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Blog Entries Quaker

Listen to My Interview On the EasterPod

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This past Sunday, I am on a new episode of the EasterPod, a podcast by Corey Easterday.

This one is extra special for me because Corey is not only a friend and a great person, leader, and creative entrepreneur, he was also in my youth group when I was first a youth pastor back at Barberton Evangelical Friends Church from 2001-2003. Corey was in 7th grade then, now he is doing all kinds of really great things, not least of which is being the National Director for the Laundry Project.

In this episode, Corey and I cover a lot of ground: I share about my personal story, how how I came to pastoral work at Barberton Friends and beyond, how I became a Quaker and why I still am one today, we discuss my passion around anti-poverty work, the book of Revelation, my work at Guilford College, and Fireweed Coffee. As you can see, it is a wide-ranging conversation.

I hope you will tune in, share the episode with folks you think would find it helpful, subscribe to hear more of what Corey is doing, and share your feedback!

Here’s the episode:

6. Revitalization, Resisting Empire, & A Long, Storied Friendship w/ Wess Daniels

This podcast can be found:

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Blog Entries

Caring for Self and Others in Times of Trouble: Some Spiritual Tools and Tips

This was shared with me from Alexander Levering Kern, graduate of Guilford College and Executive Director Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service (CSDS) at Northeastern University. He and his family attends Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I think you will find it helpful. Please share with others as you see fit.

  1. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe some more. Take time in your day, at any moment, to take ten deep even breaths. Carve out 5-10 minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness or contemplative prayer. Start here, now, wherever you are.
  2. Ground yourself in the present moment. Focus your awareness on something real, enduring, or beautiful in your surroundings. Look up often. Discover the wonder and awe that is already here.
  3. Acknowledge your fears, anxieties, concerns. Offer them up in prayer, if you pray. Write them in your journal. Share them with others. Feel what you feel, honor it, and know that it is not the final word.
  4. Remember you are not alone. Ever. You are surrounded by care and support. Reach out. 
  5. Create and sustain community. Show up for one another. Listen compassionately. Practice empathy. Even while avoiding “close physical contact,” message the people you care about. Stand with those most vulnerable and those who suffer the brunt of prejudice and fear. Check in on folks. Call your mother, father, guardian, mentor, little sibling, long lost friend. 
  6. Unplug, judiciously. While staying aware of developments, do not let the Corona-chaos govern you, but forgive yourself when and if it does.  
  7. Practice kindness. There is a temptation in health scares to view others as potential threats. Remember we are in this together. While practicing health guidelines and appropriate caution, remember to engage one another. Smile when you can. Bring good deeds and good energy into our world.
  8. Stay healthy through sleep, diet, exercise. See healing and wellness holistically – mind, body, and spirit. 
  9. Make art. Discover, imagine, engage your hopes and fears, the beauty and ugliness of our world. Write, paint, sing, dance, soar.
  10. Practice gratitude. In the face of crises, make note of the things for which you are grateful: your breath, the particular shade of the sky at dusk – or dawn. The color blue, the color green, the gifts and strengths you have, other people in your life, the ability to laugh. A pet.
  11. Connect with your spiritual, religious, humanist, cultural, or other communities. Find strength and solace and power in traditions, texts, rituals, practices, holy times and seasons. 
  12. Pray as you are able, silently, through song, in readings, through ancestors. Remember the long view of history, the rhythms and cycles of nature, the invisible threads that connect us all.
  13. Practice hope. Trust in the future and our power to endure and persist, to live fully into the goodness that awaits.  
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Blog Entries

Holding Family Meetings To Keep A Sense of Routine and Connection in the Midst of Covid19

A couple of years back, we came across a book called “The Secret of Happy Families,” which I am not necessary recommending but there were some handy ideas in the book. One of them was the idea of a weekly family meeting, and a basic layout for what that meeting could look like. So we borrowed that idea and did it consistently at first and do it off and on now, but enough that the kids know the general routine. For the basic family meeting, there’s an opportunity to talk about a) what went well last week, b) what could have gone better, and c) what are our intentions for the coming week. Everyone gets to talk for themselves, with feedback from the group. When we do this, we often do it on Sunday evenings during dinner.

Seeing as how we’re all experimenting with new routines in life because of the Coronavirus, we adapted this concept yet again.

In lieu of going to meeting for worship, because ours was cancelled as many were, we had our own family meeting this morning (we have 3 kids – 8, 10, and 12 yrs). This is something we do from time to time & in the coming weeks we will be more consistent with this practice.

Not only does having a family meeting for worship help keep some sense of routine around worship, but gives us an opportunity to discuss how we’re all feeling, share worries and gratitudes, pray for those people and thing we are concerned, and share information about how things are shifting.

Here is the format we used for a family meeting this morning:

  • Silence (about 5 mins)
    — Ask if anyone has anything they wanted to share out of the silence with the rest of us
  • Each person shares any worries or concerns
  • Each person shares their gratitudes
  • Someone offers a prayer for these concerns and gratitudes shared
  • Business items (opportunity for sharing key info out to the family) – During this part of our meeting we discussed family expectations for the coming weeks (for Heaven’s sake – don’t use all the toilet paper!), how things will likely shift with school and work and what that means for all of us, new things we’d like to try in the changes, discuss the morning checklist (a staple we use to help the kids be more self-guided), and re-read the tech guidelines we crafted last fall.
  • Closed with a blessing from J. Philip Newall

The blessings of heaven, 
The blessings of earth,
The blessings of sea and of sky
On those we love this day
On every human family
[And on all of God’s creation]
The gifts of heaven,
The gifts of earth,
The gifts of sea and of sky.

J Philip Newall

This little model of family meeting will be something we keep coming back to over the coming weeks and months to try and help keep some semblance of routine and organization in the family. I’d love to hear what others are doing as well.

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Blog Entries

The No. 666 & Resisting Empire: Inverse Podcast Interview

Inverse Podcast with Hosts Jarrod McKenna and Dr. Drew Hart

Last week, my interview with the Inverse Podcast was published. The conversation with Drew Hart (Professor at Messiah College, Author of The Trouble I’ve Seen, Changing the Way the Church Views Racism) and Jarrod McKenna (Australian theologian and activist) was a lot of fun and broad in terrain. The main focus of the podcast was my book, Resisting Empire, where we spent time discussing Quakerism, some of the broad themes in book of Revelation, the Poor People’s Campaign, and the Mark of the Beast, the meaning of the numbers 666 and more. It’s well worth the listen, and great intro into a very different way of reading and understanding the Book of Revelation.

Jarrod’s Instagram

I recommend not only listening to my interview but checking out all the great guests they have on Inverse. They’re doing really great work.

You can listen to Inverse through Apple Podcasts, Overcast, and anywhere you get your Podcasts.

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Quotations

The Power of Presence

This is a long quote from one of my favorite books, “A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of Quick Fix” by Edwin Friedman.

I’ve been thinking about it the past couple days with all the news about Covid-19 and thinking about the importance of pastors, leaders, parents, and others to offer the power of their presence to help calm those in our communities.

THE POWER OF PRESENCE by Edwin Friedman
The notion that an entity can modify surrounding relationships through its presence rather than its forcefulness, moreover, is not unknown to science. Catalysts function that way, for example, and we use the term to catalyze to mean a reaction that occurs without forcibly rearranging the parts.

Enzymes in the body function in a similar way. Although it is possible to imagine the work of enzymes as snipping off strands of DNA and putting them in another place, they actuallydo not function in that manner. In fact, it is not really known how their presence causes DNA to rearrange itself.

But perhaps a transformer in an electrical circuit is the best metaphor for the workings of presence. Transformers can activate or deactivate a circuit that runs through them, depending on the ratio of coils they contain.

Reactive leaders function as a step-up transformer. As one education administrator said, “My mother was a step-up transformer, all right. If there was anxiety in the room and she was present, you could count on it escalating.”

But it is also possible to be a step-down transformer — to function in such a way that you let the current go through you without zapping you or fusing you to the rest of the circuit.

To the extent that leaders and consultants can maintain a non-anxious presence in a highly energized anxiety field, they can have the same effects on that field that transformers have in an electrical circuit. Transformers have no moving parts. They reduce the potential in a field by the nature of their own presence and being; they are in effect a field themselves.

Anyone can remain non-anxious if they also try to be non-present. The trick is to be both non-anxious and present simultaneously.

Leadership that is rooted in a sense of presence can also be misconstrued as a justification for passivity — for avoiding getting your feet wet, for just being “nice so everyone will love or respect you.”

Leadership through self-differentiation is not easy; learning techniques and imbibing data are far easier. Nor is striving or achieving success as a leader without pain: there is the pain of isolation, the pain of loneliness, the pain of personal attacks, the pain of losing friends.

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Blog Entries

Register Now for Online Webinar: Leadership Amongst Friends

Dear Friends, I am co-facilitating an online course for Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, UK on Leadership Amongst Friends with Zélie Gross and John Gray, two British Quakers. The six-week course runs from 20 April to 31 May 2020.

I’d like to invite you to consider joining us this year if you are interested in spending some time thinking through your own leadership practices and what insights can be gained from leadership theory as well as the Quaker tradition.

Here is what we’ll be looking into:

How does leadership work in our non-hierarchical Society of Friends, and what does it mean to take a lead when working in relationship with others? This course is for anyone across our programmed and unprogrammed traditions who is interested in questions of leading and building a participatory community within a Quaker context.

The structure of the course will be three modules focused on:

  1. Leadership and the self, led by Wess Daniels
  2. Quaker distinctives in leadership, led by John Gray
  3. Leadership in Quaker communities, led by Zélie Gross

Each two-week module offers the unique contribution of a course leader’s experience and skills, but all three of us will be participating in the discussion forums and we have been working closely to develop the curriculum for this course. Alongside a live webinar in each module, the course offers a great range of audio visual and written materials for you to engage with, and activities to help you reflect on your own leadership experience and develop your practice.

I think this course is a really exceptional offering in the Quaker world and am very excited to get to participate in it with Zélie and John. 

More on the course:

The cost of the course is £38.00/$53

This course can be completed in your own time, although we recommend setting aside 2-3 hours a week.

All three modules will go live a week before the start date, so you can plan your own approach and work with the course materials in any order you choose.

This course is intended for Quakers and others who have an interest in Quaker leadership, across our programmed and unprogrammed traditions. You may or may not be in an appointed or employed leadership role.

For more information and the online booking form visit the course webpage.