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Confidence Friends follow rules both spoken and unspoken; these guide our practices and behaviors, and they change over time and distance. In some cases, rules may have been followed long ago for good reasons, but are no longer common practice now. Similarly, what is standard in one meeting might be unusual in another. We like to think we are generally responding to continuing revelation, but sometimes we are merely reflecting contemporary attitudes.

On Rules (November 2020)

On Vision As Kenneth Boulding summarized in 1979, certain “Quaker distinctives” have held steady from the beginning: 1) faith in the presence of a universal call to perfectibility in all Life, 2) a profound unwillingness to use threat, even for supposedly good ends, 3) a passion for veracity, even in minute particulars of language, and 4) a sense of being upheld by grace, a thing not under human control, but responsive to human need. Boulding especially underlined the importance of veracity, “It is the utter abandonment of deceit in any form which lies at the very heart of the Quaker way of life.” (However, he also added, “[Veracity] does not necessarily imply not being in error.”)

On Vision (January 2021)

Vision for the Day to Be Peace I ask of thee of river, Peace, Peace, Peace. When I learn to live serenely, cares will cease. From the hills I gather courage, vision for the day to be. Strength to lead and faith to follow, All are given unto me. Peace I ask of thee of river, Peace, Peace, Peace.                     by Gwyneth Walker

On Vision (January 2021)

Cassandra 2020 Part faux Republican presidential campaign, part art project, with its candidate drawn from Greek mythology, Cassandra 2020 resists categorization. It has taken the form of community conversations, performance protest, video art, and guerilla sign-drops. It has been supported by a constant flux of contributors and co-creators, many of whom are also Quaker. It has sparked amusement, concern, scorn, joy, connection, and most importantly, curiosity.

On Vision (January 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)

On Tricks A sense of belonging is a blessing. Whether we are animal, plant, bacterium, fungus, or protozoan, each of us has a place in our biosphere. If perfect justice existed, every creature would enjoy a feeling of belonging in whatever place it found itself. But actual creation is riddled with imperfection, trial and error, justice and injustice, an ocean of darkness flowing beneath the ocean of light.

On Tricks (May 2021)

Sabbath Economics Sabbath economics offers an alternative approach to dominant paradigms of economic theory and practice. Theologian-educator Ched Myers coined the term “Sabbath economics” in the 1990s, drawing from the Torah standard of social and economic justice and based on God’s call to “keep the Sabbath” by alternating good work with periods of rest.

On Debt (July 2021)

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)

23rd-Century-Ready Quaker Institutions Upon my arrival in Richmond, Indiana – after years of ministry in San Francisco, California – I would often walk the campus in the awareness that Earlham College had been standing at the time of the Civil War. I think often about the tension between spectacular, Ezekiel-like revelations from God and what happens when we attempt to translate such revelations into structured communities.

On Words (November 2021)

Speaking of Animacy How delighted we are when our children first begin to talk! What a miracle, what a joy! I have felt that joy and sense of the miraculous when that little being, my young child, could finally begin to share with me their wishes, thoughts, feelings, questions, and more – the first time they “used their words.” Even then, however, I was also aware of the drawbacks of learning our “native” spoken language. In the case of my own children, the language was English, and in learning this, I knew they would automatically be “pre-programmed” with the world-view inherent in English. This would limit where their minds could travel, just as learning a different “mother tongue” would limit their minds in a different way.

On Words (November 2021)