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If Animals Could Talk

When I was a child I loved the cuddliness and innocence of animals, and I wished they could talk. A grownup and activist now, I look for ways to use art to awaken our empathy with the natural world and to increase our climate-change consciousness. As an artist and writer, I know what fun it can be to combine pictures and text. So when my Friends Meeting in Santa Cruz put out a call for adults to share their skills with children in the First Day School, I offered a project called “If Animals Could Talk.”  

On Consumption (May 2013)

The Bonds of Animal Affection

This article is in dialogue with “The Bonds of Animal Agriculture” by Friend Joe Snyder in the May-June 2013 issue of Western Friend. I commend Friend Snyder for highlighting the destructive aspects of the prevailing system of plant and animal agriculture, which fail to respect God’s creation. To my mind, Friends cannot overemphasize the seriousness of such threats to our health and global sustainability.

On Love (September 2013)

The Bonds of Animal Agriculture

Since biblical times, humanity has lived by an ancient contract: We the first party (animals) give you our wool, milk, hides and meat, draw your plows and carriages, guard your houses, control your vermin, and fertilize your fields.  We the second party (humans) promise to keep you safe from predators, bind up your wounds and treat your diseases, provide you shelter from the elements, feed you even in times of famine, and provide you with a quick and humane death.  Our own human relationship with God has long been expressed in similar terms. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

On Consumption (May 2013)

Morality of Animal Agriculture

To the editor: I appreciated and learned from Joe Snyder’s fine essay on the bonds of animal agriculture (May/June 2013). We have in many ways lost the balance of care, responsibility, and stewardship in our relationship with animals in what Joe calls the “monetization” of agriculture. He warns us that a simple rejection of the animal side of our food system, as some vegetarianism involves, may cause still more harm to nature, and even more death to living things. We need to hear this and develop a food system that respects our covenants with nature and sees the hazards of a simple “industrial” vegetarianism.

On Love (September 2013)

On Reconciliation

Dear Friends: Through no fault of our own, through no feat of our own, we’ve all been born into this juncture in history together. So many of us. Too many of us. Things keep getting more and more crowded around here. Even so, it seems impossibly hard at times to say goodbye to people.

On Reconciliation (January 2015)

A Cuba Testimony

Growing up, I was taught to live by and hold high the Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Service. But I also always felt the influence of another important testimony – Environmental Caretaking. While this testimony may fall under several of the traditional Quaker testimonies listed above, it also holds a power strong enough to stand on its own. It is important that we as humans – and we as Quakers – live up to these principles and standards. What this means for me in terms of Environmental Caretaking is this: When we begin to see the environment as that Eternal Source sustaining all, we must in turn learn to understand it, and to give back and support the Earth to the best of our abilities.

On Countries (January 2016)

A Rattler’s Tale (review)

This children’s book by Nancy Marshall of Phoenix Friends Meeting was published in September 2021. Several Friends from Intermountain Yearly Meeting have written to praise it:

On Conflict (January 2023)