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A Longing for Beauty On a narrow country road eleven miles north of Santa Barbara, California, you will spot the sign for Chumash Painted Cave State Historical Park. Stop and peer through the protective fencing into the small sandstone grotto by the side of the road, and you will see colorful wheel-like and ladder-like designs painted by native people several hundred to a thousand years ago. The figures may be shamanic designs, or they may be depictions of a solar eclipse that occurred in 1677. Nobody can be sure. To me, a nonexpert, they are striking examples of beauty from long ago, created to be seen.

On Tricks (May 2021)

Sabbath Economics Sabbath economics offers an alternative approach to dominant paradigms of economic theory and practice. Theologian-educator Ched Myers coined the term “Sabbath economics” in the 1990s, drawing from the Torah standard of social and economic justice and based on God’s call to “keep the Sabbath” by alternating good work with periods of rest.

On Debt (July 2021)

Talking Truth about Military Recruitment [Join Kate Connell online in November to talk about Truth in Military Recruitment. See https://westernfriend.org/event/truth-and-military-recruitment-nov-16]

On Cliques (September 2021)

Richmond Anti-Draft Declaration of 1948 Friends are exhorted to adhere faithfully to [our] testimony against all wars and fightings, and in no way to unite with any warlike measure such as a Selective Service Draft or Universal Military Training . . . A living concern having been expressed that Friends’ practices be consistent with their professions, Friends are urged: 

On Cliques (September 2021)

News as Spiritual Exercise It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the torrents that flow from TV, radio, social media, and the occasional print publication. Vast arrays of information, persuasion, entertainment, and junk threaten our sanity. They can also condition our attitudes and perceptions in ways that we are not even aware of. As Friends, we want to engage with news media in ways that reflect our deepest values. But how?

On Cliques (September 2021)

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)

Quaker Ancestors Dear Editor: In your essay on Puritans and Quakers in the Sept/Oct 2021 Western Friend, we noticed the name of William Leddra, who was hanged on Boston Common. Leddra’s story is part of our family history. Robert Harper and his wife, Deborah Perry, are our 8th great grandparents and founders of Sandwich Meeting. As Christianity.com reports, “Robert was a prominent Quaker [in Sandwich, MA] who caught William’s body under the scaffold when the hangman cut it down. For this sign of respect toward his dead friend, Robert and his wife, were banished. Another Quaker, Edward Wharton, helped bury the body. Shortly after William’s death, King Charles II put a stop to the executions.” Robert and Deborah were also flogged for this deed. We learned this story from genealogy research in Cape Cod.

On Words (November 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)