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Deep Hope in Optimystical Times (abridged) For decades, I’ve been talking publicly about the gathering catastrophes of climate change and social injustice, and about the decline of the Society of Friends. Sounds pretty gloomy, I know. My day job as a palliative care chaplain at a large urban hospital entails sitting at the feet of those very powerful teachers named in Buddhist tradition: old age, sickness, and death.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Positively Quaker My smartphone bristles with news every day. I mostly ignore it, knowing the news items trend toward the sensational and quirky, not balanced reporting. But recently, the words “Toxic Positivity” appeared as a headline, and that got me to thinking.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Mountain Time Edifice of rock and ice born of molten silicates       thrust from below the earth’s rocky skin, built of clouds of rock ash and rivers of liquid stone, patiently etched by streams of ice fed by winter storms.

On Science (November 2022)

Toward a Science of Nonviolent Action [The original version of this article, with footnotes and more detail, is published online at: westernfriend.org/media/toward-science-nonviolent-action-unabridged]

On Science (November 2022)

Palestine, October 2022 As we have done before, my wife Janet and I traveled recently in Palestine. We joined a two-week journey in October with the British organization Quaker Voluntary Action. [pullquote]We visited Tel Aviv, Jifna (a small village near Ramallah in the West Bank), and Jerusalem.[/pullquote] As a group of eleven, we visited a settlement, harvested olives, roamed the Old City in Jerusalem, visited Ramallah Friends School, shared meeting for worship twice at Ramallah Friends Meeting, and – in worship and conversation – faced the predicament of this “much too promised land,” as Aaron David Miller has described it.

On Conflict (January 2023)

The Commodification of Quakers Quakers of the early 1800s would not have approved of the flamboyant lifestyle of the poet Lord Byron. But they might have approved of his poem “To a Beautiful Quaker” (1806), in which he associates Quakers with the attributes of peace and virtue. And although Harriet Beecher Stowe’s best-selling anti-slavery book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), was written in a genre not approved by Friends – a novel – Friends would not have objected to Stowe’s portrayal of heroic efforts by Quakers to help their fellow man. When Quakers are portrayed by others as positive role models, depending on the circumstances, such portrayals might deserve praise, sufferance, or condemnation.

On Perception (March 2023)

Quaker Losses I Would Like to See We cling to old ways, even when they inhibit our spiritual growth. Sometimes we do not remember why the old ways were put in place, which means their use has lost its validity.

On Loss (May 2023)

New Voices: Contemporary Writers . . . Holocaust (Review) New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, edited by Howard Debs and Matthew Silverman, was released this April by Vallentine Mitchell, a publisher of books in the fields of Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Holocaust studies. It is a collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from dozens of writers and poets, including Marge Piercy, Ellen Bass, Tim Seibles, and Tony Barnstone, but it is not in a strict sense an anthology. That is, the volume is not a collection of existent works, but rather a creation of new works produced together to help update our understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons.

On Loss (May 2023)