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American Quaker Romances (review) The scholarly study American Quaker Romances: Building the Myth of the White Christian Nation examines a relatively small subgenre of novels characterized as American Christian historical romances. The thirty-nine novels included in this book met the criteria of presenting Quaker heroines and using Quakerism in their plots. [pullquote]The book illuminates ways that Quakers have been commodified to promote specific cultural values and ideas that might not be consistent with Quakerism.[/pullquote]

Issue: On Healers (August 2023)

God’s Part in Our Art (review) In her 2021 book, God’s Part in Our Art: Making Friends with the Creative Spirit, Linda Seger uses examples from numerous artistic professions, as well as her own personal stories, to show the process and joy of being an artist. I found this book to be deeply enjoyable and spirituality grounding, even though I don’t practice an art form myself. It spoke to me as a person who tries to approach life generally in a creative way.

Issue: On Dignity (July 2023)

The Man in the Dog Park (review) One day in 1982, I realized I was homeless. I didn’t own a single key! No house, no car, no bank box. I had just flown to Los Angeles from Hawaii after selling my business. I tried to rent a car. I was refused for lack of an address! But I had a rather large bank balance, academic degrees, a good vocabulary, the confidence of the educated middle class, and a trustworthy smile. The car rental clerk let me use my Timex as collateral and gave me a car.

Issue: On Loss (May 2023)

New Voices: Contemporary Writers . . . Holocaust (Review) New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, edited by Howard Debs and Matthew Silverman, was released this April by Vallentine Mitchell, a publisher of books in the fields of Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Holocaust studies. It is a collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from dozens of writers and poets, including Marge Piercy, Ellen Bass, Tim Seibles, and Tony Barnstone, but it is not in a strict sense an anthology. That is, the volume is not a collection of existent works, but rather a creation of new works produced together to help update our understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons.

Issue: On Loss (May 2023)

Beyond Linear Thinking (review) Beyond Linear Thinking (2022) is a page-turner in which Linda Seger uses humor, spiritual wisdom, and practical advice, supported by scientific research, to describe ways of moving beyond linear, competitive, hierarchical, patriarchal thinking – toward cooperation, equality, and diversity. I love the metaphors of line, circle, spiral, and web that she uses to explore these different thinking models. I also like her repetition of this point: holding a goal larger than the self is one way to avoid the pitfalls of pride and the pettiness of hierarchy.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

The Winter Rose (review) Melanie Dobson displays great skill in this piece of historical fiction, The Winter Rose (2022). Most of the story takes place during World War II and the postwar era, but it also leaps forward to 2003, when some of the characters are portrayed in matured aspects and in new settings. Dobson displays a firm understanding of the coping behaviors and resilience of traumatized children. All of the characters in this book are drawn with incredible depth, as are descriptions of Quaker experience.

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

Telling the Truth about God (review) Rhiannon Grant’s small book Telling the Truth about God (2019) is immediately engaging in its conversational style. She draws from her experience leading workshops at Woodbrooke in England and offers brief introductory chapters for both Friends and non-Friends. To the Quaker reader, she expresses the hope that, after the reading, “you feel that you are better able to tell the truth about God as you understand it.”

Issue: On Perception (March 2023)

Friendly Leadership (review) Donn Weinholtz’s practical new book, Friendly Leadership: Humanely Influencing Others, connects Quaker values with research on how organizations function (or don’t). In it, Weinholtz shows ways for Friends to bring their Quaker spiritual practices into the secular mix as well as in service to their Quaker meetings.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

A Rattler’s Tale (review) This children’s book by Nancy Marshall of Phoenix Friends Meeting was published in September 2021. Several Friends from Intermountain Yearly Meeting have written to praise it:

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Sacred Decisions (review) Sacred Decisions provides a case and framework for consensus decision-making in faith contexts – explaining the reasoning, providing tips, and filling out the picture with some case studies. It’s an interesting read for anyone committed to shared power in decision making and a good resource for newly forming groups that are deciding which method to use, as well as for established groups that are interested in moving from majority rule to a different model.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Begin Again (review) This collection of autobiographical stories by Paul Lowance Niebanck, Begin Again, is a treat for ear, eye, and Spirit. Paul shares escapades and events from his life with entertaining and inspiring verve.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Messages to Meetings (review) For Christians, epistolary writing (letter writing) dates back to the Apostles and early church fathers, who visited fledgling Christian communities to offer support, encouragement, and correction, which they later continued by way of writing. In like manner, Brian Drayton, a traveling Quaker minister, has written letters to Quaker meetings he has served. He explains that he wrote these out of a sense of “unfinished business” and “motions of love.” Messages to Meetings is a collection of some of these letters, some relevant blog posts, and even notes from some of Drayton’s vocal ministry.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (review) I can almost guarantee that there will be some parts of this book that you won’t like. This is especially true of the agricultural policies Bill Gates promotes and his advocacy of nuclear power to generate electricity. You may be, as I am, appalled by his great wealth. As Bernie Sanders says, it is obscene. But this book is so valuable that I ask you to look past those difficulties and see within Bill Gates a person with That of God within him. His philanthropic work shows that he listens to that Voice. It has given him a heart for the poor. An essential part of his plan is to encourage economic growth in poor countries. “It would be immoral and impractical to try to stop people who are lower on the economic ladder from climbing up.” Economic development in these countries would increase greenhouse gas emissions. That is part of the reason Gates sees innovation as essential.

Issue: On Conflict (January 2023)

Toward a Life-Centered Economy (review) Inspired – simply put, this is the feeling I’m left with after reading Toward a Life-Centered Economy. This volume is the twelfth “focus book” from The Quaker Institute for the Future, a spirit-lead research organization working to “envision a global future in which humanity is in right relationship with the commonwealth of life.” The book explores the mindset of unlimited growth, which drives our current global economic system, along with the impending repercussions of that mindset on our global ecosystem. Further, this book spells out the inability of our ecosystem to support our current intense patterns of human consumption, and it offers advice about what we can do to change humanity’s impact.

Issue: On Science (November 2022)

Dancing with History (review) The title of this book beautifully describes George Lakey’s preferred way to engage with the world: Dancing with History. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about Lakey’s roots and his path over eighty-four years.

Issue: On Cooperation (September 2022)

The Life and Religious Labors of Lloyd Lee Wilson (review) To be precise, the title of this book is: Memoir of the Life and Religious Labors of Lloyd Lee Wilson, a Minister of the Gospel of the Religious Society of Friends, Particularly of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), to describe the workings of the Lord in the various stages of my life, showing how God is at work in all things for good, whether we perceive it so or not, and how our surrender to divine providence allows God’s work to be done in and through us for the advancement of the Realm of God.

Issue: On Cooperation (September 2022)

William Penn’s “Holy Experiment” (review) I’d be interested in this book even if I weren’t a Quaker.

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

A Guide to Faithfulness Groups (review) I notice a steady growth of intentional spiritual practice among independent Friends. In the past two decades, programs such as “Way of the Spirit” and “Experiment with Light” have been established and started to thrive. More independent Friends are venturing into chaplaincy or other ministries that were once considered unsuitable for unprogrammed Quakers. Guidance for daily devotional practice and prayer is now offered in recent editions of our books of discipline. I’ve found my spiritual life benefitting from some of this shift in culture that’s developed in our local meeting and around our yearly meeting.

Issue: On Normality (July 2022)

On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry (review) Quakers assert that everyone can have direct access to the Divine and that anyone can step up to or away from ministry at any time.  Brian Drayton’s On Living with a Concern for Gospel Ministry (revised and updated) is relevant for anyone who wants to embody that power in their lives more fully. One clear intention of this book is to provide guidance to individuals with particular gifts that Quaker meetings might be rusty in recognizing and supporting.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

Immersed in Prayer (review) Over two dozen people share their thoughts and stories about their prayer lives in this collection edited by Michael Resman. Immersed in Prayer: Stories from Lives of Prayer arose from a project of the editors of the publication What Canst Thou Say, who developed sixteen queries about prayer life, which they sent to their subscribers and Quaker organizations. They ranged from “What happens when you pray?” to “What ways did you find to work around your impediments to prayer?” The sixteen queries form the structure of this book.

Issue: On Place (May 2022)

That Clear and Certain Sound (review)

What rings true? Something with “that clear and certain sound.”

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

Listen to Our Hearts’ Song (review) Recently, a neighbor came to my door holding a manuscript. She’s a retired librarian from Berkeley, California, and she handed me a document, titled Listen to Our Hearts’ Song: Women in Jail for Peace.

Issue: On Alternatives (March 2022)

Art of Life (review) Alivia Biko’s music is important in its own right  and it’s beautiful. Beyond that, her music is important as ministry. I predict that down the road, in the bright shiny future, people will look back and talk about our generation of Christ-centered Friends in the Pacific Northwest and about the creation of our new yearly meeting, Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends (SCYMF). Biko’s outsized contribution to the creation of SCYMF will play a big part in those discussions. Articles, chapters, whole books will be written on Mike Huber and Gar Mikkelsen, Holiness and Quaker identity, medical missions and quilting missions, and, of course, LGBTQ+ participation. There will be some good, nerdy side-trips into “Quakers” versus “Friends” and “churches” versus “meetings,” and with great good luck, a special photo section with at least one shot of Peggy Morrison on her Kawasaki. Especially, people will read about Alivia Biko and listen to her album Art of Life, filled with artistry, warmth, and celebration of community and spirit.

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

Quakerism: The Basics (review) Two of our Western Friends, Marge and Carl Abbott, long-time members of Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon, have teamed up to offer a book providing a clear, simple, and accessible overview of the Society of Friends. While the book serves as an introduction for newcomers, it also offers to all of us, new or old, an excellent review of our faith and history.

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

In the Struggle (review) Anyone who has driven through the Central Valley of California has seen the thousand-acre “farms” of mono-cropped fields – tomatoes, cotton, melons, almonds, and pistachios. Indeed, the San Joaquin Valley is touted as the “the most productive agricultural area in the world.” It is also one of the poorest areas in the U.S., with a lower per capita income than Appalachia.

Issue: On Freedom (January 2022)

Quakers Do What! Why? (review) I am convinced again, Friends! Credit goes to Quakers Do What! Why?, a 72-page booklet from Quaker Quicks, written by Rhiannon Grant. In it, she takes the reader through a wide range of beliefs and practices of unprogrammed Quakers, using a friendly, conversational style. For example, the first chapter is titled: “Wait – Quakers still exist?” This book is great for people interested in exploring what it means to be Quaker as well as being full of great reminders for seasoned Friends. 

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

The Depth of Our Belonging (review) Many people educated in the rational laws of Newtonian physics have difficulty accepting mysticism or even the concept of God. Although Mary Conrow Coelho was raised in an environment of Quaker mysticism, she found no place for that outlook in the materialistic (pre-quantum) science degree she pursued in college. Nevertheless, she continued her exploration of religion in general and mysticism in particular until she discovered the newer quantum physics, which offered her a way to reconcile the two realities of her life – the external/materialistic and the internal/mystic.

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

Surrendering into Silence (review) In this small book (55 pages) of informative essays, David Johnson begins by defining what he means by Quaker prayer. He says it is a contemplative practice of surrendering into silence, seeking the presence of God, or the Light, which is hidden within our beings. The author further describes Friends’ worship tradition as a practice where life and religion are not based on accepted belief or ritual, but on firsthand knowledge of God’s presence. The main focus of the book is how one finds access to that sacred inner knowledge.

Issue: On Words (November 2021)

Etude for Belonging (review) Curiosity sent me to the dictionary to look up “etude” before opening this poetry collection.

Issue: On Cliques (September 2021)

The Color of Law (review) The GI Bill was a White guy thing. Yes, the famous law that gave so many young veterans a good start in life after World War II. Although technically, it was for all veterans, in practice, African-Americans found it impossible to get the promised support. Before long, they stopped applying for it. And that was only the beginning. In his 2017 book, The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein shows that many housing laws were designed to discriminate against African-Americans. He shows that it was in fact the policy of the federal government to discriminate in housing. And he shows how racial discrimination in housing led to the segregated society we know today; divisions by neighborhood, by financial situation, by profession, and by level of education – all come out of housing discrimination.

Issue: On Cliques (September 2021)

A Call to Friends (review) What are Friends called to do in these times? Is there an answer to be found in the current spiritual life of our meetings?

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries (review) An engaging 2018 documentary film, Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries, provides a useful overview of Quaker history from an activist perspective. Thanks to PBS, it has been broadcast to over 250,000 households in the U.S. Director-producer Janet Gardner, Cinematographer Kevin Clouthier, Consultant Richard Nurse, and others on this team deserve kudos for their efforts to make Quaker history come alive. This documentary is intended for a popular audience and is spreading the Quaker message where it most needs to be heard.

Issue: On Debt (July 2021)

Walk Humbly, Serve Boldly (review) Friend Marjory Post Abbott wants modern Quakers to embrace their prophetic voices. While such a call to action might sound like a daunting challenge – the word “prophetic” does tend to imply something grand and anachronistic to our time – instead, Abbott’s 2018 book, Walk Humbly, Serve Boldly, tells us that prophecy can be ordinary and achievable, if it is approached as a gradual journey. Similarly, this book is also best approached as a gradual journey.

Issue: On Tricks (May 2021)

A Quaker View of Gendlin’s Philosophy (review) This book asks: How does our Quaker process help us seek the Light Within and “That of God in every person”? Harbert Rice of Reno Monthly Meeting (PacYM) answers this question by using the philosophy of Eugene Gendlin to look at Quaker practices.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Cosmic Pockets (review) If I knew nothing of Joann Boswell’s life, I would still enjoy her new book of poetry, Cosmic Pockets. It tugs at a reader’s elbows and whispers, “Are you ready for an adventure?” As the text on the front cover says, the book is written “for sci-loving skeptical mystics, mothers, feminists, all.”

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

In the Land of the Grasshopper Song (review) In 1908, Mary Ellicott Arnold and Mabel Reed, life partners from the age of sixteen, traveled from their home in New Jersey to the Klamath River area of Northern California, known locally as “the Rivers.” They went as field matrons for the then-named Office of Indian Affairs. Ostensibly, their job was to provide a civilizing influence on the native Karuk people, to be exemplars of Christian piety and domestic virtue.

Issue: On Rules (November 2020)

Facilitating Group Learning (review) Adults learn best through well-managed conflict, especially in multicultural groups, says George Lakey, one of the most prominent practitioners of satyagraha – the force of truth as the universe arcs toward justice. Originally published in 2010, this second edition of Lakey’s pathbreaking book appears to be aimed at college and university instructors, but it brims with insights for educators of adults in many other settings: training for social justice and social service work, professional and technical training, and even religious education that values experience as well as book learning. Our best efforts as Friends take the form of leading each other toward truthful insights through respectful, cooperative arguments over ideas. George Lakey shows us how to follow this leading.

Issue: On Teachers (September 2020)

Resisting Empire (review) Revelation is probably most the polarizing book of the Bible. Continually refashioned and remixed to support countless views crossing over from religious to political, Revelation is a text that is tempting to avoid confronting directly.

Issue: On Secrets (July 2020)

The Kendal Sparrow (review) Bold voices emerge from a nation wracked by years of war, political division and generational change: The origin of Early Friends was always a colorful tale. Barbara Schell Luetke uses Early Friends as a canvas on which to paint a coming-of-age portrait of individual convincement, ministry, and faithful struggle in her historical novel The Kendall Sparrow. The novel explores the seventeenth-century life and circumstances of Elizabeth Fletcher, but the parallels for today’s young Friends are resonant.

Issue: On Wealth (May 2020)

Mary Dyer’s Hymn (2nd review) As ever, Stan Searl’s poems are a glory, a pleasure, and an incantation, whether he hymns in praise of God or records one man’s heartfelt, sometimes agonizing love for his child. This volume, however, goes further and is a history lesson as well. The benign version of Puritans, which some of us learned in childhood, is overwhelmed by the facts we confront in these poems, as we watch the Puritans hang Mary Dyer and drive other colonists and Native Americans to their deaths.

Issue: On Art (March 2020)

Mary Dyer’s Hymn (1st review) In this book, Stanford Searl writes about four Quaker martyrs who were hanged in 1659 and 1660, and about those Friends’ persecutors and other New Englanders of that time, including Searl’s ancestor Richard Waterman. Searl also expresses how all those lives affect him today.

Issue: On Art (March 2020)

Ulysses (review) Many Friends are unaware that James Joyce included a Quaker librarian, Lyster, in Ulysses. As the Religious Society of Friends gropes out of its colorless stasis, Ulysses reminds us that Friends carry a cultural presence beyond the confines of minutes, meetings, and social concerns.  Even so, [pullquote]I encourage Friends to read Ulysses not for its utility, but as a brutally honest exploration of our inner condition.[/pullquote]

Issue: On Mediation (January 2020)

A Word from the Lost (review) Nayler – this name brings to mind, if not in much detail, the ride into Bristol and the quotation, “There is a spirit that I feel . . .” David Lewis’s book is a fine remedy for this common shortfall in knowledge about James Nayler. It is a brief but remarkably rich account of a Nayler text, Love to the Lost, and its context. Lewis’s book is a theological exploration of Nayler’s writing and much more – including historical, biographical, and political accounts that bring the religious and personal dimensions of Nayler into meaningful connection.

Issue: On Mediation (January 2020)

The Book of Pro-s (review) There are plenty of things to be upset about in today’s world. But, as Nancy Hicks Marshall argues in her latest work, The Book of Pro-s: An Alphabetical Chat about Things We Like (that’s pro-, as in the opposite of anti-), there are still plenty of things to like. In alphabetical order, from “accuracy” to “zumba,” are 118 pages of reminders that life is still worth living in this troubled world.

Issue: On Neighbors (September 2019)

Long Distance Walking in New Mexico and Colorado What is the line that separates walking from pilgrimage?  When does a journey cross over from distance, in miles, to presence and transformation?

Issue: On Neighbors (September 2019)

A Gathering of Spirits (review) Consider the major events of the first half of the Twentieth Century: two world wars, the Great Depression, Jim Crow, women getting the vote. What was happening in the Society of Friends in America during this time? That is the subject of A Gathering of Spirits: The Friends General Conferences 1896-1950, by Douglas Gwyn, as seen through the records of twenty-seven biennial conferences put on by the Friends General Conference (FGC), an organization born of the efforts of seven liberal-progressive yearly meetings. These conferences evolved into annual events in 1963, were renamed “FGC Gatherings” in 1978, and continue to convene annually, primarily on the East Coast. Gwyn uses the minutes, themes, and other available documents from each conference from 1896 to 1950 to trace FGC’s organizational development, to document the evolution of the social and political concerns of this group of American liberal Friends, and to provide a glimpse into the wider cultural influences that may have contributed to this evolution. He includes these wider cultural influences “… partly as a corrective to many Quaker histories that are written as if nothing came before Friends and nothing else was going on around Friends.” (p. xx)

Issue: On Control (July 2019)

Warner Mifflin, Unflinching Quaker Abolitionist (review) In Warner Mifflin, Unflinching Quaker Abolitionist, Professor Gary B. Nash brings to life a long-neglected leader of the Quaker abolitionist movement. Although largely unknown to historians and scholars, Mifflin was known and admired by his contemporaries – including such prominent figures as Washington, Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson – who saw in him a tireless and premiere legislative lobbyist who worked at the local, state, and federal levels for the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery.

Issue: On Puzzles (April 2019)

Renewable (review) Intermountain Yearly Meeting’s book of Faith and Practice advises us that Friends’ faith is a living faith; and it provides us with queries, which if held up close, serve as mirrors to our internal “what is” and move us toward action in the world.

Issue: On Water (March 2019)

Before the Monsoon (review) In the author statement that concludes Eleanor Dart’s latest book of poems, Before the Monsoon, Dart writes, “I don’t want to leave my writing buried in filing cabinets when I depart this life. Hence, this book.” I imagine her poems being rescued from papery depths, freed from the ponderous weight of file folders and metal drawers. Perhaps these poems once lived among tax statements, instruction manuals, love letters, but in this volume, they live together without any trace of compression or randomness.

Issue: On Water (March 2019)

Empire of Guns (review) How free is your life from war, violence, and oppression? How free is your financial life from these forces? Satia Priya poses these questions as she traces the conflict between the Birmingham Monthly Meeting (BMM) in central England in the 1790s and the Galton family, who were members of the meeting and who made their livelihoods selling guns as England became the leading weapons manufacturer in the world. In fact, Quakers owned or managed over half of the ironworks in operation in England in the last half of the 18th Century, and weapons were a major product of the iron industry, sold to the Ordnance Office of the British Government and on the open market – throughout several decades of war and colonial expansion dominated by the British.

Issue: On Weapons (January 2019)

Primitive Quakerism Revived (review) The path of spiritual growth has few shortcuts. In fact, the path is often uncertain, as if you were hiking at night on a narrow trail without a flashlight. Paul Buckley, in Primitive Quakerism Revived, challenges any timid pace we might take in our transformation – as individuals and as religious communities. He writes, “This book calls on Quakers today to . . . repossess the essential principles that energized and strengthened [seventeenth-century] Friends of Truth, to apply those principles to the various societies and cultures we live in around the world, and, once again, to be patterns and examples to our neighbors.”

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

Holy Silence (review) Brent Bill – a writer, photographer, and Quaker minister – considers silence to be “the Quaker sacrament.” In the first chapter of this small volume, Bill makes clear that holy silence “. . . is something we do, not something done to us. It is a participatory act. It engages our heart, mind, soul, and body in listening for the voice of the Beloved. Quaker silence is not passive.”

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

The Legacy They Gave Us (review) I really enjoyed this short book by Matilda Hansen, who grew up in Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) in the mid-1900s. Luckily for us, Hansen decided to research and document her Norwegian Quaker ancestors. The resulting book has a lot in it – a love story, a story of conscientious objection, immigration, travel, a Quaker split, and the Underground Railroad. If you are interested in the history of western Quakers in twentieth-century America, you will also likely be interested to read about some of the roots of that history in nineteenth-century Iowa.

Issue: On Bosses (July 2018)

God, Words and Us (review) Words come easily, but don’t always help build connections among people. Labels like “Christian,” “atheist,” or “nontheist” can actually block understanding. God, Words and Us explores a Quaker approach to getting past “words as obstacles” and a process for building connections.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

Hiking Naked (review) Hiking Naked is a memoir that explores ways that Friends in the medical field stretch themselves beyond their emotional limits, and how Iris Graville attempted to bring herself back into balance. Graville is a mother of two, a wife, and a nurse who works for the Health Department in Belleview, Washington. Her job is serious, and the stakes are high for the people in underserved communities she works with, so she gives herself fully to her job – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. By the time we join her, she is dealing with burnout.

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

The Call to Radical Faithfulness (review) In less than one hundred pages of concise, nuanced writing, Doug Gwyn brings us the best way to see ourselves as Quakers. He uses quotations from all ages of Friends to illustrate his points; and with skillful use of italics, he highlights the core of each message. Look for these italics! They count!!

Issue: On Expansion (May 2018)

The Focus Book Series (review) With global warming’s impact of floods and droughts becoming ever more apparent, this ten-book series gives hope that, oriented by the spirit and coupled with mindful research, people can make a difference in reducing causes of environmental destruction. I read three books in this series:

Issue: On Music (March 2018)

Zebras for Table Mountain (review) The ability to see and write clearly, the justice of an open mind, the opportunity to observe people and events during a complex period in a conflicted country: all these qualities Henriette Groot brings to her recently published journal, which recounts her experiences in South Africa in 1986 – Zebras for Table Mountain. Groot is a member of Central Coast Meeting in San Louis Obispo, CA (PYM). She and her husband took a round-the-world sailing voyage at a critical time in history. This journal reflects Groot’s curiosity as the couple approached South Africa in September 1985, her interest in people of all classes and races, her knowledge of the Apartheid struggle, and her desire “to be with South African Quakers.”

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

Approved! (review) This delightful book by Nancy L. Haines, with illustrations by Anne E.G. Nydam, would be a good addition to any Friends Meeting library. Drawing on the experience of Wellesley Meeting with junior meeting for business, the slim volume offers clear information about Quaker decision-making.

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

Life Lessons From a Bad Quaker (review) Life Lessons From a Bad Quaker: A Humble Stumble Toward Simplicity and Grace Written by J. Brent Bill Reviewed by Rick Ells

Issue: On Captivity (January 2018)

Being Quaker . . . Where You Are (review) Reading Sakre Edson’s collection of interviews is an experience akin to sitting in worship-sharing with Friends whom you almost think you know already, each contemplating the query, “What kind of Quaker am I?”

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

A Language for the Inward Landscape (review) E.L. Doctorow once said, “Writing is like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Reading A Language for the Inward Landscape was a similar self-actualizing experience. Like a coastal sailor navigating through a fog, the reader discovers more about their journey as they take it. The fog lifts, the sailor sees a familiar landmark. By taking a compass bearing on this landmark, the sailor has a better idea of their location: the bearing defines a line and the boat is somewhere on this line. There is a feeling of safety with this bit of clarity. The fog may return, but the sailor proceeds, a bit more confident in their journey.

Issue: On Garbage (November 2017)

Everyday Prophets (Review) Recently, I read the wonderful 2016 Backhouse Lecture, Everyday Prophets by Margery Post Abbott. I identified with Abbott’s description of everyday prophets as “. . . people who listen to the voice of all that it Holy and follow its guidance” (p. 3). Yet these everyday prophets face challenges, too. “It takes practice to develop the skill of listening with an inward ear and coming to recognize the taste and color of all that it holy . . . Above all, such a person is one who listens inwardly and has learned to distinguish the voice of the Spirit, the presence of Christ, from their own desires or self-will, the pressures of the surrounding culture and the need to win approval from those around them” (pp. 5-6).

Issue: On Home (September 2017)

Giving Up Something Good for Something Better - Review Beth Blodgett and Prairie Naoma Cutting have chosen a simple life in rural Honduras, one of the three poorest countries in this hemisphere. Over several years, they became Hermana Alegría and Hermana Confianza, sisters of their newly founded monastic order, Amigas del Señor, which serves medical needs in the local community. They use their Methodist faith and Quaker practices to guide them in this new, but better, life. Giving Up Something Good for Something Better is based on emails the sisters sent home from computers costing $1.40 an hour. It consists of narratives of their daily life, their worship, and their work, which together chronicle their spiritual growth and the creation of this new religious order. The book includes a “geographic orientation,” a glossary, and worship-sharing guidelines.

Issue: On Balance (May 2017)

Two children’s picture books about mindfulness - Review Charlotte and the Quiet Place (2015) is a story for ages five to nine, set in one of the noisier places in North America: New York City. Charlotte and her dog find a quiet space in a park, where she notices her breathing and inner quiet. She learns how to re-create that space in other parts of her world, closing her eyes, breathing deeply, and taking her mind back to that park.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Unlacing the Heart - Review Unlacing the Heart (2015) offers a series of vignettes from Henry Freeman’s life as a fundraiser and his subsequent break from his career to do service in Central America. The accompanying study guide (by Freeman with Colin Saxton, 2016) adds scripture readings and queries for each vignette. Freeman shares a variety of experiences, including relationships he developed in El Salvador while on a mission there and interactions he had with teachers, mentors, and clients. Taken together, they fit into the Quaker tradition of sharing impactful personal experiences in worship, personal journals, and diaries; and using those to develop spiritual insight and practice. [pullquote]With each story, Freeman examines his sense of connectedness to others and identifies guideposts for his future relationships.[/pullquote] The study guide invites the reader to further consider the impact of these insights on their own style of living and relating to others.

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Paranoid Paranoid, a 2016 British conspiracy thriller available on Netflix, has Quakerism as one of its themes. In this eight-part series, a team of detectives investigates a murder and a deadly conspiracy. One of the detectives is a man in his sixties who becomes romantically involved with a Quaker, also in her sixties. Another character calls her a “Quaker sex bomb” (three words that are not often heard together). After the start of this relationship, the detective begins attending meeting for worship. The show presents a nuanced perspective on older adult sexuality, and portrays Quakerism sympathetically and accurately. The scenes of meeting for worship were shot in the Frandley Quaker Meeting House in Cheshire, England, and members of this meeting were used as extras. Only three reviews of Paranoid have appeared on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but they are all positive. ~~~

Issue: On Insight (March 2017)

Viking Economics – Review George Lakey’s Viking Economics isn’t a treatise on the economic advantages of pillaging the Northern European coast, although Friends would be forgiven for thinking so! Rather, Viking Economics is an analysis of the “Nordic model” of macroeconomics, liberally laced with Lakey’s own experiences in Norway and the rest of Scandinavia. Mr. Lakey interviews noted economists, Nordic political leaders, community organizers, teachers, farmers, and fishermen to answer two basic questions: 1) How have the Scandinavians succeeded in building progressive, democratic, egalitarian and free economies where others failed? and 2) How can the United States (and others) replicate this success?

Issue: On Competition (January 2017)

The Demise of American Democracy – Review Bill Durland is one of our Quaker treasures. His vast knowledge in the fields of politics, theology, economics. philosophy, and government inform his new book, The Demise of American Democracy: Explaining the Crisis and What to Do about It. The book is further enriched by Durland’s personal stories, including seminal childhood events that led to his awakening to injustices, his time in the Virginia Legislature working for social justice, and his time as a Catholic and a Quaker.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

My Life on the Nuclear Brink – Review Pacifists may argue that it is a bad choice to do weapons work at all. William Perry, Secretary of Defense under President Clinton, would probably argue that by leaving this job to others, the results could be far worse. Would we suspect that someone who spent his entire career in the defense industry, first as a private contractor and then as a government official, would be nuclear weapons’ biggest critic? Yet, in a 2008 article in the Wall Street Journal, Perry’s name appeared along with former Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, and Senate arms expert Sam Nunn, calling for the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

The Dazzle of Day – Review Here’s a challenge: Write a novel in which a Quaker business meeting is the dramatic pivot point . . . and make it a compelling read.

Issue: On Flesh (November 2016)

Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment – Review Spiritual discernment, broadly defined as listening, relaying observations to others, and acting on divine guidance, is at the core of spiritual practice for our Society of Friends. In Decision Making & Spiritual Discernment: The Sacred Art of Finding Your Way, Nancy Bieber describes the discernment process in this way:

Issue: On Media (September 2016)

The Joy, The Mary Dyer Story - Review While I was attending Westminster Meeting in London four years ago, two Friends from separate continents raved to me about a play they had seen at the FGC Gathering that summer. They spoke of The Joy, written and performed by Jeanmarie (Simpson) Bishop, concerning the life and death of Mary Dyer. Westminster Meeting is a stone’s throw from the parish of St Martin-in-the- Fields, where Mary and William Dyer married in 1633. Today, three hundred and eighty-three years later, their story has been published as a book containing Bishop’s play.

Issue: On Heritage (July 2016)

Our Life is Love - Review The title of Marcelle Martin’s newly published book, Our Life is Love, echoes Isaac Penington’s well-known 1667 quotation, “Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand . . . ” Martin’s book is about the transformative path taken by fervent men and women refined by the fire of truth, and the tender help from one another they receive along their way. It is the sharing of the many struggles and rewards experienced by early seekers of the Spirit, as well as contemporary followers of the Light.

Issue: On Heritage (July 2016)

The Essential Elias Hicks Many books use the title, “The Essential So-and-So,” and here’s another. This book depicts a Quaker who proved himself essential. However, reading Elias Hicks is not “more essential” than reading, say, Fox, Penn, Mott, Dyer, or Woolman. So at the beginning of this review, I would like to suggest that Inner Light Books and Charles Martin, Publisher, consider producing more of the same, more books of this caliber that are “Essential.”

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success I am a huge fan of the self-help genre. I have turned to self-help books when I wanted to heal from trauma, to let go of guilt, to be more nurturing of myself, and to be a better parent.

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

Paths of Faith There are many fine books exploring the relation of science and faith, including excellent texts by Friends who are scientists, theologians, or both. Paths of Faith in the Landscape of Science: Three Quakers Check Their Compass, however, offers something distinctively Quaker. Canadian Friends Strunz, Miller, and Helmuth use their personal life stories – testimonies – to show continuing revelation as involving all truth, whether spiritual or scientific.

Issue: On Limits (May 2016)

Eastern Light - Review Eastern Light: Awakening to Presence in Zen, Quakerism and Christianity

Issue: On Beginning (March 2016)

A Sustainable Life - Review Doug Gwyn has established himself among Friends as a scholar, teacher, and writer of consequence. He has helped us through several decades to appreciate and vitalize our peculiar ways of being.

Issue: On Countries (January 2016)

The Light Within, Then And Now - Review Rex Ambler is a British theologian, teacher, and writer. In several previous small volumes, he has made major contributions to Friends’ theology (for example, The End of Words) and spirituality (Light To Live By). The Light Within: Then and Now (Pendle Hill Pamphlet 425, 2013) extends that precedent.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

A Quaker Approach to Research - Review This short book is the latest in a series from the Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF). All of the other publications in the series focus on pressing, specific, hot topics for our global future: genetically modified crops, energy and fuels, the economic growth dilemma, climate change, food security, etc. In contrast to these issue-oriented volumes, A Quaker Approach to Research (2014) explores methodology and our ways of knowing: How do we as Quakers approach research and understanding of critical issues? This book is a provocative exploration of how Quakers come to know what we know and how those methods might be applied to social research.

Issue: On Difference (July 2015)

Spiritual Accompaniment - Review Spiritual accompaniment can be a very physical process. Shaking, sweating, rocking, and buzzing are just a few manifestations of the Spirit experienced by Cathy Walling and Elaine Emily as Elaine offered Eldering workshops and ministry with Australia Yearly Meeting in 2007-2008. Cathy’s call to this particular form of eldership took root many years earlier. She longed to know what Quaker elders experienced in previous centuries, but found their voices missing from historical journals.

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

Airplants: Selected Poems - Review Artists and poets are fond of irony and William H. Matchett is no exception. The title of his selected poems refers to an editor who commented in 1872 that Emily Dickinson’s poems reminded him “of air plants that have no roots in the earth.” Well, I would note that there are at least two levels of irony here: Dickinson’s poems are deeply rooted in her New England soil of hymns, history and experience; and Matchett’s poems are deeply rooted in his location outside of Seattle, Washington, overlooking a fiord and the Olympic Mountains. In fact, exploring the irony even further, one of the underlying themes of these selected poems is Matchett’s deeply rooted celebration of place, including its geography, biology, birds, soil, plants, and their meanings.

Issue: On Needs (May 2015)

A Little Book of Unknowing – Review This “little book” is a high-level survey of a very big subject. As such, it will leave most readers wanting more. Fortunately, the book’s strong organization and its wealth of source materials combine to make it into a solid guide for readers who want to locate in-depth works on “knowing” and “unknowing” by a broad range of great minds, including Rumi, Thomas Kelly, and Matthew Fox.

Issue: On Knowing (March 2015)

Waging Peace – Review (2015) If war is not the answer, what is? David Hartsough’s Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist can help an uncertain reader progress to a firm conviction that effective nonviolent means of overcoming aggression and injustice really can be discovered and applied even in extreme situations – and that we “ordinary people” can do this. What makes the book so compelling is that it is an account of the author’s direct experience as an organizer and trainer in nonviolent campaigns, and as a participant in grassroots movements around the world.

Issue: On Knowing (March 2015)

The Gospel of Tree Bark – Review Friends would find the works of Anna Fritz worth knowing about simply because this talented folksinger and cellist is “one of us.” She grew up in Milwaukee Monthly Meeting; she’s highly active in Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland; she’s a frequent attender at the New Year’s Gathering of Young Friends, and she recently made a tour of Quaker meetings throughout Oregon and Washington. But listening to her album, The Gospel of Tree Bark (2013), makes it clear that Anna deserves to be known wherever Western Friend is read, because her music is truly ministry.

Issue: On Knowing (March 2015)

The Price of Folly - Review The Price of Folly: A Lay-Person’s Guide to American Plutocracy

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Miracle Motors - Review Miracle Motors: A Pert Near True Story

Issue: On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Public Secrets and Justice – Review Public Secrets and Justice: A Journal of a Circuit Court Judge

Issue: On Temptation (November 2014)

Slow Parenting Teens – Review Written by Molly Wingate and Marti Woodward

Issue: On Family (September 2014)

Race to Incarcerate, A Graphic Retelling - Review Written by Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer

Issue: On Pride (July 2014)

A Short History of Ben Lomond Quaker Center - Review A Short History of Ben Lomond Quaker Center by John deValcourt

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

The Art of Small Resurrections - Review The Art of Small Resurrections: Surviving the Texas Death Chamber by Walter Long

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

99 Tactics of Successful Tax Resistance Campaigns - Review 99 Tactics of Successful Tax Resistance Campaigns by David Gross 

Issue: On Time (March 2014)

Why Civil Resistance Works - Review Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Cheoweth and Maria J. Stephan

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Shared Security: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy - Review Shared Security: Reimagining U.S. Foreign Policy A working Paper of the American Friends Service Committee and Friends Committee on National Legislation.  April 2013. 

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Collaborators - Review Collaborators by Deborah Wheeler

Issue: On Patriotism (January 2014)

Howard and Anna Brinton - Review Howard and Anna Brinton: Re-Inventors of Quakerism in the Twentieth Century

Issue: On Deception (November 2013)

The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery - Review The Quaker Way: A Rediscovery by Rex Ambler

Issue: On Deception (November 2013)

Pushing at the Frontiers of Change - Review Pushing at the Frontiers of Change: a Memoir of Quaker Involvements with Homosexuality by David Blamires

Issue: On Love (September 2013)

The Failure of Success - Review The Failure of Success by Jennifer Kavanagh

Issue: On Superiority (July 2013)

Feeling Light Within, I Walk - Review Feeling Light Within, I Walk: Tales, Adventures & Reflections of a Quaker Activist

Issue: On Superiority (July 2013)

In the Wild Places - Review In the Wild Places by Sarah Hoggatt

Issue: On Consumption (May 2013)

A Small Steadying Sail of Love - Review A Small Steadying Sail of Love by Nancy Gibbs Richard

Issue: On Power (March 2013)

At Home on the Slopes of the Mountains - Review At Home on the Slopes of the Mountains By Sharon Snyder

Issue: On Power (March 2013)

The Long Walk - Review The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life that Follows by Brian Castner

Issue: On War (January 2013)

Waging Peace – Review (2013) Waging Peace: Discipline and Practice (Pendle Hill Pamphlet 420) by Pamela Haines, reviewed by Forrest Curo of San Diego Friends Meeting

Issue: On War (January 2013)

A Month of Sundays (review)

It’s been over a decade since Derek Lamson’s last CD, which makes his new release, A Month of Sundays, all the more welcome.

Issue: On Seeds (November 2023)

Stories of Spiritual Healing (review)

Kwang-Hee Park is an adjunct professor, chaplain, healer, and counselor. She is a Christocentric Quaker. In her professional work, she listens to people tell their stories.

Issue: On Seeds (November 2023)