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Please Do Not “Believe in” Science Cautious confidence in the scientific process is, I believe, the best perspective. Science is akin to continuing revelation and undermined by groupthink. However, modern science is fundamentally materialistic, and we do not live by bread alone.

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)

Steel to Flint “For the last time, I am ordering you to depart the grounds of Griffiss Air Force Base or you will be subject to arrest.” On a crisp spring morning in 1984, I came to realize – in a hands-on, hand-cuffed kind of way – that I was not just a participant in conflict; I was also its student. The tension in the air that day was as taut and clear as the bright blue line demarcating the base. I had just crossed that line, along with my nonviolent comrades, and I realized I had things to learn.

On Conflict (January 2023)

Esther This late summer we welcomed a new resident into our home. She came in through the kitchen window, where she built her own abode. The day eventually came when we needed to close the window due to excessive heat. Our guest moved from the opening to the inside of the sliding panel. She incorporated the curtain and a bit of the houseplant on the windowsill into her dwelling-place, which is an edifice of beauty. We call her Esther.

On Conflict (January 2023)

Russian Peacemakers

Friends: To be a peacemaker in Russia today is to open yourself to charges of treason.  Despite the mass arrests and the constant dangers of even saying that there is a war, good men and women in Russia do stand up for their beliefs. With amazing courage and sly creativity many are finding ways to say, “No to War,” and “No to Putin.”

On Conflict (January 2023)

Racism & Militarism in U.S. Foreign Policy Dear Friends: I want to highly recommend a new discussion paper, “Dismantling Racism and Militarism in U.S. Foreign Policy,” recently published by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. It does an excellent job challenging the present paradigm of Racism and Militarism in the U.S., shares a possible new paradigm, and explores how we can get from here to there.

On Conflict (January 2023)

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (review) I can almost guarantee that there will be some parts of this book that you won’t like. This is especially true of the agricultural policies Bill Gates promotes and his advocacy of nuclear power to generate electricity. You may be, as I am, appalled by his great wealth. As Bernie Sanders says, it is obscene. But this book is so valuable that I ask you to look past those difficulties and see within Bill Gates a person with That of God within him. His philanthropic work shows that he listens to that Voice. It has given him a heart for the poor. An essential part of his plan is to encourage economic growth in poor countries. “It would be immoral and impractical to try to stop people who are lower on the economic ladder from climbing up.” Economic development in these countries would increase greenhouse gas emissions. That is part of the reason Gates sees innovation as essential.

On Conflict (January 2023)

Messages to Meetings (review) For Christians, epistolary writing (letter writing) dates back to the Apostles and early church fathers, who visited fledgling Christian communities to offer support, encouragement, and correction, which they later continued by way of writing. In like manner, Brian Drayton, a traveling Quaker minister, has written letters to Quaker meetings he has served. He explains that he wrote these out of a sense of “unfinished business” and “motions of love.” Messages to Meetings is a collection of some of these letters, some relevant blog posts, and even notes from some of Drayton’s vocal ministry.

On Conflict (January 2023)

Friendly Leadership (review) Donn Weinholtz’s practical new book, Friendly Leadership: Humanely Influencing Others, connects Quaker values with research on how organizations function (or don’t). In it, Weinholtz shows ways for Friends to bring their Quaker spiritual practices into the secular mix as well as in service to their Quaker meetings.

On Conflict (January 2023)