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Do Quakers Mean Business?

Recently a Methodist church invited me to a book study. They had been reading books on ethically based business, including Deborah Cadbury’s Chocolate Wars, and had grown wildly curious about these peculiar Quakers and their century and a half of confectionary success. The group leader tabulated a list of famous Quaker business leaders – not only in cocoa, but also in ironwork, railways, footwear, chinaware, household goods, pharmaceuticals, and banking. Why, she asked, was the list so long? Why were there so many Friendly industrial innovators? Why so many business names they now recognized as Quaker – from Cadbury chocolates to Barclays bank to Clarks shoes? What was it about this relatively small, seemingly austere, and ethically demanding faith that drove such a disproportionate share of business enterprise?

On Production (May 2014)

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.

On Puzzles (April 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.

On Puzzles (April 2019)