01 June 2023

A Quaker discipline

My first two books of Quaker discipline:
London (and Canadian) Yearly Meeting, 1960,
and New England Yearly Meeting, 1985.

Discipline. Until the twentieth century, the common label for the body of rules and customs by which Friends govern their meetings and lives. See also Faith and Practice.


Faith and Practice. A compilation of the business practices, doctrinal statements, and advices of a yearly meeting; usually includes quotations deemed appropriate from Friends over the centuries. See also Discipline.

— Thomas D. Hamm, The Quakers in America (glossary).


At Britain Yearly Meeting in 2018, the minute that recorded the decision to begin a full revision of Quaker Faith and Practice requested that the committee should be prayerful, joyful, creative, and bold.

— Rosie Carnall, co-clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting's Book of Discipline Revision Committee, at the opening session of Britain Yearly Meeting 2023. (Video.)


It was the fall of 1986, and I was a 17-year-old college freshman in an unfamiliar city far from home. My most beloved possession was my brand-new rather-plain maroon hardcover Faith and Practice of New England Yearly Meeting, hot off the presses that year. I turned to its pages nearly every day. I underlined passages I found in the book, went back, double underlined, went back, put asterisks in the margins, went back, dogeared the pages, kept coming back and finding more and more richness and relevance for my burgeoning spiritual life.

— Eden Grace, "Living Faith and Practice: Teacher and Mentor"

Among those associations of Quaker churches and meetings that we call "yearly meetings," several are in the process of revising their books of discipline. Among those quoted above, Rosie Carnall serves on a committee working on a proposed new book of discipline for her yearly meeting, and Eden Grace (whose death a few days ago I'm still struggling to deal with) served on a similar committee still at work on New England Yearly Meeting's revision. 

For the last couple of years, I've been on a committee that has a similar task, but not exactly the same: our yearly meeting is new, so our book cannot exactly be a revision.

Have you been part of such a process, either as a co-laborer in drafting a discipline, or as a community member evaluating such a draft? I'd love to know how you feel about what seems to me to be a balancing act that this work must bear in mind—expressing the community's faith identity without drawing boundaries that might either alienate those already in the community or compromise our welcome to potential newcomers.

In earlier generations of Friends, books of faith and practice were not shy about proclaiming theological norms. In more liberal yearly meetings, much of the Christian content of the first two centuries of our movement was preserved in the form of extracts from cherished writings of those years, but these books also emphasized our lack of doctrinal tests and our openness to diverse voices. On the other hand, the books of discipline of more "orthodox" and evangelical Quaker bodies continued to emphasize the Christian identity of Friends. Some of those books include the Richmond Declaration of Faith, which is an artful balance of the "orthodox" and "liberal" voices of its time (1887). You can find this declaration, for example, on the "Friends Faith" page of Northwest Yearly Meeting's Web site, and in the first part of the book of discipline of Iowa Yearly Meeting (FUM), pages 1-6 to 1-18.

Twelve years ago, I wrote about some of these tendencies in this blog post.

During my years with Friends World Committee for Consultation, I observed a couple of different yearly meetings as they tried to put together new books of Christian discipline. Their Faith and Practice revision committees, in the process of submitting drafts to the larger community, kept running into an interesting phenomenon: any "advice" that made someone in the body uncomfortable was likely to be vetoed. These new books of discipline were in constant danger of becoming books of history and Quaker platitudes rather than genuine calls to a higher standard of discipleship. But truth compels me to ask an awkward question about the Faith and Practice books of previous generations: were their readers better able to submit to the authority of the group, or were some of them simply able to tolerate a larger gap between the written principles and their private behavior?

So ... did these more explicit faith descriptions actually mean that "orthodox Friends" were more likely to be model Quakers? The Richmond Declaration of Faith includes an uncompromising description of the peace testimony, but a large proportion of young male Friends whose books of discipline included that description nevertheless entered the armed forces.

Our own yearly meeting has many Friends who have strong Christian commitment and experience, and this is reflected in our willingness to identify as "Christ-centered." We also have Friends who will not tolerate being told exactly how to express their faith. As a yearly meeting, we have already minuted "What this book [of discipline] is not: A creed—a list of statements of what must be believed." As we consider the balance between "prescription" and "description," we're going to favor the second approach, which means that our committee must prioritize listening to the community

Does this mean that anything that makes anyone uncomfortable will automatically be excluded? Not necessarily. As a committee, we are reporting to our upcoming annual sessions that a primary theme of our work is building trust. It's not just the committee listening; it is the whole community trusting each other enough to listen deeply and undefensively, hear each other's hearts and experiences, and build a Faith and Practice step by trustworthy step.

If New England Friends, with their three and a half centuries of experience, have been at their own current drafting process for over two decades, we can certainly take the time we need to listen with equal care.

I'm serious about hearing from you. Have you had experiences writing or approving a draft book of discipline? Do you have thoughts about the "prescription/description" balance? Feel free to comment in this post's "comment" field, or on Facebook or Twitter.

PS: My thoughts about our Faith and Practice work are very tentative and are mine alone. I don't speak for our committee.

(Related: Becoming the church we dreamed of, part one. Social justice IS evangelism.)

Last Saturday, cancer took the life of an amazing Quaker leader, Eden Grace. I don't have adequate words to express my own sense of loss, but I will be saying more about Eden in a future post. Among the many other things that could be said about her, I believe that she (alongside Jean Zaru of Ramallah Friends Meeting) was the leading Quaker ecumenist of our time. This World Council of Churches document will be part of her legacy to the global Christian family. Here's a sample of her work on the theme of decolonizing Quakers. Here's the introduction to a study by Mark Russ of Eden's 2019 Swarthmore lecture (with a link to the spoken lecture). More to come. 

Remembering: why Margaret Fraser visits burial grounds.

My own thoughts on our experiences of Britain Yearly Meeting 2023 are complex, but here's a direct message to the world Quaker family from the sessions.

And, starting on June 6, here's a way of getting to know more of that world Quaker family, Quaker Voices from Around the World. Register here for online access.

Thinking about Eden as I listen to this song.

25 May 2023

T. Canby Jones on George Fox and "the Light"

My favorite photo of T. Canby Jones is
the one used on the cover of this book of
essays in his honor, available from 
Friends United Press.

Our weekly online book discussion group at Camas Friends Church took place yesterday evening. We're in between books, so topics vary from week to week. Our topic yesterday was an essay by T. Canby Jones, published nearly fifty years ago in Quaker Religious Thought: "The Nature and Functions of the Light in the Thought of George Fox."

It's not a long article, and it's well-organized, so if you have a few minutes, please take a look at it. You may enjoy it so much that you forget to come back to this blog post, which would be a very satisfactory outcome!

There's no need for me to summarize or analyze the article, which speaks for itself. But here are some thoughts that came to me as we read and discussed this article last night.

Canby exemplifies a typical Quaker approach to theology: it's often functional. He doesn't spend time defining "light," he finds the distinction between "natural light" and the Light of Christ unhelpful; he doesn't cling to or generate doctrines. Instead, he describes how the Light of Christ actually seems to work in our lives.

In linking Light with spiritual diagnosis, exposure of sin and evil, repentance, and so on, Canby doesn't associate Fox's teachings with any sense of primordial depravity. There's no shaming us, there's simply the bald fact that without the Light we wander into disobedience, but we are not trapped there. We always have the choice of turning to the Light, which has the power to graft us into unity with God and each other.

The Light extends a constant and direct invitation to us. As Canby says, no dramatic "volcanic upheaval" is required...the kind of drama that might, for example, be evoked by an emotional appeal from a Christian revivalist backed by big amplifiers and a booming bass. (I had to think about this for a moment; my own conversion was dramatic and emotional enough, but on the other hand, I was completely alone at the time in terms of outward company; it was just me and the Sermon on the Mount, and, eventually, the inward confirmation of Jesus: "You can trust me." I also have no license to question those whose very real conversions took place in revivalist events.)

Judy and I got to know Canby personally, especially during the years we lived in Wilmington, Ohio, and saw him frequently. If you knew him, too, you'll hear his voice, and his humor, in between the lines of this article. If you didn't know him, you might very well still catch the sparkle in his eye as you picture him selecting the quotations for this article. Canby was a radiant man, just the kind of person you'd like to have writing about the Light.

It's hard to miss the constant use of "men" and "mankind" in Canby's article, referring to people in general, in contrast to Fox himself who often referred to "men and women" in his writings. The article was published in 1974, and Canby died nine years ago; his more recent writings (example from 2005) didn't use this universal "men." I don't bring this up to signal my virtue, since my own writing in those years didn't do any better in this regard. I simply want my blog to be a place of hospitality (explained in this post) for those who bear a testimony for inclusive language or who've been wounded by its absence.

Ron Rembert remembers Canby Jones.

In this post about our Quaker retreat in Ukraine back in 2011, I traced this chain of encouragement: Rufus Jones ... Thomas Kelly ... T. Canby Jones.

Thanks to Veterans for Peace, the Golden Rule sails on

Alexei Yurchak (author of the fascinating book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation, mentioned here) talks with Vladimir Abarinov about Russia's current moral collapse and the contrast with Soviet times. (Russian text here.)

This way of living outside, inside and out at the same time, has political potential. Because it is precisely for this reason that if people do not fully understand the political agenda of the state then they don’t have to support it, and this is not required of them. They are required not to participate. They have the potential for political mobilization.

Micah Bales on Christians as today's heathens....

"Hard-Earned Hope": Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting of Friends gathers in a month for our annual sessions. Please join us!

More of the late Magic Slim's collaboration with the Brazilian band The Blue Jeans: "I'm a Bluesman."

18 May 2023

Canceling Russia

Dmitri Bykov, interviewed on "To Be Continued" (Youtube).
source; originally used on this post from last July.
Sergey Kurginyan. Screenshot from source.

It is clear that Russia crossed many red lines.... The world will no longer see [in Russia] a place of spirituality, a place of great culture, a place representing victory over fascism.

— Dmitri Bykov, Russian literary critic and commentator.

Russia is the savior of humanity. It is a totally messianic country.

— Sergey Kurginyan, Russian politician and founder of Essence of Time.

A couple of days ago, Masha Gessen resigned as a vice president and trustee of the organization PEN America. The reasons for their resignation have been widely reported:

It may seem to some observers that coverage of this incident is very Russian-centric. What made headlines, after all, was not the Ukrainian participation in the PEN America event, but the response of a prominent Russian American writer. Whether or not that's fair, I see this whole affair as an example of what Dmitri Bykov predicted following the revelations of what happened in Bucha, Ukraine, under Russian occupation. "The world will no longer see [in Russia] a place of spirituality, a place of great culture, a place representing victory over fascism."

The rejection of even long-standing ties with Russia, Russian language, Russian culture, among the people of Ukraine and beyond, has been documented many times over these painful months. It's a complicated rejection; Ukrainians themselves differ on whether it is still possible to relate to "good Russians" when they and their children are under attack by a nation that officially denies Ukraine's right to exist.

I cannot possibly know every nuance of those complications. I've spent 54 years of my life studying Russia, its language, history, culture, and politics. Almost twenty percent of that time I lived in a Russian city with practically no Western expatriate presence. I cannot deny my common humanity with the people among whom I lived and worked, regardless of the powers and principalities and systems that tried to hold us all in bondage.

Postsurgery, a week ago and today.
Now that I am back in the USA, still in frequent contact with many I knew in our Russian home, I find that I cannot withhold my care and friendship in this crisis—especially from those who feel utterly without voice or recourse, as well as those who have made their own stand for peace as clear as they could. However, I also understand the anger and frustration of observers (including many Russians!) who decry the moral captivity and passivity they see. Why does only a small fraction of the population rise up and resist?

This isn't a rhetorical question. There are actual answers. I will not lay down my urgent curiosity about how a nation, any nation, can combine extraordinary achievements of culture and spirituality with a capacity for cruelty on a mass scale, generation after generation. Russia is by no means unique in combining these features; they are part of the variety of the ways we humans cope with our demons, and how we collaborate with and hide from our Creator. In trying to thread through the specific war-related dilemmas facing all those who love Russia and (or) love Ukraine, I'm sure that I'll make awkward mistakes. I hope that I can err on the side of grace, not harsh judgment, whatever the provocation.

And if I can't do anything else, I'll grieve daily for all the relationships ruptured by this cruel war.

A few related posts: To Russia with love; Russia: beautiful future or dead end?; Ukraine and the dilemmas of pacifism.

Public Orthodoxy: Lidiya Lozova writes on the application of nonviolence, as some in the Orthodox Church understand it, to the present war.

However, when the same close-to-pacifist rhetoric of non-violence and peace, with very little attention to the question of defense, is addressed to the reality of Ukraine now, to me (and many Ukrainians) it feels somewhat uncomfortable and even painful—just as it does when people think that Ukrainians should easily find common language with anti-war Russians.

Masha Gessen on the arrests of Zhenya Berkovich and Svetlana Petriychuk:

For the first time in the post-Soviet era, Russia has explicitly arrested people for creating art. They are not charged with high treason, like Kara-Murza, or espionage, like Gershkovich, or “discrediting the armed forces” or “spreading false information about the special military operation”—the charges created to punish journalists for covering the war—or for “hooliganism,” as the protest group Pussy Riot was, but for the content of a play they wrote and staged. And also, of course, in Berkovich’s case, for acting as though she could keep expressing her thoughts and feelings out in the open. On the other hand, even as I write this, I understand that the novelty is subtle, if it exists at all: parsing the distinctions in how the Putin regime eradicates difference is a fool’s errand.

Traitors and Heroes: Nina Belyaeva's protest on
the floor of the Voronezh city council. Screenshot.
I recommend this BBC documentary on life in Russia today: Traitors and Heroes.

Jeremy Morris on cultural activity (theaters, orchestras, and other cultural production) in Russia's regional capitals as activism in today's Russia.

Beth Allison Barr on Hebrews 11:1-12:2 ... and why she almost turned down the opportunity to preach.

Nathan Perrin, the Friendly Mennonite. (With thanks to Martin Kelley for the link.)

Nancy Thomas experiences Mother's Day, and remembers, among other things, the beauty of her mother's hands.

The Blues Preachers with their version of "You're Going to Need Somebody on your Bond."

11 May 2023


Note arrow over eye. Nothing was left to chance!
Last week I mentioned that I would be having eye surgery on May 10 (yesterday). It went well. I'm following advice to limit reading and computer use, so this will be short.

Like most sane people, I was not enthusiastic about having such a contact-averse body part as an eyeball prodded and pierced. For this reason, I'm not assuming that this blog post is of much interest to anyone—except for its possible value as reassurance for someone else facing similar surgery. Of course I can't predict results for you any more than, after just one day, I can be sure about the full outcome of my own surgery. However, I can report that the process was as painless for me, as well as apparently routine for the surgeon and his team, as I had been reassured in advance that it would be.

After the surgery itself, my right eye was covered. When the cover was removed today, looking through my right eye is strange. It's as if I'm looking through a tiny aquarium, through which I am only able to see vague, shimmering shapes. At the top of my right eye's field of vision is a horizontal border between the watery images below and a clearer, dry field above. Every movement of my head causes little waves in the waterline. It's just plain odd. The bubble in my eyeball, designed to help stabilize the retina during healing, will reduce and vanish in a period of days, I'm told. The full extent of recovery may take weeks or even months.

Ahead of my date with the surgeon, to get used to the very idea of retinal surgery, I did something that I don't necessarily recommend to anyone else: I watched a bunch of videos of epiretinal membrane peeling on YouTube. You might find these kinds of videos very unappetizing, but the effect on me of watching them was reassuring: this was nothing terribly exotic.

I cherish the support that I received from everyone who contacted me since last week, or who held me in prayer yesterday. Thank you!

Also mentioned last week: the controversy around the treatment of Taylor University professor Julie Moore. Here's another commentary: Beth Allison Barr on a failure in due process.

Chronic illness and its spiritual dimensions: the wolf at Tricia Gates Brown's door.

Rich Swingle's new Substack blog. Meanwhile, he continues to perform his one-man play based on the life of John Woolman, I Dreamed I Was Free. I first saw this play 25 years ago, and am impressed but not surprised that it continues to inspire.

Front-row video of Pieter van der Pluijm (Big Pete) and Rick Holmstrom.

04 May 2023

May shorts

Among the high points of our four weeks in London and vicinity: visiting friends in Weybridge and Cambridge; seeing the musical Ain't Too Proud at the Prince Edward Theatre; getting to know the work of St. Olav's Norwegian Church in the Docklands area (and buying Kvikk Lunsj chocolate wafer bars, a favorite since childhood, at the church); visiting St. Paul's Cathedral and St. Giles in the Field; exploring the older streets of Spitalfields; and attending the sessions of Britain Yearly Meeting.

St. Olav's Church.
Edible nostalgia. Souvenirs of St. Olav's.
Getting a signed copy of Quaker Shaped
Christianity from author Mark Russ,
during Britain Yearly Meeting 2023.

In the olden days, pre-COVID 19, a trip overseas was a good reason to assume that normal engagements, such as committee meetings and guest speaking opportunities, would be put off until after we're back. Not any more. I participated in three committee meetings on Zoom and one on Microsoft Teams, and seven online meetings for worship, at one of which I was the speaker.

I'll say more about Britain Yearly Meeting in a later post. For now I'll just note that it was wonderful to read part of Sierra-Cascades Yearly Meeting's greeting to Britain Yearly Meeting on the floor of a meeting for business. One of the world's newest Quaker bodies was greeting one of the world's oldest. When I read Sierra-Cascades co-clerk Norma Silliman's words "We recommend Johan and Judy to you without reservation," I couldn't help adding, "This is very reassuring, actually." Friends were amused. The clerk responded, "We welcome you without reservation."

About two months ago, I began noticing that my right eye and my left eye were not getting along very well. My left eye saw things normally, but the vision in my right eye was obscured by a big fuzzy area in the center. It was as if my left eye was patiently dragging its partner along for the ride, but not getting much cooperation.

After consultation, I was given a surgery date of May 10. On that day, as I've been told, a membrane will be peeled from the center of my right retina, after which I will have to spend some time not doing any detailed work with my eyes. I may have to keep my head facing down for several days. For the first time in nearly twenty years, I may be posting little or nothing here for one or more Thursdays.. For my daily journal (something I've been keeping since 1968), I may make audio notes to transcribe later.

My eyesight is supposed to improve gradually over several months, though it may never be as good as before this problem started. As soon as I can, I'll re-read John Yungblut's Pendle Hill Pamphlet, On Hallowing One's Diminishments.

The constant heartache of the war in Ukraine goes on and on. Many of us are praying daily for the people most directly affected, and for an end to the bloodshed. Among the organized prayer events, the weekly Ukraine-related meeting for worship under the care of Friends World Committee for Consultation, Europe and Middle East Section, continues to gather online every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. London time. To get the Zoom link to join this meeting, see the information on the EMES calendar

I'm among those who are also praying for the people of Russia. Here's an article that will help explain why: "'It's Stalinist logic': Three experts explain the escalating nature of Russia’s political repressions." Today, TV Rain's midafternoon news program was dominated by the newest round of repressions: arrests and searches connected with an award-winning play now accused of approving terrorism; a third raid in a month on Russia's leading anti-torture NGO; Yabloko Party's leader in Vologda, Nikolai Yegorov, detained and accused of discrediting the Russian army for posting peace messages online. All in one day. 

Another disheartening development: about a week ago, the Sova Center, which focuses on racism and nationalism in Russia, was ordered closed by a court in Moscow. These developments constantly remind me that there is no effective due process in wartime Russia, and the Constitution has lost any legal force.

(While rejecting "whataboutism" and any hint of equivalence, I hope that the USA will see the suffering and the international damage to our moral authority caused by our own cases of repression, even when courts may eventually grant relief. One example: arrests based on alleged election-law violations in Florida.)

Another awkward case for the USA: Abu Zubaydah at Guantanamo Bay.

Is there a pattern of discrimination against racial justice advocacy at some Christian colleges and universities? Jemar Tisby on the case of Julie Moore and Taylor University. (Taylor's student newspaper, The Echo, includes some partial responses from the university.) Friday update: Kristin Du Mez adds commentary.

Among the news I heard at Britain Yearly Meeting: the upcoming closure of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre as a venue and residential facility—although Woodbrooke's research, educational, and publication programs will continue. I began writing this blog during my academic year at Woodbrooke, 2003-2004, where I gathered the resources preserved here: Evangelism and the Quaker Testimonies.

Speaking of St. Olav, here's a Swedish-Norwegian train pilgrimage I'd love to take.

And speaking of eyes, here's Nancy Thomas on eye contact.

YouTube has a goldmine of soul and blues videos in Rachel Cummings' posts of the 1966 television program The !!!! Beat. A sample: Barbara Lynn's version of "What'd I Say."

27 April 2023

Kind words

I gave a sermon via Zoom last Sunday at Spokane Friends Meeting. Here's an e-mail letter I received from Spokane Friends member Lois Kieffaber:

SUBJECT: The reviews are in.

Actually, they were in by Sunday afternoon. The critics raved. We thought your message last Sunday was very good, and I would like to use it for the cover story of our May Newsletter.

There was actually a sweet reciprocity about this compliment, because the sermon was about grace, and I spoke about some of the ways I saw grace in action at Spokane Friends. The kind words just proved my point! But my focus at the moment was how that compliment made me feel.

Friends in the programmed tradition are expected to devote just as much spiritual attentiveness in preparing the planned elements of a meeting for worship as unprogrammed ("silent worship") Friends devote to waiting on the Holy Spirit to guide them in what to say or do in worship. But, no matter how much I try to pray my way through the preparation of a sermon, I'm rarely satisfied that I succeeded in communicating my heart adequately. So there is something immensely reassuring about kind words.

Two cautions about giving and receiving compliments that should be acknowledged but should not be controlling: 

First, let's be real about our motivations. Compliments should be given out of genuine appreciation; there should never be a manipulative or ingratiating intent. 

The second occasion for being real: learn to receive compliments with directness and appreciation and then getting on with life. There's no need to be self-deprecating or to minimize a sincere compliment, just as there is no need to develop an unhealthy dependence on getting praised. There will be times when you and I get no compliments precisely because we said or did the right thing at the right time.

Screenshot from Muscle Shoals.
Kind words can change lives. About two years ago, in the links section of my blog, I wrote about the Swampers' drummer Roger Hawkins, who had just died. I linked to the point in the film Muscle Shoals where Hawkins and his fellow musicians reminisced about the time Hawkins received this compliment from veteran producer Jerry Wexler:

Wexler: Roger.

Hawkins: Yes, sir.

Wexler: Roger, you're a great drummer.

Hawkins [to the interviewer]: And all of a sudden  it just, I just kinda relaxed, and became a great drummer, just like he said I was.

I would like to think that I enjoy giving compliments as much as I enjoy receiving them, but I can't knowingly take credit for changing anyone's life with my kind words. However, I'd love it if we were all more alert to the opportunity to drop kind words into each others' lives. If there were any period in history where this would seem to be a priority, wouldn't now qualify? Insults, sarcasm, false witness sometimes seem like the dominating styles of public discourse. Let's do better.

According to an article on compliments on the Harvard Business Review Web site, experiments show that people like the idea of giving compliments in theory, but are shy about doing so in practice.

When it comes to deciding whether to express praise or appreciation to another person, doubt creeps in. We find that people are overly concerned about their ability to convey praise skillfully (“What if my delivery is awkward?”), and their anxiety leaves them overly pessimistic about the effects their messages will have. Sadly, people’s pessimism causes them to refrain from engaging in this behavior that would make everyone better off.

(By the way, my compliments to the authors, Erica Boothby, Xuan Zhao, and Vanessa Bohns, for this helpful article.)

Do compliments lose their power if we give them out more often? The HBR authors say,

You might worry that the positive impact of these kind words comes from their rarity, such that giving compliments too often will devalue one’s compliments or make them seem less sincere. Our research suggests this is simply not the case. Although people in one experiment expected that those who received one compliment a day over the course of a week would feel increasingly less positive each day and find the compliments increasingly less sincere, contrary to expectations the compliments actually brightened recipients’ mood similarly each day. The kind words did not become tired words. Just as people must eat regularly to satisfy their biological needs, the fundamental need to be seen, recognized, and appreciated by others, as it turns out, is a recurring need at work and in life.

Aside from being a wonderful speaker (much better at storytelling than I am, for example), Judy Maurer makes fabulous omelettes. Each time she makes one of her mushroom-cheese-spinach omelettes, she's sure it is going to be a disaster. It's funny how they all turn out to be wonderful. Of course I don't fail to say so; the fact that I compliment those omelettes every time doesn't make it less true....

Interstellar probe Voyager 2's impending retirement (owing to loss of power) has been postponed for three years by a clever hack. My compliments to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Some returning Russian soldiers are serving as coaches of patriotism in Russian schools, with varying results.

Emine Saner on the rise of voluntary celibacy. There's a brief reference to the influence of religion, but I'd love to have more consideration of that aspect.

Brian Drayton applies Thomas Shillitoe's advice to our consumption of mass communication.

Few things inspire Elder Chaplain author Greg Morgan more than stories of resilience....

One of my 70th birthday gifts was an evening at the Prince Edward Theatre here in London to see the very first Broadway-level show in my whole life, Ain't Too Proud. Built around the epic story of the Temptations, its music was (for me, as for so many of my contemporaries in the USA) the soundtrack of our youth. Many thanks to Luke from a misty-eyed father.

The video below, made while the Broadway show was still in previews, is a bit out of date, but it gives some sense of how enjoyable the evening was.