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An American Casualty of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran

Friends Journal - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 7:33am

David Hartsough with Dr. Tiznobeyk in Iran. Photo courtesy the author.

I went to Iran with a peace delegation of 28 Americans organized by Code Pink, a women-led peace activist group.

The first day in Iran we had a very fruitful hour-and-half conversation with Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran. He listened to our thoughts and concerns and then shared his perspectives about what is needed to help move our countries to a more peaceful and mutually respectful relationship.

Unfortunately, during that day I got increasingly severe chest pains. Friends encouraged me to go to a hospital to have my heart checked. We went to the Shahram Hospital where they quickly did tests and discovered that there was major blockage in the arteries of my heart. The doctor in charge encouraged me to undergo surgery immediately (angioplasty) to avoid having a heart attack.

We appealed that decision but were told the decision was final: no money could be sent to Iran for medical care, even of an emergency nature for U.S. citizens.

My heart was heavy in more ways than one. I had been working on and looking forward to this trip to Iran for many months. I hoped that our delegation could contribute to moving our government from extreme economic sanctions and threats of war toward building peace and mutual understanding.

The hospital was ready to do the medical procedure the next morning. My health insurance in the United States is with Kaiser Permanente, and Kaiser tells all their members that they are covered for any medical problems while traveling outside of the United States. However, when we checked with Kaiser, I was told that they could not send the money to cover the procedure because of the U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.

We appealed that decision but were told the decision was final: no money could be sent to Iran for medical care, even of an emergency nature for U.S. citizens. The doctors also told me that if I were to fly back to the United States without surgery, I could very possibly have a heart attack—which could be fatal.

For each of three days they prepared me for the surgery, but for three days the answer came back “No. No money could be sent to Iran for this procedure. It was not permitted by U.S. government.”

Fortunately for me, two wonderful women at the U.S. interest section of the embassy of Switzerland in Iran heard about my situation and were able to convince the U.S. embassy in Switzerland to loan the money to me to be used for my medical procedure. Within hours I was moved to the Pars Hospital, which specializes in heart work; the procedure was done by Dr. Tiznobeyk, a very skilled heart surgeon.

I spent another night in the hospital and then went back to the hotel to recuperate. I am, of course, very grateful to be alive but am acutely aware that people in Iran can’t turn to the Swiss embassy for help.

I hope my personal story may be helpful to assist Americans to realize the violence of economic sanctions under which millions of people of Iran continue to suffer and die because of our government’s policies.

While in hospitals in Iran I talked with doctors and nurses, and heard many stories about people who could not get needed medicines for their illnesses and died as a result. For example, one person had cancer and the medicines were available in Europe, but they could not do the financial transactions to buy them and she died.

The economic sanctions have also caused extreme inflation and the cost of food, medicine, and other necessities grows almost daily.

I have come to understand that economic sanctions are indeed acts of war. And the people who are suffering are not the government or religious leaders of Iran, but the ordinary people. I hope my personal story may be helpful to assist Americans to realize the violence of economic sanctions under which millions of people of Iran continue to suffer and die because of our government’s policies. I fully agree with what the Iranian foreign minister told us: You cannot get security for one country at the expense of security for other countries. We badly need to learn that real security can only be found when we have security for all nations.

I come back home with a heart which is much stronger, but also with a much greater commitment to stop U.S. policies of economic sanctions, which I believe are acts of war. I will continue the work of getting the United States to rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement and get on the track of peacebuilding rather than threatening acts of war. I hope you will join me.

The post An American Casualty of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Experiments with Worship

Friends Journal - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 12:40am

The author, right, with Yanire Zamora after participating in a peace vigil on Boston Common.


Mohandas Gandhi practiced experiments with truth; likewise, I want to share my experiments with worship. I reveal these experiments with the spirit of adventure, not to prescribe a new recipe for Quaker worship.

In 2011 out of desperation, I initiated having worship in the streets of Boston. Yet another Black youth was murdered, and I was clueless on how to bring Divine Love to the endless cycle of hate. I invited a few Friends to walk with me one morning near the sites of recent murders. We called the ministry Walk on Holy Ground, and we prayed while walking, and held hands when we found the murder site.

At times the Walk on Holy Ground emerged as communion in action. Parts of the walk were full of grace and beauty. The queries are different when worshiping outside a sheltered meetinghouse. Thomas Kelly describes a gathered meeting as occurring when “A blanket of divine covering comes over the room; a stillness that can be felt is over all.” When walking in worship the Spirit is under us, within us, and surrounding us; Spirit is in feet pressing onto root; Spirit is in the sounds of a thrumming city park. Over the last 15 years, my experiments in worship have included Walk for a New Spring, the pilgrimage of the Middle Passage, walking along gas pipelines, and pilgrimages to power plants. Before tapping into aspects of Walk on Holy Ground, I want to name four other experiments with worship.

AVP groups often have 60 to 90 minutes of worship sharing within the prison walls. In the cushion of silence with 22 men, there is open time for truth-telling.

Experiment in repairing

This experimental worship happens with inmates in prisons from New York to California. I and other Friends lead weekend peace workshops in Massachusetts prisons called Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). These conflict resolution workshops are not religious, but they are based on Quaker principles. AVP groups often have 60 to 90 minutes of worship sharing within the prison walls. In the cushion of silence with 22 men, there is open time for truth-telling. One man swears he is off cocaine, and he won’t disappoint his mother. A young father passes around the photo of his son’s fifth birthday—maybe the one photo he has for the year—and says he has stopped hating the mother of his kid. Men speak words that hold hope. Dreams, rarely spoken, lie moist in the circle. A quiet settles in the stuffy room. Redemption sings.

Experiment in freeing Earth’s biosphere

On the Energy Exodus of 2013, 60 of us (including about 12 Quakers) talked about the ten plagues and the Ten Commandments during the Jewish Exodus. In this pilgrimage, we walked from a coal-burning power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts, to a proposed off-land wind power plant on Cape Cod. We started our daily ten-mile hike with 30 minutes of Quaker worship. Starting with the Book of Genesis, Judeo-Christianity has often treated forests, fields, and rivers like objects. In this worship, I reoriented my thoughts from the urban pace of life to be with creatures. I asked Creation to teach me to need less. Most days we reflected on the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt into freedom. We are shaking off servitude to the fossil-fuel pharaoh. This walking worship opened up how the land also wants human liberation: “Let my people go.”

We witnessed to the power of God to heal the world, and the extreme peril of coal and methane extraction. We read Scripture; we argued; we sang.

Experiment in stopping carbon extraction

For a week in July 2017, 20 to 30 Quakers walked across eastern New Hampshire to Merrimack Station, the last active coal plant in New England, situated on the exquisite Merrimack River in Bow, New Hampshire. We called ourselves Rooted in Reverence. I learned names of wildflowers, like chamomile and larkspur. Beyond naming them, I saw them as neighbors sharing a sacred path. We worshiped sitting on the spur of the railroad tracks, where the next carload of coal was expected to arrive. Worshiping on the tracks made me pay minute attention to what was required of me, and how God is in control. Listening and discernment are different when Spirit is asking you to take more risk. We witnessed to the power of God to heal the world, and the extreme peril of coal and methane extraction. We read Scripture; we argued; we sang. One person fasted, and another took a vow of silence for the day. Messages came in a gritty way during worship on the tracks, while our bodies were blocking an evil enterprise.

Experiment in liberation from weapons

Friends in Cambridge, Massachusetts, approved holding monthly worship at Raytheon, a large defense contractor that builds nuclear cruise missiles. We worship alongside Fresh Pond Parkway. Children and bikes often pass near our group of 20 Friends perched on the sidewalk. We know that worship and witness feed each other. I benefit indirectly from Raytheon and the war economy. Worshiping under the shadow of its deathly brick wall is a collage of healing and of confronting my complicity in the evil. I have no solution that will liberate us from weapons, but the worship outside helps me grapple more with the truth. Friends have worshiped at the doorstep of Raytheon (including Textron) every month for eight years.

Our worship honored the victims, whoever killed them, and the entire community affected.

Experiment in grieving

This Walk on Holy Ground was a monthly worship or a guided pilgrimage to neighborhoods in Boston where there has been a concentration of homicides. Boston in 2010 had 73 murders; clearly, healing worship was needed. Over a two-hour walk, we would pass over six to eight street corners where murders had occurred. We had nine or ten names with their addresses, and we mourned the loss of life, which is our loss. In unison, we would say the name of the person, their age, and the date of the murder. After a few spoken prayers, we moved to the next site. We walked many city blocks: through parks, into houses of worship and health clinics. We did this for two years. Our worship honored the victims, whoever killed them, and the entire community affected. We would stop to talk with those waiting in front of stores or at bus stops; sometimes we would visit at a youth center. God calls me to help re-envision past pain as holy ground, a rich garden that is deeper than the blood split on asphalt.

On the walk, I was struck by wonder: surprise at the details on porch porticos and in flower beds. I smiled at crossing guards and watched the clouds bank over the courthouse. These are neighbors; this, my hometown. I loved the moving prayer within the kaleidoscope of Boston. I wore shorts, sturdy sandals, and carried a water bottle. I was alert and prepared for murals, train tracks, and sometimes baby strollers. The five of us carried no signs; we held periods of silence and stood in prayer on sidewalks where a victim died. Walking on Holy Ground was moving and prayerful. Was it worship?

Worship takes us out of the mundane and connects us with the greater whole. Can we agree that worship has little to do with the place, the time, or our concepts about God? Prayer is particular; worship is expansive. Ideally, worship includes love and discernment. The Walk on Holy Ground worship showed me strains of light that don’t occur while worshiping inside. At least Walking on Holy Ground is on the worship spectrum. I was connected to the land, the very gait of my walk reflected my internal screams over the murders. Something of the worship-in-action allowed me to see the human cruelty and imagine its transformation.

I’ve enjoyed worshiping inside meetinghouses for over 50 years, but in worshiping outside, I got real. I couldn’t hide in the silence. The walk offers the power of pilgrimage. The power in worship outside is capricious unless my focus on Spirit is unfaltering. Once during Walk on Holy Ground, we encountered a man making and selling wooden bird cages. Once we found someone gardening near tall sunflowers. Another time, near where three women were murdered, we met a Brazilian family that made floats for Boston’s Carnival parade. They thanked us for our prayers. We got to know several parents who survived the murders of their children. After we had prayed with Gwendolyn G. Weeks, the pastor at Bethel Pentecostal Tabernacle near Franklin Park, she joined us on our walk. We laid down the Walks on Holy Ground in the summer of 2013 as energy shifted to other ways of worship. Perhaps Friends could include a mix of experimental worship times alongside the traditional Sunday morning worship.

Designated worship tosses Friends in the stream of the force of love, clear as a stream of mountain snowmelt. Many Quakers go outside the meetinghouse to convert non-Friends to nonviolence but not to introduce Quaker worship. Friends’ peace testimony is wobbly without worship. Peace can’t sustain us without the humility and conviction that happens in worship. Worship carries the plant of peace to its roots. And worship is nonsectarian even nonreligious; it illuminates love to all: child, stranger, survivor, agnostic. Worship is a witness to the power that unites us in love. This is true across cultures, and across space. These experiments with worship aren’t confined to the Quaker way, but all of them include waiting worship and the expectation that we can find God completely in all places.

All of these experiments with worship hold a bright promise that expands the horizon. When we worship outside, we add elements of the unknown; plus, we can expect messiness or discomfort. The unexpected calls for courage and trust. Worshiping outside the meetinghouse jettisons us into the fleshy arms of the living, jaunty, evolving Holy Being.

In 2012 I blogged about walking the street where three friends (all 22 years old) were murdered:

And like the birds, I weave through the world.… [Spirit] tells me that killing three beautiful women came from hopelessness. Willowy women whose arms and legs dance with the wind and who were cut down by revenge. No revenge stirs the glistening cedar tree. Hate lives outside of holiness, outside of love. The clouds rise like skyscrapers in the fecund sky. The jay, in a ribbon of blue, flies with grace.

And after visiting the site of another streetside murder that summer, I wrote:

I pray and worship. We send our prayers deep into the ground, into the bones of the earth. The Holy Ground where the children still shout and chase each other, where the healing starts as a whisper and ends exuberantly, “Hallelujah, I’m alive.”

The post Experiments with Worship appeared first on Friends Journal.

Categories: Articles & News

Even the Devil Can Quote Scripture – We Need the Word of God

Micah Bales - Sun, 03/10/2019 - 3:13pm

This is a sermon that I preached on Sunday, 3/10/19, at Berkeley Friends Church. The scripture readings for this sermon were: Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13. You can listen to the audio, or keeping scrolling to read my manuscript. (The spoken sermon differs from the written text.)

Listen to the Sermon Now

I’ve always loved this story of Jesus, going out into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Here it is. Jesus and the Devil. Mano a mano in a battle royale for the fate of the cosmos. Let me get my popcorn!

I mean, it’s such a great story. Even if I didn’t believe a word of it, I would want to watch the movie.

But the fact is, I do believe this story. And I believe it’s just as epic, just as consequential as the gospel writers portrayed it to be. It’s God’s story; and it’s the human story, too. It’s the story of two kingdoms. Two rulers. Two power structures and worldviews vying for our allegiance. It’s the story of Israel and the church, and what it means to be children of God.

It is written, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.” It says that he was there for forty days, eating nothing and being tempted by the Devil.

Forty. Days. Can I see a show of hands – who here has fasted for one day? One day is a more significant challenge than you might think. Not eating, even for a day, opens something up inside of a person. It promotes awareness of all the things that we’re addicted to, dependent on. Forty days. I can’t even imagine what fasting for that long would be like. Jesus must have been fully awake.

He also must have been very weak. The contest that we see between Jesus and the Devil comes just at the moment when Jesus had reached the lowest valley of energy. Bear that in mind, because Satan doesn’t play fair.

And the Devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

Jesus is starving. Literally. All around him are rocks and shrubs. No food anywhere. If he’s the son of God, now would be a good time to use some of that cosmic power. John the Baptist just got done saying that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Why shouldn’t Jesus raise up loaves of bread to feed himself?

But despite his gnawing hunger and fatigue, Jesus recognizes this as a test, a temptation. And what is Jesus’ response to temptation, to testing? He returns to the words of Scripture. He goes back to the text. He quotes the Bible. The Hebrew scriptures. The book of Deuteronomy. Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”

The written words that Jesus is referencing here are these, from Deuteronomy 8 (verses 2-3):

Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

These are the words of Moses to the people of Israel, as they were getting ready to enter the promised land. The good land, flowing with milk and honey, that God had promised them for generations. For forty years, God led them in the wilderness. For forty years, the people had fasted from the settled life of empire. They gave themselves over to God’s care. God fed them with manna from the sky. They drank water from a rock. They came to understand that all life and sustenance springs from God. None of us are self-made people. We are utterly dependent on God’s word, life, and power.

Power. That sounds pretty good, thought the Devil. Let’s try power.

It is written: “Then the Devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the Devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

In an instant. All the kingdoms of the world. “If you will worship me, it will all be yours.”

Now, again – this is God’s promise, right? God has promised to inaugurate the kingdom of God, the reign of God over all the earth. But here goes the Devil, twisting it around, just like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden. “Oh, you want to be like God? You want to be in control? You want to understand how this world works? Disobey. Put God to the test. Seize the reigns and take charge. You won’t surely die.”

How does Jesus – the new Adam – respond to this line of attack?

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

Here, Jesus is once again remembering the words of Moses from Deuteronomy. This time Deuteronomy 6 (verses 12-15), where it says:

[After you enter the promised land,] take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear. Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you, because the Lord your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. The anger of the Lord your God would be kindled against you and he would destroy you from the face of the earth.

Again, the word of the Lord to Jesus. The word of the Lord from Jesus in rebuking the Devil. The word of the Lord to us gathered here today: Remember.

Do not forget the Lord who brought us up out of Egypt. Do not forget the God who guided us through the wilderness. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you. The gods of wealth, of power, of survival. Do not follow any of these, but worship the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery. Him alone shall you serve.

“Hmmm,” thinks the Devil. “This isn’t going well.” Jesus keeps countering every word of the evil one with the words of God. Maybe it’s time to try fighting fire with fire.

It says that the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, and placed him on the highest point of the Temple. And the Devil taunted him, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written…”

And then the Devil proceeds to quote scripture at Jesus. Psalm 91, to be precise. The Devil quotes snippets. Here’s a longer portion – Psalm 91:11-16 – which Jesus surely had memorized:

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder,
the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.
Those who love me, I will deliver;
I will protect those who know my name.
When they call to me, I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will rescue them and honor them.
With long life I will satisfy them,
and show them my salvation.

Oh, my, my. Sweet temptation. Beautiful temptation. Holy temptation. The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it. God will protect you, Jesus! God promised prosperity and protection to David, his chosen king. How much more so will he bless you Jesus? How much more will he protect you from any evil that might befall you.

“Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them.” Don’t worry Jesus – you’re bulletproof. No one can touch you!

“If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here…” Those words, and the words of Psalm 91, must have been burning in Jesus’ ears as he hung from the cross three years later. When the soldiers who crucified him, mocked him, saying, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!”

I used to think that the temptation to seize power was the greatest of the three. But now I’m starting to think that it was this one. God has promised to stand with us. He has told us he loves us, that he will never forsake us, never abandon us. How can he allow us to face the cross? How can there be so much suffering, so much pain, so much injustice? How long, Lord? How long until you deliver us like you said you would?

But in his moment of greatest temptation, greatest testing – as Jesus hung upon the cross, he would say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” An obedient son to the end. Trusting in the power of God to deliver, even if he couldn’t see how. Even if it looked like defeat and death in the eyes of the world, the Devil and his kingdom. “Into your hands I commit my spirit!” Though all seems lost, I will trust you.

And so Jesus answered the Devil: “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, he references Deuteronomy 6 – the strong words of scripture, rooted in the experience of the desert. The experience of the manna and the water from the rock. The experience of loss and suffering, and of God’s presence in the midst. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” For he is with you.

He is with us. You want a psalm, Satan? “Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for God is with us.” Amen? God is with us.

Even when it’s dark. Even when we’re been in the desert for forty years and we can’t remember what real food tastes like. Even in the moment – especially in that moment just before the dawn breaks, when it seems like the darkness goes on forever.

Even when all hell is breaking loose, remember the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 6, Remember the words that Jesus remembered when he was doing desert battle with that old tempter, Satan:

Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. You must diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his decrees, and his statutes that he has commanded you. Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may go in and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you, thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.


“The word is near to you, on your lips and in your heart,” says the apostle Paul. Oh, yeah. He was quoting Deuteronomy, too.

As Moses says:

Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.

We just have to remember. It’s so easy to forget. It’s so easy to follow other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around us. It’s easy to bow down to the Devil when he speaks to us with holy words. Or offers us power to change the world through coercion and violence. Or promises to save us from pain, hunger, weakness.

If we are friends of Jesus, then we are in the desert with Jesus. And we must remember. This is a time of testing. We must stay awake. This is a time of opportunity, because God is with us. With us in the desert. Present in this tent of meeting. Speaking to our hearts. Witnessed to in scripture.

We must remember who we are, and who we belong to. We are not sons and daughters of this world. We are not sons and daughters of Silicon Valley or Wall Street. We are not the children of border walls and drones. We are not citizens of an empire that survives by dividing and stratifying people, so that everyone knows their place.

We must remember. Because we belong to a different empire, a different kingdom. The reign of Jesus. Our teacher. Our Christ. Our king, who conquered the world on the cross. He lives today in the bodies of the hungry, the powerless, the unprotected.

It matters that Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert. Moses did the same thing as he wrote down God’s words, the words of the covenant. He fasted and waited and prayed.

It matters that the children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years, guided by God. They endured. Taught to be awake and obedient.

It matters. Because transformation takes a long time. Because we must remember, and remembering doesn’t come cheap.

We must be changed. Our minds, our lives, our whole worldview has to shift. We must become a people who remember. We must know who we are. A people who live by the word of God. Who dwell in the word of God. Who soak in the spirit of Jesus. Who live in the desert, even in the midst of this world’s empire.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do this by ourselves. We are a community. And at our center is the risen Jesus. He is our word. He is present with us just as surely as God traveled with the Hebrews in the wilderness. A pillar of smoke by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Jesus is here in our midst, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God is here.

We have the living Word of God, Jesus. We have the written words of scripture. We don’t have to go looking for it. We just have to remember. “The word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.”

Is the Gospel Good News for Everyone? Quakers Don’t Baptize with Water – Should We?

The post Even the Devil Can Quote Scripture – We Need the Word of God appeared first on Micah Bales.

Categories: Blogs

Disappointment, frustration, and betrayal

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 4:27pm

From Johan Maurer:

What choices do we have? The most obvious and most glib answer is: leave! Escape! In fact, after prayer and consultation and weighing options, that may end up being the best answer.

This seems like a very grounded look at some of the oft-recurrent dysfunctions in churches. Check out the list of problems. I suspect thet most seekers have run into at least a fee of these in congregations.

Trustworthy, part three: choices

Political and cultural observations in light of Quaker discipleship. Recurring themes: Russia, peace, evangelism, blues.

Categories: Blogs

The Lamb’s War and dietary non-violence

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Fri, 03/08/2019 - 4:11pm

On Friendly Fire:

I am thinking of those pretending compassion and love whilst consuming products of cruelty and brutality. We say with St. Paul: ‘I will eat no flesh whilst the world stands, because I will not hurt my brother.’ All creatures are our sisters and brothers, as Saint Francis of Assisi recognised centuries ago.

The Lamb’s War and dietary non-violence

‘The Lamb was always on the offensive’ wrote John Punshon. Refusing to consume meat and dairy is one…

Friendly Fire Collective
Categories: Blogs

QuakerSpeak season 6 is starting

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 8:11pm

Six seasons of the awesomest video series about Friends. There’s also a newly reenergized podcast version so subscribe to that if audio is your favorite medium!

Welcome to QuakerSpeak || Season 6

We’re back from our break! And we have a few announcements.

Categories: Blogs

A more modern commission

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 7:51pm

As an East Coast unprogrammed Friend, Quaker mission work is still a bit exotic. We’re used to reading of well-meaning nineteenth century Friends whose attitudes shock us today. But here’s a story of some Midwest mission work with the Shawnee in the 1970s and 80s.

Their “mission” work consists of farming, teaching, music and woodworking and language translating, lots of transporting children and teens. It also involves preaching each week, and participation in funerals, weddings, and other traditional pastoral duties, all aimed at introducing people to Jesus.

Their “mission” work consists of farming, teaching, music and woodworking and language translating, lots of transporting children and teens. It also involves preaching each week, and participation in funerals, weddings, and other traditional pastoral duties, all aimed at introducing people to Jesus. 

our-great-commission | Opinion

MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron In high school I ran cross country at Shawnee Mission North. At least once…

Categories: Blogs

What Does the Outside Say?

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 7:34pm

Also in Friends Journal’s issue, “Outside the Meetinghouse,” a piece from Brad Stocker of Miami Meeting in Florida:

Most Friends have an understanding of the architectural message that our meetinghouses express. We understand the simplicity of the structure. We understand the reason there are no steeples or crosses on the outside and why we have clear windows placed so as to invite the light to enter. We are equally sensitive to interior design. While we come into frequent, intimate contact with the meetinghouse exterior, and the land it sits on, we may be less aware of the message they convey.

There may be a little whiplash to talk about butterfly gardens after the recent article on Quaker worship from prison but I like the intentionality of Stocker’s observations: we are always making statements with the care (or non-care) of our physical space. Miami’s the kind of coastal city where climate change is very much not a theoretical issue and Stocker is very involved in his yearly meeting’s earthcare education initiatives. The meetinghouse grounds are a place to model good stewardship; taking the care to have them be inviting and quietly demonstrative of Quaker values is important outreach.

Categories: Blogs

A bit of racism at Sidwell

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Thu, 03/07/2019 - 7:34pm

Not cool: some students at the ritzy DC Quaker school made up racist usernames in a projected in-school discussion:

School officials say several of the student’s usernames were racist toward Asians and Native Americans and two of the usernames included images of swastikas. As soon as the names and images were recognized the projector was turned off and the presentation was ended.

Not many of the students at Sidwell are Friends so it’s highly unlikely that these were Quaker kids. But it’s never good to hear of behavior like this.

Racist words, swastikas displayed at Sidwell Friends School student presentation

Racist words and swastikas were displayed during an assembly at an elite Washington, D.C. school where one of…

Categories: Blogs

Young Friends in UK write a Trans and Non-binary Statement

Quaker Ranter (Martin Kelly) - Wed, 03/06/2019 - 12:42pm

This seems partly in response to controversies around anti-trans feminists booking Quaker meetinghouses for talks.

YFGM aims to be a welcoming and accessible space for people of all gender identities where people feel included and oppressive behaviour is not accepted. We recognise we have further work to do including some more immediate changes, and creating space to nurture deeper cultural changes within both YFGM and the wider Society of Friends.

Trans and Non-binary Statement

Trans and non-binary inclusion Introduction As Young Friends General Meeting (YFGM), we have been aware of, and sometimes…

Young Friends General Meeting
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