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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.

On Garbage (November 2017)

Beautiful Article about Minding the Earth Dear Editor: “A New Story for Earth” by Mary Ann Percy, in the November/December issue, is one of the best articles that I have ever read. I happened to read it right after our meeting held our second-hour discussion one First Day, concerning what each of us can do to be more mindful of the earth (and promised to try). I think we might discuss this article in another second hour soon. It ties a lot of big questions and big concepts together really well, and it is beautifully written.

On Mediation (January 2020)

Elizabeth Gurney Fry: A Quaker Mess

Friends are doing a lot of reevaluation these days, reexamining our past and our venerable Quaker ancestors. In some cases, when moral inconsistencies emerge into the open, reexamination means that some iconic Friends are losing their luster. In other cases, stories of early Friends’ messy lives help us to see their humanity, which can lend greater depth and nuance to their spiritual writings. This happened for me when I read Chad Thralls’ May 2011 article in Friends Journal on the “embodied” life of Thomas Kelly. Learning how Kelly confronted his inner demons through surrender to Spirit increased my appreciation of his lyrical testimony.

On Conflict (January 2023)

The Bonds of Animal Affection This article is in dialogue with “The Bonds of Animal Agriculture” by Friend Joe Snyder in the May-June 2013 issue of Western Friend. I commend Friend Snyder for highlighting the destructive aspects of the prevailing system of plant and animal agriculture, which fail to respect God’s creation. To my mind, Friends cannot overemphasize the seriousness of such threats to our health and global sustainability.

On Love (September 2013)

Simplicity and Our Complex Economy Simplicity runs in opposition to modern life.  Thousands of people, and potentially hundreds of companies, are involved in the production, distribution, and sale of something as simple as a pencil or a cup of coffee – to say nothing of a pair of sneakers, a movie, or a car, or providing a service like a mutual fund or a night in a hotel room. 

On Production (May 2014)

Simple Foods Dear Editor: I appreciate Jane Snyder’s article about simplicity (“Rich People Won’t Eat It,” May/June 2016), and I’m sure living in Portlandia would make anyone suspicious of foodies.  However, I don’t think she is very knowledgeable about the health effects.  Gluten intolerance is a very serious health issue for many people who do not have celiac disease.  And there are people who are lactose intolerant.  If you’re looking to meet the needs of a diverse group, you don’t have to buy gluten-free bread or dairy substitutes.  These tend to be overly processed foods, which is the big problem with our corporate-sponsored food supply.  Plant-based meals such as lentil soup, pea soup, salad with oil and vinegar dressing, potatoes and rice are all options for a meal that feeds a large group while also being healthy and meeting most dietary limitations.  You can put cheeses or other dressings on the side for those who want them.  Buying organic and local may be a little more expensive but has some environmental value.  Just because poor people don’t have as many options and are lured by cheap processed foods (or as Michael Pollan calls them, “edible food-like substances”) doesn’t make it a better diet.

On Heritage (July 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.

On Flesh (November 2016)

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.

On Control (July 2019)