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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)

A Vision from 2050 Thirty years ago this spring, we faced a global pandemic. Over the course of just a few weeks, all of our schools shut down, restaurants and bars closed, movie theaters went dark, and tens of thousands of businesses were shuttered because of a contagious virus. We watched real-life horror stories: people dying in hospital hallways, morgues beyond capacity, and a health care system completely unequipped to meet the needs of working doctors and nurses. The formal economy tanked.

On Wealth (May 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)

“That of God” Within As a practicing Jew who has worshipped with Quakers for the past thirty years, I have deeply appreciated the fundamental belief that every person has “that of God” within. Both Judaism and Quakerism assert that all persons are made in the divine image. Quakers try to see God, or godliness, or goodness, in others, even in the most difficult human interactions. But my most recent reading of the Hebrew Bible has challenged me to discover a new formulation, which I want to explore here.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Secret Sauce Sometimes, “our world needs us to share secret delights and the secret recipes that feed our souls. This special soul food is ‘a revealing, guiding and discerning aspect of God’s presence within,’” says Doug Gwyn in Words in Time, Sink Down to the Seed (1996).

On Secrets (July 2020)

Engaged Mysticism Dear Editor: Thich Nhat Hahn’s Engaged Buddhism offers a worthy moment of reflection on the notion that Buddhist practice is “merely to be” (“From the Editor’s Desk,” May/June 2020). There are innumerable stories of Buddhist “responsiveness” from Maha Ghosananda’s engagement of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to the enduring presence of Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns at the School of the America’s vigils at Ft. Benning, Georgia; from the epic nonviolent resistance to Chinese occupation in Tibet to anti-nuclear and anti-war vigils around the world. The list goes on. . . One of the Bodhisattva vows is to end suffering, even as suffering is never ending.

On Secrets (July 2020)

No Map to Sustainability (1) Dear Editor: The article by William Ashworth of Ashland, OR, in the May/June 2020 Western Friend is a perfect example of righteous, individual fossil fuel purity that judges the rest of us gas users as sinners. No analysis on how we transition to get whole society off fossil fuels. No accounting for all the fossil fuels that went into making his Chevy Bolt EV.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Worship by Approximation Calm your mind. Breathe. Take a deep breath. Let it out. What’s on my shopping list? Breathe. Take a deep breath. What’s going on in the world? Is my family okay? Breathe. Take a deep breath.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Santa Fe Friends House Dear Editor: In response to Tyger Wright’s letter, “Growth Versus Preservation,” July/August 2020, I must express my distress at the impression it leaves that Friends in Santa Fe are insensitive to Quaker values and our inheritance from our beloved Olive Rush. As a visitor to our Meeting, Wright can be forgiven for not understanding the larger context, but our situation is far more complex than the “either/or” choice implied in her letter. The Meeting has struggled with this issue for four decades; the resulting divisions continue to cost us a great deal.

On Teachers (September 2020)

2050 Predictions (1) Dear Editor: I came away from Hayley Hathaway’s upbeat “A Vision of 2050” in the May/June issue thinking, “Sounds great, but does she really believe in what she says here? Or is this just forced hopefulness, so your readers do not despair, facing not just the present, but the future, too?” Sleeping on it, I realized that most 2050 predictions are negative – to be honest to the “facts,” but also to motivate us.  ~~~

On Teachers (September 2020)