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Quaker Composer When the English composer Solomon Eccles became a Quaker around 1665, he sold or gave away all his musical instruments and all his printed music. Then, fearful that by doing so he had led the recipients morally astray, he bought everything back, carried it to the top of London’s Temple Hill, stomped it to pieces, and set it all on fire.

On Music (March 2018)

Quaker PopOffsets Wanna buy baby?” I was eleven years old and traveling with my family in Latin America. We were climbing up a dirt path in the humid heat when we passed a young woman, perhaps only five or six years older than I was. She was holding an infant in her arms.

On Balance (May 2017)

Quaker Radio Perhaps you know the joke, “What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Quaker? Someone who knocks on your door and then refuses to speak to you.” At the same time that we want to create the Peaceable Kingdom, we’re a bit hesitant about making too big a deal about the event, figuring others need to find their own way to it, without us being too pushy.

On Media (September 2016)

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)

Quaker Water There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” – David Foster Wallace, This is Water (2009)

On Insight (March 2017)

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)

Quaker Culture: Plain Speech At the time when Quakerism began in the seventeenth century, the expression “plain speech” had a particular meaning for Friends. The plural form of the second person in English (you) was used to address someone of distinction or higher social status. The singular form (thee) was used to address one’s peers. George Fox and his Quaker followers chose to use the singular form to address everyone, reflecting a firm belief that all are equal in the eyes of God. The grammatical distinction has long since fallen into disuse, even among Quakers who continued the practice well into the twentieth century. The underlying belief, however, remains intact.  

On Superiority (July 2013)

Quaker Culture: Unpopular Stands If pressure is brought upon you to lower your standard of integrity, are you prepared to resist it? Our responsibilities to God and our neighbor may involve us in taking unpopular stands. Do not let the desire to be sociable, or the fear of seeming peculiar, determine your decisions.

On Separation (November 2019)

Quaker Culture: Positive Health [The] springs of positive health and the roots of preventative medicine are deeply buried in the life of the spirit and of religion. . . Therefore, the doctor must say to everyone that positive health requires the coordinated and balanced culture of the body, mind, and spirit.

On Healers (August 2023)