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A Shift in Our Priorities Dear Friends: In March, when the 2020 Pacific Northwest Quaker Women's Theology Conference was postponed, the planning committee was originally going to ask the plenary speakers, of whom I was one, to write something about how the topic of their plenary related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I'd been nearly constantly thinking about that –Earthcare in a time of COVID-19 – anyway.

On Wealth (May 2020)

Racism, Housing, and Cities Eight years ago, I married Jill Shook, a housing justice advocate and Evangelical Christian who loves Jesus and justice. She also loves Quakers and attends Orange Grove Meeting (and the Methodist Church). The more I walk or drive around Pasadena with her, the more I see a side of this city that I never even imagined before. I have come to see the “secret life” of this city – how housing policies determine where and how homes are built and businesses are situated. Cities don’t just happen, they are created and shaped by policy makers with values that are often colored by classism, xenophobia, and racism.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Disclosures and Wonder Recently, I joined a new group on social media and was asked to introduce myself, to say a bit about where I was from, and to share a little-known fact about myself. Immediately, I started sorting through personal details. Should I pick something big – share about my family, say, or my work? Or open with something small – my favorite ice cream flavor?

On Secrets (July 2020)

Engaged Mysticism Dear Editor: Thich Nhat Hahn’s Engaged Buddhism offers a worthy moment of reflection on the notion that Buddhist practice is “merely to be” (“From the Editor’s Desk,” May/June 2020). There are innumerable stories of Buddhist “responsiveness” from Maha Ghosananda’s engagement of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to the enduring presence of Japanese Buddhist monks and nuns at the School of the America’s vigils at Ft. Benning, Georgia; from the epic nonviolent resistance to Chinese occupation in Tibet to anti-nuclear and anti-war vigils around the world. The list goes on. . . One of the Bodhisattva vows is to end suffering, even as suffering is never ending.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Resisting Empire (review) Revelation is probably most the polarizing book of the Bible. Continually refashioned and remixed to support countless views crossing over from religious to political, Revelation is a text that is tempting to avoid confronting directly.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Radical Vulnerability Revisited In moving from Claremont to Los Angeles this year, one of the hardest transitions has been to try to get used to the little signs that my new neighbors post in front of their houses: PROTECTED BY XXX SECURITY SYSTEM – ARMED RESPONSE. After ten months, I still flinch each time I see these signs. They weigh on my heart as constant reminders that we don’t quite trust each other, that we’re not quite ready to be in community.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Friendly Spousal Abuse (2) Dear Editor: The author of “Secrets in the Friendly Home” describes a life uncannily like the one would still be living without a late-life separation and divorce.

On Teachers (September 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)

Quaker Worship and Intentional Design The best college class I ever took was called “Design” and was offered by the Art Department at the University of Oregon during the summer of 1967. There were two sections. One section had a textbook, and studied things like color theory and perspective. By some lucky chance I ended up in the other section, taught by Dr. Stannard, a gifted artist and potter of worldwide renown.

On Rules (November 2020)

Beyond Hatred and Scapegoating Dear Friends: In the last edition of Western Friend, the last paragraph of the “Daily Justice and Injustice” article was incomplete — I had not gotten my final edit back to Mary in time. So please consider this to be a correction to that article, which I call “WWJWD: What Would John Woolman DO?” 

On Rules (November 2020)