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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)

Are We Ready for Anti-Racism?

Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. (John 3:18)

On Freedom (January 2022)

Freedom, Fraternity, and Friends (abridged)

[The following text was excerpted from: https://westernfriend.org/media/freedom-fraternity-friends.]

On Freedom (January 2022)

Healing with Native Peoples through Truth (abridged)

[The following text was excerpted from the keynote presentation to Lake Erie Yearly Meeting on July 30, 2021. The unabridged text is published online at: https://westernfriend.org/media/healing-native-peoples-thru-truth.]

On Freedom (January 2022)

On Membership and Being in the Light

On December 14, 2018, I walked into the Multnomah Friends Meetinghouse for the first time. I felt enveloped in a circle of Light, at one with it and with everyone in the room. I had been searching, longing for this my entire life. I was Home.

On Freedom (January 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)