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Friends for Racial Equity I had struggled before over whether to speak during worship, but this was different. It was near the close of worship, and a long-time member was sharing a folk tale from childhood. The story clearly moved him, and I can only imagine it was intended as a gift, a tender ministry for all of us in worship. But it was not a gift, at least not of the kind intended. The tale was of an enduring struggle between two iconic opposing figures – one evil, one good. On another morning, I might have let such a story drift in and out of my awareness, a familiar premise with no hint of a surprise ending. Instead, as I listened, I felt my body stiffen; [pullquote]I was paralyzed and mortified. Here it was, in a folk tale, in worship: racist ministry.[/pullquote]

On Cliques (September 2021)

Words: The Saving Grace I reached maturity in a time when words were worth a death. Born in the 1920s, raised in the 1930s, I turned eighteen in 1942. As a young man, I knew, by the words Hitler used, that the Nazis represented a force that must be halted. The words describing horrors I could scarcely imagine evoked other words in opposition, words wedded to the deep meaning of the word justice my mother had so carefully taught me, sprung from her study of the New Testament. My mother’s abiding faith in justice, linked to the words of “freedom” and “liberation,” sent shivers over my flesh.

On Words (November 2021)

Quakers Do What! Why? (review) I am convinced again, Friends! Credit goes to Quakers Do What! Why?, a 72-page booklet from Quaker Quicks, written by Rhiannon Grant. In it, she takes the reader through a wide range of beliefs and practices of unprogrammed Quakers, using a friendly, conversational style. For example, the first chapter is titled: “Wait – Quakers still exist?” This book is great for people interested in exploring what it means to be Quaker as well as being full of great reminders for seasoned Friends. 

On Words (November 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)

Membership is Important Quaker membership is important. Mutual commitment matters. Membership is a relationship, not an achievement.

On Freedom (January 2022)

On Freedom A thrill is in the air when a storm is on the way. Some creatures run and shout and seek the highest vantage point. Others look for the nearest root cellar. Reckless versus responsible, selfless versus selfish – any reaction to danger can be seen in various lights. Some good neighbors rush to warn the rest to hurry up and take cover. Some keep busy in the cellar, shoring up the weight-bearing timbers.

On Freedom (January 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (5) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)

It’s OK to Talk about Quakerism Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our Quakerism with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In my (so far unpublished) research on expressing Quaker spirituality in the workplace, I interviewed one person who said that when a co-worker found out he was a Quaker, he was stunned. “I worked next to you for five years and had no idea you were a Quaker.”

On Normality (July 2022)

To Form a Faithful Community

On February 24 this year, Russia invaded Ukraine. For now, I ask you to set aside all history and politics. I ask you to step back with me to that moment when I realized in terror that terror had just filled a country I had visited many times, where I had friends, where there was a Quaker meeting and facilitators for the Alternatives to Violence Project. The invasion couldn’t be happening . . . but it was.

On Cooperation (September 2022)