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Martyrs for Conscience’s Sake

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” These words were written by Lord Acton in 1887. Throughout the ages, we have seen this: When autocrats exercise power corruptly, heroic persons stand up to challenge them. This essay is a brief history of just a few of the countless individuals who have spoken truth to power over the past 2500 years and who sacrificed their lives for it. Let us not forget them.

On Loss (May 2023)

The Man in the Dog Park (review)

One day in 1982, I realized I was homeless. I didn’t own a single key! No house, no car, no bank box. I had just flown to Los Angeles from Hawaii after selling my business. I tried to rent a car. I was refused for lack of an address! But I had a rather large bank balance, academic degrees, a good vocabulary, the confidence of the educated middle class, and a trustworthy smile. The car rental clerk let me use my Timex as collateral and gave me a car.

On Loss (May 2023)

Why Civil Resistance Works - Review

Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Cheoweth and Maria J. Stephan

On Patriotism (January 2014)

Off the Shelves

Last year, our Library Committee worked diligently to create a wonderfully complete online library catalog of all the books held by Santa Monica Friends Meeting. Then, the pandemic hit. Our meetinghouse closed in March 2020, and virtually all our books have been sitting idle for a year. I have a deep love of physical books: the smell when you crack one open, the texture of a page in your hand, the way you can find a passage you’ve read by remembering where it was on the page. Physical books are absolutely delightful. I believe that everything we treasure, we should use often and reverently, not tuck it away into oblivion. [pullquote]In using the things that we value, we are able to understand what their value is.[/pullquote]

On Relevance (March 2021)

Sacred Decisions (review)

Sacred Decisions provides a case and framework for consensus decision-making in faith contexts – explaining the reasoning, providing tips, and filling out the picture with some case studies. It’s an interesting read for anyone committed to shared power in decision making and a good resource for newly forming groups that are deciding which method to use, as well as for established groups that are interested in moving from majority rule to a different model.

On Conflict (January 2023)

American Quaker Romances (review)

The scholarly study American Quaker Romances: Building the Myth of the White Christian Nation examines a relatively small subgenre of novels characterized as American Christian historical romances. The thirty-nine novels included in this book met the criteria of presenting Quaker heroines and using Quakerism in their plots. [pullquote]The book illuminates ways that Quakers have been commodified to promote specific cultural values and ideas that might not be consistent with Quakerism.[/pullquote]

On Healers (September 2023)