We know a lot about war talk. We speak of fighting crime, obesity, drugs, and climate change. I am currently “fighting” depression. But if Quakers seek alternatives to violence, we need to develop a practical language for building peace. It’s not enough to “smite the enemies” of the problems in our lives.
Dear Editor: Thank you for reminding us of the traditional Quaker testimony on abstinence from alcohol. It is dismaying to see it increasingly forgotten in our meetings. It is one thing to recognize that outlawing alcohol and drugs leads to violent crime and mass incarceration. It is another to conclude that the use of chemical substances is desirable or even benign.
On a quiet residential street in the heart of Mexico City, in the former home and studio of the noted muralist Jose Clemente Orozco, your find a modest Quaker institution. To the casual observer, this is a spacious residence, frequented occasionally by young foreigners. It appears at various times to be a home, a guesthouse, or a community center.
Friends have expressed strong concerns about the use and abuse of alcohol for more than three hundred years. . . Yet many contemporary Friends find such [concerns] anachronistic at best. . . Early Quakers found excessive drinking especially pernicious because it interfered with one’s ability to discern the divine will. . .
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 his recent article, “ISIS’s Call of Duty,” Jay Caspian Kang describes similarities between ISIS recruitment films and first-person-shooter games – similarities that are likely intentional (The New Yorker, September 18, 2014). Kang’s article is one of many that play into a larger debate about the role of violent videogames and other violent media in our culture.
Whether in meetings for worship or business, Friends stand when they offer messages. (This is not the case in very small meetings or committee meetings.) When a message is being given, other Friends do not rise or walk into or out of the meeting room. To do so can interrupt the sometimes uncertain train of thought of the speaker.
Friends use the word Light a lot. They use it as a metaphor to point towards an experience. But Friends use this basic expression so casually that I fear it has become conventional and trivial. We don’t much think about what the Light (as experience) means or where it comes from or why we need it. Nor are we aware of how we got into the dark in the first place.