Western Friend logo

Search

A search result that is a person’s name followed by “(person)” often links to a list of articles written by that person.

Serve The Land Words transmit ideas. Ideas found in sacred writings lead to ideals, and ideals lead to actions. I began life within faith traditions that venerate the Bible as the source for seeking and understanding God’s will. I’ve found some truth by that approach; but . . . have you ever read the Bible? It can be confusing, a confounding muddle, capable of twisting one’s mind into a tangled mess. And yet, there are also moments when Spirit opens a window on something profound. That’s what happened when I began examining context surrounding one small Hebrew word that’s written “abad” in the English alphabet. This word appears 290 times in the Old Testament, and mostly gets translated into English as “serve.” I came to realize that translations had short-circuited an ancient ideal that we need right now.

On Words (November 2021)

Dwelling in Truth and Trusting Divine Spirit I would like to start by unpacking a word that for some people is a terrible hurdle and that is the word, “Christ.” Let’s go back to the original meaning of that word.

On Neighbors (September 2019)

Black. Christian. Anarchist. I am an African American whose encounter with God is more an attitude than belief system, a certain swagger and daring in the face of what black liberation theologian James Cone would refer to as “obvious failure.” By all quantitative standards, the post-Reconstruction experience of African Americans would meet the definition of failure. Today, the median wealth of single Black women is – prepare yourself – five dollars. In San Francisco, African Americans are only five percent of the population. If all religious practice is a response to a set of particular historical circumstances what can speak to this collective misery? The African American religious experience is ultimately about the quest for freedom and self-determination.

On Control (July 2019)

Get Out of the Way Multnomah Monthly Meeting in Portland, Oregon, has a reputation of being one of the “more liberal” Quaker meetings. This is Portland, after all. There’s plenty of action and donations of money in the meeting around climate change, immigrant rights, and many other worthy social-justice causes. But when it comes to action around supporting Black Lives, there seems to be a hesitancy.

On Rules (November 2020)

Look into their Faces Surely life is more than waiting at the center of a wheel of fortune that spins and stops repeatedly to point out countless causes and concerns. Finish one task and then hang on as the wheel spins and points out the next one. Will it be immigration, prison reform, nuclear disarmament, climate change, indigenous rights, racism and white privilege, or . . . ? This inner image of a spinning wheel reflects how my life can feel these days – juggling and shuttling among various tasks and commitments.

On Balance (May 2017)

On Control “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to Adam to see what he would name them; and whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2:19)

On Control (July 2019)

Creating out of Silence and Light In the late 1960s, a researcher named Frank Barron explored the relationship of religion and creativity and whether being religious and/or spiritual had an effect on the artist. He interviewed Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and a Hindu, as well as a number of others. The interviews were quite straightforward until he talked about the Quaker artist. His writing about this artist took a different turn. It was as if he was stopped in his tracks and felt a different tone in this interview. Reading the interview was like reading a hush or silence or something that was going deeper in its connections. He says, “She spoke of the Quaker silences. She thinks everyone should be silent at special times. . . [She] was quite unusual in bearing and demeanor, and in her manner of talking. She spoke in a very low and even tone, and everything she said seemed to come up from depths. She was completely lacking in social front.” (Frank Barron, 1968)

On Alternatives (March 2022)