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Be Not Afraid Dear Friends: When an angel, according to biblical records, encounters a living human being, the first thing the angel says is. “Fear not!” or “Be not afraid!” or words to that effect.

On Beginning (March 2016)

Not So Fast Dear Editor: I want to thank Kat Northrup for her article, “Race and Quakerism,” in May/June 2018 Western Friend. She has articulated very well my own observations and concerns. I was struck by this comment: “[The] uncomfortable feeling of disingenuous tokenism . . . is a hard feeling to avoid, unless one is already familiar with how highly the Quaker community values honesty.” I think in this case, Northrup is letting Quakers off the hook too easily. Valuing honesty is not the same as being honest. My range of Quaker experience is limited, but I have observed many who are quick to find the mote in another’s eye and maybe slower to examine their own (sometimes unconscious) biases and motivations. I wonder sometimes if, when we speak of “diversity,” we mean we want to be with people just like us, only with different color skins. Those of us who have found a spiritual home in a Quaker faith community want to share it. But can we share it with those who do not have the same social and political concerns that we have? Can those of us who identify as Christians, as followers of the teachings of Jesus, feel comfortable talking about our relationship with God and Scripture?

On Children (September 2018)

Quaker Culture: Unity When reaching decisions in a Meeting for Business, Friends shun consensus (a secular decision, usually comprising the common acceptable part of the opinions brought by those present). Rather, Friends seek the unity which is the result of spiritual discernment of God’s leading for the group, often an unexpected decision transcending the opinions brought by those present.

On Power (March 2013)

Not Impossible Standards Dear Editor: Thanks to Sharon Doyle for her interesting and informative article in the Nov/Dec 2020 Western Friend about the evolution of the peace testimony. She walked us through centuries with a thumbnail sketch that managed to contain the essence of our inconsistencies, both successes and failures. I have a truer and humbler appreciation for our past. It strikes me that I had similar feelings after reading Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship. Somehow, I feel that I don’t have an impossible standard to live up to, that Quakers then are like Quakers now: We have some brave, insightful trail-blazers, and the rest of us are trailing along behind, finding excuses until our lack of integrity finally becomes clear, and we see the Light.

On Vision (January 2021)

On Media

Sep / Oct 2016

Work Not in Vain Lloyd Lee Wilson’s words to Pacific Yearly Meeting, July 14, 2015; Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma, California; as reported by Western Friend

On Play (September 2015)

The Media of Ministry A familiar scene: Bright morning sunlight streams in through the glass of paint-chipped windows of a Friends’ meetinghouse, a simple room filled with wooden benches and quiet people. Someone rises to speak, trembling under the weight of God’s message, embodying our long-standing nickname, “Quaker.” Then the speaker’s words set off a wave of smirking and eye-rolling: “I read in the New York Times this morning . . .” And we wonder, did this Friend really receive a message from the Inner Light about the opinion pages? Are they maybe a bit too fond of their own voice? A bit too fixated on their favorite world issue?

On Media (September 2016)