t work this hard at any of my paid positions throughout my “real” working life.

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

Quaker Light in Australia and New Zealand Last summer (last winter there), we spent several weeks traveling among Friends in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. During those travels, we gained some insights about ways that our yearly meetings in the U.S. could share our Quaker faith more openly with the world around us.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Native Voices and Quaker Choices So, where’s all the Indians?” asked Yaynicut Franco, one of the Wukchumni adults. The whiteness of the conference was a bit shocking to us, given the title: “Quakers, First Nations, and American Indians.”

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Snowflakes “I don’t want to think about that stuff and I’m not going to write about it either.” John grabbed his backpack and stalked out the door.  I had pushed too hard. It had happened in a moment, and he was gone.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

A Different Gender Story Numerous people around the world do not identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth, yet the media tend to focus on one story: There is a teenager who always knew that something was off in their life from a young age. They came to realize that they are transgender (only ever falling under the gender binary of male or female) and then come out to their parents, who either accept them or take some time to do so. This story is told again and again; there’s nothing invalid about it. But it is important to look at other stories as well, to see the full picture of what it is to not be cisgender. Since I am currently in the middle of my own personal journey towards finding my gender, I am sharing my story here as one that does not fit the stereotype.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Recovering Innocents Saturday morning, I reach the border at Nogales, Arizona. From near and far, the fence rises. From a distance, it appears as a blade that slices apart both the wholeness of the natural world and the wholeness of a human community. Up close, the twenty-foot barrier imprisons and excludes, looming like a nightmare. The huge, vertical, rust-colored metal slats nearly overlap. I peer through them, looking down a cliff at a street below, and at the sidewalk across that street, in front of a little store. On that spot, sixteen-year-old Josè Antonio Elena Rodrìguez was killed, shot repeatedly by a jumpy American border guard.

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

Quakers and Standing Rock Western Friend received several accounts of Quaker support for the Standing Rock resistance in North Dakota during the fall of 2016. The opening paragraphs of those accounts are presented below. Follow this link to read the full accounts.

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

From Competition to Compassion When I graduated from law school and began working as an attorney, I thought I had “arrived,” that my career would unfold seamlessly, and that I would achieve, through competition and striving, excellent results for my clients. Success was going to happen just at it had in high school and college – work hard, don’t get distracted, follow the rules, and things just naturally fall into place.

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

Cooperation & Competition - A Nordic Balance As a young adult Friend I was greatly influenced by Elise and Kenneth Boulding, long-time members of Boulder Meeting. I remember Kenneth mentioning, with a twinkle in his eye, “Boulding’s First Law.” (Kenneth made his living as an economist.) “Whatever has happened,” he told me, “is possible.”

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

Fleshing Out She suffered with an anxiety disorder as well as hard-to-explain, intermittent physical symptoms that seemed confined to one side of her body. Through multiple office visits, our comfort with each other grew, and her insightfulness and willingness to engage in therapy became apparent. Careful probing about her hyper-vigilance and avoidance behaviors led to an amazing revelation – a childhood incident in which she had disobeyed her parents and had been slightly injured on one side. The physical damage was minimal, but the emotional damage had manifested all these years later as one-sided pain and a specific fear of roadways and driving.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

The Seventh Person According to philosopher William James, “Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.” This elegantly describes the nature of our relationships with others. Through our biases and subjectivities, we create views of the world that may not actually exist. These become even more difficult to untangle when social media is added to the mix.

Issue: On Media (September 2016)

Finding Truth in the Time of Hysteria Before they were nicknamed Quakers, the early converts of Fox called themselves the Publishers of Truth. But in today’s world of manufactured news, click bait, and iPhone reporting – What is the truth?  No matter what news source you subscribe to, our media seem to thrive on hysteria. The world is about to collapse from global warming, ISIS, international bankers, too much control, too little control, the breakdown of the family, racism, globalism, nationalism, the fraying of our social fabric or all of the above.

Issue: On Media (September 2016)

Desire for Connection in Guatemala It is so hard to escape teenage-land when you’re on a trip with nineteen other teenagers. Our Junior Friends Service Trip to Guatemala was full of silly dramas and crushes and a lot of very loud laughter. In my head, I was culturally sensitive, inquisitive, and open. But I’m not sure that’s how I appeared to the Guatemalans I met. We dressed respectfully, and I used my broken, beginner’s Spanish. We loved it all – and we didn’t quite know how to interact with any of it.

Issue: On Heritage (July 2016)

Setting Limits on Fossil Fuels In 2012, Bill McKibben began his “Do the Math” tour in Seattle. This was a talk that McKibben took on the road to spread the idea that humans are trying to extract more fossil fuels than we can safely burn – that is, more than we can burn while staying within a safe temperature on the planet. In other words, our burning of fossil fuels is creating greenhouse gasses in quantities that exceed the limits that we can live with.

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

Rich People Won’t Eat It A friend told me a story about a woman with limited English proficiency who makes and sells tamales. She did not understand when customers asked her if the tamales were gluten free, so she asked her daughter what gluten free meant. The daughter said, “That’s something rich people won’t eat.”

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

Religion and Politics Because this year is an important election year, we have revisited our faith traditions regarding the right relation of religion and politics. We have undertaken this process as a means to inform and guide our own practice; but we also wish to share our understandings with the public at large, with the hope that they may bring clarity to a dimension of political life that has vexed and confused many citizens in recent years.

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

Ministry of the Wolf One summer afternoon, I sat with a dozen other folks in the White Mountains of Arizona, listening to Aldo Leopold speak of witnessing the green fire fade from the eyes of a Mexican gray wolf, after he had shot it on the very spot where we stood. He spoke of that green fire as an image he could never forget, an image that brought him to an epiphany, challenging his belief in the superiority of man over nature. This experience left me with goose bumps and a wish that we all could face that fire (the Light?) within all animals, to become more (less?) human.

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

My Quest to Change the Education System A normal school day in a traditional public school is full of many issues that go against Quaker values. These issues tend to have a negative impact on students and, therefore, the world surrounding them. The issues include, but aren’t limited to, the ineffective use of textbooks in the classroom, students unconsciously being taught to hate certain subjects, students losing their love of learning, rushing in the classroom, over-reliance on standardized testing, and the ineffective use of homework. These issues and many others led me, a student, to focus on transforming the education system to make it better for both students and teachers.

Issue: On Beginning (March 2016)

A Cuba Testimony Growing up, I was taught to live by and hold high the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Service. But I also always felt the influence of another important testimony – Environmental Caretaking. While this testimony may fall under several of the traditional Quaker testimonies listed above, it also holds a power strong enough to stand on its own. It is important that we as humans – and we as Quakers – live up to these principles and standards. What this means for me in terms of Environmental Caretaking is this: When we begin to see the environment as that Eternal Source sustaining all, we must in turn learn to understand it, and to give back and support the Earth to the best of our abilities.

Issue: On Countries (January 2016)

Reconciliation in Eastern Africa You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Issue: On Countries (January 2016)

Voluntary Poverty Has to Be a Choice I have read quite a few articles recently about “green” living, reducing footprints, and sustainability. None of them have mentioned one of the greatest ways of creating positive change in the world. Voluntary poverty is a far more fundamental and effective way to decrease consumption and impact, while increasing human connection and improving life all around. Our family of four lives on about $7000 a year, and our lives are more enjoyable, fuller, richer, healthier, and more interesting to us than the life we see being lived in the mainstream economy. This is nothing new of course; sages and mystics have been sharing the joys of voluntary poverty and simplicity for eons. But voluntary poverty is rarely seen as a positive lifestyle choice in modern-day America.

Issue: On Money (November 2015)

Public Banking – Friendly Values Quakers introduced public banking to the original colony of Pennsylvania, helping the colony prosper. North Dakota created its public bank in 1919, and is currently the only state to own its own bank. There are public banking efforts in more than thirty states, many of them in the west (Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and my own State of New Mexico).

Issue: On Money (November 2015)

The Price of Lettuce So yesterday, a lady comes to our produce table at the local Farmer’s Market, hefts one of our football-sized sweet potatoes, and asks, “How much?”

Issue: On Money (November 2015)

Sticking Out Like Sore Thumbs Given that Quakers don’t like to use violent words like “kill,” we use euphemisms instead.  So the current trend among Quakers to euthanize our Peace and Social Concerns Committees is one that I will call the “Shelver Movement.” We have spent countless hours in recent years trying to lay these committees down, but we end up “shelving” them instead.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

Raising Quaker Voices about Race When I was in high school, some friends and I snuck into a neighborhood swimming pool that was closed after dark. We tried to keep quiet, but we were having too much fun, and a neighbor called the cops. An officer showed up and calmly asked us to please leave, which we did. Those friends and I are white. This summer, several young black girls were physically assaulted in McKinney, Texas, by police officers ordering them to leave a pool party in the middle of the day. To my knowledge, those girls were breaking no rules, yet their black skin condemned them to violent treatment by the police.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

Moving Forward Together – In A Good Way Quaker Oaks Farm is a place where we, Darlene and Melissa, children of families from very different backgrounds, are creating new stories together. We are characters in the stories, and we are authors. The stories are about what happens when non-Native and Native people risk engaging with the uncomfortable conundrum of how to go forward together, In A Good Way, given all the injustices delivered to Native people over the centuries and which continue today. The stories are about ways that Native peoples, settlers’ descendants, and newer immigrants might co-exist in true harmony.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

Not the Final Word Part of my dad’s job with the American Friends Service Committee was to take speakers around to various college campuses, churches, and summer institutes. As a kid, I sometimes went along and got to meet such spiritual giants as peace activist A.J. Muste and civil rights leaders Bayard Rustin and Ralph Abernathy. During spring vacation in 1956, my dad decided to take my brother Paul and me to Montgomery, where the bus boycott was four months old.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

SPICES and Human Population Growth Friends are not known for large families. However, it is my experience that many members of the Religious Society of Friends are like most people in the USA – we are generally unaware of the connections between what we hold dear and the growing number of people in the world. Human population growth is an “elephant in the room,” which we typically avoid or ignore.

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

Simple Acts, Basic Needs I recently realized some of my small everyday acts both meet my own needs, and give testimony to the Quaker value of simplicity.  Here are two examples:

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

Quakers, Climate, and Money This year I retired from a quarter century of teaching college geoscience. A major challenge accompanying this new venture has been making investment decisions I have little experience with. In doing so, I must, of course, protect our family “nest egg,” so we can continue to pay the bills, take care of emergencies, and help with the extended family.

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation in Alaska About three years ago, a group of my Alaskan friends were talking about abuses suffered by citizens from unconstitutional police acts. One of us said that we need a Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission like the one that Desmond Tutu used to help South Africa recover from apartheid. I thought, “What a great idea!” Rather than wait until after America’s burgeoning police state has harmed millions of people, let’s provide a way for people to tell the truth, clear the air, put the police on notice that citizens are observing their unconstitutional acts, and send them a message that we expect the police to act within the bounds of the constitution.

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Talking the Walk of Peace We know a lot about war talk. We speak of fighting crime, obesity, drugs, and climate change. I am currently “fighting” depression. But if Quakers seek alternatives to violence, we need to develop a practical language for building peace. It’s not enough to “smite the enemies” of the problems in our lives. [pullquote]We need to develop tools that will let us “peace together” all that we’ve broken in war.[/pullquote] I have found the framework of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) provides me with everyday language and practices that can help me increase my compassion towards myself and towards others.

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Between Two Civilizations On a quiet residential street in the heart of Mexico City, in the former home and studio of the noted muralist Jose Clemente Orozco, your find a modest Quaker institution. To the casual observer, this is a spacious residence, frequented occasionally by young foreigners. It appears at various times to be a home, a guesthouse, or a community center. It is, in fact, a quiet non-profit with a unique flavor, Casa de Los Amigos.

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

A Friendly Approach to Partisanship The results of our recent national and local elections were profoundly pleasing to some of us while deeply disturbing to others.  When our candidates or parties have prevailed, we have confidence in the direction of government, while if they were unsuccessful, we lament the prospect of decision-making in the hands of those we feel are less capable or less committed to the principles we value. 

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Playing Violent Games in Peace In his recent article, “ISIS’s Call of Duty,” Jay Caspian Kang describes similarities between ISIS recruitment films and first-person-shooter games – similarities that are likely intentional (The New Yorker, September 18, 2014). Kang’s article is one of many that play into a larger debate about the role of violent videogames and other violent media in our culture. This debate has continued unresolved for decades, and both sides often succumb to strong emotions and hyperbolic statements. I feel this leads to a shutdown in communication between groups, and that is the issue I would like to address in this article.

Issue: On Temptation (November 2014)

Justice Reform Begins with Understanding “You end up with broken families. You end up with communities that are being plagued with more violence and more crime. And you end up with people not reaching their God-given potential.” This sort of remark about the impacts of mass incarceration on life in America is typical for liberal politicians and Friends. In this instance, however, the New York Times was quoting Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio (3/13/2014). Remarkably, a bipartisan coalition is developing to move public policy in the criminal justice arena in a way that respects that of God in all persons – including those in prison – and at the same time advances public safety.

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

Love Always Protects Friends who gathered at Pacific Yearly Meeting (PYM) in July 2014 were moved by a refugee crisis unfolding on the US-Mexico border. Thousands of children continue to escape violence in Central America and seek reunification with family members working in the US. The crisis has many causes that require thoughtful analysis to discern long-term solutions, but for us the causes do not matter. As members of PYM’s Latin American Concerns Committee, we seek not to ascribe blame, but rather to follow God’s will. We are led to show love to these children.

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

The Man in the Yellow Plaid Shorts It feels like I failed this morning.

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

With a Concern for Being Thirteen My son Duncan’s best friends have been his friends his entire life. Really. We met his friends’ parents in a ten-week birthing class, where we watched our bellies grow, and shared our hopes and fears. I went into labor first, then Val, then Deborah. By coincidence, the boys all ended up in the same school. “Soul brothers,” they call themselves.

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

Attending to the Intersections of Oppression This article was written on behalf of North Pacific Yearly Meeting’s Peace and Social Concerns Committee: Kate Hunter (Clerk), Tom Ewell, Cims Gillespie, Rose Lewis, Steve Willey, and Ruth Yarrow.

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

Alarmed In response to Harvard University’s refusal to divest from its fossil fuel stock, a recent mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn, commented, “[pullquote]We're the first generation to see the effects of climate change, and the last generation who can do anything about it.[/pullquote] To refuse to use every tool at our disposal in this fight – to embrace inaction – is to endorse a trajectory that will lead to suffering, privation, and calamity. We owe it to those who our institutions and investments serve and will serve in the future to do everything we can to prevent this crisis.” With an unprecedented drought ongoing throughout the West, we might be directly experiencing this crisis already.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

Reluctantly Facing an Inconvenient Truth The award-wining 2012 documentary film, Chasing Ice, paints a beautiful and profoundly disturbing picture of the rapid retreat of glaciers from our planet. This film was made by Jim Balog, who founded the Extreme Ice Survey in 2001 to document the dramatic impact of climate change on the polar regions of our planet.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

Nuclear Waste, One Million Years from Today Virtually all Friends oppose nuclear bombs. This is, of course, because we have a Peace Testimony. However, not all Friends realize that the world’s great religions are now being challenged to help oppose humanity’s ignorance about nuclear waste.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

The Miracle of Friendly Water Generally, when an airline cancels a flight, travelers feel frustrated.  For Del and Suzanne Livingston, however, a canceled flight in Mexico led them to a new calling. The nonprofit they helped establish – Friendly Waters for the World – operates primarily in Africa, bringing clean drinking water to over 40,000 people, along with much-needed jobs and money for families to pay school fees.

Issue: On Production (May 2014)

Taking Time to Ask, “Why?” My family does a lot at our meeting. I currently serve as clerk of our First Day School Committee, co-clerk of our Kitchen Committee, and I also sit on our half-yearly meeting’s Continuing and Nominating Committees. My husband fills the arduous and time-consuming role of clerk for our meeting’s House Committee, which cares for the physical home of our meeting, a 100-year-old house that requires near constant upkeep, and he is a regular teacher in our First Day School rotation. Many nights each week, we compete for the computer after our kids are in bed, each of us trying to coordinate committee meetings or write reports or request quotes for purchases needed by the meeting. And we spend most First Days scurrying around the meetinghouse, preparing coffee, and chatting with people about committee work.

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

Healing Our Nation’s Oldest Wounds As I write this in late November 2013, Americans across the country are gathering together in their homes to give thanks. In southeastern Colorado, Cheyenne and Arapaho people are gathering together, too, but for a different reason. This week marks the 149th anniversary of the massacre at Sand Creek, where on November 29, 1864, the U.S. Cavalry murdered approximately 200 unarmed Cheyenne and Arapaho women, children, and elders who were supposed to be under their protection. After the massacre, volunteer soldiers paraded through the streets of Denver, waving body parts carved from the victims’ corpses. No one knows exactly how many people died at Sand Creek that day, because the survivors were prevented from returning to mourn and bury their dead. Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors would fight back for more than a decade, but eventually their peoples were banished from Colorado. Today, their descendants live on reservations in Montana, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. 

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Creating Real Security American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) recently published a pamphlet titled, Shared Security: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy (April 2013). At Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting in Berkeley, California, a small group considered this pamphlet and then organized a larger meeting to talk about this topic after Meeting for Worship on September 29, 2013.  Twenty-eight people attended. For the meeting, we prepared a one-page handout with some quotes from the AFSC/FCNL pamphlet. The text of that handout is included at the end of this article. [The pamphlet is also reviewed on page 32 of this magazine. – Editor]

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Transcending Borders “Did you see the letters?” asked the little 7-year-old at my side. I had just returned from a trip overseas and was recounting some of the highlights. Letters?

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Draft Counseling Across the Divide During the buildup of the Vietnam War in 1967, several Friends families found themselves in Visalia, California, due to the establishment of the American Friends Service Committee’s Farm Labor Program. The program was focused on helping low-income families, especially farm workers, to form cooperative groups. These groups of eight to twelve families were then guided through the process of building their own homes.

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

How to Sell a Quaker Though I am currently a sophomore at Haverford College, I can remember the college application process as if it were yesterday, especially the late nights writing essays that were attempts to sell myself to schools that were trying to sell themselves to me.  They wanted my money; I wanted their education (and a hefty side of financial aid).  The entire process was a lengthy and tiring ordeal for my whole family.

Issue: On Deception (November 2013)

The Wrong Kind of Silence We simply can’t always speak out. But there are critical times within Friends’ communities when failing to speak truth can cause great damage. Trying not to offend, trying to maintain a surface calm, can cause a disastrous loss of trust and can betray our commitment to answering the Light in everyone. Often it enables cruel behavior to continue. When problems remain unnamed, it can threaten our ability to address them. This kind of silence can undermine integrity, cause profound personal hurt, and splinter community. Much is lost when we fail to say what we think and when we fail to help each other speak up when serious interpersonal issues develop. Therefore I want to name self-silencing of truth as a significant threat to the ability of Friends to live our testimonies and a threat to the Religious Society of Friends.

Issue: On Deception (November 2013)

Facing Gullibility I united with the Quaker testimony of Integrity very naturally when I first learned of it. I had developed a deep need to discern the truth as a child, when I experienced the pain of telling the truth and yet not being believed. My excellent academic education in math and law taught me many methods for seeking the truth – scientific experimentation, logic, debate and more. So when I became a Quaker in my thirties, a deep respect for the value of Truth and Integrity were already well established in my mind.  

Issue: On Deception (November 2013)

Caring for Young Adult Friends Monthly meetings all over the United States struggle with attracting new attenders, particularly Young Adult Friends (YAFs) who fall between the ages of 18 and 35.  It’s a rather large and indiscriminate cohort, but the people in that cohort (including me) have something in common: whether convinced, birthright, or exploring, we just don’t seem to be sticking around.

Issue: On Love (September 2013)

Love the Prisoner Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) is the branch of Homeland Security that runs immigration detention centers in jails and prisons across our nation.  Because most detainees are not charged with “crimes,” they are held in “civil” detention. This particular fact is at the heart of my story. Men and women held in immigration detention have none of the “rights” we associate with our criminal justice system: no right to an attorney, no right to a speedy trial, no right to a phone call, no right to have visitors.  ICE often shuffles detainees among different facilities around the country.  This means that for families and friends, their loved ones can suddenly disappear to places too far away to visit. 

Issue: On Love (September 2013)

If We Don't Build it (Please note: It is understood that Rrace is a social construct. There is no biologically meaningful concept of “different races” among humanity. For the purpose of this article, I use terms that may seem to imply distinctions or divisions between groups of people that do not exist biologically. These distinctions are artifices drawn by human culture, politics, and economics. There is only one race, the human race. – Delcy Steffy)

Issue: On Superiority (July 2013)

Forty Years of Progresa in Guatemala To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Progresa program in Guatemala, program participants and supporters gathered in Guatemala in April 2013 to review the program’s history and accomplishments. Looking back across forty years, we found much to celebrate.

Issue: On Superiority (July 2013)

Of Quakers and Corporations George Fox and the early Quakers made their witnesses to authentic and original Christianity public by their testimonies. The English word, testimony, derives from the Latin word for “witness,” which is primarily an outward expression “to the whole world … actions and words, intended to proclaim, demonstrate and convince” (from The Quaker Peace Testimony, Friends House, London, 1993).

Issue: On Superiority (July 2013)

If Animals Could Talk When I was a child I loved the cuddliness and innocence of animals, and I wished they could talk. A grownup and activist now, I look for ways to use art to awaken our empathy with the natural world and to increase our climate-change consciousness. As an artist and writer, I know what fun it can be to combine pictures and text. So when my Friends Meeting in Santa Cruz put out a call for adults to share their skills with children in the First Day School, I offered a project called “If Animals Could Talk.”  

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

Consume Less There is something you can do that is likely to make you happier, healthier, save money and lessen your impact on the planet. What is it? Consume less by practicing simpler living.

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

The Great March for Climate Action As a religion major at Drake University in the 1980s, my field studies took me to worship with nearly every denomination in Des Moines. One experience that kept drawing me back was the local Quaker Meeting, where I appreciated the overt commitment to justice and the inner sense of peace.

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

Yes Free Lunch Members of Moab Monthly Meeting have been working with our neighbors for several years now to find solutions to a pair of related issues in Moab, Utah: that large amounts of food are wasted in our community and that some of us do not have enough to eat. These issues challenge our testimonies of simplicity, equality, and community, and we have tried in various ways over the years to find creative solutions in our diverse community.

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

Whose Needs? Traveling cross-country by train is a good way to see the disparity of wealth in our nation today. From the railroad tracks we see not only the underbelly of working America, but also the opulence of over-consumption. Deserted brick factories share space with sleek shopping malls. Junk-infested waterways pour into bays festooned with shrink-wrapped sloops and cocktail clubs. Is there any hope of bridging the gap of abject poverty to ridiculous wealth? What, as Quakers, could we be doing? Our nine-member worship group in Moab, Utah (pop. 6,000) has changed over the years in our responses to these questions.

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

Garage Sale Spirituality Since when could anyone find spirituality in garage sales? Just think about the junk, the mess, the work, the dust on items left in the garage for months…years!  This is all as mundane and earthy as it gets, and utterly disgusting! Yet in every aspect of garage saling there is opportunity for spiritual experience and meaningful soul growth.

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

Weighty Friends and Quaker Pharisees Wouldst thou be a prophet, or perhaps a saint? Alas, he who thinks he is, most likely aint.                 William Bacon Evans (1875-1964), Quaker writer and weighty Friend.

Issue: On Power (March 2013)

Rekindling the Fire Looking towards the future of Quakerism, we see that the power to rekindle our fire for social justice lies within our local meetings. Supporting individuals to pursue the spirit’s leadings to work for peace and social justice will strengthen the Religious Society of Friends overall and connect us back to our historical roots.

Issue: On Power (March 2013)

Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping The Friends Peace Testimony challenges us to find alternatives to war and violence and create peaceful approaches to resolving conflict creatively and without harm.  For the past ten years, Friends from around the world have put these words into action by creating the Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP), an international organization that places teams of civilians from all over the world into conflict zones, where they work with local groups to protect civilians and support local initiatives for peace.  NP teams are strictly non-partisan, and they form connections with all recognized stakeholders in conflict situations.  By forming these broad alliances, NP teams can broker dialogues, protect civilians, and create space for all sides to develop constructive and amicable solutions to conflicts, without resorting to violence. 

Issue: On War (January 2013)

The War at Home It’s the end of July. The community of Anaheim is outraged.  In separate incidents over the past few days, two unarmed men of color have been murdered by the police.  A round of public protests and police suppression of protests have followed. I have just returned to Southern California in the middle of this turmoil.   I make plans to meet with my affinity group and head to a rally at the Anaheim police station.

Issue: On War (January 2013)

Dear IRS: A Quaker Journey with War Tax Resistance In September 2010, I received a letter from the IRS, which said that I had to pay a “frivolous filing penalty” of $5000 for my action of withholding some of the money I owed for my 2009 taxes. “We have determined that the purported tax return you sent is frivolous and your position has no basis in law.”  Frivolous. The word stuck in my mind.  Part of this journey is about words, about patience, about truth.  It gave me a sort of mantra that is precious to me now, “I didn't ask for this, it is not about me, and way will open."

Issue: On War (January 2013)

What Do You Say … To a Trauma Survivor? I'm a surviving family member of a murder victim. I'd like to offer a few perspectives on what to say to victims of trauma.

Issue: On War (January 2013)

Planting Seeds of Community

Karen Grizez watched as a mother, holding her hungry infant, received a cup of goat’s milk from a member of the local women’s group.

Issue: On Seeds (November 2023)

The Seeds of Gun Violence

At times, addressing the scourge of gun violence in the United States can feel impossible, especially when we seem to hear of a new violent incident every day.

Issue: On Seeds (November 2023)

Feeding People in Gaza

I began my work in the Middle East in 1990 with a New York Times op-ed, “Small Lights in the Darkness.”

Issue: On Division (January 2024)

Friends House Celebration

Forty years ago, College Park Quarterly Meeting established the Friends Association of Services for the Elderly (FASE).

Issue: On Prayer (March 2024)

Clerks’ Calls to Annual Sessions 2024

The following excerpts are from complete texts found on corresponding “event” pages on this website.

Issue: On Prayer (March 2024)

Earth Justice Worship

My most powerful worship experience of the last decade took place on a chilly morning last November, on a folding chair outside Vanguard headquarters in Malvern, PA.

Issue: On Prayer (March 2024)

A Certain Naïveté

I’ve been visiting men in federal prisons for forty years and have shared time with nearly 200 men.

Issue: On Prayer (May 2024)

In the Twilight Zone

Several years ago, I sat in the jury pool for a federal trial that promised to be lengthy.

Issue: On Prayer (May 2024)