Cornel West – Hope on a Tightrope


“The vocation of the intellectual is to turn easy answers into critical questions and to put those critical questions to people with power.”

“The quest for truth, the quest for the good, the quest for the beautiful, all require us to let suffering speak, let victims be visible, and demand that social misery be put on the agenda of those with power. So to me, pursuing the life of the mind is inextricably linked with he struggle of those on the margins of society who have been dehumanized.” –Dr. Cornel West in Hope on a Tightrope

You can find more quotes from the book on this blog.

Howard Thurman, The Inward Journey

“In the long way that we take in, in our growing up, in the vicissitudes of life by which we are led into its meaning and mystery, there are established for us, for each one of us, certain landmarks. They represent discoveries sometimes symbolizing the moment when we became aware of the purpose of our lives; they may establish for us our membership in the human frailty; they may be certain words that were spoken into a stillness within us the sound thereof singing forever through all the corridors of our being as landmarks; yes, each one of us has our own…”

Waking Up To The Gifts

There is another way to think about Zacchaeus’ story and that is it is a call to wake up to the gifts that are before us (see part one here).

Jesus helps to restore Zacchaeus to the community of the people of God, yes he humanizes him, and yes, he gives him back his dignity by showing that Zacchaeus is a far more complex and beautiful individual than any single-story can maintain.

But Jesus also accepts the gifts that Zacchaeus has been giving. Continue reading Waking Up To The Gifts

Friend In Residence at Earlham School of Religion

Wess Daniels I will be in Richmond, Indiana in a couple weeks as the Friend in Residence at Earlham School of Religion. If you’re in the area and want to participate it would be lovely to have you join us. I am really looking forward to being out there with Friends from all over.

Here is what they’ve put together by way of a public announcement:

C. Wess Daniels, minister of Camas Friends Church in Washington, will be joining ESR as our Fall 2014 Friend in Residence from October 7-11th. During his time at ESR, Wess will be presenting the program for Common Meal, bringing the message for programmed worship, and leading a workshop. In addition to these public events, he will also meet one-on-one with students, and enjoy fellowship with the ESR community and local Quakers.

Continue reading Friend In Residence at Earlham School of Religion

Listening From the Divine Perspective (Hosea 11)


“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” (Hosea 11:1–4 NRSV)

This summer we are reflecting on the question how do we listen to God, and what happens to us when we do?

We have covered the topics of listing to God in Chaos, listening to God in the dynamic present, listening to God that moves us towards sympathy of the other person and last week Ashley Wilcox talked about a kind of listening to God that removes our fear.

Something that stood out to me about Ashley Wilcox’s message last week is that she said that some of us fear death and some of us fear life. And both of these fears are very real.

Our fear of death can be about where we go when we die, or if we go anywhere at all. It can be around the loss of loved ones. It can be about the death of our institutions, organizations, or even a way of life that we have become accustomed to.

Our fear of life is the fear of what might happen that we cannot control. The fear of what others might think of us. The fear of losing someone or something. The fear of not having enough. The fear of the toll of living. The fear of the big questions that go unanswered.

But Ashley said something else that has stuck with me. To paraphrase her, she said that convergent friends are friends who lean into both death and life with courage and perseverance. Continue reading Listening From the Divine Perspective (Hosea 11)

Signposts, Abraham and the Unknown (Genesis 15)

In her book Journey Inward, Journey Outward, Elizabeth O’Connor says of the importance of self-reflection: “We must be engaged with ourselves, if we are going to find out where are, and where it is we want to go.”

One of the ways that we know where we are, and where we are going is by landmarks and signposts. This is true in the natural world as much as it is in the spiritual one.

Spiritual signposts are often favorite stories we tell about your our life, pivotal moments where we have encountered God. Like a regular signpost or landmark, these spiritual counterparts are meant to mark our directions and remind us of where God is leading us. They help us in our journey towards wholeness. Continue reading Signposts, Abraham and the Unknown (Genesis 15)

The Bible is the People’s Book

This is a message I gave a couple years ago and coming across it today I feel it’s worth sharing again. We in the church have a paradoxical relationship with the bible. Many inside and outside the church have misgivings about certain texts or whole swaths of texts, while other texts serve as basic idioms and metaphors in our culture so much so that we don’t even notice it anymore. Is the Bible still a relevant book for us? I contend yes, but not in the ways we’ve often been taught. I argue that there is a Quaker way of reading the bible that bypasses at least some of our modern hang-ups, and I suggest that the Bible really is the people’s book. It is a collection of stories that give witness to God’s liberating work throughout human history. Seen in this light, we can find ways to enter into the story as our own and become participants in God’s transformation of ourselves and the world.