Forum, June/July 2024

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Troubled world

Are other Friends as troubled as I am about how the United States is proceeding in the world?

Russia is cruelly assaulting a neighboring state for having the gall to assert their independence. The United States (and NATO) respond by sending cash and armaments, thus creating a proxy war. We hope “our” soldiers can kill enough of “their” soldiers to keep Russia from going on to assault another state. Our tax money supports the killing. If I refuse to pay for war, the IRS will attach my funds, adding on penalties and interest; I can’t avoid paying for war.

Israel is cruelly assaulting a neighboring state, whose government organized a heinous attack on Israeli civilians. Already “our” soldiers have killed more than 21 of “their” people for every one Israeli killed in that attack. Again, this is a proxy war, the United States against Iran. I pray for the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a time where they can live in peace as neighbors, but in the meantime I can’t avoid paying for war.

A new cold war has the U.S. government making ambiguous statements about the future of Taiwan and the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the United States is building up forces on Guam, our forward base for Pacific operations. Another proxy war in preparation? I do not choose to participate, but my tax money is an unwilling proxy.

The Light has been telling me for nearly 70 years that war is wrong, killing and maiming is wrong, and preparation for war—which ultimately leads to war—is wrong. If you have gotten similar messages from Spirit, how do you respond?

Margaret Katranides
St. Louis, Mo.

Ongoing challenges

I found Leticia Garcia Tiwari’s writing extremely powerful and moving (“Where the Light Comes to Meet Us,” FJ May). I am a White, middle class, elderly lady living in South Africa. Here, we are confronted and challenged with racism every single day. In fact, I think we are privileged to live here because we have had to consider our own response to racism all the time, for many, many years now. It is a huge, ongoing challenge for us all.

Angie Thomson
Grahamstown/Makhanda, South Africa

Please consider sharing God’s graceful forgiveness with your fellow sinners for the logs in our eyes to our own imperfections, so we sinners may all try to learn from each other by using the true equality of patiently listening to seek consensus/spiritual unity to resist the divisiveness of isolation and force. Then, we all gain by helping balance each “me” within the “we” of our imperfect communities.

George Gore
Chicago area, Ill.

Finding a place of belonging

Thank you very much for Rhiannon Grant’s article and reflection (“A Family of Friends?,” FJ May). It is well written, honest, and really helpful for me personally as a newcomer, trying to find my way and place and sense of belonging.

Petra Schipper
Antwerpen, Belgium

I was so happy to read this piece. Rhiannon’s mentioned keynote on this topic was such an inspiration to me at last year’s final Testimonies to Mercy retreat. Luckily, it is recorded! You can hear more from Rhiannon here:

Additionally, Rhiannon and I are co-leading a multi-week course on this and related topics sometime in the next year. Please keep an eye out for it in the Woodbrooke catalog.

Windy Cooler
Greenbelt, Md.

Movement of the healing Spirit

Thank thee, Friend, this is a most encouraging article (“The Glory of God Was Revealed” by Marcelle Martin, FJ Mar.). I am excited about the movement of the healing Spirit across our small green-and-blue planet at this time. I am equipping myself with the help of the Lord to play my part in it, and I thank thee for your own faithfulness to that which you have been given to share and develop amongst the Religious Society of Friends and the wider world community. God, please give Marcelle all the healing Light she needs to continue her work for as long as possible, in your holy name so be it and so be the glory.

Ruth Gaston
Coventry, UK

It’s helpful to be made aware of founder George Fox’s deep awareness of spiritual healing! Larry Dossey and Jeanne Achterberg are both responsible for reintroducing prayer to modern sensibilities. I think the Quaker prayerful meditation can ignite the healing Spirit! Perhaps healing circles could help.

Eve Gutwirth
Upper Darby, Pa.

Uplifting green burials

“My Dad’s Green Burial” is a wonderful story (by Christine Ashley, FJ Apr.)! Your family is blessed. Thank you for sharing your journey. I never knew about green conservancy cemeteries. I’ve been musing lately about being buried in a pine box under a tree so your dad’s story came at the right time for me!

Christine Zimmermann
Jacksonville, Fla.

Thank you for this informative and uplifting account!

Marcelle Martin
Chester, Pa.

Thank you for this uplifting, personal, and very informative article! I will keep your article in my file, as I am considering green burial for myself (as opposed to cremation) in the very, very distant future and as God wills!

Linda Bracken
Bartlesville, Okla.

Recent Friend Journal author chats

Steven Dale Davison discusses his May article, “Speaking to Our Members’ Conditions,” in a video interview with FJ senior editor Martin Kelley at

Davidson shares his journey of joining a Quaker meeting and the challenges he faced as a new member. He describes how he was initially antagonistic toward Christianity, but over time came to appreciate the Bible and Quaker faith. He especially emphasizes the importance of meetings supporting and nurturing the spiritual lives of their members, rather than just focusing on committees and finances.

Matt Rosen discusses his May article, “The Light Will Be Shining at the End of It All,” at

Rosen discusses the distinction between convincement and membership. Convincement refers to the transformative experience of early Quakers in recognizing God’s presence, while membership is a more formal association with a specific meeting. Rosen explains that these two aspects do not always align, as some convinced Quakers may not become formal members, and some members may not have had a convincement experience. He suggests that meetings should consider how to best support and involve attenders who may not be formal members, especially with the rise of online participation.

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