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Silence as a Bully Pulpit Dear Editor: I wanted to thank you for undertaking a group discussion by videoconference. I listened to the entire hour. One type of “bullying” that did not come up is the personal use of the silence as a bully pulpit (I call it “Quaker open Mic”). I have participated in a number of meetings in different parts of the West. A weighty Friend in one meeting produced a sermonette each First Day. An individual in another meeting usurped extensive periods of the silence with his personal opinions and attitudes on current topics. People new to meeting groups tend to follow the example of older members or attenders. I think this is one of the more troublesome features of unstructured silence.

On Balance (May 2017)

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.”

On Bosses (July 2018)

Listening to the Silence I heard a message in our meeting once about learning to listen to the silence. I could not make any sense of it. I left it alone.

On Tricks (May 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.

On Words (November 2021)

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.

On Deception (November 2013)