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International Friends School

The International Friends School (IFS) has a guiding spirit. This spirt teaches us, ultimately, that consistent renewals of joyfulness and love provide the sturdiest framework for everything we will experience in life. The smallest acts of love and joy – pulling beets, helping someone after a bike scrape, hanging towels to dry in the sun with a friend – are meaningful. Together with other gestures, behaviors, and practices, these have the power to change the world, as they multiply and create a generation of people who are world-wise and heart-strong. This spirit is evident every day at IFS, a dynamic new school that is intentional in design, molded by Quaker testimonies and practices, and braided gently together by love and joy.

On Teachers (September 2020)

2050 Predictions (2)

My article certainly was an experiment in speculative fiction. I think that trying to create a strong, inspiring vision is one of the most important first steps in making change. Many of our movements have failed because we assumed that general support from most of the populous was enough to make big policy changes, when in fact, it’s usually a small, very dedicated, creative, and strategic group of single-minded folks that make change. I’m motivated by Sunrise Movement and how they are learning from and teaching lessons from the past, while also carrying forward their unique perspectives as young people who literally have no choice but to “Fight for our Lives.”  ~~~

On Teachers (September 2020)

Evolution of The Peace Testimony

[The following article is abridged from a more complete original text, which is available at: westernfriend.org/media/evolution-testimony.]

On Rules (November 2020)

Speaking Truth

This article has been abridged from a longer original, which can be found at: westernfriend.org/media/speaking-truth-unabridged.

On Vision (January 2021)

Not Impossible Standards

Dear Editor: Thanks to Sharon Doyle for her interesting and informative article in the Nov/Dec 2020 Western Friend about the evolution of the peace testimony. She walked us through centuries with a thumbnail sketch that managed to contain the essence of our inconsistencies, both successes and failures. I have a truer and humbler appreciation for our past. It strikes me that I had similar feelings after reading Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship. Somehow, I feel that I don’t have an impossible standard to live up to, that Quakers then are like Quakers now: We have some brave, insightful trail-blazers, and the rest of us are trailing along behind, finding excuses until our lack of integrity finally becomes clear, and we see the Light.

On Vision (January 2021)

Vaccines and Community

The coronavirus pandemic marches through its surges and plateaus, changing with congregating behavior, pandemic fatigue, and doubts about the seriousness of Covid-19 disease. At this writing in January, new virus variants are appearing with mutations that increase the efficiency of transmission, which means more deaths. The more transmission there is, the more the virus will mutate to escape immunity. The history of influenza is repeating itself. The distribution of two effective Covid-19 vaccines is far short of demand at this time. Even though production and distribution are solvable, practical problems, they are not getting the resources necessary. While cosmetics production remains at full strength in the U.S., vaccine supplies depend on imports. While the country continues to manufacture obsolete fighter jets, it has not built nursing schools to meet our pressing need for healthcare workers over the last fifty years.

On Relevance (March 2021)

The Gathered Meeting

I began my spiritual journey toward “the gathered meeting” when my wife and I visited her youngest son in Durham, North Carolina, in January, 2018. While there, we attended Durham Friends Meeting one Sunday when maybe a hundred adults and thirty-five children were present. The meeting felt settled and centered. Early in the hour, someone offered a message about how important it is for Friends to follow the Light and be gathered, and about how important it is for Friends to take those two practices out into the world. The message was matter-of-fact, stated in words that were simple and direct. Several more messages followed, all of them tagging along with the first. I could feel that people trusted one another. I could feel that something huge was happening.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Wisdom at One with the Earth

Bring into your mind the Holy, the Mystery, always within us and always around us. This Holy Mystery, I call “Christ.” I feel Christ flowing like water, blowing like wind, surrounding us, penetrating us, flowing outward from us. In this awareness, we can know that all of us belong to one another and to all creation. Now imagine that we might pivot, all together, into caring for all creation – with immediate personal and corporate action.

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)