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Forgiveness in a World Aflame

For those of us watching the bloody conflicts in Israel-Palestine and Ukraine, I’m wondering what forgiveness means.

On Division (January 2024)

Just Talking in Prison Looking out across the dance floor at the audience seated on aluminum bleachers and standing along the prison gymnasium walls, the incongruity was glaringly obvious. Me, with my Irish complexion, taking the microphone to make a statement to scores of Native Americans during their powwow. I could not even guess how many different tribal backgrounds were present. But here they were, with one thing in common: all federal prisoners, incarcerated at FCI Englewood (Federal Correctional Institution), all dressed in prison khaki or government-issued brown t-shirts and shorts.

On Reconciliation (January 2015)

The Power of Prayer

When I joined Amigas del Señor Methodist-Quaker Monastery in 2006, I enjoyed the simple lifestyle.

On Prayer (March 2024)

Reconciliation in Eastern Africa You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

On Countries (January 2016)

On Patriotism Dear Friends: Our First Amendment right to free expression is sometimes called the “crown jewel” of the Bill of Rights. That somewhat oxymoronic metaphor – a fundamental democratic principle sparkling like a diamond in the coffers of a monarch – reveals an uneasy tension between our democratic freedoms and the worldly powers that guard them. Yet even though any government must place some limits on individual freedom, the expectation is that those limits will benefit the common good. In the document that established Pennsylvania’s first legislature in 1682, William Penn wrote, “The glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and end of government, and therefore government in itself is a venerable ordinance of God.”

On Patriotism (January 2014)

From Problems to Perfection Our problems exist because we are all complicit, each and every one of us. We value our own convenience over the livability of our planet. We value our own convenience over the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren. If there is such a thing as sin, this is it.

On Reconciliation (January 2015)

Healing Our Nation’s Oldest Wounds As I write this in late November 2013, Americans across the country are gathering together in their homes to give thanks. In southeastern Colorado, Cheyenne and Arapaho people are gathering together, too, but for a different reason. This week marks the 149th anniversary of the massacre at Sand Creek, where on November 29, 1864, the U.S. Cavalry murdered approximately 200 unarmed Cheyenne and Arapaho women, children, and elders who were supposed to be under their protection. After the massacre, volunteer soldiers paraded through the streets of Denver, waving body parts carved from the victims’ corpses. No one knows exactly how many people died at Sand Creek that day, because the survivors were prevented from returning to mourn and bury their dead. Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors would fight back for more than a decade, but eventually their peoples were banished from Colorado. Today, their descendants live on reservations in Montana, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. 

On Patriotism (January 2014)

Quaker Culture: Spiritual Weapons [We] have been enabled to see a splendid vision of what human unity is, and of what human fellowship may be, and have of necessity been filled with a profound sense of the evil of violating this fellowship. This vision has brought us a renewed faith in the power of spiritual forces to build the structure of humanity, and to redeem it from error and wrong. . . Backed by these convictions, we hold the moral law of gentleness and forgiveness and love to be unconditionally binding upon us now. It seems a poor and pitiful thing to believe in principles except when they may have to be applied, in forgiveness only when there is nothing to forgive, in love only for those who love us. . .  May we be faithful to the vision! It bears with it a grave but splendid responsibility.

On Weapons (January 2019)