I have had a subscription to the Friends Journal for years, and sporadically found excellent articles in it. I liked a reprint of an article on the forgiveness extended to the family of a murderer of community school children; and the obituaries—yes, the obituaries—always attracted me to the ways Friends have used the lives given them. However, I passed over much else considering some "too woo-woo" or a rehash of ideas I "know already." For the last six months I simply gave up even scanning it. Frankly, in hindsight, I may have been non-verbally contemplating my spiritual life, looking for an ideal form that I had no expectation of ever seeing. When the renewal request for the Journal came I decided to not renew.
However, I felt the need to review all the issues I still had at home for a selfish reason: I might be missing something important to me, my spiritual vision might be clearer and I might understand what I may not have understood before.
My instinct proved accurate. . . . My mind had opened a bit. Hence I can make some recommendations for reading, and will bring the Friends Journal issues to the library, so others can find something that speaks to them.
This recent August issue has an excellent article by Karen Street, "Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Power in Japan: The Ocean of Light above the Ocean of Darkness." She gives some hard information, but the main point is the need for policy to be based on the external realities of the problems we face not the fear that is primarily internal: fossil fuel driven climate warming and pollution is killing thousands every month. The danger from nuclear power is largely statistical, she argues . . . it’s a possibility that doesn’t match what is occurring now. The article is well worth reading no matter where you stand on the issue. She also wrote an excellent article in an issue of last year’s Friends Journal.
The August issue also continues a discussion of Israeli politics. It is a critical response to an earlier article on Israeli policy towards Arab refugees. The author, Allan Kahrman’s thesis is that other countries are as responsible as Israel for the predicament of the refugees. He believes holding Israel to a higher moral standard than other countries is a form of anti-Semitism. It made this reader wonder that if a person or a nation claims a higher moral standard should he/she/it be held to its declared standard. . . . And does Israel claim a higher standard or do outsiders put that burden on it.?
On less argumentative topics, the May issue had "The Task of the Recording Clerk: Spiritual Exercise and Ministry" by Sharon Hoover. It’s a good support for all of us who may assume the role in any Meeting.
Well, I found a lot to read in the Friends Journal, including the classifieds. And so Dear Reader, to paraphrase Emily Bronte, I renewed the subscription.
Mary Ann Mays
This originally appeared in the New Paltz (N.Y.) Meeting newsletter.