Clerical Oppressors – John Greenleaf Whittier (Poem)

JUST God! and these are they
Who minister at thine altar, God of Right!
Men who their hands with prayer and blessing lay
On Israel’s Ark of light!

What! preach, and kidnap men?
Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor?
Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then
Bolt hard the captive’s door?

What! servants of thy own
Merciful Son, who came to seek and save
The homeless and the outcast, fettering down
The tasked and plundered slave!

Pilate and Herod, friends!
Chief priests and rulers, as of old, combine!
Just God and holy! is that church, which lends
Strength to the spoiler, thine?

Paid hypocrites, who turn
Judgment aside, and rob the Holy Book
Of those high words of truth which search and burn
In warning and rebuke;

Feed fat, ye locusts, feed!
And, in your tasselled pulpits, thank the Lord
That, from the toiling bondman’s utter need,
Ye pile your own full board.

How long, O Lord! how long
Shall such a priesthood barter truth away,
And in Thy name, for robbery and wrong
At Thy own altars pray? Continue reading Clerical Oppressors – John Greenleaf Whittier (Poem)

Quaker Bankers, Tithes and a Chocolate Factory (Matt 10:8)

This is the message I gave on Sunday morning October 19, 2012. You can listen to the audio version of it here.

Last week we started to tackle the difficult subject of money and the church at Camas Friends. We discussed some possible ways of approaching the subject in a holistic manner — as caretakers or curators of all that has been entrusted to us. And then we discussed some of the ways we might think about the “practice of giving” as people who follow Jesus.

As I’ve been considering these questions, I couldn’t help but wonder if Friends have always wrestled with these questions, and how they have thought about it in the past. But with many of the Quakers we’ve been learning about in our Wednesday evening Soup and Bread meetings – there have been were successful bankers and business people a part of our tradition almost from the very beginning. Today’s ethos among Quakers – and I think this is reflective of all stripes – is one that often avoid discussions of money altogether. But from a historical point of view it hasn’t always been this way. Continue reading Quaker Bankers, Tithes and a Chocolate Factory (Matt 10:8)

Thinking Quakers, Money and Stewardship

A couple months back I started feeling the tug to wrestle with the topic of money in the church. As a preacher, I’ve largely avoided the topic like the plague. These are the kinds of things I nightmares about. I was a budding and impressionable young man when PTL when bankrupt and Jim Baker headed off to jail. In fact, truth be-told, my family had a membership to the resort for at least one year because I remember going there for a vacation! I know standing up to talk about money creates anxiety for people. Probably most of us know what it’s like to have been made to feel guilty about not giving enough. We all know the characters on TV, many of us have grown weary with the church and all its hypocrisy around money. Continue reading Thinking Quakers, Money and Stewardship

Occupy and Convergent Friends

A couple of years ago I had an article published in the Quaker Studies periodical called “Convergent Friends: The Emergence of Postmodern Quakerism” that attempted to identify some of the features of convergent Friends.

Convergent Friends is a hybrid Quakerism that attempts draw together the best parts of the Quaker tradition without feeling the limitations of the plethora of binaries available within our tradition: unprogrammed/unprogrammed, bible/experience, contemplation/action, belief/practice, etc (p. 242). Further, convergent Friends are decentralized, and grassroots. The central characteristic of this group is building relationships with others, listening to one another’s stories, and sharing worship together (different styles and in different places) as a means to embodying Quakerism wherever they are. Convergent Friends is fully participatory. The cross-section between tradition and culture is the roots of this conversation: tradition is the only grounds for renewal (and innovation). Continue reading Occupy and Convergent Friends

On Integrity: Mirrors, Ships and Living Truthfully (James 1:19-27)

This was the message I gave during our meeting for worship at Camas Friends this past Sunday.

James 1:22   But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23 For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24 for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. 25 But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. 

Mirrors and Self-Examination_

Integrity is about rightly seeing what it is that we reflect in the world, it is about owning up to the image we portray of ourselves, and of others. It is about not just knowing truth, but living it.

James 1 never uses the word integrity, but it does use the image of a mirror so we get the idea that people who hear and do God’s word reflect or should expect to see something in the mirror.

So you use a mirror maybe to check to make sure you don’t have anything like asparagus stuck in your teeth right? What would you think of me if I looked, started to walk away, forgot whether I had food in my teeth, walked back to look again, walked away, maybe I forgot again, and on the cycle goes. Continue reading On Integrity: Mirrors, Ships and Living Truthfully (James 1:19-27)

‘what thou hast been to me in the night’ James Nayler (A Psalm)

I’ve was reading a variety of quotes from early Friends in preparation for my message on Sunday and stumbled ever so timely on this one. It speaks to my current condition as something I really needed to hear:

It is in my heart to praise thee O my God, let me never forget thee, what thou hast been to me in the night, by thy presence in the day of trial, when I was beset in darkness, when I was cast out as a wandering bird, when I was assaulted with strong temptations, then thy presence in secret did preserve me, and in a low estate I felt thee near me. When the floods sought to sweep me away, thou set a compass for them how far they should pass over when my way was through the sea, and when I passed under the mountains there was thou present with me; when the weight of the hills was upon me thou upheld me, else had I sunk under the earth, when I was as one altogether helpless, when tribulation and anguish was upon me day and night, and the earth without foundation, when I went on the way of wrath and passed by the gates of hell, when all comforts stood afar off and he that is mine enemy had dominion, when I was cast into the pit and was as one appointed to death, when I was between the millstones, and as one crushed with the weight of his adversary, as a father thou was with me, and the rock of thy presence. When the mouths of lions roared against me, and fear took hold on my soul in the pit, then I called upon thee in the night, and my cries was strong before thee daily, who answered me from thy habitation and delivered me from thy dwelling place, saying, I will set thee above all thy fears, and lift up thy feet above the head of oppression. I believed and was strengthened, and thy word was salvation. Thou didst fight on my part when I wrestled with death, and when darkness would have shut me up, then thy light shone about me, and thy banner was over my head. When my work was in the furnace, and as I passed through the fire, by thee I was not consumed, though the flames ascended above my head. When I beheld the dreadful visions and was amongst the fiery spirits thy faith stayed me, else through fear I had fallen; I saw thee and believed, so the enemy could not prevail.


-James Nayler 1659



Peace is a Garden (James 3:13-18)

This is the sermon I preached Sunday January 16, 2011.

The want of peace_

One of the queries I sent out for reflection this week over email to the church was “how do we support peace?” How do I, Wess Daniels, We the Daniels Family, We Camas Friends Church, support peace?

But I also wondered. What does it mean to support peace, to really want it? Because it’s one thing to put a bumper sticker on your scooter, as I’ve done, it’s quite another thing to actively pursue peace in a 20 year family conflict, to try and reconcile with a brother who has deeply wounded you, to step outside your front door and begin nurturing relationships with your neighbors that might actually produce fruits of peace.

A friend of mine is known for being a peacemaker in his neighborhood. Each fourth of July he and his wife throw party for their entire block and everyone comes out because he’s literally befriended most of his neighborhood. If you hang out with him over the course of 3 hours 3 or 4 neighbors will randomly drop by to say hello, drop off cookies, or some little treat for his children. It’s unreal. How many of us don’t even know the names of our neighbors let alone actually create space where relationships can grow and neighborhood peace can be nurtured?

I’m reminded of Don and Joy’s presence in their friends’ life as she past away and their care for her family since then — this is a perfect example of nurturing and supporting peace in a neighborhood.

Do we want peace and how do we support it? Continue reading Peace is a Garden (James 3:13-18)