Western Friend logo

Search

A Place to Work for Peace and Justice I am new to this place, Woolman at Sierra Friends Center. I am meeting it as it is now, not as it once was, before the fire. I walk the trails and wander between the buildings, each day learning something new: where and when the deer like to cross Woolman Lane, where gophers’ paths and pipes run underground, where to stand to get cell phone reception.

On Place (May 2022)

The Life and Religious Labors of Lloyd Lee Wilson (review) To be precise, the title of this book is: Memoir of the Life and Religious Labors of Lloyd Lee Wilson, a Minister of the Gospel of the Religious Society of Friends, Particularly of North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative), to describe the workings of the Lord in the various stages of my life, showing how God is at work in all things for good, whether we perceive it so or not, and how our surrender to divine providence allows God’s work to be done in and through us for the advancement of the Realm of God.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Botany on an Endangered Planet I have spent my whole life learning about the natural world. I am a professional botanist whose career was focused for fifty-plus years on trying to use science to understand and “save” specific unusual components of our earth’s ecosystems. I have learned a lot about climate change over the many years since Al Gore published Earth in the Balance in 1992, which my life partner, Dr. Charles Avery, used as a textbook in his Northern Arizona University conservation classes.  However, in recent decades, I have become increasingly sad, frustrated, angry, and sometimes depressed that humans in general, and climate-change-deniers in particular, are threatening the health of our whole earth.

On Science (November 2022)

The Commodification of Quakers Quakers of the early 1800s would not have approved of the flamboyant lifestyle of the poet Lord Byron. But they might have approved of his poem “To a Beautiful Quaker” (1806), in which he associates Quakers with the attributes of peace and virtue. And although Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling anti-slavery book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), was written in a genre not approved by Friends – a novel – Friends would not have objected to Stowe’s portrayal of heroic efforts by Quakers to help their fellow man. When Quakers are portrayed by others as positive role models, depending on the circumstances, such portrayals might deserve praise, sufferance, or condemnation.

On Perception (March 2023)

What I’ve Been Trying to Say I believe that we may – likely do – have new Friends, especially young Friends and Friends who live isolated or far away, schooled by the pandemic years, who have never attended a Quaker meeting for worship in person, but only online. Rather than simply rejoice that they found us at all, we need to invite such newcomers to attend meeting for worship somewhere, sometime, in person.

On Loss (May 2023)

My Slaves Many listeners get the wrong idea from hearing me talk about the fact that so many of us in 2023 own child slaves in the Congo, children who are mining cobalt for our electric vehicles and coltan for our cellphones, computers, and other electronic contraptions. Upon hearing this, most American slaveholders (like me) tend to think of cruel and evil plantation masters, sole proprietors who use their slaves to enhance their personal wealth. Such ideas are based on the way cotton was raised in the South before the Civil War, then sold to mills in the North and to England. Merchants would personally buy and sell human chattel when opportunities arose or when personal economic setbacks forced them. Ancillary enterprises also benefitted, of course, like the production of manacles and chains. Slave catchers had a healthy business, too.

On Loss (May 2023)

Nuclear Waste and States Rights On March 17, 2023, the last evening of the state’s legislative session this year, the New Mexico House passed Senate Bill 53 (SB 53), sponsored by State Senator Jeff Steinborn and State Representative Matthew McQueen. This bill concerns state oversight of a private company – Holtec – and prevents state agencies from issuing permits for a “temporary” nuclear-waste storage facility in southeast New Mexico, a facility that Holtec wants to build to hold all the nation’s high-level nuclear waste, even though zero nuclear energy plants are sited in New Mexico.

On Dignity (July 2023)