• Write What You See: Standing In The Great Traditions of Resistance (Revelation 1)

    Open AI Image

    I want to share the sermon I preached on April 15, 2023, for the American Friends Service Committee’s annual gathering in Philadelphia. Each year AFSC gathers for business, workshops, and community building. During this time, they have a programmed worship service as a part of their time together. This was the second time I was invited to come and preach at the meeting; the first was in 2014 when we still lived in Camas. It was a lovely experience being with Friends this year, and even better because I was able to take two students to travel in the ministry with me, making the whole trip a valuable and enjoyable experience.


    Verses: Revelation 1:9–11 NRSV

    “I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamum, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.””

    The Two “Projects”

    As far back as the biblical tradition goes, there has always been a religion of empire and a religion of liberation and resistance:

    Dorothee Soelle, a Feminist Biblical Scholar, put it like this:

    “We are participants in one of these two projects: exploitation or fullness of life.” Soelle – The Window of Vulnerability, p14

    And in another place, she spoke of what it means to be a participant in the project of the fullness of life, saying:

    What I can do in the context of the rich world is minute and without risk in comparison with the great traditions of resistance. The issues is not to venerate heroes but together to offer resistance, actively and deliberately and in very diverse situations, against becoming habituated to death, something that is one of the spiritual foundations of the culture of the First World. – Soelle

    It is this point I want to explore: what does it mean for us to see ourselves as a part of the great traditions of resistance, this project both spiritual and social, with an active and deliberate refusal to becoming habituated to death?

    We will do this through the lens of three important letters penned by spiritual leaders rooted in this project of life.


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  • A Hat Trick For Supporting Curiosity and Growth

    I have a little trick, it’s kind of silly, but it helps me when I’m in trouble. I do it whenever my attitude isn’t great or I feel resistant about something I have to do.

    I call it the “hat trick.”

    While I consider myself to be an open person, excited to learn new things, and willing to try new things and experiment, I also notice in myself plenty of times when I start to move in the other direction.

    There are times when there are upcoming committee meetings, looming conflicts, or difficult conversations I need to have that I really just don’t want to do. When I think about these things my stomach starts to turn and it starts to feel like drudgery. Or I just have a bad attitude about the whole thing.

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  • Rebuilding the Collection: One Record and One Story at a Time

    Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon

    Content warning: Mention and discussion about suicide.

    Yesterday I went to the record store with my wife and 10 year old son C to work on building my collection. I love visiting record stores not only because I love music but because of the memories encased in dust jackets.

    I went to the record store yesterday to celebrate my step-dad’s Birthday. We both love records.

    He would have been 65.
    19 years ago he died from suicide.

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  • Fire-Flowers by Emily Pauline Johnson

    Fire-Flowers
    And only where the forest fires have sped,  
      Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands, 
    A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,  
    And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed, 
      It hides the scars with almost human hands. And only to the heart that knows of grief,
      Of desolating fire, of human pain, 
    There comes some purifying sweet belief,  
    Some fellow-feeling beautiful, if brief. 
      And life revives, and blossoms once again.
    By Emily Pauline Johnson
  • A Little An Aside About The Quaker Nomad

    In my last post, I wrote about Natalie Ramsland’s zine-making Quaker Project, Fold in the Light. It’s fresh, original, and inspiring.

    But I left out an aside I wanted to share here: One of the zines she included in the mail sent to me is of a Quaker woman named Betsy Kenworthy: The Quaker Nomad (read the digital version on Natalie’s Substack).

    This was a familiar name and face to me from my time living in the Pacific Northwest. I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of Betsy and a little story I have of her.

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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