A central tenet of Quakerism is the Integrity Testimony, which encourages Quakers to tell the truth, say what they really mean, and stand up for what they believe, even in the face of condemnation or conflict. Frankly, the Integrity Testimony can sometimes feel like a stern taskmaster. Truth can be slippery, or not even clear at the moment we need it to be. Having the courage to speak one’s truth can feel like a nearly impossible requirement. Sometimes circumstances are clouded by love or concern for others or embarrassment or weakness. How do we proceed and carry ourselves forthrightly in this complex world?
Category: Quaker Testimonies
Sometimes I wonder what Christmas would be like if we got rid of presents.
We would have more time to sing carols and deck the halls with boughs of holly. Instead of spending Christmas Eve madly wrapping, we could gather around a wassail bowl with close friends and family to swap memories and aspirations. We would have time to step out under a starlight sky and imagine angels appearing to the shepherds as they tended their flocks at night. We could edge closer to the stillness that abides in the dark cold of midwinter, and take time to appreciate the warmth of the candlelight when we come inside.
A central tenet of Quakerism is the Integrity Testimony, which encourages Quakers to tell the truth, say what they really mean, and stand up for what they believe, even in the face of condemnation or conflict.
Working for Peace, Peacefully
An attender at Reno Friends Meeting asked me a thought-provoking question the other day. “How do you work for peace, peacefully?” I understood what she meant. With so much anxiety in our political culture today it’s easy to get swept up by the frenzy of showing up for protests, writing letters to Congress, and circulating online petitions. This work feels important because it is, yet it can leave us feeling worried and angry. So how do we rally our strength and composure to work for peace with peace in our hearts?
Integrity for the New Year
Everywhere I turn today, I encounter the issue of integrity. Our recent presidential election raised repeated questions about integrity: who had it and who didn’t, whether journalists had integrity or were manipulating the truth, whether candidates were lying or obfuscating. And finally, in the end, whether the voting itself was conducted with integrity. Integrity, it turns out, may be one of the most compelling issues of our day, and a good place to start thinking about the New Year and what it may require of us.
The War Tax Alternative
One feature that distinguishes Quakers is the power and purpose of the Peace Testimony. Friends believe every person is a child of God, and they recognize God’s Light in everyone, including their adversaries. With that deeply held conviction, Quakers generally oppose war, believing it is inconsistent with God’s will. If we are asked to serve in the world as instruments of reconciliation and love, how can we wage war?
New Year’s Resolutions
Ah, January! After the flurry of Christmas – wrapping presents, baking cookies, hosting family – the bright skies and peaceful, quiet days of January always arrive as relief. I pack away the decorations with glee and crack open a fresh pocket calendar, ready to restart my life.
Harmony with Nature
When I look out on our beautiful Sierra Nevada this winter, I worry. Even with the late February snowfall, there will likely be little snowpack to sustain trees and wildlife through the coming summer, extending the drought of the past few years. And that makes me wonder if I’m doing all I can to help protect the remarkable blue planet that is our home.
Several years ago, Reno Friends Meeting decided to dedicate most of its charitable giving to the Nevada Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), a group of volunteers who go into Nevada prisons to lead non-violence workshops for inmates.
Our Quaker Meeting House may be small, but its heart is big. Since its founding in 1994, Reno Monthly Meeting has welcomed the LGBT community. We celebrate the recent federal appeals court ruling that paved the way for same-sex marriages in Nevada, and we cheer when national figures like Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook feel free to profess that they are gay. I was particularly moved by the words Cook chose as he made his announcement late last month: “I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”