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On Loss

Many Friends in the West today trace our religious ancestry back to the arrival of Joel and Hannah Bean in California in 1882. The monthly meeting that the Beans enlivened in San Jose eventually became the root stock of three new yearly meetings – Pacific, North Pacific, and Intermountain (to oversimplify). Thirty years earlier, Joel and Hannah had traveled with the pioneer “Bean wagon train” that relocated dozens of Beans from New England to the brand new “free state” of Iowa. The Beans were central in the formation of Iowa Yearly Meeting, and Joel and Hannah clerked its two constituent meetings (men’s and women’s) for about ten years.

On Loss (May 2023)

Howard and Anna Brinton - Review

Howard and Anna Brinton: Re-Inventors of Quakerism in the Twentieth Century

On Deception (November 2013)

Charting Our Way

Tockhwock (AKA Geoffrey Kaiser) produced “The Chart” that hangs as a poster in many Quaker meetinghouses, depicting Quaker history as a tree. Beginning in the late 1960s, he revised and updated The Chart continually until 2010. During that time, he and his husband Bruce traveled widely among Friends in North America and gave lectures about Friends’ 350 years of schisms and associations. Tockhwock is a member of Appleseed Meeting in Sebastopol, CA (PYM), grew up in Gwynedd Meeting in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and was a founding member of Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns in 1970. He spoke with Western Friend by phone on January 23, 2014. Following are edited excerpts from a transcript of that interview.

On Time (March 2014)

On Temptation

Dear Friends: “We come now to examine the state and condition of man as he stands in the fall: what his capacity and power [are] and how far he is able, as of himself, to advance in relation to the things of God.” (Robert Barclay, 1678). In an era when God is Dead, when the percentage of Americans with no religious affiliation continues to rise (currently approaching 20%), Quakers continue to assert along with Barclay that “. . . whatsoever real good any man doth, it proceedeth not from his nature as he is man or the son of Adam, but from the seed of God in him, as a new visitation of life, in order to bring him out of this natural condition: so that it be in him, yet it is not of him . . .”

On Temptation (November 2014)

On Home

Every living thing needs a certain amount of shelter to survive. Some humans cling aggressively to mighty castles; which is to say, they cling to piles of stones. Others remain ever ready to respond to The Call to pick up their tents and walk. The responsive ones are called humble; which is to say, they are blessed.

On Home (September 2017)

The Legacy They Gave Us (review)

I really enjoyed this short book by Matilda Hansen, who grew up in Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative) in the mid-1900s. Luckily for us, Hansen decided to research and document her Norwegian Quaker ancestors. The resulting book has a lot in it – a love story, a story of conscientious objection, immigration, travel, a Quaker split, and the Underground Railroad. If you are interested in the history of western Quakers in twentieth-century America, you will also likely be interested to read about some of the roots of that history in nineteenth-century Iowa.

On Bosses (July 2018)

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)