• Grief is Disconnection

    Burning a Corona Virus as a Ritual

    A repost from November 16, 2022

    Today, I was approached by a member of my workplace about hosting a space for grieving for folks who continue to struggle after painful decisions made in 2019-2020. The desire for this person was to process grief with the hope that we could find a space to do that as a workplace and community.

    For backstory: In the fall of 2020 and Spring of 2021 my office organized, I think 4 of these opportunities. The first couple were well-attended but then attendance dipped. Then another member of the community approach me and wanted me to plan something (he had not attended the first 4 we hosted). I told this person that I would do if if they helped plan something. We did and it was nice but only a couple folks came. I began to wonder who we were doing these for. Finally, another group came together, and this time we came up with an idea for an embodied approach to grieving. We made a life-sized COVID cell and invited folks to fill it with their grievances and we burned the thing down.

  • An Interview About the Quaker World

    Robert Bell, from Guilford College, interviewed me and did a really nice write up about the new book Rhiannon Grant and I co-edited.

    The book is unique in its approach to Quaker Studies for a variety of reasons, including those we invited to write, the chapters covered, and some of the methodology behind the formation of the content. For one, we are proud of the book having a number of biographical offerings throughout the book, following inspiration from McClendon’s “Biography as Theology,” acting as case studies for how individuals have lived out their witness in the world.

    Read Bell’s piece on The Quaker World here.

    Get a copy of the book on Amazon or Routledge Books.

  • The Internet is Fun Again (Some of it anyway)


    For some reason, as much as I loved Twitter, it began to feel like a chore. Probably in part because:

    – I follow way too many people there
    – All the ads and sifting you have to do mentally
    – How much the algorithm controls what you see and who you interact with
    – It all moves so fast and I always felt like I could never keep up

    I’m enjoying the simple delight of returning to this blog and using #Mastadon. Meeting new people there. Finding that a mircoblog site like Mastadon can be well done without all the algorithims, ads, and “big names.” Learning new networks and communities is a joy to me. I don’t feel like I have to be on constantly to have a place there but I do feel like I want to check things out with no real pressure to perform and get boosts. I also like watching other people get excited to discover these new systems.

    Case in point, a couple weeks ago I was waiting for an invite to a new app (Ivory which is now out in the App Store), hoping to get a link to be an alpha tester. Sitting there refreshing the developer’s Mastadon page repeatedly for 10 mins struck me as something I have never done before – at least not for an app. Even though I didn’t get in, the excitement was fun and kind of silly. Then I realized, I’m enjoying the internet again.

    Since that point, and with the implosion of Twitter, I decided to rebuild this blog. Move it over to its own host again, and start sharing and investing again in the site. I’ve had it for such a long time and it has been such an important part of my life, career, and ministry that it seemed the obvious place to put my renewed energy and creativity.

    I’m looking forward to sharing more. If you want to subscribe to my weekly digest, I will be posting to my substack for that. But everything of importance will be shared here first.

  • Wisdom from Richard Foster on Focus

    Shawn Blanc shared a great short post yesterday titled: Six Principles for Focus and Simplicity. Those post shares wisdom from the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, a Quaker and well-known spiritual teacher and author. It’s worth re-sharing here:

    In his book, Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster lists several principles for the outward expression of simplicity. These are things which someone could use or do in their attempt to flesh out the meaning of simplicity in the modern life.

    Here are six of Foster’s suggestions:

    • Develop a deeper appreciation for nature.
    • Learn to enjoy things without owning them.
    • Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.
    • Develop a habit of giving things away; de-accumulate.
    • Shun whatever would distract you from your main goal.
    • Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
    -Richard Foster

    Read and Share Shawn Blanc’s post over on his site: Six Principles for Focus and Simplicity

  • Margaret Fell – Founder and Leader of the Early Quaker Movement

    “An engraving of John Pettie’s 1863 painting George Fox Refusing to Take the Oath at Houlker Hall, A.D. 1663. It depicts George Fox (standing left of centre), one of the founders of the Religious Society of Friends whose members are known as Quakers (Links to an external site.), in Holker Hall (Links to an external site.) being required to take an oath by judges of the neighbourhood, including Justice Rawlinson (right, hand raised). As Quakers refused to take oaths, they were often charged with the offence of praemunire. This in fact happened to Fox’s wife Margaret Fell (shown seated behind him).”Wiki

    When discussing early Quakers, too often you will hear the history start with something like “George Fox is the founder of Quakerism.” While George Fox is an essential leader in the early movement, to focus in on and center Fox’s role not only misses out on the necessary roles that other Quakers, many of them being women, played in the early tradition, it also forms a myth that is hard to break. Fox as founder is guilty of relying on the “myth of founders” that we humans are so tempted by. It keeps the story nice and simple. It can be comforting to have a singular hero to point to. Unfortunately, far too often the founders who get the most attention are men at the expense of the women who were right there giving everything they had to the movement.

    For a long time, I’ve tried to undo this in my Intro to Quakerism class by emphasizing the language of Fox as “co-founder,” emphasizing the role of others, and especially Margaret Fell. I believe that had there been no Fell, there would be no established Quaker movement today. Her authority and leadership was central in bringing the fledgling community into a full-blown organization. Yet, I find that singular founder language a bad habit to break. Perhaps, just for some fun, Quaker scholars should take a few hundred years of referring to Margaret Fell as Founder to even the score a bit?



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