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John Woolman’s Remedies for a Disease Until a century ago, the term “consumption” referred to the disease we now call tuberculosis (TB). The understanding was that the illness consumed the lungs, which was why people got a persistent cough and eventually coughed up blood. “Consumptive” people were often sent to sanatoriums in the hope of healing and to prevent the spread of the disease to others, but most died. There was no effective medical treatment until the mid-twentieth century. TB is now rare in the United States though it is still a problem in many poorer countries, including Honduras, where I live. At the same time, another type of disease called “consumption” has fully infected wealthy countries like the U.S. and is quickly spreading to other parts of the world. This is the disease of consuming too many products. I am afraid that, without adequate treatment, this illness will continue to consume individuals and societies until all good qualities in our cultures die.

On Wealth (May 2020)

A Shift in Our Priorities Dear Friends: In March, when the 2020 Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference was postponed, the planning committee was originally going to ask the plenary speakers, of whom I was one, to write something about how the topic of their plenary related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I'd been nearly constantly thinking about that –Earthcare in a time of COVID-19 – anyway.

On Wealth (May 2020)

The Messy Ethics of Giving Why do Quakers soft-pedal the importance of financial giving?  It’s true, our unprogrammed meetings don’t need as much as conventional churches since they typically lack paid staff and large buildings.  But beyond those differences, we seem to be quite uneasy in even bringing up the topic.

On Wealth (May 2020)

Staying Connected with Our Children The school year is about to begin. Parents and school districts are making decisions about what is best for children in the midst of a pandemic, anxiously weighing health risks against social and mental health benefits, deciding between distance learning and in-person, socially distanced learning. We are facing these same kinds of decisions in our Quaker meetings, as we yearn for social connection and consider our options. As we consider our adult needs and capacities, let’s also remember to ask ourselves: What are we doing to stay connected with our Quaker children and families? How are we attentive to their spiritual needs?

On Teachers (September 2020)

Daily Justice and Injustice As part of her Senior Project last spring, my granddaughter Bailey asked me to tell her my reasons for working on behalf of immigrants, migrants, and refugees. My reasons are probably similar to those of many other Friends.

On Teachers (September 2020)

A Psalm The Lord is my Prodder I want way more than I need. E pushes me down to lie in the mud. E drags me beside still waters and dunks my head. E drags me down the paths of righteousness griping and complaining for E’s sake. I cower and whimper as I walk near death. I remember with fear the evil I have done. Eu prod me with your pointy stick. Eu prepare a table where I watch my enemies eat the food I crave. Eu pour oil on me, ruining my shoes. My life will probably continue to suck. Until I say yes.

On Teachers (September 2020)

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)

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 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)

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)