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The Messy Ethics of Giving

Why do Quakers soft-pedal the importance of financial giving?  It’s true, our unprogrammed meetings don’t need as much as conventional churches since they typically lack paid staff and large buildings.  But beyond those differences, we seem to be quite uneasy in even bringing up the topic.

On Wealth (May 2020)

Secrets in the Friendly Home

I’m getting very tired of this. Sometimes I am afraid of the person I am stuck with in this house during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Radical Vulnerability Revisited

In moving from Claremont to Los Angeles this year, one of the hardest transitions has been to try to get used to the little signs that my new neighbors post in front of their houses: PROTECTED BY XXX SECURITY SYSTEM – ARMED RESPONSE. After ten months, I still flinch each time I see these signs. They weigh on my heart as constant reminders that we don’t quite trust each other, that we’re not quite ready to be in community.

On Secrets (July 2020)

Santa Fe Friends House

Dear Editor: In response to Tyger Wright’s letter, “Growth Versus Preservation,” July/August 2020, I must express my distress at the impression it leaves that Friends in Santa Fe are insensitive to Quaker values and our inheritance from our beloved Olive Rush. As a visitor to our Meeting, Wright can be forgiven for not understanding the larger context, but our situation is far more complex than the “either/or” choice implied in her letter. The Meeting has struggled with this issue for four decades; the resulting divisions continue to cost us a great deal.

On Teachers (September 2020)

An FCNL Education in Civic Engagement

Future generations will likely study the events of this year and scratch their heads. Just considering a global pandemic (and the failure of our leaders to address it) and racial injustice reaching a fever pitch, one can almost envision an entire college course examining the calamities of 2020. Add to that the voter suppression, gun violence, hunger, poverty, wars, and extinctions of plants and animals that were already in play before 2020’s headline events, and it almost sounds like a fiction course.

On Teachers (September 2020)

On Teachers

More than once, I have been humbled by being called racist. My first reaction, however, was not humility. My first reaction was to feel offended and misunderstood. Surely my accuser didn’t know me or my motives or my history. Surely, they were using the term “racist” too broadly – sloppy, really. A more precise definition would be more strategic for The Struggle (You’re welcome!), and would provide the added benefit of keeping me on the right side of history.

On Teachers (September 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)

This Is the Work

I am a twenty-year veteran teacher. I’ve always taught the littlest ones – first grade, kindergarten, and preschool for four-year-olds, otherwise known as early childhood education or ECE. I teach ECE today in a predominantly black district – Denver Pubic Schools – at Hallett Academy, where 99% of the students are black.

On Rules (November 2020)

Confidence

Friends follow rules both spoken and unspoken; these guide our practices and behaviors, and they change over time and distance. In some cases, rules may have been followed long ago for good reasons, but are no longer common practice now. Similarly, what is standard in one meeting might be unusual in another. We like to think we are generally responding to continuing revelation, but sometimes we are merely reflecting contemporary attitudes.

On Rules (November 2020)

Integrity Investment

Shelley’s Story: Imagine a billion dollars being taken out of fossil fuel development and more than a billion being put into renewable energy. This is exactly what the University of California (UC) did in 2020. What did it take for UC to divest from fossil fuels in such a big way?

On Vision (January 2021)