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A Personal History with Korea

Like many Friends, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in my youth. The Peace Corps Act includes three goals for volunteers: do a job, introduce host country locals to a U.S. young person (usually young), and bring an awareness of the host country’s culture and history back to the U.S. Of those three goals, far and away the most difficult has been that last one. Family and friends typically enjoy hearing a few stories, seeing a few pictures (even a slide show back in the day), but any in-depth thinking about the volunteer’s host country is rare. I’ve used a number of venues to talk about my host country, Korea. Now, with the current political situation, I feel again the need to share my thoughts and what I’ve learned over the years. This is a task made much more difficult by the strongly negative portrayal of the northern part of Korea today. [pullquote]Please notice that I will not use the terms “North Korea” and “South Korea,” as no countries exist with those names.[/pullquote]

On Puzzles (May 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 (May 2019)

Black. Christian. Anarchist.

I am an African American whose encounter with God is more an attitude than belief system, a certain swagger and daring in the face of what black liberation theologian James Cone would refer to as “obvious failure.” By all quantitative standards, the post-Reconstruction experience of African Americans would meet the definition of failure. Today, the median wealth of single Black women is – prepare yourself – five dollars. In San Francisco, African Americans are only five percent of the population. If all religious practice is a response to a set of particular historical circumstances what can speak to this collective misery? The African American religious experience is ultimately about the quest for freedom and self-determination.

On Control (July 2019)

The Fancy Sunday Hat

We have one Friend in our Quaker meeting who often comes to worship in a highly-colored and carefully put-together outfit, including an ornate Sunday hat. This is unusual for an unprogrammed meeting.

On Art (March 2020)

Peace through Pieces

Several years ago, a co-worker gave me a little book entitled Things I Learned about God from Quilting. I laughed, and thought I could have written this book. So, here are a few of the things I’ve learned and a story or two.

On Art (March 2020)

Racism, Housing, and Cities

Eight years ago, I married Jill Shook, a housing justice advocate and Evangelical Christian who loves Jesus and justice. She also loves Quakers and attends Orange Grove Meeting (and the Methodist Church). The more I walk or drive around Pasadena with her, the more I see a side of this city that I never even imagined before. I have come to see the “secret life” of this city – how housing policies determine where and how homes are built and businesses are situated. Cities don’t just happen, they are created and shaped by policy makers with values that are often colored by classism, xenophobia, and racism.

On Secrets (July 2020)