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Friends and Toxic Conformity Dear Friends: We gaped as almost 100 congressmen, state attorneys general, and governors signed an amicus brief to a futile lawsuit in Texas, attempting to monkey wrench the recent presidential election. A recent radio piece on NPR, “A Conspiracy of Silence” (Hidden Brain, 12/6/2020), put forth an explanation: Being social creatures, every one of us has to “go along to get along” at times.

On Vision (January 2021)

An Unfinished Revolution [This text has been excerpted from the author’s upcoming book, An Unfinished Revolution: Edna Buckman Kearns and the Struggle for Women’s Rights (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2021).]  

On Relevance (March 2021)

Interested and Hopeful at 100 Dear Editor: I want you to know how much I enjoy Western Friend – the Jan/Feb 2021 issue is particularly good, with some very interesting articles, such as the one on Friends House Moscow. I am about to celebrate my 100th birthday, so it’s wonderful reading hopeful articles, such as “Cassandra” and “Bunnytown.” Anyway, Western Friend is a great READ.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Small Steps toward Climate Justice Dear Friends: Thanks to Shelly Tanenbaum, Kathy Barnhart, and Rick Herbert for their Western Friend article (Jan/Feb 2021) on their role in encouraging University of California’s divestment from fossil fuel companies. I appreciate their Quaker modesty about their role and about what divestment can do. By itself, divestment cannot bring Exxon, Chevron, Shell, & Company to their knees, but . . . “small steps,” as some Friends say. 

On Relevance (March 2021)

Across the Generational Divide Dear Editor: In response to Rebekah Percy’s article in your Jan/Feb 2021 issue, I will start by saying that every generation faces challenges which seem daunting. Future challenges, remaining to be withstood, will always look more daunting than past problems that have been resolved, even if they have only been resolved in ways that have kicked the can down the road.

On Relevance (March 2021)

The Show Goes Wrong The show goes wrong. This is my mantra as a pastor. My congregants hear me say it a lot, and it’s usually followed by a laugh. It’s not something I came up with myself. I give credit to Andy Dwyer, a character from the sitcom Parks and Rec. His “incorrect” version of “the show must go on” is actually far better than the original. His version is one to live by. I do not think there could be a more fitting maxim for a new pastor in the throes of a pandemic.

On Tricks (May 2021)

Thanks to a Friend of Moscow Dear Editor: I loved the article by Julie Harlow in the March/April issue of Western Friend. She really touched my heart with her honesty, commitment, and vision for authentic Quakerism. Like Julie, I was deeply involved in Soviet-American reconciliation work in the 1980s. I got to know Julie when she was taking groups of Friends from PacYM to the Soviet Union to build friendships and get to know our “enemy” as part of the citizen diplomacy movement. I felt our citizen diplomacy work helped to end the Cold War. Julie continued to follow her calling to be a Friendly presence for those in Russia who are drawn to Quakerism. Over the years, she has done amazing work through her faithfulness to her leading. I thank God for her!

On Tricks (May 2021)

Bitcoin: A Consideration for Friends In 1779, Quaker abolitionist Warner Mifflin wrote and circulated a tract that was both thoughtful and provocative: “Statement Concerning His Refusal to Use and Circulate Continental Currency.” (A copy of this tract can be found today in the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College.)

On Debt (July 2021)