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Normality is Ever Changing Dear Editor: Normality is an ever-changing reality. As we go through life, our perspective of what is normal changes and evolves. Everyone’s family, work, and religious backgrounds are not the same. It’s all from a different view depending on the person.

On Normality (July 2022)

A Sacred Space Dear Editor: I write regarding the article “Place of Privilege” by Ann Clendenin in the May/June 2022 issue of Western Friend.

On Normality (July 2022)

All Our Histories To the editor: Mackenzie Barton-Rowledge begins her article in the May/June 2022 issue of Western Friend with her grandfather, modeling the integrity she is seeking from Quakers in North Pacific Yearly Meeting (NPYM). She calls attention to one set of family histories in NPYM, which she calls a “settler-majority” community. I am writing to remind us that there are other family histories in NPYM, too.

On Normality (July 2022)

A Guide to Faithfulness Groups (review) I notice a steady growth of intentional spiritual practice among independent Friends. In the past two decades, programs such as “Way of the Spirit” and “Experiment with Light” have been established and started to thrive. More independent Friends are venturing into chaplaincy or other ministries that were once considered unsuitable for unprogrammed Quakers. Guidance for daily devotional practice and prayer is now offered in recent editions of our books of discipline. I’ve found my spiritual life benefitting from some of this shift in culture that’s developed in our local meeting and around our yearly meeting.

On Normality (July 2022)

Deep Hope in Optimystical Times (abridged) For decades, I’ve been talking publicly about the gathering catastrophes of climate change and social injustice, and about the decline of the Society of Friends. Sounds pretty gloomy, I know. My day job as a palliative care chaplain at a large urban hospital entails sitting at the feet of those very powerful teachers named in Buddhist tradition: old age, sickness, and death.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Two Crows I’d stopped in the back parking lot to adjust a bike clip and noticed two crows noticing the guy in the apron coming out the back door to dump the garbage. “Lookit that,” the one crow says to his mate, “Opposable thumbs! That is so cool.” His partner picked up a cigarette butt, looked at it, dropped it. “Dude,” she said, “I’ve got opposable thumbs; you’ve got opposable thumbs; what’s the frickin’ big deal?” The other crow looked at her. “Yeh, I got opposable thumbs . . . on my feet!” A half a hamburger slid off the pile, and they both eyed it coolly. Another piece fell.  The first crow went on, [pullquote]“I’ll tell ya what I saw them do this morning that really knocked me out, right there in that intersection.”[/pullquote] They continued their conversation while strolling over to the hamburger.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Thanks for History of Gun Laws To the Editor: Wow. Bill Durland’s piece on the Second Amendment and gun control was clear and educational. I must have slept through civics class. I learned a lot about different levels of the law and about the duty of the judicial system to balance the right to individual freedom against the right to be safe and secure. For example, one does not have the right to shout “Fire” in a crowded movie theater. No right is absolute and unlimited, including the right to bear arms. Bill is a gift to us Quakers and the greater society. Thank you, Bill. And thank you, Mary, for publishing it.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

To Form a Faithful Community On February 24 this year, Russia invaded Ukraine. For now, I ask you to set aside all history and politics. I ask you to step back with me to that moment when I realized in terror that terror had just filled a country I had visited many times, where I had friends, where there was a Quaker meeting and facilitators for the Alternatives to Violence Project. The invasion couldn’t be happening . . . but it was.

On Cooperation (September 2022)

Botany on an Endangered Planet I have spent my whole life learning about the natural world. I am a professional botanist whose career was focused for fifty-plus years on trying to use science to understand and “save” specific unusual components of our earth’s ecosystems. I have learned a lot about climate change over the many years since Al Gore published Earth in the Balance in 1992, which my life partner, Dr. Charles Avery, used as a textbook in his Northern Arizona University conservation classes.  However, in recent decades, I have become increasingly sad, frustrated, angry, and sometimes depressed that humans in general, and climate-change-deniers in particular, are threatening the health of our whole earth.

On Science (November 2022)

On Science The allegory of the cave, attributed to Socrates by Plato in The Republic (375 BCE), depicts human knowledge as emerging from a struggle between our senses and our reason. In this story, prisoners are chained inside a cave so that they are only able to see one wall. A fire behind them projects shadows onto the wall, and all the prisoners’ knowledge derives from those shadows, known through their senses.

On Science (November 2022)