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Offensive Dear Editor: Since I first went to sub-Saharan African in 1964, I have often had to respond to negative and derogatory comments about Black Africa. For example, I have twice complained to Quaker publications where, in the captions for pictures, they gave the names of the White Americans but not of the Black Africans in the same picture. The greatest transgression is what I call African porn – using this definition of pornography: “the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.” This is often extremely humiliating pictures of poor, starving Africans, frequently children. 

On Mixture (November 2018)

Win-Win-Win-Wins Not long into the COVID-19 lockdown of April 2020, I attended a video-conference headlined by Dahni Jones, an entrepreneur and former NFL linebacker. Jones brought his trademark energy and smile to his presentation, and he left me with a singular thought: “Don’t count the days; make the days count.”

On Rules (November 2020)

If Animals Could Talk When I was a child I loved the cuddliness and innocence of animals, and I wished they could talk. A grownup and activist now, I look for ways to use art to awaken our empathy with the natural world and to increase our climate-change consciousness. As an artist and writer, I know what fun it can be to combine pictures and text. So when my Friends Meeting in Santa Cruz put out a call for adults to share their skills with children in the First Day School, I offered a project called “If Animals Could Talk.”  

On Consumption (May 2013)

Not by Our Strength Alone - Unabridged Not by My Strength Alone: Laboring Together Beyond Our Comfort Zones

On Love (September 2013)

Playing Violent Games in Peace In his recent article, “ISIS’s Call of Duty,” Jay Caspian Kang describes similarities between ISIS recruitment films and first-person-shooter games – similarities that are likely intentional (The New Yorker, September 18, 2014). Kang’s article is one of many that play into a larger debate about the role of violent videogames and other violent media in our culture. This debate has continued unresolved for decades, and both sides often succumb to strong emotions and hyperbolic statements. I feel this leads to a shutdown in communication between groups, and that is the issue I would like to address in this article.

On Temptation (November 2014)

Truth and Truth and Truth I straddle two worlds. My scientific family and studies have given me a close-up view of the scientific endeavor. Its work, driven by curiosity and belief in logical methods, and conducted with an obedience to truthfulness, have inspired me to incorporate science ideas and images into my art since 1967. My other world is that of a practicing Quaker. Through my engagement with Quaker service work and through a stunning experience of the Inner Light that I had half a lifetime ago, I am moving toward an amplified view of how to be in the world.

On Knowing (March 2015)

Faith and Sewage Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi (translated into English in 1993) has been my theme book for years. While it was written with toilet trainees and their eager caregivers in mind, I have other reasons to display the book prominently in my office. I work for a program in our local health department, the program that monitors water quality in streams, lakes, and groundwater, the program responsible for ensuring that the septic systems in our county are adequately treating the sewage that flows through them. That’s where “everyone poops” comes in.

On Garbage (November 2017)