John Woolman

On Garbage

Henry Ford, the father of mass production, is famously known for declaring, “History is bunk.” Thus, he relegated “History” to “the trash heap of history.” (The word “bunk” comes from the Dutch word for “rubbish,” bunkum.) Histories exist to make sense of people’s lives, to reveal the meanings of humanity.

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Quaker Culture: Inward Life

[I] was early convinced in my mind that true Religion consists in an inward life, wherein the Heart doth Love and Reverence God the Creator, and learn to exercise true Justice and Goodness, not only toward all men, but also toward the Brute Creatures.

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Importance of Quaker History

On October 26 I took part in an interesting phone workshop on Quaker history sponsored by the Western Friend. It was the first online workshop I have ever taken part in, and I want to commend Mary Klein for organizing it and for providing excellent background readings and good questions to ponder. It worked extremely well. I was able to hear and see everyone clearly.  

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The Illusion of a Split

Even though Quakers possess skills in conflict resolution (as well as conflict avoidance), a perplexing conflict seems intractably lodged in our Quaker community: a split between Quakers who are drawn primarily to the spiritual side of our practice – emphasizing silence, contemplation, and stillness over all else – and Quakers are who are committed to social action – including demonstrations, l

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Money, that Tainted Thing

As Friends and as a people of faith, we walk a narrow tightrope between using wealth as a means to bring light and life into the world and allowing it to become a snare. The snare can draw us into a prison of world and wealth centeredness, or can trap us into such self-imposed poverty that we rely on the wealth of others to live.

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On Money

One of my sisters keeps horses. She has noticed that if she shows up to feed them later than usual, they seem especially happy to see her. The pathos of this scenario is all the more striking because, in general, we take such scenarios for granted. With carrots and sticks and clever deceptions, we humans purchase the loyalty of our fellow creatures on a daily basis, including each other.

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On Family

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” This was Cain’s retort to God after committing the first cold-blooded murder in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic record. And even though God banished Cain to a lifetime of “restless wandering upon the earth,” God remained silent on the question of Cain’s obligations to his brother.

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