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On Secrets Humans cannot actually view reality from a god’s-eye perspective, despite all the scriptures that have been written by some to help direct others in the name of God. At most, humans can intuit glimmers of insights that might align with a god’s-eye view. Consider the lilies of the field. The god’s-eye view continuously perceives and cherishes the individual agency of each and every creature in the cosmos, animate and inanimate. The god’s-eye view honors the spider in the corner and says, “There You are,” and traps it and releases it, rather than just squishing it. The spider has its own honor and agency, as much as it has its own role in the order of our planet.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Evolution of The Peace Testimony [The following article is abridged from a more complete original text, which is available at: westernfriend.org/media/evolution-testimony.]

On Rules (November 2020)

Rules of Engagement Some rules are written down, like those in law books. Others are unwritten rules, which can be even more stringent and unforgiving than statute, like the unwritten rules that whisper to dictate which emotions each gender is supposed to feel and show, or not. Lately, various new and somewhat inconsistent rules have arisen concerning speech that some people experience as offensive, and these rules have been causing occasional havoc.

On Rules (November 2020)

The Gathered Meeting I began my spiritual journey toward “the gathered meeting” when my wife and I visited her youngest son in Durham, North Carolina, in January, 2018. While there, we attended Durham Friends Meeting one Sunday when maybe a hundred adults and thirty-five children were present. The meeting felt settled and centered. Early in the hour, someone offered a message about how important it is for Friends to follow the Light and be gathered, and about how important it is for Friends to take those two practices out into the world. The message was matter-of-fact, stated in words that were simple and direct. Several more messages followed, all of them tagging along with the first. I could feel that people trusted one another. I could feel that something huge was happening.

On Relevance (March 2021)

Thoughts from a Loving Gadfly In January this year, I submitted an article to Western Friend about Friends and the “Beloved Community,” and I received the best rejection letter ever. The editor told me she tends to publish good news about Friends on the website, but wants the magazine to contain articles that “dig deeper into the quandaries, conflicts, values, etc., that underlie all the good work.” This seems like an editorial policy that will keep the magazine interesting and relevant.

On Tricks (May 2021)

23rd-Century-Ready Quaker Institutions Upon my arrival in Richmond, Indiana – after years of ministry in San Francisco, California – I would often walk the campus in the awareness that Earlham College had been standing at the time of the Civil War. I think often about the tension between spectacular, Ezekiel-like revelations from God and what happens when we attempt to translate such revelations into structured communities.

On Words (November 2021)

Creating out of Silence and Light In the late 1960s, a researcher named Frank Barron explored the relationship of religion and creativity and whether being religious and/or spiritual had an effect on the artist. He interviewed Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and a Hindu, as well as a number of others. The interviews were quite straightforward until he talked about the Quaker artist. His writing about this artist took a different turn. It was as if he was stopped in his tracks and felt a different tone in this interview. Reading the interview was like reading a hush or silence or something that was going deeper in its connections. He says, “She spoke of the Quaker silences. She thinks everyone should be silent at special times. . . [She] was quite unusual in bearing and demeanor, and in her manner of talking. She spoke in a very low and even tone, and everything she said seemed to come up from depths. She was completely lacking in social front.” (Frank Barron, 1968)

On Alternatives (March 2022)

Hybrid and/or Embodied Worship (3) [This letter was abridged from a longer original, which you can find at: https://westernfriend.org/letters-marchapril-2022]

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)

Quaker Culture: The Tragic Gap The insight at the heart of nonviolence is that we live in a tragic gap – a gap between the way things are and the way we know they might be. It is a gap that never has been and never will be closed. If we want to live nonviolent lives, we must learn to stand in the tragic gap, faithfully holding the tension between reality and possibility in hopes of being opened to a third way.

On Place (May 2022)