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In a Quaker Minute Most people know several different ways for drawing a large group of people to a decision. I’ve experienced many: Robert’s Rules, the Lakota talking circle, the old-fashioned town-hall meeting, the top-down company-wide memo, a method I’ll call “spokes and wheels,” as well as Quaker meeting for business. These give us “outward forms” for grappling with messy social processes. None of them are sacred, although the sacred may work through them. Do I think some methods excel above others? Yes. Do I think we should change Quaker process? No! However, if I could change one thing in the Quaker mind it would be the errant belief that, in order to be good process, it must proceed at a glacial pace.

On Relevance (March 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)

Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries (review) An engaging 2018 documentary film, Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries, provides a useful overview of Quaker history from an activist perspective. Thanks to PBS, it has been broadcast to over 250,000 households in the U.S. Director-producer Janet Gardner, Cinematographer Kevin Clouthier, Consultant Richard Nurse, and others on this team deserve kudos for their efforts to make Quaker history come alive. This documentary is intended for a popular audience and is spreading the Quaker message where it most needs to be heard.

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)

Delights and Downfalls with Words I admit it, I’m a word nerd. I grew up with Scrabble and Boggle, then progressed to New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles. At one point, I even wrote my own twelve-page dictionary of invented, adapted, and deliberately mangled words and meanings.

On Words (November 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)

Calls to the Annual Sessions 2022 [The following texts were abridged from the originals, which are available at: https://westernfriend.org/calls-annual-sessions-2022 ]

On Alternatives (March 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)

2022 Calls to the Annual Sessions [The following texts were abridged from the originals, which are available at: https://westernfriend.org/calls-annual-sessions-2022 ]

On Place (May 2022)