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Mary Dyer’s Hymn (2nd review) As ever, Stan Searl’s poems are a glory, a pleasure, and an incantation, whether he hymns in praise of God or records one man’s heartfelt, sometimes agonizing love for his child. This volume, however, goes further and is a history lesson as well. The benign version of Puritans, which some of us learned in childhood, is overwhelmed by the facts we confront in these poems, as we watch the Puritans hang Mary Dyer and drive other colonists and Native Americans to their deaths.

On Art (March 2020)

Quaker Culture: Simplicity Simplicity does not mean that all conform to uniform standards. . .  The call to each is to abandon those things that clutter his life and to press toward the goal unhampered. This is true simplicity. Friends are watchful to keep themselves free from self-indulgent habits, luxurious ways of living and the bondage of fashion. . . But this does not mean that all life is to be poor and bare, destitute of joy and beauty. . . Simplicity, when it removes encumbering details, makes for beauty in music, in art, and in living.

On Art (March 2020)

The Devil is Down in the Dumps Dear Editor: Elizabeth Boardman’s piece in the March/April issue has given me great joy. Her article, “The Fancy Sunday Hat,” takes me back to my own childhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. At age four or five, I learned a song in our Methodist Church Sunday School that has served me well through almost nine decades.

On Wealth (May 2020)

“That of God” Within As a practicing Jew who has worshipped with Quakers for the past thirty years, I have deeply appreciated the fundamental belief that every person has “that of God” within. Both Judaism and Quakerism assert that all persons are made in the divine image. Quakers try to see God, or godliness, or goodness, in others, even in the most difficult human interactions. But my most recent reading of the Hebrew Bible has challenged me to discover a new formulation, which I want to explore here.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Worship by Approximation Calm your mind. Breathe. Take a deep breath. Let it out. What’s on my shopping list? Breathe. Take a deep breath. What’s going on in the world? Is my family okay? Breathe. Take a deep breath.

On Secrets (July 2020)

On Secrets Humans cannot actually view reality from a god’s-eye perspective, despite all the scriptures that have been written by some to help direct others in the name of God. At most, humans can intuit glimmers of insights that might align with a god’s-eye view. Consider the lilies of the field. The god’s-eye view continuously perceives and cherishes the individual agency of each and every creature in the cosmos, animate and inanimate. The god’s-eye view honors the spider in the corner and says, “There You are,” and traps it and releases it, rather than just squishing it. The spider has its own honor and agency, as much as it has its own role in the order of our planet.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Liturgies of Empire, Liturgies of Resistance (abridged) [The following text was drawn from a complete transcript of C. Wess Daniels’s keynote talk, which is published at: https://westernfriend.org/media/liturgies-empire-and-resistance]

On Teachers (September 2020)

A Psalm The Lord is my Prodder I want way more than I need. E pushes me down to lie in the mud. E drags me beside still waters and dunks my head. E drags me down the paths of righteousness griping and complaining for E’s sake. I cower and whimper as I walk near death. I remember with fear the evil I have done. Eu prod me with your pointy stick. Eu prepare a table where I watch my enemies eat the food I crave. Eu pour oil on me, ruining my shoes. My life will probably continue to suck. Until I say yes.

On Teachers (September 2020)