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Two Quakers Living with the Military We are two Quaker women who raised our families in towns dominated by the U.S. military. Rather than shun the military and look away, we have lived our witness amidst strong military presences. One thing about being in a military town is that you can’t look away from how big a machine the military is. Each of us found that it was hard to raise a Quaker family in a community with a tiny Quaker presence and a huge military presence. It was hard for our children to find peer support with so few Friends in town. [pullquote]The military has certainly created plenty of occasions for us to talk about our testimonies and our practices in the face of headwinds.[/pullquote] Both of us have found that our situations have actually helped strengthen our faith, since we often have to live our witness when sustained by faith alone.

On Place (May 2022)

On Normality Elizabeth Fry, the “Angel of Prisons,” would pray, “Oh Lord, may I be directed what to do and what to leave undone.” As it turned out, Fry had done quite a lot by the time her life ended in 1845 – prison reform, social reform, education reform, philanthropy – had done so much and so well that her portrait is now on the British £5 note. Fry was aware of her own growing notoriety in her day. She wrote in her journal in 1817, “Newgate Prison and myself are becoming quite a show, which is a very serious thing. I believe that it certainly does much good to the cause [of prison reform] in spreading amongst all ranks of society a considerable interest in the subject, also a knowledge of the Society of Friends and of their principles.”

On Normality (July 2022)

Toward a Life-Centered Economy (review) Inspired – simply put, this is the feeling I’m left with after reading Toward a Life-Centered Economy. This volume is the twelfth “focus book” from The Quaker Institute for the Future, a spirit-lead research organization working to “envision a global future in which humanity is in right relationship with the commonwealth of life.” The book explores the mindset of unlimited growth, which drives our current global economic system, along with the impending repercussions of that mindset on our global ecosystem. Further, this book spells out the inability of our ecosystem to support our current intense patterns of human consumption, and it offers advice about what we can do to change humanity’s impact.

On Science (November 2022)

Elizabeth Gurney Fry: A Quaker Mess

Friends are doing a lot of reevaluation these days, reexamining our past and our venerable Quaker ancestors. In some cases, when moral inconsistencies emerge into the open, reexamination means that some iconic Friends are losing their luster. In other cases, stories of early Friends’ messy lives help us to see their humanity, which can lend greater depth and nuance to their spiritual writings. This happened for me when I read Chad Thralls’ May 2011 article in Friends Journal on the “embodied” life of Thomas Kelly. Learning how Kelly confronted his inner demons through surrender to Spirit increased my appreciation of his lyrical testimony.

On Conflict (January 2023)

Martyrs for Conscience’s Sake “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” These words were written by Lord Acton in 1887. Throughout the ages, we have seen this: When autocrats exercise power corruptly, heroic persons stand up to challenge them. This essay is a brief history of just a few of the countless individuals who have spoken truth to power over the past 2500 years and who sacrificed their lives for it. Let us not forget them.

On Loss (May 2023)

Life Cycle of a Quaker Meeting The lessons we learn from accompanying people as they die can help inform our understanding of the care that Quaker meetings need as they change and age. While closure is an expected and important part of any life, including the life of a meeting, in our youth-focused culture, it can be hard to tend this part of our life cycle. We believe that Quakers are missing some important opportunities for deep spiritual experiences and growth when we don’t address these challenges. Here, we will consider what it might mean to tend the Spirit and the spiritual life of a meeting that is in the later stages of its life.

On Loss (May 2023)

Spiritually Clean – A Social Laundromat Ministry For a few years, San Francisco Quaker meeting has been meeting Christ outside its doors, literally. The voiceless, forgotten, and politically marginalized gather outside our building to seek refuge. We welcome them to service on Sundays, make sandwiches and food, and charge their phones on Fridays, and that’s all needed. Another quiet ministry is the washing of laundry – which a few Friends take back to their places to wash and return.

On Dignity (July 2023)

The Flint and Light of Respect This is a testimony to the value and differences of Quaker and Indigenous ways of respect as I know them. Quaker testimonies were taught to me through words and light. Indigenous teachings were relayed with the spark of truth and few, if any, words. I find it difficult to use words to describe the latter, but I will try because I was asked to do so.

On Dignity (July 2023)

Meeting at the Corner of Wisdom and Power (abridged) Meeting at the Corner of Wisdom and Power: Intergenerational Presentation to North Pacific Yearly Meeting; July 9, 2023; Western Oregon University, Monmouth, Oregon

On Healers (September 2023)

On Healers By their nature, living creatures seek nourishment and try to avoid pain. Each one of us comes up with our own strategies here. Most of us start with “The Way of My People.” After that, each of us comes up with our own odd twists on how we do things.

On Healers (September 2023)