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Forum, April 2016

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Living true to our beliefs?

We and many other Friends who have been war tax resisters for years continue to refuse to pay taxes for killing other people, children of God, and our brothers and sisters (“How Quaker War Tax Resistance Came and Went, Twice” by David M. Gross, FJ Feb.). We cannot, if we listen to our consciences and the still, small voice, kill people or pay others to kill them—or pay for building nuclear weapons that could kill hundreds of millions of children, women, and men, and even put an end to human life on our beautiful planet.

We humbly plea with all Friends to search your hearts whether you can pray for peace and follow Jesus’s commandment to “Love one another” and work for what Martin Luther King Jr. called the “Beloved Community” and also pay half our federal income taxes for war and killing.

We also question the wording in Gabriel Ehri’s “Among Friends” editorial in the February issue stating that “the financial and legal consequences of [war tax] resistance are a great risk, and the reward—righteousness—intangible.” To us, our concern is not righteousness but whether we are living true to our belief that we are all children of God and cannot in conscience pay for killing and inflicting pain, suffering, and death on our fellow human beings.

We would love to hear how other Friends are wrestling with this question all of us have to face each April. See nwtrcc​.org for more information about war tax resistance or the excellent books by David M. Gross.

David and Jan Hartsough
San Francisco, Calif.

 

Glorification of violence

Over the centuries, Friends have witnessed publically about war, violence, injustice, slavery, civil rights, and many other subjects covered in our testimonies. But very few attempt to educate about and protest against the ubiquitous glorification of violence in our entertainment industries (“Psychological Seduction” by Khary Bekka, FJ Dec. 2015). If we recognize that this material is poisoning our country and the world, and yet we remain silent, are we not also culpable? While we have the luxury of being able to not watch it, do we also have a responsibility to warn others of this danger? How can I best love my neighbor?

Rachel Kopel
San Diego, Calif.

 

International concern about U.S. politics

I am a Quaker from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Like Kevin Rutledge (“Bird‐dogging the Candidates,” FJ Jan.), I am concerned about the military and the prison systems in the United States. The rate of incarceration is the highest in the world. Ours in New Zealand is also far too high.

I am glad you have formed the Governing Under the Influence project and are training members to ask questions in public. I think that writing to candidates also has an effect, if enough people participate.

Deborah Williams
Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Sincere and open‐hearted worship

Reflecting on the two seemingly conflicting responses in the February Friends Journal Forum to my earlier article “What Quakers and Catholics Might Learn from One Another” (May 2015) reminds me what a wondrous Spirit we all seek to live by. Jim MacPherson holds fast to his positive Quaker experience, rejecting the outer pomp of Catholic worship, while Alyce Dodge, turning aside from Quakerism for now, finds her spiritual life renewed by an “encounter with the forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ,” and is “grateful to have a welcoming home in the Catholic Church.”

Rather than address in a brief letter the very real issues of sexism, pedophila, and homophobia which Jim mentioned, and the church’s effective or ineffective response, I would focus on the Spirit’s presence. Some like Jim are led to worship in a Quaker setting. Others like Alyce find God in a Catholic setting, and of course millions find comfort and guidance in other religious settings. If the worshipers are sincere and open‐hearted, God’s will is being done simultaneously in all these diverse faith communities. As Eric Palmieri’s February Viewpoint (“Spiritual Kinship in the Family of God”) put it, “We are all Friends in the Spirit, and we are all siblings in the family of God.” That includes the few oddballs like myself who find ourselves led to and nourished by two primary religious communities, for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me.

It’s not just that we ought to respect the religious rights of others; it’s that we look for and appreciate the presence of the Spirit in each group and each individual that seeks to follow what some Quakers might call the will of God, and others the inner voice of love.

John Pitts Corry
Albuquerque, N.M.

 

What’s the right mix of spirituality and social action?

I’ve been noticing over the past months that many of your issues seem focused on social issues, and I have no objection to that content, but would like to see more articles on the spiritual life of Quakers. That spiritual life is what we hope underlies our social action.

Margaret Katranides
St. Louis, Mo.

 

Missing the FGC Gathering women’s center

At the Gathering of Friends General Conference during the 1980s, we did a lot of chants and dances from the witch or Wiccan communities (“Allow Me to Introduce You, Witches and Friends,” FJ May 2015). I haven’t been in some years, and I think the beloved women’s center in which we came together and planned our week is no more. At one Gathering in Oberlin, Ohio, a Wiccan from Canada named Pashta Marymoon led the whole Gathering in a Wiccan celebration.
Nancy Whitt
Birmingham, Ala.

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