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On Weapons Dear Friends: Almost anything can serve as a weapon, even life-giving water. All living creatures on earth have evolved (are evolving) fortifications against attack. Cellular life is fortified by membranes, and human societies are fortified by lines in the sand. Nutrients and attractive ideas gain access through those fortifications. Poisons and slander are rebuffed. Inside our fortifications, ideally, scarcity and excess are minimized as we “give us this day our daily bread;” but in actuality, scarcity and excess are the pumping pistons of empire, trampling our planet today.

On Weapons (January 2019)

Quaker Culture: Diversity of Beliefs The many words and phrases Friends use for the divine life and power at the heart of the universe reflect the diversity of beliefs and variety of experiences among us. What one Friend may understand as the Inward Christ, another Friend may understand as the Ground of Being. Over the centuries, Friends have used many such words and phrases: God, the Eternal, the Truth, the Holy Spirit, the Divine Principle, the Light Within, the Inward (or Inner) Light, the Seed, the Light of Christ, Christ Within, the Living God, Lord, the Word, Power, True Silence, Spirit, Source, Grace, Presence, and others. All such terms are weak attempts to express the inexpressible – that which is beyond words.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Poems from Before the Monsoon The Bellagio casino glimmers above a round blue lake. Outside the Tropicana waterfalls pour over fake rocks.

On Water (March 2019)

Money and Soul Dear Friends: I have just read Pendle Hill Pamphlet #450, Pamela Haines’s “Money and Soul,” and I encourage Friends to read it. It’s based on a talk that the author gave at Intermountain Yearly Meeting in 2017 (which was published by Western Friend; see: westernfriend.org/article/money-and-soul-abridged). Haines packs much that is central to economic justice into this little pamphlet – both on the institutional/systemic and the individual levels. The latter often seems more difficult to discuss. Because of its clarity and hopeful tone, this pamphlet would be a useful resource for study groups and worship-sharing groups in all our meetings.

On Water (March 2019)

Camp Woolman Dear Friends: We are proud to be entering our fourteenth year of Camp Woolman.  Our campers play silly games, make friends, garden, backpack in diverse landscapes, learn about peace and community, and drop all pretenses to let their inner light shine through. Our community is uniquely close-knit

On Water (March 2019)

Minutes are Important I came to California and PYM over three years ago. PYM is my seventh yearly meeting. One of the delights for me of yearly meeting is wrestling with a seasoned minute brought forth by some group. Often I knew of the concern, sometimes had even agonized about the concern, but now there was a minute. Often it had passed through many hands as groups of people struggled to find the right words, the right tone, to state a truth that came from leadings of the Spirit. I have experienced the power of a feeling of Presence, of being “covered,” of feeling Spirit there in the room when we united on a minute. Also a thankfulness. My feeling that something needed to be said in the public sphere had happened. With joy, I would unite.

On Water (March 2019)

Air Travel Dear Editor: I observe faithful Quakers often desire to travel to far countries by jet to follow their leadings. Surely there is merit in this, but how does that merit weigh against the harm to our atmosphere caused by jet emissions? Air travel harms our Earth, and jet emissions will contribute to the destruction of this world, which is not ours to harm. Please be mindful in the accomplishment of leadings. Look at transportation alternatives. Work locally or remotely if possible. Finally, if you must fly, here are tips to reduce the impacts: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/climate/airplane-pollution-global-warming.html

On Water (March 2019)

Two Quaker Observers to COP24 2018 was a year of climate records. The fourth warmest year since the beginning of the industrial revolution, it featured intense drought and wildfires in western North America, a devastating hurricane season in the Southeast, unprecedented flooding in southern Asia, and continued loss of Arctic sea ice. It was also the year that the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that humanity had twelve years to stave off global climate catastrophe.

On Puzzles (April 2019)

Games for You, Perhaps Dear Friends: A few years ago, a friend of mine came to his first-ever Quaker Meeting. Salim is an Indian actor, a Sufi, a Reiki master. I was nervous in case the ministry didn’t speak to him. But he came out of that meeting having loved the silence and feeling that the ministry had flowed organically from it. “But,” he said, “you’re all so incredibly serious. What you need is a Quaker mirthquake.”

On Puzzles (April 2019)

Warner Mifflin, Unflinching Quaker Abolitionist (review) In Warner Mifflin, Unflinching Quaker Abolitionist, Professor Gary B. Nash brings to life a long-neglected leader of the Quaker abolitionist movement. Although largely unknown to historians and scholars, Mifflin was known and admired by his contemporaries – including such prominent figures as Washington, Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson – who saw in him a tireless and premiere legislative lobbyist who worked at the local, state, and federal levels for the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery.

On Puzzles (April 2019)