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Peace – One Yard at a Time Gila Friends Meeting reactivated our Peace and Social Concerns Committee a couple of years ago, after several years of inaction. Many “social concerns” had begun attracting our attention, and we wanted to act on them. Then during one of our committee meetings, someone asked about the “peace” part of our mission. What would we do about “peace”? And thus, it began.

On Conflict (January 2023)

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)

The Perception of the Heart In our highly commercial world, the way we think of the heart’s emotional capacity is mostly limited to its role in romantic love. As wonderful as romance can be, this trivializes the heart. The heart is an organ of perception. It’s where we go to make sense of feeling states we can’t quite pin down, try as we might to encapsulate them in words.

On Perception (March 2023)

Life Cycle of a Quaker Meeting The lessons we learn from accompanying people as they die can help inform our understanding of the care that Quaker meetings need as they change and age. While closure is an expected and important part of any life, including the life of a meeting, in our youth-focused culture, it can be hard to tend this part of our life cycle. We believe that Quakers are missing some important opportunities for deep spiritual experiences and growth when we don’t address these challenges. Here, we will consider what it might mean to tend the Spirit and the spiritual life of a meeting that is in the later stages of its life.

On Loss (May 2023)

Living Grief, Finding Connection As climate disasters, species extinctions, and the relentless unraveling of the Web of Life on Earth become ever more impossible to ignore, eco-anxiety becomes ever more widespread. There’s now a name for this unique mental anguish – solastalgia – a term created by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht in the early 2000s. Unrelenting hurricane seasons, devastating forest fires, smoke- and smog-filled air, prolonged drought, extreme heat, clear-cutting – all these can trigger solastalgia. Buddhist deep ecologist, eco-philosopher and activist Joanna Macy expresses this well in The Bestiary:

On Loss (May 2023)

Bittersweet Wisdom We all have something to say about loss, because all of us have experienced it – yearning for what used to be, but is no more. And perhaps, as our years pass, we wrestle with the issue of loss even more, having chewed some of the gristle of life, as it were, not just the low-hanging fruit.

On Loss (May 2023)

New Voices: Contemporary Writers . . . Holocaust (Review) New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, edited by Howard Debs and Matthew Silverman, was released this April by Vallentine Mitchell, a publisher of books in the fields of Jewish, Middle Eastern, and Holocaust studies. It is a collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from dozens of writers and poets, including Marge Piercy, Ellen Bass, Tim Seibles, and Tony Barnstone, but it is not in a strict sense an anthology. That is, the volume is not a collection of existent works, but rather a creation of new works produced together to help update our understanding of the Holocaust and its lessons.

On Loss (May 2023)

What Friends Bring to Politics

A few other Oregon Quakers and I were in an online book group. We read We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible with the Poor People’s Campaign. This book consists of fifty-three essays, each just two or three pages long, each including Scriptural references. It’s by and for people who are working towards more dignity for poor people – by challenging the ways that our institutions keep people in poverty. This book makes one thing clear to me – local government policies and actions have been major drivers of economic inequity throughout the history of our nation, especially in terms of housing inequality. It also seems clear to me that this level of democracy – the local level – is a critical place for us to work to make a positive impact on these issues.

On Dignity (July 2023)