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NPYM Faith & Practice in Uganda Dear Friends: At the rise of meeting in Olympia this past Sunday [May 6], I heard from David Albert that our recently published NPYM Faith & Practice is being used by a newly formed worship group in eastern Uganda. By report, the Ugandans find it a valuable guide in their formation as Friends. I’m astonished and delighted.

On Bosses (July 2018)

God, The Father Oh, Apparition! I sit, head in hands, Struggling with the personhood of God.

On Bosses (July 2018)

Primitive Quakerism Revived (review) The path of spiritual growth has few shortcuts. In fact, the path is often uncertain, as if you were hiking at night on a narrow trail without a flashlight. Paul Buckley, in Primitive Quakerism Revived, challenges any timid pace we might take in our transformation – as individuals and as religious communities. He writes, “This book calls on Quakers today to . . . repossess the essential principles that energized and strengthened [seventeenth-century] Friends of Truth, to apply those principles to the various societies and cultures we live in around the world, and, once again, to be patterns and examples to our neighbors.”

On Bosses (July 2018)

Revitalize Unions Dear Editor: Regarding Kiernan Colby’s article in the July/August issue, “Unite for Dignity and Respect,” I want to bring to Friends’ attention successful organizing in Missouri over the last year. The Missouri campaign mobilized over 300,100 people to sign petitions to put an initiative on the ballot to block implementation of “right-to-work” legislation in the state. Union members then knocked on thousands of doors, engaged in one-on-one conversations across the state, and successfully mobilized voters to pass the initiative at the polls on August 7, thus turning back efforts in Missouri to gut private-sector unions.

On Children (September 2018)

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)

White + “There’s nothing wrong with dating a black guy,” blonde-haired, blue-eyed Julie Boyle said to her friends in our seventh-grade classroom. “My cousin is dating one, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

On Mixture (November 2018)

The Strengthening Power of Discomfort A friend of mine bicycled 2,700 miles this summer along the Continental Divide. In an article she wrote for the Fairbanks Daily News Miner (8/12/2018), she said, “When doing endurance races, I have a question I ask myself when I want to quit: ‘Am I in danger or just uncomfortable?’ If I’m just uncomfortable, I tell myself to keep going. Things will get better. And they usually do.”

On Mixture (November 2018)

Our Racism Dear Editor: From cover to cover, the September/October 2018 edition of Western Friend made plain the grievous suffering caused by racism. Our racism.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Insufficient Awe Dear Friends: I’ve come to think of the phrase “save the planet” as the ultimate in hubris. Do we know what the planet actually is, this roughly spherical celestial object that is 24,000 miles in circumference, spinning at 1,000 miles per hour, orbiting the Sun? The planet we call Earth has a molten layer just below the surface that occasionally comes to the surface in the form of lava that destroys everything in its path as it creates new land masses or erupts suddenly with boulders flung hundreds of feet upward. Huge chunks of land mass are moving around on the surface, creating mountains, sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly with violent movements that shake everything to the point of collapse. The surface is largely covered by huge bodies of water that are moved by the tremendous force of the Moon’s gravity eight or more feet up and back twice a day. The planet is surrounded by a layer of gases that are the right mix to support our particular life form, but the movements can be so powerful as to blow over trees and hurl water against the land. And then there is the planet’s timescale. At one time dinosaurs lived on the surface of the planet, and then they and most other creatures were entirely wiped out. Sixty-six million years later, here we are, with our “ancient” history three thousand years ago.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Gun Control and/or Civil War? It is currently popular to call for “gun control” in the United States, especially in the wake of senseless mass shootings that have rocked the nation. However, most proposed “gun control” legislation has at its center the punishment of blameless people for the violent acts of a few. That is, these measures restrict or prohibit gun availability to citizens who have broken no laws, have harmed no one, and have merely exercised their rights under the Constitution to buy and own weapons. Promoters of strict “gun control” often seem to vilify gun owners as a sub-class of humans who do not merit recognition, rights, or respect. This polarizing attitude makes effective communication almost impossible.

On Weapons (January 2019)