• Silence can save us

    Ever since my class, “The Practice of Silence,” I am convinced more and more of the power of silence, and also it’s difficulty.

    Silence has a bad rap these days. My sense is that it is more than it has had in previous generations. But in either case, it is a hard sell.

    For one, there’s the saying, “silence is violence.” Inaction in the face of great evil is indeed an act of violence, a “sin of omission” as we used to call it. The absence of a good action in the presence of an unjust one. When required to actively resist evil, we must do what we can to stop it and/or stand in solidarity with those suffering from that evil. But not all silence is inaction. Being a bystander in the face of racism and misogyny is violence, practicing a listening, active silence, has the power to sensitize us to the the pain and suffering around us so that we might act faithfully, justly. I know of many stories where individuals and congregations have taken great action out of their collective, listening silence.

    I remember one meeting where a concern for hungry children in the neighborhood during the summer break was lifted up during the silent portion of a meeting for worship. The meeting was moved. Before people left the meetinghouse after worship that morning, there was a plan set in motion to respond. Within six weeks time, the meeting was working with the health department, local schools, and food bank to offer breakfast and lunch to any child in the neighborhood who wanted it Monday-Friday during the summer. This doesn’t happen all the time, but communities can build up a relationship to silence that enables them to be sensitive to the suffering of others in their community and prepared to act collectively as they are led.

    Have there been times in Quaker history when Quakers have allowed their active silence to slip into the passive silence that empire seeks to lull is into? Yes, absolutely. No practice is immune from the corruption the power of the religion of empire. In the same way that Walter Wink argued that powers can fall, and powers can be redeemed, so to it is true with human practice. However, if silence is a target of corrupting power, even more reason, to me, to resist its being co-opted.

    It must be a powerful practice indeed.

  • Building a Writing Studio

    Building a Writing Studio

    About two years ago, I moved out of my home office and handed it over to our oldest daughter so she could have her own room. Up to this point, the three kids shared rooms in all of the houses we’ve lived in. But in 2021, we moved into a new house with more space, so we let the kids spread out. The move was exciting for our oldest, but it meant I relinquished my “library.”

    Since then, when working away from my office at Guilford, I’ve made do at the kitchen table, the dining room table, coffee shops, and more recently, a desk downstairs along the outside wall in the basement (as it turns out, it gets really cold sitting there!).

    These have been okay solutions, but with starting my very first sabbatical on January 2, 2024, I wanted a better space that was my own. Knowing I’d spend most of my time at home writing and researching with no big travel plans, I began thinking back to all of my “workspaces,” offices, and setups and started to dream about building, in the words of Michael Pollan, a place of my own.

  • Looking for Privacy Focused Blogging Platforms

    My beloved WordPress is becoming more and more corporate and finding more and more ways to tie data-tracking and AI into their product. I’ve used the self-hosted WordPress install for most of my blog’s existence, but even this version of the platform is showing signs of data-mining, namely the many ways “Jetpack” is interwoven into all of the product.

    I am on the look out for a new blogging platform that will not mine data, doesn’t cost a fortune, and is focused on privacy and publishing, rather than making money for the software company.

    Some features I want:

    • Ability to control all data/tracking, etc.
    • Ability to import 20 years worth of writing from this website
    • Integration into the fediverse / activitypub is a major plus
    • Ability to create a (paid) newsletter is a plus
    • Custom domains
    • Customize themes
    • Lightweight, fast
    • Focus on writing

    Some I like so far:

    I’ll update the list as I find more.

    I am not sure if I’ll move off WordPress, but in the meantime, I tried deactivating the Jetpack plugin. It made a huge difference in terms of how responsive the site was and I liked that there was no longer data sharing to automattic, the company behind WordPress. However, there are no basic stats, no way to email subscribers, and a few other pro-features that I find necessary to keep the blog running. This is a sign to me of where this is all headed. You shouldn’t lose basic functionality if you don’t want your information tracked.

  • On The Rebound

    My son has recently gotten interested in basketball. This has had an unintended consequence for me too.

    Up until now, he has not showed much interest in it but he has made friends at his new school who invited him to join the 5-6th grade basketball team. One weekday evening in early February he let Emily and I know he was going to join the team (and that he’d be needing basketball shoes!).

    He’s still learning how to play, but he really loves it. It’s been fun watching him light up when he talks about the team and what he’s learning. We’ve even started watching Cavs games together. It’s been close to 30 years since I followed the NBA. What’s been even more surprising is that something unlocked in me recently. I used to love watching and playing basketball. While I always loved football as well, my 5’7 frame and skillset meant I could be decent at basketball, whereas for football, well, I’m built more like the guy tackling player’s thirst with Gatorade.

    Growing up, my brothers and I built a makeshift hoop in our backyard. We played pickup games for hours on end. Eventually, I played on a couple teams. I was okay. My first year playing for Marlington, I sat on the bench. I used to joke I was 5th string. But I definitely got better the more I played. In Highschool, I got the chance to start at point guard – mind you it was a small private school, but nonetheless it was a point of pride to see how far I’d come. I loved playing. When I was on the court it was like something switched and a much more competitive person appeared.

  • Riding Uhwarrie National Forest

    Overlooking Badin Lake

    About 50 miles south of where we live is the Uhwarrie National Forest 51,000+ acres lying just West of Badin Lake. I have been down to Uhwarrie a couple times, once of my motorcycle, and once with the family for hiking. As I’ve been getting more into cycling, and especially “gravel” riding, I’ve been hearing from a lot of the local cyclists that this is the place to go because of all of the gravel roads, great scenery, and other trails you can ride.

    Part of the focus for my sabbatical is doing things I don’t normally do when I’m working full-time, which includes more adventures on my bike. So I decided to to pack my Kona Rove onto the back of the van and drive the hour south to spend the day in Uhwarrie. Here’s the Ride With GPS webpage for those interested in seeing the specific trail I took.

    The point for me was to get out, do something I haven’t done before, and ride for a long time. It was very peaceful and a lot of fun. The weather was perfect at 68 degrees and it felt like I had the place to myself. I did about 2,000 feet of elevation and something between 20-25 miles (I had to restart my GPS at least once).

    I parked at the “Hunt Camp” and planned to take the Moccasin Creek Rd but when I got there a bulldozer was tearing up the road, so I needed to ride out rt 159 to Mullinix Rd and cut in that way to get over to Badin lake. I visited Badin lake and a couple of the campgrounds on that side of the park before riding deeper into the park and finally climbing up Falls Mountain before working my way back to the car. Most of the roads I rode on were gravel which is exactly what I was looking for. Only one spot was really difficult and that was the Falls Dam trail, which as it turned out was more for Off-roading vehicles that a gravel bike! It took me some time to traverse the 4.5 miles downhill about 600 feet through the rugged of large rocks, roots, mud pits, and even a fallen tree (see above) but I made it and I had a lot of fun in the process. I ended the day at a favorite local brewery with a little reading. I’m looking forward to more adventures soon!


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.

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