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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.

On Words (November 2021)

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.

On Freedom (January 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.

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.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Individual Decision or Mutual Discernment

The test for membership should not be doctrinal agreement, nor adherence to certain testimonies, but evidence of sincere seeking and striving for Truth, together with an understanding of the lines along which Friends are seeking that Truth.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Alternative Realities

I met Rachel Heisham Bieri in Missoula, Montana, four months after she had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. She was forty-five then, only fifteen years older than I was, though she was already a grandmother. Doctors had given her two months to live.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Evangelism

“Evangelical” is now officially a dirty word with progressive people of faith. This story has been decades in the making and is now accepted fact: The Evangelical wing of modern American Christianity is all about White Nationalism. I am here to tell you: It ain’t necessarily so, even though it sure looks that way.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (2)

As meetings consider how to reimagine worship, Friends have written movingly about the value of traditional in-person Quaker worship. As I consider these heartfelt thoughts, a song comes to mind from my Methodist days: “This Is My Father’s World.”

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Facing Covid Risk in Community (2)

[This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Facing Covid Risk in Community (1)

[This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)