Our Top Five Articles for 2023 (So Far)

Images from “From Atheist to Friends,” “Surviving Religious Trauma,” and “Zoom Spells Doom and Gloom.”

As we review some of the most widely read features at Friends Journal from January to June, we’d also like to acknowledge the impact of our new full-time staff writer, Sharlee DiMenichi. Her presence has allowed us to report on breaking news stories affecting Quaker communities, like the controversy surrounding Raquel Saraswati’s brief time at AFSC and the killing of Carol Clark, clerk of Philadelphia’s Unity Meeting.

5. Experiencing Thomas Kelly in Free Verse

“I was introduced to Quaker Thomas Kelly several years ago, and he has made a big difference in my life,” Kathleen Wilson told the small crowd gathered at Baltimore’s Homewood Friends Meeting one First Day morning. “I have copied some of his words in this pamphlet, making him easier to read, and I have five free copies here for anyone who would want one.” Donna McKusick spoke with Wilson about the impact of Kelly’s writing on her spirituality.

4. Confronting the Legacy of Quaker Slavery

“Modern Quakers need to understand how the legacy of Quaker participation in enslavement impacted both the enslaved and their descendants, as well as the Society of Friends and its relationship to African Americans today,” Avis Wanda McClinton writes. “Identifying those enslaved by Quakers is just the first step: we believe that the roots of Black exclusion from the Religious Society of Friends are embedded in slavery.”

3. Surviving Religious Trauma

“I was raised in a hyper-conservative, Evangelical Christian tradition that believes sin deserves severe and eternal punishment, and that Jesus bore the punishment, wrath, and abandonment of God that my sins deserved,” Hayden Hobby reflects. “As a result, I spent a lot of formative years trying to somehow hold and understand the paradox that God loved me and wanted to spend eternity in heaven with me but would just as quickly damn me to eternal hellfire for not believing in Jesus. That’s a big contradiction to attempt to hold as a 13-year-old, and eventually my faith broke like a wishbone.”

2. Zoom Spells Doom and Gloom

“During the pandemic,” Anita Bushell says, “we came to rely on the technology of remote conferencing in order to stay safe and stay connected to friends and to Friends in our spiritual practice.… Clearly this was an advance. But like all that moves forward, something was left behind.” Some readers shared her pessimistic assessment of technology on Quakers’ connection to the divine—while others disagreed passionately.

1. From Atheist to Friends

“For years, decades even, I considered myself a run-of-the mill atheist,” John Marsh confides. “Now I am not so sure, and the Society of Friends is a welcoming religion in which to practice that uncertainty.”

Banner images: fran_kie; @ YAYImages; POMO@Yoshitomo

Catch up on past years’ lists!

Top Articles of 2022

Top Articles of 2021

Top Articles of 2020

Top Articles of 2019

Top Articles of 2018

Top Articles of 2017:

Top articles of 2016:

Top articles of 2015:

Top articles of 2014:

Top articles of 2013:

Top articles of 2012:

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