Issue 08-01-2021

Featured story

Thought for the week: Paul Oestreicher on a singular third person

FREE 7 Jan 2021 | by Paul Oestreicher

I see that contributors in these pages have been discussing the term ‘It is what it is’. Friends might not know that these words are the title of one of the most read and loved poems in modern German literature: ‘Was es ist’ [What it is], by Erich Fried. Erich,...

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Top stories

Companion planting: Anne Watson contemplates the mystics

7 Jan 2021 | by Anne Watson

‘I wanted to be free to choose my Teacher when I was ready, but did not think about how to recognise readiness.’ | Photo: Agnieszka Kowalczyk on Unsplash

During the recent curtailments of daily life I have been grappling with a difficulty that has been nagging at me for some time. In early life I realised that I could be swept along by a tsunami of religious awareness, and that this could affect my life choices. I was...

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Conversation peace: Bob Johnson on the pathology of violence

7 Jan 2021 | by Bob Johnson

‘Human beings are never born violent. They have violence thrust upon them.’ | Photo: Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0

I knew little of violence. Certainly I’d never been to prison before I went to Parkhurst. Even then I was only hit once during five years there – and that was entirely due to my own inadvertence. I did know something of peace. I was brought up in a Quaker...

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Light reading? Abigail Maxwell takes a leap in the dark

7 Jan 2021 | by Abigail Maxwell

‘God is with us in darkness.’ | Photo: Cherry Laithang on Unsplash

‘Darkness is not dark to you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light to you are both alike.’ Psalm 139:12 lives with me as a statement of the power and Otherness of God. I quote the version from the Church of England’s Celebrating Common Prayer....

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Hear hear: Hugh McMichael works with prisoners

7 Jan 2021 | by Hugh McMichael

‘Suicidal feelings are not signs of weakness but are a natural consequence of the lives many prisoners have experienced.’ | Photo: Franco Antonio Giovanella on Unsplash

I have spent three of the last eight days in a local prison, training Listeners. Listeners operate in every British prison, acting as Samaritans for their fellow inmates. Prisoners are at the highest risk of suicide in the general population. This is not because they are in prison but because...

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Black Lives Matter

FREE 7 Jan 2021 | by Rebecca Hardy

The vandalised BLM banner at Disley Meeting | Photo: courtesy Bridget Dunbar

2020 was also marked by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which swept the world following the death of George Floyd in the US. The Quaker organisation American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) condemned the police violence surrounding the killing, branding it ‘the consequence of a racist system that disproportionately targets people...

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Quakers grapple with pandemic

FREE 7 Jan 2021 | by Rebecca Hardy

2020 was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the UK ended the year, and the official death rate approached 75,000, Friends continued to meet in ‘blended’ online and in-person Meetings. Despite the restrictions in place since March, Quaker worship and work continued, providing sustenance and support for those most isolated.

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Green shoots

7 Jan 2021 | by Rebecca Hardy

Friends continued their witness on the climate emergency, following the ominous warnings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2018 that there are just twelve years to limit the most devastating impacts of global warming. The year ended with disappointment as campaign and faith groups, including Quakers, said...

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Breakthrough on anti-nuclear ban

7 Jan 2021 | by Rebecca Hardy

There were reasons to celebrate, however, as news broke in October that the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) had been ratified by the fiftieth state. With Honduras signing, the treaty will enter into international legal force on 22 January. The Northern Friends Peace Board called the news...

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Yearly Meeting online

7 Jan 2021 | by Rebecca Hardy

Around 760 Friends gathered for the first online Yearly Meeting in November, glad to come together after months of Covid-19-induced separation. ‘This is exciting, isn’t it?’, said Clare Scott Booth, as she opened YM 2020 with an image of The Light at Friends House as a backdrop. Matters considered included...

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Friends welcome Biden

7 Jan 2021 | by Rebecca Hardy

US Friends welcomed Joe Biden’s US presidential win in November, saying that there was much work to be done. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) tweeted its congratulations to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, adding: ‘Democracy has prevailed. We can’t wait to work with you and the...

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Occupational hazards: Michael Goodwin remembers Palestine

7 Jan 2021 | by Michael Goodwin

My SatNav doesn’t give an option to estimate the time to travel by donkey. But by foot it would take thirty-three hours to walk from Nazareth in modern -day Israel to Bethlehem in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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A Book of Psalms, by Edward Clarke

7 Jan 2021 | by Jonathan Wooding

Do Friends still know the Psalms? They aren’t mentioned in the subject index to Quaker faith & practice. Do we still care about Myles Coverdale’s translations of them in the Book of Common Prayer (transferred wholesale into the King James Bible)? If Quakerism is a flowering from the...

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Letters - 8 January 2021

7 Jan 2021 | by The Friend

Woolly hats needed! Get out your knitting needles! We have an urgent request from the prison chaplains at HMP Wandsworth. The residents at this old, cold prison are exercising outside in prison tracksuits. Indoors it’s not much better with central heating described as ‘ineffective’ at best. So, the chaplains...

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