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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)

Listening for the Yearly Epistle “We’re not really watching,” said a member of the Watching Committee several years ago.  “What we’re really doing is listening.” Not only was the term “listening” more accurate in describing the work of composing an epistle for our yearly meeting, it also struck a friendlier chord. Earlier generations of Friends no doubt had good reasons for the names they chose, but for us “Watching Committee” suggested an oppressive sense of authority as in “Big Brother is watching you.” So, we proposed, and Intermountain Yearly Meeting later approved, the name change to “Listening Committee.”

On Words (November 2021)

Quaker Ancestors Dear Editor: In your essay on Puritans and Quakers in the Sept/Oct 2021 Western Friend, we noticed the name of William Leddra, who was hanged on Boston Common. Leddra’s story is part of our family history. Robert Harper and his wife, Deborah Perry, are our 8th great grandparents and founders of Sandwich Meeting. As Christianity.com reports, “Robert was a prominent Quaker [in Sandwich, MA] who caught William’s body under the scaffold when the hangman cut it down. For this sign of respect toward his dead friend, Robert and his wife, were banished. Another Quaker, Edward Wharton, helped bury the body. Shortly after William’s death, King Charles II put a stop to the executions.” Robert and Deborah were also flogged for this deed. We learned this story from genealogy research in Cape Cod.

On Words (November 2021)

The Depth of Our Belonging (review) Many people educated in the rational laws of Newtonian physics have difficulty accepting mysticism or even the concept of God. Although Mary Conrow Coelho was raised in an environment of Quaker mysticism, she found no place for that outlook in the materialistic (pre-quantum) science degree she pursued in college. Nevertheless, she continued her exploration of religion in general and mysticism in particular until she discovered the newer quantum physics, which offered her a way to reconcile the two realities of her life – the external/materialistic and the internal/mystic.

On Words (November 2021)

Alternatives to Childbearing John’s son, Adam, spoke glowingly of his father at John’s memorial service. Adam and his sibling were adopted when they were small. Adam knew what his life would have been like if they hadn’t been taken away by social services from their alcoholic mother.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (3) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)