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Vaccines and Community The coronavirus pandemic marches through its surges and plateaus, changing with congregating behavior, pandemic fatigue, and doubts about the seriousness of Covid-19 disease. At this writing in January, new virus variants are appearing with mutations that increase the efficiency of transmission, which means more deaths. The more transmission there is, the more the virus will mutate to escape immunity. The history of influenza is repeating itself. The distribution of two effective Covid-19 vaccines is far short of demand at this time. Even though production and distribution are solvable, practical problems, they are not getting the resources necessary. While cosmetics production remains at full strength in the U.S., vaccine supplies depend on imports. While the country continues to manufacture obsolete fighter jets, it has not built nursing schools to meet our pressing need for healthcare workers over the last fifty years.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Off the Shelves Last year, our Library Committee worked diligently to create a wonderfully complete online library catalog of all the books held by Santa Monica Friends Meeting. Then, the pandemic hit. Our meetinghouse closed in March 2020, and virtually all our books have been sitting idle for a year. I have a deep love of physical books: the smell when you crack one open, the texture of a page in your hand, the way you can find a passage you’ve read by remembering where it was on the page. Physical books are absolutely delightful. I believe that everything we treasure, we should use often and reverently, not tuck it away into oblivion. [pullquote]In using the things that we value, we are able to understand what their value is.[/pullquote]

On Relevance (March 2021)

Wisdom at One with the Earth Bring into your mind the Holy, the Mystery, always within us and always around us. This Holy Mystery, I call “Christ.” I feel Christ flowing like water, blowing like wind, surrounding us, penetrating us, flowing outward from us. In this awareness, we can know that all of us belong to one another and to all creation. Now imagine that we might pivot, all together, into caring for all creation – with immediate personal and corporate action.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Faith on the Border Pima Friends Meeting in Tucson, Arizona, is 60 miles (106 kilometers) from the International Border with Mexico. Our meeting is widely known for the leadership that our member Jim Corbett gave to the sanctuary movement in the 1980s, helping refugees from the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala find sanctuary in U.S. churches.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Correction of a Quaker Baby Dear Editor: I’ve studied the cover of the Jan/Feb 2021 issue for many minutes, even inverted it. I used a magnifying glass on the reflections in the eyes. I still cannot figure out how one can tell that the pictured child is a Quaker baby.   What’s the giveaway?

On Relevance (March 2021)

Interested and Hopeful at 100 Dear Editor: I want you to know how much I enjoy Western Friend – the Jan/Feb 2021 issue is particularly good, with some very interesting articles, such as the one on Friends House Moscow. I am about to celebrate my 100th birthday, so it’s wonderful reading hopeful articles, such as “Cassandra” and “Bunnytown.” Anyway, Western Friend is a great READ.

On Relevance (March 2021)

A Puzzling Grave in a Quaker Cemetery With his death approaching, I asked him, “John, who was Martha Jones?”

On Tricks (May 2021)

Towards Peace in Yemen Early in January 2015, my world changed. My dad called to inform me that my cousin Muath Safi Yousef al-Kasasbeh, a Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot, had been captured and burned to death by the militant group ISIL – after Muath’s F-16 fighter aircraft malfunctioned and crashed over Syria. Although I had never met this cousin of mine, my heart pounded with grief, listening to the rage and despair in my father’s voice. He was devastated, and he vowed that Jordan would take revenge.

On Tricks (May 2021)

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)

Illusions and Miracles Military forces in the 18th and 19th centuries employed a deceptive tactic called “the Quaker gun trick.” This involved using wooden cannon replicas, sometimes painted black, to trick an adversary into withdrawal or surrender – without a shot being fired. We are not talking Peace Testimony here, but perhaps Friendly Trickery – deception for the greater good of de-escalation.

On Tricks (May 2021)