• Ask a Friend: Quaker Glossary and Terms

    An email I received recently asked about finding a Quaker glossary of terms online.

    This individual was looking specifically for an explanation of the Quaker use of the phrase “First Day” (what early Quakers, and some Quakers today still call “Sunday” so as to not call it by its Pagan name). Because there are any number of places one can find a glossary, I thought I’d share that response here as well.

    Feel free to use my Contact form if you’d like to participate in an upcoming “Ask a Friend” post.

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  • Bless this Mess: Beatitudes For Today

    What would be a local list of the beatitudes for your community look like if you were to make one?

    Lia Scholl, pastor of First Friends Meeting here in Greensboro, recently preached on Mt 5 and the Beatitudes. The message was great and she pointed out that in her reading the characteristics Jesus names are things most humans experience.

    Whether that is being “poor in spirit,” grieving, being meek, being persecuted for trying to challenge the status quo, standing up for justice, etc.

    For Lia, everyone can and probably has experienced at least one of these.

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  • Confronting Beastly Economics – An Anti-Imperial Look at Revelation 13

    Artwork by Ebony Watkins as a part of the We Cry Justice Cultural Art Project

    I have a chapter called “Beastly Economics” in the book, We Cry Justice: Reading the Bible With the Poor People’s CampaignIn the chapter, I discuss the concept of the “Mark of the Beast” not as some mark on a person or group in the future, but as a way of describing systems of economic oppression

    Even better, Ebony Watkins told me she was moved by the chapter so much so that she made a powerful artistic rendition of it as a part of the We Cry Justice Cultural Arts Project (above).

    I wanted an opportunity to share Ebony’s artwork with you (shared with permission) because I think you’ll find it inspiring too. And if you want to hear about her process and some of the meanings behind what is in the piece you can listen to the Freedom Church Service here where she shared.

    Below you will find the remarks I made about Revelation 13 as a precursor to what Ebony shared about her artwork.

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  • Learn as we Lead: Victims of Empire and The Great Multitude in Revelation 7

    Learn as We Lead: The Great Multitude – Revelation 7

    I was asked to share a little during the season of “Learn as We Lead,” for the Freedom Church of the Poor on the abuses and misuses of the Book of the Revelation. On Sunday I shared a little on Chapter 7 of Revelation (link to a live video of the worship service), drawing on some of the ideas from my book Resisting Empire, I spoke on how the idea of the “elect” has been abused and the importance of the multitude. See the text below.


    Revelation Chapter 7:1-8

    Rev. 7:1   After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servantsa of our God with a seal on their foreheads.”


    Rev. 7:4   And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:
    Rev. 7:5    From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed,
    from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,
    6 from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand,
    7 from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand,
    8 from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand,
    from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed.

    When Adam Barnes messaged me about the idea for a teaching on dispelling some of the destructive myths of Revelation I struggled with choosing what text.

    How do you select a text from a book of the Bible that has been so abused over time?

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  • David Whyte on Friendship

    My friend, Maia Dery is responsible for me finding and reading David Whyte. Here are a few quotes from Whyte’s lovely chapter called Friendship in his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

    Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another’s eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerability more than our triumphs, when we are under the strong illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die (71).

    Friends transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on (74).

    The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self: the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

    – David Whyte

    If you’re new to David Whyte Consolations is a wonderful book to get you started. You can get a copy of the book from the Bookshop.org (an online indie bookstore): Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

Publications


Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation as Resistance (2019)

Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation as Resistance looks at Revelation from the perspective that Revelation is not about predicting the end times but is instead a handbook for early Christian resistance and survival against empire.

Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation on Bookshop.

A Convergent Model of Renewal: Remixing the Quaker Tradition in a Participatory Culture (2015)

A convergent Model of Renewal lays out a model for working with congregations and communities alike, interested in maintaining their tradition while also becoming more connected to their context and needs of their community.

A Convergent Model on Bookshop

Image of the cover of the book The Quaker World
The Quaker World Co-Edited With Rhiannon Grant – 2022

The Quaker World is a book with over 50 authors around the world covering sections such as global Quaker history, to spirituality, and embodiment and emphasizes global Quaker diversity and biographies of Quakers.

The Quaker World on Bookshop.


More books and publications by Wess