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A Fitting Punishment Dear Friends: Drought and forest fires all over the West. Two simultaneous hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. The North Pole going ice-free. Each summer hotter than the summer before.

On Rules (November 2020)

Speaking Truth This article has been abridged from a longer original, which can be found at: westernfriend.org/media/speaking-truth-unabridged.

On Vision (January 2021)

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)

On Relevance Throughout the ages, humans have kept reinventing the world, over and over again. Language, agriculture, kingdoms, credit, mass production, and social media – each innovation has turned our species upside down, and we’ve flattened countless others in the process. We are a species that is made for tinkering. We are a species with an inclination for figuring out how to make things better. Looking out at the universe, the interplay of chaos and order, we pluck particular observations out of our field of experience and string them together into explanations, arguments, stories, and plans. We are made to make meaning.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Spiritual Service through Showing Up When my husband and I moved to the Bay Area during the dot-com boom, we didn’t know a soul. We needed to get involved with a community and get to know people. After checking out the Buddhists and the Unitarians – even though we didn’t come from a faith tradition in DC – we decided to visit the Quaker Meetinghouse in San Francisco. It featured a prominent sign and was situated at the edge of the Civic Center, Tenderloin, and South of Market (SOMA) neighborhoods, which are also advancing edges of tech gentrification in the city.

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)

Thoughts from a Loving Gadfly In January this year, I submitted an article to Western Friend about Friends and the “Beloved Community,” and I received the best rejection letter ever. The editor told me she tends to publish good news about Friends on the website, but wants the magazine to contain articles that “dig deeper into the quandaries, conflicts, values, etc., that underlie all the good work.” This seems like an editorial policy that will keep the magazine interesting and relevant.

On Tricks (May 2021)

Fake News for Real Peace I have been a Friend for forty-five years. I started attending a few years after returning to the U.S. from a tour in Vietnam. It was a stressful time. We had two young children. At the encouragement of Charles and Mary Minor, we visited Flagstaff Friends Meeting on South Beaver Street, just off the campus of Northern Arizona University.

On Tricks (May 2021)

Truth and Healing Commission for Native Peoples Dear Friends, at their June 20, 2021 meeting for worship with a concern for business, Intermountain Yearly Meeting (IMYM) approved the minute below. It calls on individual Friends and monthly meetings to urge their Congressional representatives to support a bill that seeks to create a Truth and Healing Commission for the U.S. Indian boarding schools. Senator Elizabeth Warren is expected to introduce this bill before the August recess. 

On Cliques (September 2021)

The Ground from which Miracles Spring I didn’t want to join the committee. As a “released Friend,” my role is to follow the leadings of my music ministry out in the world, freed from responsibility for the business of Multnomah Monthly Meeting. But I have found myself reckoning lately with a firehose of Spirit blasting a message through me that has nothing to do with songs or cello. In September 2021, this message came out in an epistle, which was published October 30 in Western Friend’s weekly email newsletter. This epistle, “Returning to the Body,” arose from my experience serving on Multnomah’s ad-hoc committee concerned with the question of how to worship in this age of pandemic. [See: https://westernfriend.org/returning-body]

On Freedom (January 2022)