As a student of print journalism, I am riveted by discussions around the detachment needed in balanced writing on any subject. It is true that media maintains an opening up of communication and information for all people, who then have the responsibility to discern what is the truth—for themselves individually, and then as members of the world community. Journalists are taught to conform their ways of interpreting truth, a surplus of techniques for reporting on it, and a strategy for becoming successful as writers—to first know their audience, and then to manipulate the language they use to fit them. This can be a valuable strategy for honing writing craft and style; but if motivated by "success" and money, and not integrity and community care, this strategy by journalists can and does lead to ignorance and deception.
What’s exceptional about FRIENDS JOURNAL‘s place in the world of media is that our pages become a forum through which stories are told experientially, in Friends’ tradition. Some force that is Divine weaves through our lives to make each writer’s sense of Truth delicate and personal, leaving our messages open to a mass of interpretations by the entire community. Every writer for FRIENDS JOURNAL is a reporter on Truth. Can we really be so detached from the churning of life and history, and the direction in which we would like it to move—towards integrity, trust, and peace?
In Caroline Lanker’s "Simplicity: A Testimony?" (p. 14), she struggles with the many ways in which "simplicity" can be interpreted, and suggests that Friends reconsider simplicity as a testimony. "When we use language, it is necessarily a simplification of our intent," she says, referring to the complex ways in which we humans must think if we are really to grow and learn. While exploring the paradoxes of simplicity, she asks us how it is possible to live our ideals, simply, while still living sensibly.
In a reprinted article from the March 15, 1964, issue of FRIENDS JOURNAL, Larry Miller speaks to the interpretation of God in "The ‘Honest to God’ Debate and Friends" (p.16)—a debate that grips Friends to this day. Larry explains that author Bishop John A. T. Robinson, in his book Honest to God, questions the "established religious frames of reference" and is upset with "the unreality [when people] separate God and the world, and think of God as a separate entity." The Bishop, Larry says, has laid "the ground for a new Christian radicalism," through which a seeker "goes to the roots of . . . tradition in the search for truth."
Every moment, the intricacies of our lives and experiences are communicating messages of Truth, even when they are complex, or are on topics that have been debated about for centuries. These messages can become creatures living inside each of us, steering our potential for compassion, love, and stewardship straight into the face of injustice, inequality, poverty, and exploitation. Thank you, F/friends, for sharing your message—and understanding of Truth—with all of us.