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On Politics

Dear Friends: We exist as finite creatures embraced by Something Infinite. Spiritual teachers throughout the ages have shown how love and joy can shine from these electrified lumps of clay that are our bodies – how love and joy can shine from this substance of darkness and pain. That is the mystery of incarnation. Our task is not to extinguish the impulses of our flesh, but to devote them to that Infinite Something all around us – to love it with all our hearts, all our souls, all our might; and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

On Politics (July 2017)

Zoom Fog

Friends who had yearned for the quiet, human-centered, mystical experience from before the pandemic had to tolerate audiovisual equipment.

On Tech (July 2024)

Weighty Friends and Quaker Pharisees

Wouldst thou be a prophet, or perhaps a saint? Alas, he who thinks he is, most likely aint.                 William Bacon Evans (1875-1964), Quaker writer and weighty Friend.

On Power (March 2013)

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)

What is the Light?

George Fox described himself during his early adulthood as “a man of sorrows in the times of the first workings of the Lord in me.” Shortly later, he stated, “After this did a pure fire appear in me, a spiritual discerning came into me.” By the following year, while he was 24, a major transformation had occurred, “In the year 1648, as I was sitting in a Friend’s house . . . I saw there was a great crack to go throughout the earth, and a great smoke to go as the crack went, and that after the crack, there should be a great shaking. This was the earth in people’s hearts which was to be shaken before the Seed of God was to be raised out of the earth . . . and great meetings we began to have.” He discerned the reason for this change was because “the Lord God had opened to me by his invisible power how every man was enlightened by the divine Light of Christ; and I saw it shine through all.”

On Heritage (July 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)

Appreciative Eldering

When I first got involved in Friends Meetings, I was fortunate to have a number of role models and elders to guide my first steps into this society, which was foreign to the world I had known. I felt immediately that I was a Quaker and that I had been one for years before discovering a meeting. But learning the Quaker jargon took a while. Some of it seemed so natural because it fit so well, but some of it required absorbing new processes and new ways of looking at the community life. I did some of that learning by osmosis, some by asking questions, and some by getting help from more experienced Friends.

On Mediation (January 2020)

On Science

The allegory of the cave, attributed to Socrates by Plato in The Republic (375 BCE), depicts human knowledge as emerging from a struggle between our senses and our reason. In this story, prisoners are chained inside a cave so that they are only able to see one wall. A fire behind them projects shadows onto the wall, and all the prisoners’ knowledge derives from those shadows, known through their senses.

On Science (November 2022)