Forum, January 2022

Photo by fauxels on Pexels

Dictators need a spiritual component in their retirement

While reading Kat Griffith’s “Investor Prospectus for the Citadel Fund” (FJ Nov. 2022) proposing a retirement community for deposed dictators and their close advisors, I was shocked to see that no chaplain services were mentioned. Being a retiring chaplain, I felt a call to respond to this oversight with the following:

Recognizing the unique spiritual needs of our distinguished clientele, our campus will include a chapel with ultra-padded kneeling benches, a supersized, all-gold cross, and a crown of ruby thorns. Our chaplain holds to the prosperity-gospel perspective of mind over matter, since this version of Christianity best fits our distinguished residents. Most of them have used versions of this approach in their governing, so it fits well. Our chapel also has mirrors carefully placed behind the cross in the confessional, which helps remind our residents of the divinely ordained ruler they used to be, and to help acclimatize themselves to this environment with its comfort crosses. We also have planned an appropriate version of a stations-of-the-cross global tour, which includes stops at those off-shore islands and Swiss banks which hold the riches of their former realm. Rest assured the accommodations and meals will all be five-star!

Jon Shafer
Kansas City, Mo.

Real characters behind the fiction

Dwight L. Wilson’s “Born on the Wrong Side of Justice” (FJ Nov. 2022) is a wonderful story. It makes me wonder about the history on which it is based. Now I must Google “Ann Chubb” and
“Mary Crispin” to see if I can learn more!

Lesley Laing
Monteverde, Costa Rica

The author replies:

Mary Crispin Ferguson was mother to my fourth great-grandfather, Charles Ferguson, husband of the freedom seeker Sarah Freedom Ferguson, whose final resting place is Springboro Friends Cemetery in Warren County, Ohio.

Dwight L. Wilson
Ann Arbor, Mich.

The metaphors of worship 

Thank you for “The Conduits” (Anne E.G. Nydam, FJ Nov. 2022). Growing up Quaker, as a kid I imagined the connections within a meeting for worship as threads on a loom, warp and weft, interweaving. I couldn’t see the pattern, but I could feel it. The first story I ever had published was an essay in Friends Journal about it. The title was “The Magic of Meeting” (FJ June 1/15, 1985).

Virginia Ferm Herrick
Bellingham, Wash.

The web of life

I think we should recognize that we are, along with every other creature, just a part of the web of life, which supports us all (“A Quakerly Method for Mouse Removal” by Jan Hutton, FJ Oct. 2021). Our particular contribution being that we are very aware of both ourselves and other creatures. This awareness should ideally be used to enhance the living conditions for all living creatures, not to degrade them. More strength to Jan for doing exactly this.

Rory Short
Polokwane, South Africa

The struggles have always been ours

What a clear, straightforward review of The Future We Need: Organizing for a Better Democracy in the Twenty-First Century by Erica Smiley and Sarita Gupta (reviewed by Pamela Haines, FJ Oct. 2022). The last two paragraphs speak to me—especially this part: “This book provides an opportunity to engage with those ‘others’ who are closer in. If their struggles are not ones we face immediately, we would still do well to claim them as our own. These are the struggles of those whose work our lives depend upon—and ones that may soon be ours.” These struggles have always been ours, and we are overdue to be in solidarity with others, across perceived lines wherever we can.

Shani Taylor
Philadelphia, Pa.

The book assumes that the wealth-concentrating, climate and ecosystem destabilizing, democracy-eroding, individuating, and addicting system of mass production cannot be seriously altered: that all we can do is be like beggars outside the homes of the super rich, saying “please be nice.” I reject this assumption.

Philip Marden
Somerset, N.J.

Listening to understand

J.E. McNeil is always worth listening to, and “The Secret to True Communication” ( Dec. 2022) is exceptional. We also just used her QuakerSpeak video on vocal ministry and found it very helpful. Keep these coming please.

Rosalind Zuses
Ashton, Md.

I have been thinking of the (few) times that I have managed to just listen and hear what is being said and ask questions to really understand where the beliefs and perspectives are coming from. Invariably, it has happened with people I truly love. I guess then that there is more love needed. Thanks for that.

Jane Touhey
Dublin, Ireland

Learning antiracism

Judy Meikle’s interview video is a learning experience (“A Calling to Prison Ministry and Antiracism Work,” Oct. 2022); her courage, honesty, and introspection make this an exceptional message to anyone interested in learning how to be an antiracist. Thanks to her and the unspoken millions like her for cross-racial relationships working to overcome our White supremacist conditioning.

Ray Regan
Downingtown, Pa.

Forum letters should be sent with the writer’s name and address to Each letter is limited to 300 words and may be edited for length and clarity. Because of space constraints, we cannot publish every letter. Letters can also be left as comments on individual articles on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Maximum of 400 words or 2000 characters.

Comments on may be used in the Forum of the print magazine and may be edited for length and clarity.