31 January 2019

Quaker Life, 25 years ago

One of the benefits of our return from overseas is getting reunited with my paper archives. For example: here's a pile of back issues of Quaker Life from before the magazine went online.

The January-February 1994 issue of Quaker Life was my first as editor. But I cannot take credit for the excellent cover story -- the interview with Tony Campolo had been conducted by outgoing editor James R. Newby.

Jim asked a number of perceptive questions about evangelical Christianity. One of Tony's answers in particular jumped out at me, given today's context. The question: Has the evangelical movement gone far enough in responding to the peace and justice issues?

Tony's answer:
I believe that the evangelical community has failed to stand for social justice to the degree that it should and could, primarily because it is caught up in the confusion between nationalism and biblical faith. the fact that Oliver North [of the Iran/Contra scandal] became such a hero in evangelical circles says it all. He will be running for the U.S. Senate in Virginia, and he will get the broad support of the evangelical communities. In fact he will get so much support that I'm almost certain that he will win. [However, he didn't, despite setting a record for direct-mail political fundraising that year.] All of this will happen in spite of the fact that he acknowledged that he lied to the American people and to the U.S. Congress. The only reason he's not in jail is because of a legal technicality. yet American evangelicals are ready to forgive him for all this because he did it in the cause of patriotism. It seems that situational ethics is wrong for evangelicals when dealing with sex, but it's perfectly okay to lie and even to murder if it's in the cause of patriotism.

The answer, of course, is to preach a biblical Christianity. The radical faith articulated by Jesus calls us away from our affluent consumeristic lifestyle into a simplistic way of living in which we will use our financial resources to meet the needs of the poor. It also calls us to be pacifists in a world in which wars seem omnipresent. It seems to me that if we would just preach the Sermon on the Mount instead of the American success story, the church would move in the right direction.
The interview with Tony Campolo was accompanied by articles by my colleague Mary Glenn Hadley ("If the church is to have the impact in society God intends, it must understand the times and know what to do") and former Quaker Life editor Jack Kirk ("The Changing Quaker Scene").  In my first of many "Commitments" editorials, I explained the new format and priorities of the magazine, particularly a more transparent approach to challenges and conflicts within Friends United Meeting -- and the budget constraints that led FUM to fold the editor's job into my responsibilities as general secretary. A full audit later that year revealed how unsustainable FUM's finances had actually become.

As I leaf through the magazine this evening, I can't help stopping at this news item mentioning Friends of the yearly meeting (Canadian) where I first became a Friend.
Canadian Friends Arrested in Logging Blockade

CLAYOQUOT SOUND, BC. Since July 1993, many Canadians have been blockading the  Kennedy Lake logging road which leads into the largest single tract of ancient temperate rain forest remaining in southern British Columbia. The British Columbia government had decided to allow logging of 74% of the rain forest.

At the end of September, fifteen Quakers were among the 653 persons arrested in these actions. In mid-December a power-sharing accord between first nations and the BC government was announced. (Quaker Concern, Canadian Friends Service Committee, and the Washington Post.)
In the "Resources for Renewal" column, my colleague Bill Wagoner recommended several resources to build a more effective missions constituency. One was an InterVarsity book, Global Trends: Ten Changes Affecting Christians Everywhere, by Gordon Aeschliman. A list of chapters: The Shrinking Globe; The Islamic Revolution; Reaching the World's Poor; The Earth Groans; Setting the Captives Free; The Urban Challenge; The Gorbachev Revolution; The Facing Glory of the West; The Evangelism Crisis; The Internationalization of the Gospel.

Among the obituaries in that first issue of 1994 was one for Samuel R. Levering (d. December 1, 1993). Sam and his wife Miriam Levering were remarkable and persistent champions of peace and simplicity. They may be best known for dedicating more than ten years of their lives working toward the Law of the Sea convention. (The Levering fruit orchard celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008.)

In that issue, we continued Alan Kolp's Bible columns, and introduced readers to a new contributor to the "Back Bench" column: Stan Thornburg. His inaugural essay, "Lending God a Hand," begins thusly:
Admit it, you want to be God! Everyone does. I learned this from noted psychologists. They should know. Psychologists are people who spend years and thousands of dollars watching dogs salivate, frogs undergo electroshock, and rats run around in boxes with lots of walls. One can readily see that this qualifies them to ask people about their mothers and conclude: "Everyone wants to be God."
For the full column (PDF), go here. With a bit of encouragement, I could post some of his succeeding columns....



In case I've kindled a bit of either sentimentality or curiosity in you, Quaker Life began publishing selections from (almost) each issue online starting in June 1997. The online archives were taken off the server with a redesign of FUM's Web site in 2012, but most of the content is available here through archive.org.

Quaker Life celebrated its 100th anniversary (counting its predecessor publications, The American Friend and Quaker Action) in 1994. So ... this year we can celebrate its 125th anniversary.



Everence published this tribute to Ked Dejmal of Eugene Friends Church. For anyone who knew him, the article will bring back a flood of memories. We have a very personal reason to affirm the title, "If you needed help..." -- when we needed a place to live during our 2014-15 sabbatical year, Ked provided us a room in his home nestled in the beautiful hills outside Eugene.

Becky Ankeny explains how even grumpy brothers can become the life of the party.

Ekaterina Schulmann believes that Russia is becoming an increasingly "normal" country despite its abnormal governance. Mark Galleoti summarizes her observations with a link to her Russian-language original lecture.

Sheer pleasure: visualizations of James Jamerson's bass lines.



Rory Block performs "Preachin' Blues" by Son House.

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