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Friends for Racial Equity I had struggled before over whether to speak during worship, but this was different. It was near the close of worship, and a long-time member was sharing a folk tale from childhood. The story clearly moved him, and I can only imagine it was intended as a gift, a tender ministry for all of us in worship. But it was not a gift, at least not of the kind intended. The tale was of an enduring struggle between two iconic opposing figures – one evil, one good. On another morning, I might have let such a story drift in and out of my awareness, a familiar premise with no hint of a surprise ending. Instead, as I listened, I felt my body stiffen; [pullquote]I was paralyzed and mortified. Here it was, in a folk tale, in worship: racist ministry.[/pullquote]

On Cliques (September 2021)

The Color of Law (review) The GI Bill was a White guy thing. Yes, the famous law that gave so many young veterans a good start in life after World War II. Although technically, it was for all veterans, in practice, African-Americans found it impossible to get the promised support. Before long, they stopped applying for it. And that was only the beginning. In his 2017 book, The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein shows that many housing laws were designed to discriminate against African-Americans. He shows that it was in fact the policy of the federal government to discriminate in housing. And he shows how racial discrimination in housing led to the segregated society we know today; divisions by neighborhood, by financial situation, by profession, and by level of education – all come out of housing discrimination.

On Cliques (September 2021)

Quakers Do What! Why? (review) I am convinced again, Friends! Credit goes to Quakers Do What! Why?, a 72-page booklet from Quaker Quicks, written by Rhiannon Grant. In it, she takes the reader through a wide range of beliefs and practices of unprogrammed Quakers, using a friendly, conversational style. For example, the first chapter is titled: “Wait – Quakers still exist?” This book is great for people interested in exploring what it means to be Quaker as well as being full of great reminders for seasoned Friends. 

On Words (November 2021)

Individual Decision or Mutual Discernment The test for membership should not be doctrinal agreement, nor adherence to certain testimonies, but evidence of sincere seeking and striving for Truth, together with an understanding of the lines along which Friends are seeking that Truth.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Listen to Our Hearts’ Song (review) Recently, a neighbor came to my door holding a manuscript. She’s a retired librarian from Berkeley, California, and she handed me a document, titled Listen to Our Hearts’ Song: Women in Jail for Peace.

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (5) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

On Alternatives (March 2022)

It’s OK to Talk about Quakerism Sometimes we are reluctant to talk about our Quakerism with friends, neighbors, and co-workers. In my (so far unpublished) research on expressing Quaker spirituality in the workplace, I interviewed one person who said that when a co-worker found out he was a Quaker, he was stunned. “I worked next to you for five years and had no idea you were a Quaker.”

On Normality (July 2022)

Uplifted in Witness Together What stays essential and what needs to change in the Religious Society of Friends? I remember thinking when I was a teen that many older Friends seemed to have lost the ability to listen. Fortunately, older Friends in my own local meeting believed in us young Friends.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Mountain Time Edifice of rock and ice born of molten silicates       thrust from below the earth’s rocky skin, built of clouds of rock ash and rivers of liquid stone, patiently etched by streams of ice fed by winter storms.

On Science (November 2022)