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On Heritage Choose life: It’s a good rule of thumb. But the life I have inherited is one that’s built on killing. While I’m safely minding my own business (in a wealthy suburb in the richest nation that’s ever existed), killing and the threat of killing are adding to the wealth of the nation I live in. Killing and the threat of killing are holding the line between who has access to resources and who does not. Who ends up on which side of that line is based on no good reason. Rather, it is rote tradition that allows arbitrary distinctions between groups of people to be used to enhance the resources of some and limit the resources of others. No matter how convincingly such traditions are sanctified and rationalized, they remain fundamentally arbitrary and morally dead.

On Heritage (July 2016)

Playing Violent Games in Peace In his recent article, “ISIS’s Call of Duty,” Jay Caspian Kang describes similarities between ISIS recruitment films and first-person-shooter games – similarities that are likely intentional (The New Yorker, September 18, 2014). Kang’s article is one of many that play into a larger debate about the role of violent videogames and other violent media in our culture. This debate has continued unresolved for decades, and both sides often succumb to strong emotions and hyperbolic statements. I feel this leads to a shutdown in communication between groups, and that is the issue I would like to address in this article.

On Temptation (November 2014)

On Difference A six-year-old girl in South Carolina wrote a letter this summer. “Dear Daddy: I know you were shot at the Church and you went to Heaven. I love you so much! I know you love me and I know that you know that I love you too . . . Your baby girl and grasshopper.” Take more time to feel the sadness of that. Take more time to feel the wrongness of that.

On Difference (July 2015)

On Play Let’s be friends. Let’s play a game, or play make-believe, or play around just to see what happens. Let’s play the Massively Multiplayer Offline Game called The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Each of us gets two characters – InnerFriend and OuterFriend – and the goal is to keep them together, as closely as we can, while we move them through The Valley toward The Eternal Mystery.

On Play (September 2015)

Lifting the Veil - Excerpts Excerpts from the keynote presentation to Pacific Yearly Meeting; June 18, 2016; Walker Creek Ranch, Petaluma, California

On Media (September 2016)

Faith and Sewage Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi (translated into English in 1993) has been my theme book for years. While it was written with toilet trainees and their eager caregivers in mind, I have other reasons to display the book prominently in my office. I work for a program in our local health department, the program that monitors water quality in streams, lakes, and groundwater, the program responsible for ensuring that the septic systems in our county are adequately treating the sewage that flows through them. That’s where “everyone poops” comes in.

On Garbage (November 2017)

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)

Let Our Lives Speak Within the circumstances of our lives, the Light meets us. As we recognize the Light’s presence in the events of our lives, we see the lived testimony of the Light in our experience.

On Alternatives (March 2022)