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Integrity as Discipline

Dear Editor: I was glad to see Richard Grossman address the population crisis in your May/June 2015 issue, both for the sake of this grave topic, and also because he organizes his arguments around the SPICE acronym for describing key Quaker values, or “testimonies:” Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, and Equality (and Grossman adds Stewardship). Some Friends object to SPICE on the grounds that it would not have been recognizable to George Fox, but I regard the formula as a very succinct and very accurate description of our concerns since at least the nineteenth century.

On Difference (July 2015)

Driving as a Spiritual Discipline

During the March 2014 gathering of the Friends World Committee for Consultation, I stayed with other Friends at a hostel where we had a bible study each morning before breakfast. Not long ago, I was rather averse to bible study, but I have come to value it immensely when it’s read as Friends often do – “in the Spirit” – sharing how the passages speak to us individually. It was after such a session that I found myself pondering how following traffic laws might be a good spiritual practice.

On Temptation (November 2014)

Waging Peace – Review (2013)

Waging Peace: Discipline and Practice (Pendle Hill Pamphlet 420) by Pamela Haines, reviewed by Forrest Curo of San Diego Friends Meeting

On War (January 2013)

Do Quakers Mean Business?

Recently a Methodist church invited me to a book study. They had been reading books on ethically based business, including Deborah Cadbury’s Chocolate Wars, and had grown wildly curious about these peculiar Quakers and their century and a half of confectionary success. The group leader tabulated a list of famous Quaker business leaders – not only in cocoa, but also in ironwork, railways, footwear, chinaware, household goods, pharmaceuticals, and banking. Why, she asked, was the list so long? Why were there so many Friendly industrial innovators? Why so many business names they now recognized as Quaker – from Cadbury chocolates to Barclays bank to Clarks shoes? What was it about this relatively small, seemingly austere, and ethically demanding faith that drove such a disproportionate share of business enterprise?

On Production (May 2014)

Appreciative Eldering

When I first got involved in Friends Meetings, I was fortunate to have a number of role models and elders to guide my first steps into this society, which was foreign to the world I had known. I felt immediately that I was a Quaker and that I had been one for years before discovering a meeting. But learning the Quaker jargon took a while. Some of it seemed so natural because it fit so well, but some of it required absorbing new processes and new ways of looking at the community life. I did some of that learning by osmosis, some by asking questions, and some by getting help from more experienced Friends.

On Mediation (January 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)

Individual Decision or Mutual Discernment

The test for membership should not be doctrinal agreement, nor adherence to certain testimonies, but evidence of sincere seeking and striving for Truth, together with an understanding of the lines along which Friends are seeking that Truth.

On Alternatives (March 2022)