I am an African American whose encounter with God is more an attitude than belief system, a certain swagger and daring in the face of what black liberation theologian James Cone would refer to as “obvious failure.” By all quantitative standards, the post-Reconstruction experience of African Americans would meet the definition of failure.
Two years ago, I was sitting in a circle of dancers practicing Contact Improvisation. The session started with all of us breathing together, waiting together, and listening for one of us to talk about something that connected the speaker to dance in a deep way. I was suddenly reminded of Quaker meeting for worship.
It is often said that music is a language; some say it is the universal language. As with any language, the spaces are essential. Without spaces on the printed page or pauses in speaking, we couldn’t understand what is being said. Likewise, silence is the canvas we paint our music upon.
Dear Friends: The introduction to the Western Friend issue “On Captivity” reminds us that Friends practice a method for discerning Truth that we believe can transcend secular notions. At best, we measure ourselves against eternal values, transmitted and purified by a fierce and searching inward Light, rather than by personal standards, contemporary norms, or social movements.
Dear Editor: I am so delighted that Western Friend published the 2017 IMYM keynote talk on finances (September/October 2017). Financial management is a spiritual practice, at least as taught by my teacher, Jesus of Nazareth. Citizens of the United States are profligate wasters of world resources. One of the reasons for this is rank ignorance.
This past year, I started coming to grips with the fact that I am not a political scientist; I am not a sociologist. I have finally, after more than a decade, let go of some of those college textbooks. I accept that I will never rewrite the thesis I should have written for Poli-Sci. I am not a debater. I am not a diplomat. As it turns out, I am a musician.
When the English composer Solomon Eccles became a Quaker around 1665, he sold or gave away all his musical instruments and all his printed music. Then, fearful that by doing so he had led the recipients morally astray, he bought everything back, carried it to the top of London’s Temple Hill, stomped it to pieces, and set it all on fire.