26 February 2015

Choose curiosity

Curiosity. Source.  

This is my ideal ...

Psalm 131 (New International Version)
1  My heart is not proud, Lord,
      my eyes are not haughty;
    I do not concern myself with great matters
      or things too wonderful for me.
2  But I have calmed and quieted myself,
      I am like a weaned child with its mother;
      like a weaned child I am content.
3  Israel, put your hope in the Lord
      both now and forevermore.
My fantasy is, that when I grow up, I'll be able to sink into this calm place and let go of the need to prove I'm right and they're wrong. (Even when it's obvious!) I'm sure I'll add years to my life and stars to my crown when I get to this place.

But here's an intermediate step: asking myself why we differ. No matter what the facts, no matter what the underlying facts are, there must be a reason why my dear relative thinks that the president of the USA is a Muslim who is letting his terrorist friends infiltrate the White House. I can learn something from her. Even if I don't learn more about the president's faith and friends, I can learn about the forces operating to influence this person, and the forces influencing me.

From now on, I'm going to try to replace peevishness with curiosity. I'm going to try replacing an incredulous "What??!" (and its many colorful variants) with an honest "Why?"
  • Why do we see the world the way we do?
  • Why do we define our ultimate goals so differently?
  • If our ultimate goals are in fact the same, why are we so unable to tolerate a diversity of methods and paths?
  • Why do I think it's up to me to answer these questions?
Thinking about the advantages and limitations of curiosity, I remembered a story Hugh Campbell-Brown once told at Canadian Yearly Meeting. Hugh was the son of Presbyterian missionaries in China. He and his wife Mary were the founders of the Friends meeting in Vernon, BC. The story took place (if I remember correctly) at Pacific Yearly Meeting sessions, during which a Christian missionary in Asia gave a presentation on her Christian faith. After she spoke, a young Friend stood up and said that he found Buddhism to be a more fruitful path. Hugh was impressed that the missionary did not begin a debate on the advantages of Christianity over Buddhism. Instead, she responded, "Tell us what you've learned."

To quote a song by Mister Rogers on anger: "I can stop when I want to, stop when I wish, can stop stop stop anytime. And what a good feeling to feel like this, and know that the feeling is really mine. To know that there's something deep inside that helps us become what we can." One of the most important tasks for our curiosity is precisely this: to know whether or not those strong feelings, those temptations to debate, those fantasies of heroic righteousness, are really mine.

Remixing the Quaker Tradition in a Participatory Culture... Wess Daniels' book A Convergent Model of Renewal is on sale.

Nathan and Richard Foster are making ordinary saints.

Parenting as peacemaking. (A "First Wednesday" event hosted by Beacon Hill Friends House, where Judy and I first met.)

Wendell Berry's special brand of sanity.

What Gary Shteyngart says he learned from a week of watching Russian TV. (But he didn't watch the "Culture" [Wikipedia] channel, I see....)

Starting tomorrow, visitors to Chicago's Field Museum will learn that Vikings did not have helmets with horns on them.

"Delta Blues Evening" in Moscow: Blues bassist Sergei Spitsyn and fellow musicians present "Mystery Train" ...

19 February 2015

Lenten shorts


Probably the only thing (other than the Bible) that I can claim to have read every year for over 35 years is Emmanuel Charles McCarthy's Stations of the Cross of Nonviolent Love. I try to remember to post a link to it every year during the season that the liturgical church calls Lent. The PDF-format edition is available here.

My one and only Lenten practice that I observe every year is prayerfully re-reading these few pages. Every year it touches me in fresh ways, and this past year of violent death, mass-marketed cruelty, and extrajudicial executions is no exception.

The very first station of Rev. McCarthy's booklet gives fair warning....

In this year's Upper Room Disciplines, Tim Whitaker begins his "Walking Through Lent" with a commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10. He asks the reader,
Isn't our deepest spiritual yearning not to miss the grace God has to give us and to become the person God created us to be? This is our true desire, but embarrassment about our need, fear of change, or hesitancy about making commitments have kept us from fulfilling our baptism for too long. Before it is too late, we can approach this Lent as our time, the time we need to renew our faith so that we do not walk in vain.
I don't know if I would put it exactly the same way ("to become the person God created [me] to be") but my idea is similar. I want to finish the work that conversion began in me, which was to know that I can trust God completely and don't need to fill in the gaps with my own cleverness. This is so simple in theory, and sometimes such hard work in practice.

Maybe the biggest gift I've received from living in Russia's hall of mirrors is to realize that no amount of cleverness could prepare me for life's unpredictability. Believe it or not, trust in the grace of God rather than cleverness or cynicism becomes the most realistic option!

In his next commentary, Whitaker adds these words--are they true in experience or are they, to put it gently, aspirational?
Our culture either encourages us to pretend we are OK or tries to destroy anyone who is exposed as a phony. Only before God can we learn to walk in truth, for God's love provides an arena of divine scrutiny of our real self where we are not only known but also accepted and forgiven.
"God's love provides an arena..."? I agree that this is what should be, but the word "arena" implies a place to which we can gain access. Where is this place? Who is responsible for providing the "enter here" sign? I'd like to think that the church is where we can reliably learn about this access, and where trustworthy guides will point the way and will model acceptance and forgiveness. Is it true? If renewing faith is our individual Lenten task, then perhaps renewing trustworthiness is the church's.

"In Sweden, people are leaving churches like crazy, so that statistically, if the drop-off speed would remain at this rate, there would be no Christians here in 2040." Mosaik's response.

How is it possible to forget the Germans? (Well, I confess I'm half German, which even I sometimes forget!)

Pulpit Fiction: My favorite commentary so far on the Brian Williams story. "At a time when the military receives a reflexive genuflection from every corner of the culture, war stories have become sermons of a sort, and sermons are often untrue."

What Roger E. Olson means when he labels someone "Liberal," "Fundamentalist," or "Evangelical" ... (A Quick Course in Prototype Theory).

Our "Opinionated Judge" delivers her verdicts on the best films of 2014. When I read her comments on films I've already seen and liked, our opinions often seem to coincide. For this reason, her lists become handy wish-lists for films I'd like to see in the future.

An invitation to join "calls for spirited action."

"But the world is big, big and bright and round, and it's full of folks like me!"

Nina Simone: Backlash Blues by ninasimonemusic

12 February 2015

Do you want to be offended?

Just a few more words about last week's uproar over Barack Obama's brief overview of why Christians should not be on a "high horse" about religious terrorism.

Last week I quoted one example (Jim Gilmore's) of the abusive rhetoric directed at Obama for his remarks at, of all things, a prayer breakfast. I don't intend to pile on former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, who by some accounts did a decent job as governor of the state. He hardly fits the template of a total villain in this piece. That leaves me to wonder how it could be that a likable, churchgoing politician would feel the license to accuse the president of unprecedented offensiveness for such a mild and conventional, even pious, speech. True, that speech contained a paragraph or two of candid confession of Christian shortcomings--but nothing that the governor himself wouldn't have learned in school. Gilmore's campaigning on behalf of Martin Luther King's state holiday in Virginia is testimony that he's not ignorant about these sins.

(In fairness to Gilmore, I've written to him about my concerns through his Facebook page. If I hear anything, I'll update this.)

At no charge, here's my modest set of guidelines to protect us innocent "believing Christians" from being victimized by presidential offensiveness. Hopefully it will also protect us from other politicians, celebrities, punk feminist musicians, and each other....

How to know if you've truly been offended, and how to respond:
  1. Is the accusation actually true? How do you know?
  2. If the offenders are Christians (note: per C.S. Lewis, Christians are people who say they are Christians), have you confronted them or their representatives according to biblical guidelines?
  3. If confrontation is impractical, have you sincerely attempted in your heart to give them the benefit of the doubt? Nobody is forced to be offended. Can you honestly say that you've tried resisting the impulse (or temptation) to take offense?
  4. Do you pray for those who persecute you? Or who might appear to do so?
  5. Did someone else tell you that you should be offended? Does that person have your best spiritual interests at heart, or could there be some other agenda that he or she is serving? Do they make a living from spreading dislike of the alleged offenders?
  6. Do you already dislike the alleged offenders? Are you hoping to be offended so you can be confirmed in your dislike and enjoy the company of others sharing that dislike?
  7. Are you aware of the power of religious rhetoric and the danger of its misuse? Are you careful not to say more than you really know about the faith of another person, even a politician or celebrity?
Finally, if you can't shake off the horror of the offense committed against you, ask yourself which of the following would be the more Christ-like response:

"He has offended every believing Christian in the United States." (My emphasis.)
"Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing."

I'm just noticing how often I've dealt with the topic of offending and being offended in a religious context. A few examples:
I'm afraid that these frequent cases are a sign of the times, a symptom of wholesale and willful neglect of the commandment against false witness.

Another voice on the topic (Micah Bales): Does Obama owe Christians an apology?

Are Kaluga's Lutherans guilty of disloyalty to Russia?

I plan to attend the Friends of Jesus Community's spring gathering--it would be wonderful to see you there! But if you can't make it to Barnesville, Ohio, in March, maybe you can get to Balaton, Hungary, in July, for the Quaker Voluntary Action Friendship Camp.

Dream, then die. (A little imp on my shoulder is asking, "Hey, Christian, how outraged are we by this offense?")

E-Stonia and the Future of the Cyberstate.

Tail Dragger brings Chicago to Vienna, thanks to Texanoblues.

05 February 2015

Do you believe in America?

The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I've ever heard a president make in my lifetime," said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R). "He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share." (Today's Washington Post.)
Here is a transcript and edited video of what President Obama actually said. Are you a believing Christian in the United States? If so, are you honestly offended? Obama's remarks include a few platitudes and a lot of verbal glad-handing, some of which is just the normal courtesies you expect when a president has the microphone. But what is offensive?

We expect opposition politicians to find every possible excuse for criticizing a president--that's normal, it goes with those jobs. But it's hard for me to understand this kind of extreme language--"he has offended every believing Christian ... Obama does not believe ... the values we all share"--delivered under color of Christian piety after a speech that has just pleaded for getting on our knees in prayer and, repeatedly, for humility.

There is a clue in former governor Gilmore's comments: "Mr. Obama does not believe in America." In secular terms, it's hard to evaluate such a blatantly political comment, because maybe Gilmore thinks that the true test of patriotism is to agree with his own political convictions. Objectively, I would argue that Gilmore should either show us how Obama has not had his country's best interests at heart, or has chosen to sabotage the country he promised to defend, but we all know political bluster when we hear it, and this sounds like more of the same.

But, theologically, neither Gilmore as a professed "believing Christian" nor Obama as another believing Christian ought to "believe in America." We believe in the Creator of the heavens and earth; we believe in the person and work of Christ and the immediate fellowship of the Holy Spirit, Who transcends all the princes of this world and their works.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
     on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
     whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
     the sea, and everything in them—
     he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
     and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
     the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
     the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
     and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
     but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
     your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 146:3-10)

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
     nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
     who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:10-11)
I am most definitely not offended when a believer in high office points out that the God who inspires our ethical ideals also impels us to acknowledge when our country or our religion falls short. Any politician who uses freedom of speech to bash another politician, claiming Christian license to put patriotism or piety ahead of Christian faith itself, should be rebutted. And in the specific indictment made by Obama, the very blood of the victims of the Crusades and the Inquisition (of whatever faith or none), of slavery, Jim Crow, and other church-endorsed sins against humanity, cries out for honesty.

Charles McCarthy once said, ironically, "Being church means never having to say you're sorry." Similarly, some of our politicians seem to think that "Being the USA means never having to say you're sorry." Both sayings are incompatible with biblical faith; both are wrong.

The martyrdom and upcoming beatification of Oscar Romero: how "Pope Francis Just Showed He's Not Afraid..." and why it's all a big deal.

Bill Yoder: "Does Ukraine harbor 'small fascisms'?"

Timothy C. Morgan on Kenji Goto and Japanese Christianity.

BBC News video magazine on priests as astrophysicists.

More on Christian modesty: "When Suits Become a Stumbling Block."

In honor of Flaco Jiménez receiving the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in a few days, here's some sheer fun...

29 January 2015

"Joyn hands with me in this work"

And so, you, dear babes, that are little and weak in your own eyes, to you is this message sent ...
Once again I have the challenge and joy of immersing myself in words from over three and a half centuries ago, experiencing a call to discipleship from early Quakers that challenges me today.

Again the assignment I got from Friends House Moscow is to help check the Russian translation of a writer included in Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women's Writings 1650-1700. As with my earlier assignment (Sarah Chevers and Katharine Evans on their three-year ordeal under the Inquisition on Malta), the translator faced at least a three-fold challenge: understanding the 17th-century English correctly, whatever the individual writer's idiosyncrasies might be; adding to that the specifics of Friends spirituality as it emerged in those early years; and producing a translation in accessible Russian that preserves the voice and historical overtones of the period.

This time the text I'm working on is by Sarah Jones and dates back to the first year of the anthology: "This is Lights appearance in the Truth to all the precious dear Lambs of the Life. Dark vanished, Light shines forth." It's a difficult text for contemporary native speakers of English, which gives me great respect for the draft translation I was given to edit. Here's one example abounding in unclear antecedents and enmeshed clauses, which was marked as unclear in the translation and which I had to unentangle for myself. See if you think my temporary draft (designed to aid the translator's work) is a correct interpretation:

Sarah Jones:
... For I can testifie, as I have received in the eternal council of the Lord, which lyes as a heavy weight upon my spirit to be discharged, That except the Creature sink down into that that manifest and revealed, and so be wrought into it natures, and so all things of Gods power and authority, ye else shall fall short of that price what that soul may attain to, which daily sinks down into it ...
My working paraphrase:
... For I can testify that unless you are ready to sink down into, and be shaped by, the things that reveal God's power and authority, you will not attain the stature of the soul that daily sinks down into the things of God. I received this testimony in the Lord's wisdom, and it lies as a heavy weight upon my spirit until I faithfully express it.
My paraphrase version 2, attempting to put it all in one sentence:
... For I can give you this testimony--a testimony given me in the Lord's wisdom that lies as a heavy weight upon my spirit until I faithfully express it: unless you are ready to sink down into, and be shaped by, the things that reveal God's power and authority, you will not attain the stature of the soul that daily sinks down into the things of God.
Questions: was it right for me to take out the word "Creature" from Sarah Jones's original, supposing that she was speaking to the reader ("ye else shall fall short...") and referring to a creaturely humility that is already implied by her message? Does "wrought" equal "shaped"? (Formed?) And does "discharge" equal "faithfully express"?

In the service of her overall lesson--to stick close to God and not get distracted by superficial appearances or sensations--she has an interesting interpetation of Jacob and Esau:
So cease thy mourning, thou weeping babe, that mourns in secret for manifestations from thy beloved, as thou hast had in dayes past; for I can testifie unto thee by experience, whosoever thou art in that state, that he is bringing thee nearer him, for that was but milk which he fed thee with whilst thou was weak, but he will feed thee with the Word from whence that milk proceedeth, if thou be willing and obedient to live at home with Jacob, which is daily to retire thy mind; though the gadding, hunting Esau persecutes thee for it, thou shalt receive the blessing in which all happiness and felicity doth consist for evermore. For as Esau went to hunt abroad, when the blessing was to be received at home, so I testifie unto thee from the Lord, whomsoever thou art, that art convinced that the Word is in thy heart, and yet goes a gadding and hunting after the manifestation that proceeds from the word in others vessels, I tell thee, in Gods eternal truth, whomsoever thou art, that thou maist receive them in a wrong ground, and that nature that is contrary to the Word of the Kingdome, may be alive in thee, and thou in it, in which thou canst not enter the Kingdome....
(But what would she say about Genesis 27:1-41?)

I have loved this exercise, because there is so much here that challenges my take-charge, problem-solving nature and stresses the lowliness of discipleship. She even cautions us not to be distracted by religious debates: "... and so, dear babes, reason not with flesh and blood, nor with the voice of the Serpent, for if you do, you will darken the council of God in your selves...." But we're also not to focus on our own weakness: "Look not at your own weakness, but look at him who is calling you in his eternal love, who will make the weak strong, and will pull down the mighty from their seat."

She claims personal knowledge of God's wisdom in counseling us this way, but she makes no claim that she's learned her lessons perfectly:
... not as though I my self have altogether attained to that degree of perfection; but this I can say in the fear and truth of the Lord, that I am one that presseth hard after it, and it is the desire of my soul, that others may joyn hands with me in this work....
That's my plea, too, that we can "joyn hands" with Sarah Jones and each other in this work, and together experience God-given strength to build a discipleship for today's challenges.

Here's a link to the full epistle by Sarah Jones. The full collection Hidden in Plain Sight: Quaker Women's Writings 1650-1700, edited by Mary Garman, Judith Applegate, Margaret Benefiel, and Dortha Meredith, was published in 1996 by Pendle Hill Publications and is available through them or through Amazon.

Craig Barnett provides an example of what joining in a dialogue on behalf of Sarah Jones's work might look like today: "My own understanding is that being a Quaker involves a respect for our collective discernment, but not necessarily a submission to it." Barnett invites us to comment.

The makers of the documentary Lord Save Us from Your Followers are about to release Undivided, "the unbelievable love story of a church and a public school."

Two thoughtful discussions on worship: "But contemporary worship brings people to Jesus! Right?" and "Christianity Cannot Survive the Decline in Worship." ("Though both my Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic friends can testify to my skepticism of any excess in worship, I do believe that the faithful should experience worship as something extraordinary and uplifting.") Thanks to Nancy McCormick for this second link.

"The Great Evangelical Break-Up," with autobiographical insights from Micah Bales.

Two contrasting commentaries on a film that I haven't viewed yet: Zvyagintsev's Leviathan faces a storm of criticism, but also approval from his local bishop.

"Waiting" as a form of protest.

I love this song--this must be the third or fourth version I've put here....

22 January 2015

A Quaker concern for Ukraine

Back in May, I reported on this peace initiative, which has developed as follows. (The links within the report below were added by me for today's blog post, which was edited by John Lampen on behalf of the initiative's support group, using reports supplied by Misha Roshchin and Roland Rand.)

A Quaker concern for Ukraine

In early May Mikhail Roshchin of Moscow Meeting and Roland Rand of Talinn Friends Worship Group in Estonia brought a concern to the Europe and Middle East Section (EMES) of Friends World Committee for Consultation. They wished to travel to Ukraine to find out what ordinary people were experiencing in the midst of violent conflict and ask if there was anything Quakers could do in a modest way to foster local peace initiatives. Friends gathered in Strasbourg for the EMES Annual Meeting recognised and upheld this concern, and asked EMES to facilitate it by banking any money collected for it.

An article appeared in the Friend (May 16) after which Friends, many Meetings and two Trusts, together with sources in other European countries, gave enough to cover the costs of our two Friends’ visits; there might be surplus for small-scale one-off support if some promising Ukrainian peace work was identified.

In the mean time the violence was getting worse, which made it unsafe to go during the summer, which was the original plan. Eventually Roland visited Kiev and the Odessa Region in September. In conversations with members of different ethnic groups, young people and a religious leader, he found a universal wish for the fighting to end, though some did not want this if the price was the break-up of the country. He attended a meeting of the local Alternative to Violence Group, and commented, “At the AVP seminars it was the clear wish for Ukrainians to live in a tolerant environment despite the differences among them. I sensed that many had reached that viewpoint at the end of the seminar. The regret over historical neighbours not managing to live in harmony was shared by many who held nationalistic viewpoints. Compromise was considered essential for a peaceful solution to a conflict.” He recommended AVP training in Ukraine as a possible recipient of Quaker support.

His first meeting in Odessa was with the AVP Group there, where again the national situation was discussed. “Concerning the question what can be done right now for the resolution of the conflict, it was found that activity should take place on several levels: person-to-person, system-to-system. One person cannot resolve conflict between systems, but s/he can help on the person-to-person level. Some participants thought that it is important to start with the closest one, for example with oneself.”

Roland Rand with children in Odessa
Next day he met the philanthropic organization “The Way Home”, and heard about the temporary living arrangements for families from the eastern Ukraine regions. He visited a Kindergarten for low income large families and gave the children toys and candy. There is a possibility of organizing summer camps in Ukraine and Estonia, because the opportunity for children to learn about other cultures early would be helpful in building tolerance. This is another programme for which he advocated Quaker support.

He also met other community activists, among them Inna Tereshchenko, director of the Odessa Regional Mediation Group. Currently Inna is the representative for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). (A number of Friends have worked with her in the past and have a high regard for her.) Roland wants to stay in touch with her and give her whatever support he can. He found that cultural days and festivals are being held to promote peace and stability. Good examples are the free-of-charge concert given in Odessa that he attended, and the women's movement's demonstration at Maidan Square in Kiev against the war.

Mikhail (known as Misha) managed to reach Lugansk near the border with Russia in October. This District has declared itself the “Lugansk Republic” which makes Ukraine a “foreign country”. He found both his journey and the city very calm and quiet since the armistice which was agreed in Minsk in September – but is not universally honoured. He says, “The armistice is observed well here. I have met a few responsible people such as the President of People's Council of the Lugansk Republic, Alexei Kariakin, who took part  in the Minsk peace  negotiations. I have met also with a vice-prime-minister Vassili Nikitin. Especially interesting and helpful for me was a meeting with a troupe from the Ukrainian-speaking theatre in the city. In the People's Council I heard of a project of a peacemaking dialogue between Lugansk and Ukraine. I feel that this proposal is very positive.”

He also reports “a peacemaking initiative of a social-political leader of Alchevsk (a city in Lugansk province) called Alexey Mozgovoy who started a real peacemaking direct dialogue, by means of web, tv and skype connections, with with peacemaking activists (journalists, political people and even a few military people) from Kiev.”

War-damaged church in Lugansk
In general Misha felt that “there is a lack of presence of peacemaking, human-rights and humanitarian international organizations operating in Lugansk and Lugansk province. I saw myself in the city only representatives of International Red Cross. I feel that more long-term peace-making Quaker work in Lugansk and Eastern Ukraine is not only possible, but needed. I can continue to collaborate with friends there who are searching a long-term established peace on the base of their program of dialogue between both parts of Ukraine.” It was part of Misha’s original plan to make a visit to Donetsk where much fighting has taken place. He still has funds in hand for this if it proves safe to go. Meanwhile, he plans to keep up the contacts he has made in Lugansk. He is also in touch with the peace-making movement "Anti-War" (Antivoina). This movement is based in Kiev and organizing discussions using tv and web links across the country.

The AVP project leader in Kiev said later: “I'd like to say that Roland's mission was a success. Thanks to him, we started raising important issues and a desire to promote peacemaking. In my opinion, we had a real peaceful dialogue, and I'm sure it has helped many of us to take another step to understanding its meaning.” There are fuller reports from both Friends on their experiences, and copies are available from lampen (at) hopeproject.co.uk.

Friends gathered in Strasbourg for the EMES Annual Meeting recognised and upheld this concern, and asked EMES to facilitate it by banking any money collected for it. A support group was set up for them. It hoped that ongoing support for peace activists there would follow in some form, not necessarily involving new structures, which it felt it could not undertake to manage. This seems to be happening.

The first article in the Friend and other information about this initiative raised an astonishing £10,490 from Friends, Meetings and Trusts to make it happen. The original plan was for each journey to be made by two Friends, but this proved impossible, so our Friends’ costs were less than expected, around £6,600. This left a good surplus to devote to the local peace-building initiatives which they recommended to us: the AVP training, the proposed summer camp for displaced children, and the work of our friends in the Odessa Regional Mediation Group. There is also a modest grant for the continuing dialogue between Misha and his new contacts. Misha and Roland want to thank those who supported their concern and bring back to you the gratitude of people in Ukraine who are trying to be positive in the midst of fear, anger, loss and uncertainty.

Picturing a national economy as a "household": John Sentamu, Anglican archbishop of York, introduces his just-released book On Rock or Sand, published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Melanie McDonagh says that "the book is a vivid reminder of the forgotten but obvious truth that most progressive British politics, from Wilberforce to Joseph Rowntree, have had a squarely Christian origin."

The top ten reasons Gregg Koskela is a Quaker.

Welcome to a new virtual meetinghouse. And C. Wess Daniels is building a participatory pedagogy.

Carl Abbott: Is Portland the big bully of Oregon?

It's not the same: American digital diplomacy in Russia after Michael McFaul.

What Terrell Jermaine Starr learned about race relations in Ukraine.

Once again, under Samantha Fish's spell...