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Caring for Young Adult Friends

Monthly meetings all over the United States struggle with attracting new attenders, particularly Young Adult Friends (YAFs) who fall between the ages of 18 and 35.  It’s a rather large and indiscriminate cohort, but the people in that cohort (including me) have something in common: whether convinced, birthright, or exploring, we just don’t seem to be sticking around.

On Love (September 2013)

Do Quakers Mean Business?

Recently a Methodist church invited me to a book study. They had been reading books on ethically based business, including Deborah Cadbury’s Chocolate Wars, and had grown wildly curious about these peculiar Quakers and their century and a half of confectionary success. The group leader tabulated a list of famous Quaker business leaders – not only in cocoa, but also in ironwork, railways, footwear, chinaware, household goods, pharmaceuticals, and banking. Why, she asked, was the list so long? Why were there so many Friendly industrial innovators? Why so many business names they now recognized as Quaker – from Cadbury chocolates to Barclays bank to Clarks shoes? What was it about this relatively small, seemingly austere, and ethically demanding faith that drove such a disproportionate share of business enterprise?

On Production (May 2014)

A Field Guide to Evil

Whether we talk about it or not, we hold strong views about evil. So I’d like to share with you some vocabulary about evil that I’ve learned, which can allow us to describe evil a little more accurately than we usually do, especially when our feelings get roused up. I’m not interested in catastrophic evil or cosmic evil. I’m interested in the day-to-day stuff – the times I forget to say thank-you or the times I take a shortcut and inadvertently hurt somebody else who doesn’t take the shortcut.

On Temptation (November 2014)

Discretion Needed

Friends Everywhere: In the last few months, there have been many notices of ill Friends on various lists, and the responses of other Friends have raised a concern for me. What is the appropriate detail of medical information to be shared on an email list about a member or attender at Meeting? I know that some Friends participate in various aspects of hospice, and they could share from their professional roles to help those of us on the sidelines understand where our role as members of Meeting for “holding in the light” is getting into the area of private information and where our advice, especially on open email lists, is not appropriate.

On Heritage (July 2016)

Cassandra 2020

Part faux Republican presidential campaign, part art project, with its candidate drawn from Greek mythology, Cassandra 2020 resists categorization. It has taken the form of community conversations, performance protest, video art, and guerilla sign-drops. It has been supported by a constant flux of contributors and co-creators, many of whom are also Quaker. It has sparked amusement, concern, scorn, joy, connection, and most importantly, curiosity.

On Vision (January 2021)

Quaker PopOffsets

Wanna buy baby?” I was eleven years old and traveling with my family in Latin America. We were climbing up a dirt path in the humid heat when we passed a young woman, perhaps only five or six years older than I was. She was holding an infant in her arms.

On Balance (May 2017)

Testimonies of Separation

I have litigated divorce, paternity, custody, child support, and Order of Protection cases in Arizona for over three years. My work has largely been funded by a grant for crime victims’ rights. Almost all of the patterns described in this article appeared many times in many cases and do not refer to particular cases or individuals.  I have omitted all identifying information and, where necessary, have changed particularizing details to preserve confidentiality.

On Separation (November 2019)

More Powerful than the Grave

As a hospital chaplain, I met Mrs. Corrigan in an office adjacent to her oncologist’s office. She had just been talking with him about her terminal illness and about non-curative, comfort-care plans. Mrs. Corrigan was facing the end of her life from a metastatic form of cancer. As a patient now living at home, she had previously undergone many surgeries, radiation treatments, and chemotherapy. She had indicated that she wanted to see a chaplain for a series of spiritual care visits.

On Separation (November 2019)