My favorite kind of question

Some questions are easy to answer. Some questions take work. My favorite kind of question, though, is the kind that challenges my thinking, that opens up new possibilities precisely because it doesn’t have an answer. At least not yet. 

I received an email last week, asking that third kind of question: “Any chance you have any ideas here?”

No. I didn’t have any ideas. And I almost responded with that as my answer. Easy question. Easy answer. Done. But this question wasn’t that kind of question.

The question came from Shawn McConaughey, Associate Superintendent of Global Outreach & Pastoral Care at NWYM. He had forwarded an email from Robin Mohr, Executive Secretary at FWCC. Robin was looking for help compiling a list of resources “talking about how Friends need to learn how to talk to people who are like us and people who we think are not like us.” 

Resources on racism. Resources on xenophobia. Resources on equality and diversity and empathy. Resources that might help us bridge social and cultural divides within our own communities.

So I did some research, and I found some resources. (I’ll list those below.) I also identified a need. Precisely because we don’t have resources that speak directly to Robin’s question, Barclay Press also has an opportunity to create and distribute those kinds of resources. And this is where I could use your help. Do you know of work being done - locally and/or globally - among Friends and along these lines? I’d like to hear from you.

Here are the resources I found:

  • Let’s Be Friends youth curriculum has a lesson on equality available for free, digitally, on request.
  • Becoming Friends children’s curriculum has a lesson on equality available for free, digitally, on request. This lesson pairs well with chapters 2 and 8 in the book Eight of a Kind by Betty Hockett.
  • The Evangelical Friends History CD includes an essay, The Indians’ Friends: Quakers and Native Americans in the Seventeenth Century by James D. Le Shana.
  • Missions by the Spirit by Ron Stansell highlights the importance of equality, the value of all human beings, in making a lasting connection with other people groups.
  • Unlocking Horns by David Niyonzima and Lon Fendall considers the reconciliation process in Burundi and how that redemptive work reveals the work of God.
  • Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship by Vanessa Julye and Donna McDaniel demonstrates that racism has been insidious, complex, and pervasive among Friends. The book documents the spiritual and practical impacts of this discrimination in the expectation that understanding the truth of our past is vital to achieving a diverse, inclusive community in the future.
  • When the Rain Returns describes the experiences and analyses of an International Quaker Working Party, composed of eleven Quakers and three friends-of-Quakers, who visited Israel, Palestine, and neighboring countries. It includes their deliberations on what they saw and learned in discussions with more than 90 individuals representing a range of personal histories and political views.

Eric Muhr