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Dignity and Civic Life We can envision a universal parameter of dignity for individuals: Each person is owed fundamental respect simply by virtue of being human. We can also appreciate the importance of ensuring dignified treatment of the myriad of groups that comprise our society, and in particular, those that have been exploited, marginalized, and disempowered. For Friends, the importance of human dignity rests on a strong spiritual basis:

On Dignity (July 2023)

My Slaves Many listeners get the wrong idea from hearing me talk about the fact that so many of us in 2023 own child slaves in the Congo, children who are mining cobalt for our electric vehicles and coltan for our cellphones, computers, and other electronic contraptions. Upon hearing this, most American slaveholders (like me) tend to think of cruel and evil plantation masters, sole proprietors who use their slaves to enhance their personal wealth. Such ideas are based on the way cotton was raised in the South before the Civil War, then sold to mills in the North and to England. Merchants would personally buy and sell human chattel when opportunities arose or when personal economic setbacks forced them. Ancillary enterprises also benefitted, of course, like the production of manacles and chains. Slave catchers had a healthy business, too.

On Loss (May 2023)

An Invitation to Play with God “In Godly Play, the invitation is given not for play in general but for play with the language of God and God’s people; our sacred stories, parables, liturgical actions and silences. Through this powerful language, through our wondering, through the community of players gathered together, we hear the deepest invitation of all: an invitation to come play with God.”        – Jerome W Berryman, The Complete Guide to Godly Play (2002)

On Play (September 2015)

Abortion and Community “Community” is central to Friends’ faith and practice, and of course, it is central to all of humanity. Life starts with a community of two – the mother and her infant. A baby’s community grows as she grows. Eventually it may include her father, other siblings, and many others.

On Healers (August 2023)

On Children In her autobiography, Life on Two Levels (1978), Quaker dynamo Josephine Duveneck tells of a year when she provided a foster home in Los Altos Hills, CA, to a seven-year-old Jewish boy from Germany, while Hitler was rising to power in Europe. “What a sweet little personality he was . . . He had been to school just before the time when Jewish children were banned, hence he was thoroughly indoctrinated with Nazi ideology. . . He told me that Adolph Hitler was the greatest man since Jesus Christ. I did not try to disillusion him. Soon, with the help of our horses, his hero worship was [redirected]. At Peninsula School, he learned English and also found out how to play games instead of how to march. I remember vividly the day when the portrait of Hitler that he had tacked up on his closet door had disappeared, and a poster with Franklin Roosevelt’s photograph on it took its place.”

On Children (September 2018)

The Fancy Sunday Hat We have one Friend in our Quaker meeting who often comes to worship in a highly-colored and carefully put-together outfit, including an ornate Sunday hat. This is unusual for an unprogrammed meeting.

On Art (March 2020)