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Call All Your Members of Congress

Even when your members of Congress seem immovable -- they've made public statements and voted clearly in one direction or the other -- your advocacy can still help move them toward peace and justice.

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Such a Time as This: A Response to Hate and Violence

White supremacy, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are contrary to God’s vision for our world. White supremacy is a form of idolatry, and a sin against the God of Love and Justice. In this moment — as in every moment — the Spirit calls us to another way.

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Following the Money: Native American Health Care

There are two big stories about health care in Indian country and for urban Indians. One has to do with the adequacy of staffing and facilities for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The other has to do with protecting continued funding of federal programs including the IHS and Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans programs along with access to affordable and effective health insurance.

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Following the Money: Housing and Economic Development in Indian Country

Assurance of safe and secure shelter is critical for anyone’s survival and potential, especially in some of the harsh climates to which Native people have been consigned in the “lower 48,” and in the original homelands of Alaska Natives. Yet Native Americans and Alaska Natives living in Indian country are much less likely than the rest of the nation to have a physically adequate home, with appropriate plumbing, kitchen facilities, heating, structures and protection from the elements.

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Following the Money: Education and Strengthening Communities

Indian students in schools owned by the Bureau of Indian Education are likely to arrive each day to a place that is leaking, rotting, corroded, too cold or too hot, and poorly furnished to support learning. How are these students supposed to build a future for themselves on such a foundation?

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Following the Money: Justice and Violence

Proposed funding for the Justice Department includes strong support for a handful of programs that focus on violence against Indian women. The House and Senate bills also include "set-asides" for victims of violent crimes and for the support of justice systems on tribal lands.

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What's Ahead?

The House is likely to pass its 8-bill appropriations package in early September, but the Senate might not finish all of its bills by the end of the month. So Congress will have to agree on at least a temporary spending measure, as the funds allocated in the FY2017 appropriations package will end on September 29.

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Native American Legislative Update - August 2017

"The President proposes, but Congress disposes" one leading appropriator quipped when the President submitted a budget with deep cuts affecting Indian Country. With Congress on recess until September, there's a moment to check in on how the committees have been responding to the President's proposals. So far, funding looks better than might have been expected...

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Following the Money - Health Care

There are two big stories about health care in Indian country and for urban Indians. One has to do with the adequacy of staffing and facilities for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The other has to do with protecting continued funding of federal programs including the IHS and Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans programs along with access to affordable and effective health insurance.

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Following the Money - Housing and Economic Development

Assurance of safe and secure shelter is critical for anyone’s survival and potential, especially in some of the harsh climates to which Native people have been consigned in the “lower 48,” and in the original homelands of Alaska Natives. Yet Native Americans and Alaska Natives living in Indian country are much less likely than the rest of the nation to have a physically adequate home, with appropriate plumbing, kitchen facilities, heating, structures and protection from the elements.

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Following the Money - Education and Strengthening Communities

Indian students in schools owned by the Bureau of Indian Education are likely to arrive each day to a place that is leaking, rotting, corroded, too cold or too hot, and poorly furnished to support learning. How are these students supposed to build a future for themselves on such a foundation?

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Following the Money - Justice and Violence

Proposed funding for the Justice Department includes strong support for a handful of programs that focus on violence against Indian women. The House and Senate bills also include "set-asides" for victims of violent crimes and for the support of justice systems on tribal lands.

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Call All Your Members of Congress

No matter how famous your senator may be or how connected your representative may is, he or she must answer to you, the constituent.

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Eclipse

Friends Journal - Mon, 2017-08-21 08:30

Solar eclipse of 13 November 2012, as seen from northern Australia. Screen capture of NASA video.

This article was originally published in the October 15, 1984 issue of Friends Journal. View and download the whole issue in the archives, which are accessible online by members only. Join us today for as little as $28.

A late spring solar eclipse—”the last one until the mid-1990s”—brought a measure of excitement to students and teachers enduring the remaining days of a rapidly waning school year. Students gathered at my window, unable to see the sun but aware of the softly filtered light from the cloudless sky. A few with passes from their science teachers asked to leave class to observe the eclipse outdoors. Cautioned not to look directly at the sun, they flashed their “how-dumb-does-he-think-we-are” smiles and showed me their opaque x-ray film and their cards with pinholes and white viewing surfaces. A few students without passes wanted to go too, so I provided cards, straight pins, instructions, and renewed warnings.

“Looking at the sun couldn’t really blind us,” a few scoffed. I assured them it could. Warned but still skeptical, they departed.

In a few minutes they were back. “Did you see it?” I asked.

“Yeah, the card and the pinhole really worked!” one replied, his voice expressing amazement that an English teacher could know about such things.

“What did you think?” I asked.

“I dunno. It’s kinda weird . . .”

We take light—external light—for granted, unaware until it dims or disappears of how much we depend on it. History and myth both record the panic that primitive peoples felt and the extreme means they sometimes took to assuage the gods who were robbing them of light, consuming the sun. Even now, informed by the media of the exact time and extent of an eclipse, we find the experience “kinda weird.”

How do we react to the presence or the seeming absence of the Light Within?

Often it is the presence of the Inner Light that we find upsetting or disquieting. Its absence, or at least our lack of awareness of its presence, seems the natural order. When, in the midst of busy schedules, we sense its presence, we seek ways of denying it, of avoiding it, of subverting it. Often we succeed. We seek it in periods of meditation; but when it appears, we shift uneasily in our places. Sometimes like our forebears, we quake before its intensity and its leadings. Blinded by the light, we stumble.

The absence of the light seems more natural. Our cares and concerns crowd in and obscure the dim glow. Anxiously we hold them to the light, but they only block its passage.

Perhaps, as with the external light, we need techniques and precautions to avoid the extremes of too much or too little light. Becoming preoccupied with light—looking at it rather than seeing by it—may limit vision. We need to relax, accepting light instead of darkness as the natural order. Rather than following it blindly, we ought to follow the way it reveals.

When the light is dim or obscured, looking too hard can limit vision also. A technique, borrowed, ironically, from military surveillance training, may be helpful. Instead of looking directly at an object, the observer is instructed to look past it. Peripheral vision is more sensitive to light and to movement. Instead of looking directly at a concern, we may do better by looking past it, waiting quietly, allowing the light to surround it, modeling its features and showing a way.

The sun is back to full brightness now, and we walk in its light. It can burn us or leave us cold, but mostly it warms us and shows us the way. When it leaves for a time, we trust that it will return. Eclipses are, after all, only temporary.

The post Eclipse appeared first on Friends Journal.

Beauty; Beauty Everywhere

Friends Journal - Mon, 2017-08-21 02:00

One night, on the cusp of summer, Glenn’s wife called to update me.

“They are going to put him on some kind of super pain killer. I forgot the name of it, but I guess you know what that means. He wanted me to ask if you’d stop by.”

I had planned to go the next day and promised to make it the first thing in the morning.

Glenn was a huge man in every sense of the word. Tall, husky, and muscular. He had made his money for most of his life driving a big rig and had the kind of “manly man” swagger that some found off-putting. But those who knew him understood that Glenn had a heart of gold, and some even accused him of being a “cream puff” underneath his rough-and-tumble exterior. He had a deep booming voice that was commanding and warm at the same time. People loved his greetings, and he was a called a big lovable teddy bear by most who knew him. When he was diagnosed with cancer, Glenn swore to fight it “like a man.” And he did, with strength and bravado, until it was apparent nothing was working. Finally he asked to be admitted to the hospice where I would have this last visit with him.

It had rained for hours the night before, a hard drenching rain. When I pulled into the parking lot the air was still damp, and there were puddles scattered between the cars. But the sun was up, and there was a hint that things would soon be dry. As I walked through the complex’s lovely courtyard on a concrete path, I noticed a gaggle of young children running from the walk to the flower beds with a great deal of enthusiasm. I realized they were youngsters from the daycare that had been intentionally built on the hospice campus. As I approached they were so intent on their task that they did not notice me, and I realized they were picking up worms from the sidewalk and bringing them to the flower beds.

A young woman was watching her charges with a smile and said, “We are on a rescue mission.”

I nodded with a chuckle and entered the main building, making my way to Glenn’s room. As I entered the room he was on his side facing away from me and gazing out the big window that all the patient rooms had. He was looking out on the courtyard I had just crossed.

“Hi,” he said with a wave, but not looking at me. “I saw you coming.”

I was looking at the back of his head, but I sensed Glenn was smiling. He rolled over and confirmed my suspicion with a big ear-to-ear grin. “What in the world were those kids doing?”

“They were picking up worms that had beached themselves on the sidewalk after the rain.”

He laughed out loud, “No kidding. I’ll be damned, they looked like they were having a ball.”

“Absolutely, but they were very serious about their work.”

He laughed again with a cough and rolled back to look out the window. I sensed Glenn wanted to be quiet. I have learned from making these visits that if the dying get visits at all, they are often talked at. They are told “to hang in there” and “you’ll be ok” when everyone knows they won’t. The usual platitudes about God’s plan and such go on and on. Folks like Glenn know people mean well, and they appreciate the visits, but they know people are too anxious to just listen to those who are in their final days. It leaves people like him feeling lonely. So I often just sit and listen, or simply join in their silence. For that I’m glad for my years as a Quaker. Silence is not something to be afraid of and is in fact something profoundly meaningful.

So I sat in a bedside chair and waited. Minutes went by and after a while I didn’t hear Glenn’s labored breathing. The sound of machines, monitors, and people in the hallway evaporated. It felt like being in meeting for worship when the gathered center down and it’s just us and the Light of God losing ourselves in a blessed silence. For a moment it was as if Glenn and I were lifted up and held in peace.

Time went by and a mist began to rise over the lawn of the courtyard. Glenn stirred and sighed. “You know when this is over I think it’s going to be like that. I mean just beauty; beauty everywhere. There’s something special about the sunshine after a rain, the flowers too. That’s what it will be, just beauty all around like a sunny day after the rain makes the air clean.”

“I think that sounds like the best description of the hereafter I’ve ever heard,” I said.

“And it will be filled with joy. Like those kids, the air will be full of it, like kids having a ball and doing something they love.” He rolled over and looked at me, “It’ll be like that.”

“I think you’re right.”

“I have no doubt.”

He nodded at me and rolled onto his back with a grunt. “I’m glad you came. I wanted to say thanks.”

I didn’t bother asking him why. I knew what he meant. But at the time I was feeling particularly grateful for knowing him and sharing these last months with him.

So I said, “You’re welcome Glenn. And thank you!”

“For what?”

“For letting me in on what a real man is and for assuring me about the beauty you will have.”

“We all will.”

“I know.”

He paused for a moment and then said, while on his back and looking at the ceiling, “I have a feeling this will be the last time I see you, you know,” waving his hand around the room, “like this.”

“I suspect you’re right. But I don’t think it will be the last time I see you,” I replied.

“Oh I know that too,” he stirred to look at me and went on to say, “Thanks for everything, really,” and reached out his hand to me.

His hand had been big and bulky. Now the cancer had reduced it to a pale white appendage with frail, slender fingers. But somehow Glenn mustered the strength to grip my hand with a firmness like he always had done with pride. Something in this simple gesture reminded me that cancer could deplete his body, but Glenn’s spirit was, if anything, even stronger than before.

We shook hands and looked at each other.

“When this is all over, would you stop in on my wife now and then? She’ll have a lot of people around I guess and it will annoy her to no end, but would you do it anyway?”

“Sure.”

“And take care of your family.”

“I will.”

“It’s hard, but I guess I should say goodbye.”

Glenn’s eyes moistened and so did mine.

“I know, goodbye Glenn, but like we just figured, I’ll see you again.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what we’ll look like then, but if you don’t recognize me, I’ll be the one helping the kids with the worms,” he said with a grin.

“Gotcha, I’ll know how to find you.”

I waved and he gave me a thumbs up, then I left.

 

It has been said that the story of Israel is one of pain and sorrow healed by joy, of losing your home and then being welcomed back to a new one. The Christian story is about birth under tragic circumstances but with the Light being born, about a death on Friday and then new life on Sunday. In short those stories are about life. About the struggles and triumphs that come to everyone. Glenn’s story was, and remains, one of rain and then sun, of pain and death but finally about hope and joy.

A few days after my visit, Glenn died. At calling hours, the funeral home was bursting with flowers that filled the room with their fragrance and everyone said he’d have wanted it that way.

 

The post Beauty; Beauty Everywhere appeared first on Friends Journal.

House Parties FAQ

Here is (we hope) the answer to your burning question about FCNL House Parties. More questions? Email julia@fcnl.org

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Protect DACA Recipients from Deportation

Right now, the Trump administration is considering whether to put nearly 800,000 young people at immediate risk of deportation, you can take action today.

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Improving Election Integrity Through Our Voices

Elections are often dominated by who can raise the most money to blanket the airwaves. This is at the heart of the worst problem affecting the integrity of our elections: money in politics and access.

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Push to Protect Prevention Funding and Tools

The month of September will be an important one as we work to address proposed cuts to critical conflict prevention funding and tools. These challenges come at a time when the world is facing increasing levels of violence, and experiencing unprecedented levels of global hunger and displacement as a result of conflict. Here's what we are following:

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Countering White Supremacy

We are called to stand up for justice and love in our communities and with our elected leaders. Here are some ways we can do that.

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