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Friends Journal

Friends Journal Communicating Quaker experience in order to connect and deepen spiritual lives

Operating as usual

"I have long wished for a covenant community: a community that embraced mutual responsibility and a commitment to shared...
05/20/2022
Our Letter to Hazel

"I have long wished for a covenant community: a community that embraced mutual responsibility and a commitment to shared goals," Kat Griffith writes.

When 12-year-old Hazel queried Kat's worship group, challenging them to "show that you actively care about my generation’s future in a big enough way to change things," it was an opportunity for them to create such a community.

A 12 year old challenges Friends to make a difference.

The First Blade of Sweetgrass (Tilbury House) melds the enchantment of the natural world with deep principles such as tr...
05/19/2022
REVIEWED: The First Blade of Sweetgrass

The First Blade of Sweetgrass (Tilbury House) melds the enchantment of the natural world with deep principles such as tradition, ecological responsibility, mindfulness, and cultural legacy.

Nancy Baker's illustrations, mirroring the soft earth tones of the sweetgrass meadows of Maine’s Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, reinforce Suzanne Greenlaw and Gabriel Frey's grounding of the story in the Indigenous traditions of the region.

A deep affirmation of tradition and connection to ancestry.

"While still dark enough to be called night,yet just before dawn, I think of you hundredsof miles away turning over in y...
05/18/2022
While It Is Still Dark

"While still dark enough to be called night,
yet just before dawn, I think of you hundreds
of miles away turning over in your bed.

You have slept a heavy, peaceful sleep
and now it is time to tend to livestock,
hundreds of them, and soon thereafter
lead them out to pastures.…"
—from "While It Is Still Dark," a poem by Ellen June Wright

While still dark enough to be called night, / yet just before dawn, I think of you hundreds / of miles away turning over in your bed.…

Gabi Snyder and Stephanie Graegin's Listen "would make a great introduction to mindfulness for children or a wonderful b...
05/17/2022
REVIEWED: Listen

Gabi Snyder and Stephanie Graegin's Listen "would make a great introduction to mindfulness for children or a wonderful bedtime story," says Friends school librarian Julia Copeland. "It is calming and centering, guiding even the oldest reader to stop and listen."

A great introduction to mindfulness for children.

"I feel like pieces of my soul are being lost whenever I hear about another environmental disaster," Shelley Tanenbaum w...
05/16/2022
Finding Hope and Connection in a Time of Climate Disruption

"I feel like pieces of my soul are being lost whenever I hear about another environmental disaster," Shelley Tanenbaum writes. "How do I keep going as a public Friend speaking of earthcare? How do I keep going in my personal life in the face of such overwhelming despair and depletion of our planet?"

Since she's the general secretary for Quaker Earthcare Witness, these questions aren't merely rhetorical. And the answers aren't easy—but, happily, they do exist.

Continuing our activism in the face of despair.

"I felt loved, affirmed, held, challenged… and at the same time I was feeling that from a bunch of folks, I was also sha...
05/14/2022
Our Quaker Wedding - QuakerSpeak

"I felt loved, affirmed, held, challenged… and at the same time I was feeling that from a bunch of folks, I was also sharing that with the person that I was most caring about in the world," Barry Scott said in 2019, remembering his Quaker wedding ceremony with Vanessa Julye. Barry and Vanessa were one of five couples who shared their wedding memories with @QuakerSpeak.

(Be sure to follow QuakerSpeak on Facebook, or subscribe to our YouTube channel. Season 9 is underway, with new episodes every other week!)

What's it like to be at the center of a Quaker wedding? We talked with 5 couples about their experience.

When Ukrainian war refugees began to arrive in central Germany in February, Michael Luick-Thrams had a plan. Remembering...
05/13/2022
Scattergood-style hostel launches in Germany for Ukranian refugees - Friends Journal

When Ukrainian war refugees began to arrive in central Germany in February, Michael Luick-Thrams had a plan. Remembering how Friends in his native Iowa had set up a hostel for refugees from the Third Reich, Michael got together with other local volunteers and set up a similar refuge in the town of Bad Langensalza.

When Ukrainian war refugees began to appear in central Germany in February, Bad Langensalza resident Michael Luick-Thrams had a plan.…

"Quakers found their role in opposing slavery and then again in opposition to war," the members of Quaker Earthcare Witn...
05/13/2022
A Hard Conversation about Humankind

"Quakers found their role in opposing slavery and then again in opposition to war," the members of Quaker Earthcare Witness's Population Working Group write. "Environmental crises and justice for Earth’s human and non-human populations are now facing us with a new challenge."

In roughly three-quarters of a century, the human population has tripled, nearing 8 billion people, and we've been consuming the planet's resources at an ever-expanding rate. "For humankind to come back into balance with the planet," the QEW group members warn, "human numbers and consumption both need to decrease." But, they add, Quakers can and should take the initiative in helping make sure this occurs peacefully and equitably throughout global society.

Finding an equitable, sustainable balance with the environment.

"A young girl ventures out into her community carrying her guitar," David Austin writes, summarizing the story of Amanda...
05/12/2022
REVIEWED: Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem

"A young girl ventures out into her community carrying her guitar," David Austin writes, summarizing the story of Amanda Gorman's Change Sings. "Along the way, she meets friends and neighbors of all ages and backgrounds, each bringing another instrument to the 'song.' She walks past murals, through playgrounds, past porches, all the while encouraging us to find our voice and to join in, to be the change we all seek, and to do that together."

"[Her] poem carries a message that we all desperately need to hear right now in these cynical and seemingly hopeless times," he adds: "that change is possible and that that’s because change is in every one of us."

For anyone who needs a little dose of hope.

"Disturbing oaks’ reflections,the water striders swirl, spin, stillin the river’s quiet curl.Fish food for trout,they ga...
05/11/2022
Skaters

"Disturbing oaks’ reflections,
the water striders swirl, spin, still
in the river’s quiet curl.
Fish food for trout,
they gather in teardrop
groups, tighten
then scatter frenzied
when I wade in."
—from "Skaters" by Karen Kilcup

Disturbing oaks’ reflections, / the water striders swirl, spin, still / in the river’s quiet curl...

"If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse," Desmond Tutu once said, "and you say that you are neutral, the mou...
05/10/2022
REVIEWED: Desmond Gets Free

"If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse," Desmond Tutu once said, "and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Matt Meyer and Khim Fam use this quotation as the basis of their delightful new children's book, Desmond Gets Free (Skinner House).

If someone’s kind to you, be kind to them back.

"I grew up in a household that was very conscious of the human experience being a part of the environment," Liana Irvine...
05/09/2022
Leave a Place Better than You Found It

"I grew up in a household that was very conscious of the human experience being a part of the environment," Liana Irvine writes. "There was no inside or outside when the windows let the summer breeze flow through the living room. Repurposed salsa jars made the best lightening bug homes. Dandelion greens picked out of the community garden to allow room for strawberry roots made a delicious salad."

That intimate relationship with nature has inspired Liana's activism not just in environmental causes, but in their social relationships as well.

Activism and Performance for Environmental Justice.

"The more that I step into the gift of ministry, the more I need to surround the gift with a good container," Johanna Ja...
05/07/2022
On Quaker Ministry and Eldering - QuakerSpeak

"The more that I step into the gift of ministry, the more I need to surround the gift with a good container," Johanna Jackson says in the latest episode of QuakerSpeak. "Ministry is kind of like standing on the far edge of a limb of a tree. The trunk [of the tree] is the safe core where I can exist in a storm—but going out on that edge is where I can make change."

Johanna was accompanied by JT Dorr-Bremme, who often elders for her, holding space while she's engaged in discernment. "As someone who carries a ministry," she explains, "I find it's really important to be close to someone who can give me that anchoring and that grounding."

“The more that I step into the gift of ministry, the more I need to surround the gift with a…

"To confront the injustice of climate breakdown, we need to be active," Quaker activist Anya Nanning Ramamurthy said in ...
05/06/2022
Student Voices Project 2022

"To confront the injustice of climate breakdown, we need to be active," Quaker activist Anya Nanning Ramamurthy said in 2019. "We need to voice our views loud and clear, engage politically, and hold our leaders to account. We must build the world as we want to see it. God is within every one of us, and therefore we must act like it."

The thirteen young people whose essays are showcased in this year's Student Voices Project live out this message in a variety of ways.

13 young people share their personal experience with climate activism.

From our archives: "In my experience, a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy represents a profound act of stewardship and...
05/05/2022
Necessary, Not Evil - Friends Journal

From our archives: "In my experience, a woman’s decision to end a pregnancy represents a profound act of stewardship and is uniformly reached after a thoughtful process of discernment," Benjamin J. Brown, a resident physician at the University of Chicago Medical Center wrote in 2013.

"Such decisions are more common than many of us realize. Walk through any hospital ward, and you are bound to find someone who has made a choice she did not want to have to make, but which life has thrust upon her."

Abortion and the Stewardship Testimony A pro-choice friend of mine once remarked that she thought of abortion as a necessary…

"We are on a mission to create stories that cultivate empathy and imagination in kids and former kids," Brad and Kristi ...
05/05/2022
REVIEWED: The Circles All Around Us

"We are on a mission to create stories that cultivate empathy and imagination in kids and former kids," Brad and Kristi Montague write. The Circles All Around Us invites us to consider: Whom do you invite into your circles? Who is left out? How can you expand the circle?

"As I write this review, the pandemic is still with us," Margaret T. Walden notes. "Our circles are carefully constructed, expanded with difficulty. But there are still ways for love to be shared."

Draw a circle, build your own world.

"The breath comes in.I don’t know why.I didn’t decide,I didn’t try.The breath comes,The breath goes,And I can’t say why....
05/04/2022
My Body

"The breath comes in.
I don’t know why.
I didn’t decide,
I didn’t try.
The breath comes,
The breath goes,
And I can’t say why."
—from "My Body" by Bud Clark

The breath comes in. / I don’t know why. / I didn’t decide, / I didn’t try.

From our archives: "My feminism and Quaker faith are identities and values that I have always seen as interconnected," B...
05/03/2022
A Concern for Silence - Friends Journal

From our archives: "My feminism and Quaker faith are identities and values that I have always seen as interconnected," Bridget Anderson wrote in 2015. "It is from these twinned routes that I have been led to ministry in reproductive justice."

Bridget wrote about how her experiences as a volunteer clinic escort led her to do more for women, many of whom had to travel across state lines for a legal abortion and faced the vitriol and condemnation of strangers upon their arrival.

Providing hospitality for and stopping the shaming of women seeking abortion.

Hadley Hooper’s illustrations in The Elephants Came Home (Chronicle Kids) perfectly express the moods not only of Lawren...
05/03/2022
REVIEWED: The Elephants Come Home: A True Story of Seven Elephants, Two People, and One Extraordinary Friendship

Hadley Hooper’s illustrations in The Elephants Came Home (Chronicle Kids) perfectly express the moods not only of Lawrence Anthony and Françoise Malby-Anthony, but of the elephants they brought to their African nature preserve.

Ann Birch says Lawrence and Françoise's story would be a great addition to Quaker home libraries and First-day school programs, as it "models concern for the natural world and shows courage, patience, and resourcefulness to resolve conflict and live in peace."

The elephants became dangerous because they were sad and scared.

"If there’s ever a topic for which we older Friends might step aside and listen to younger voices, it is climate change,...
05/02/2022
Climate Activism and Sustainability

"If there’s ever a topic for which we older Friends might step aside and listen to younger voices, it is climate change," senior editor Martin Kelley writes. And so, in addition to this month's featured essays and articles on climate activism and sustainability, readers will also hear from thirteen middle- and high-school-aged youth writing for the annual Student Voices Project.

Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash May 2022

"What is the harm in focusing on the immediate crisis and leaving spiritual questions to later?" Paul Buckley asks. Plen...
05/02/2022
Love Is the First Motion

"What is the harm in focusing on the immediate crisis and leaving spiritual questions to later?" Paul Buckley asks. Plenty, as it turns out—if we do not tend to the underlying spiritual crisis, he explains, we may resolve its current symptoms, but it will surely manifest itself again in some other form.

The Spiritual Dimension of Social Action.

"When we stand still in the Light, we come to see ourselves as we really are, which has lots of benefits for self-unders...
04/29/2022
What Does Quakerism Teach About Connecting to Nature? - QuakerSpeak

"When we stand still in the Light, we come to see ourselves as we really are, which has lots of benefits for self-understanding and self-improvement," Doug Gwyn said in this 2018 QuakerSpeak interview, paraphrasing a teaching from early Quaker George Fox.

"[Fox] also says that you begin to see the wisdom of God in the creation," Doug added. "You have a greater aesthetic sense of the natural world but also a sense of how all the pieces fit together and you begin to have a better sense of where you fit among all those pieces in the creation."

Connecting with nature is about more than just exercise or tranquility. As Quaker author Doug Gwyn shares, even in the 17th century, Quakers were concerned about our disconnection with the natural world and what it would mean for the future.

"While I’m grateful that the Ukraine situation revives Quaker attention to our peace testimony, I’m missing the emphasis...
04/27/2022
The Peace Testimony and Ukraine

"While I’m grateful that the Ukraine situation revives Quaker attention to our peace testimony, I’m missing the emphasis on how that testimony invites us to engage whole-heartedly in struggle against evil by using the 'weapons' of nonviolent struggle," George Lakey writes in response to recent articles in which Friends explore how the peace testimony informs their response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"I believe my Quaker job is to be for justice, freedom, equality, and to start or join nonviolent movements that fiercely struggle for those values," he adds. "In other words, a morally-based choice about violence is only the beginning-point of the peace testimony, not the end-point."

War is a test of strength, not a search for truth and justice.

"Confusing nonviolence with passivity is a huge mistake," Lucy Duncan wrote for us in 2018. "Nonviolent communication sh...
04/27/2022
Civility Can Be Dangerous

"Confusing nonviolence with passivity is a huge mistake," Lucy Duncan wrote for us in 2018. "Nonviolent communication should stop violence, not quietly reinforce it. Confronting oppression isn’t violence; letting oppression progress is."

In 1934, AFSC co-founder Henry Cadbury advised Jewish rabbis to be gentler on Hitler. Is civility a substitute for morality?

Our latest Quaker Works report features updates from more than two dozen Quaker-founded and/or Quaker-run groups and org...
04/25/2022
Quaker Works April 2022 - Friends Journal

Our latest Quaker Works report features updates from more than two dozen Quaker-founded and/or Quaker-run groups and organizations engaged in a wide range of activities, from lobbying members of Congress to leading hikes through the Blue Ridge forests of West Virginia.

This semiannual feature highlights the recent works of Quaker organizations in eight categories.

"With more than a decade of experience with policy, I've learned how disappointing it can be to put your faith in instit...
04/23/2022
Quaker Faith in Justice Reform - QuakerSpeak

"With more than a decade of experience with policy, I've learned how disappointing it can be to put your faith in institutions and parties," says José Santos Woss. Spiritual faith, by contrast, has inspired and motivated his work as the Friends Committee on National Legislation's director for Justice Reform.

"Quakerism really is life breathing into faith and faith breathing into life," José explains in this QuakerSpeak interview. "It guides and informs so much of what I do and I find it such a powerfully simple and strong theology to live by."

“With more than a decade of experience with policy, I’ve learned how disappointing it can be to put your faith…

"The daily documentation of atrocity against civilians in Ukraine brings forth universal revulsion but also pushes towar...
04/22/2022
The Spirit of Christ and Our Historic Peace Testimony

"The daily documentation of atrocity against civilians in Ukraine brings forth universal revulsion but also pushes toward a desire for revenge and punishment," David Hadley Finke concedes, but that makes it even more important that Quakers stand by our rejection of war.

"Our story as a people is that our testimony against fighting with outward weapons has never been rescinded by Quakers as an organized group," he writes. "It doesn’t matter whether or not governments heed our counsel or follow our example.… the Light given through us—although our numbers may always be small—may bring healing and hope to our troubled world."

Our Testimony against Outward Weapons and Just War Theory.

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Comments

To become a truly intergenerational faith community, Quakers must ask themselves: What do children and families need from their meetings? A meeting can claim to be as welcoming and affirming as it wants, but if its structures only really work for its current, primarily retired members and attenders, then only its current, primarily retired members and attenders will stay.
"I don’t know how to say what the grace of God is. What I can say is what it’s like for me," Patrick Henry writes in Flashes of Grace: 33 Encounters with God (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company). As William Shetter explains in his review, Henry offers a valuable personal testimony in which we get an unparalleled view of his spiritual world, with influences ranging from Julian of Norwich to T.S. Eliot to Star Trek.
"For dinner this evening I’ll take the Serrano ham and sheep cheese a jug of water and pieces of fruit alone to a shaded south mall bench where the Carrowbeg runs through town gulls and crows will gather to join me..." —from "Dinner in Westport" by Peter Moretzsohn
"If we want Jesus’s ethical teachings all gathered in one place, there is no better Scripture to turn to than the Sermon on the Mount," reflects Ken Jacobsen, in his review of Charles E. Moore's Following the Call (Plough). "The book is a remarkable compilation of commentaries on the Sermon, verse by verse," Ken notes, "including over a hundred people of faith from Augustine of Hippo, Meister Eckhart, and Søren Kierkegaard to Dorothy Day, Wendell Berry, and Howard Thurman. Moore’s radical Christian stance comes through in these contributors. They ask us again and again: What does Jesus’s ethics demand of each of us, in our daily living? What in us must change?"
When John Andrew Gallery began thinking about making the shift from being an attender at his local meeting to becoming a member, he recalls, "I knew even less about meeting for business than I did about meeting for worship." So he came to his first meetings for business as he would for conferences at his job—knowing what he wanted to get done, and working to convince others. He figured out soon enough that was not the way. This is the story of how he got better at meeting for business... and at spiritual life in general.
In the summer of 2020, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge was visiting the United States as a Friend in Residence at Haverford College. George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police, and the social unrest that followed, spurred her memories of apartheid-era South Africa—where, as a member of the African National Congress, she had first came into contact with Quakers, including her future husband, Jeremy. "Going to Quakers for me was very, very important," Madlala-Routledge said in an interview with QuakerSpeak. "It confirmed what I think was deep in my own personal understanding of violence and nonviolence, and my strengths grew in this and I find that is the only answer."
Quaker peace activist George Lakey considers a new pamphlet from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) that discusses the threat posed by state agents and others who infiltrate nonviolent social movements and goad participants into committing violent acts—or perpetrate the violence themselves and leave the movement to take the blame. "Wise activists will keep [How Agent Provocateurs Harm Our Movements] handy," George advises, to immunize their organizations against such discrediting tactics. "Our country needs as many Friends as possible to be made confident by the tools we bring to the occasion. This new booklet is part of our toolkit."
What is the state of our vocal ministry these days? How do we encourage it—or (perhaps unintentionally) discourage it? How has vocal ministry changed and what role does it play in Quakerism today? These are the sorts of questions we're asking for our June/July issue, and we welcome your thoughts on the matter! Specifically, we're looking for essays of 1200 to 2500 words, which you can submit between now and March 21, 2022.
In Watershed, Ranae Lenor Hanson "explores how both the body and the planet change when basic flow and balances are disrupted," writes Ruah Swennerfelt. Combining the story of her struggle with Type 1 diabetes with a consideration of the climate crisis, "[Hanson] allows her body to teach her to listen, to learn, and to look outside of her own distress to the distresses that abound around her and around the world."
Reader Donne Hayden wonders “how future generations will judge those of us who–knowing how harmful fossil fuels are to the environment and life on earth–still continue our unabated use of automobiles, airplanes, gas furnaces, etc. How COULD they?” https://www.friendsjournal.org/rethinking-william-penn/#comment-201764
"Some days I want to tell the newscasters I don’t want to know about the brown-eyed little girl missing from her home in Chicago or about the couple whose car slipped on black ice and fell into the cold Rogue River..." —from "Some Days" by Colette Tennant
The scope of the coverage of environmental activism in the United States found in Audrea Lim's The Word We need is "breathtaking," writes Pamela Haines: "We hear from people in the Deep South, Appalachia, the rural Southwest, big cities spanning the country, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and many points in between....There are young people and elders, scrappy outsiders, and patient insiders: all tenacious, all holding to a vision of a world that works for ordinary folks." This "eye-opening and hopeful" book, she adds, "would be a strong addition to any Friends school curriculum, meeting library, or individual collection."