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My meeting shares space with an Episcopal church, some of their members join us for worship before their service. One regular attender for years will be having surgery today, we love her very much and she needs all the prayers there are today. If you can hold Suzan in the light today particularly, thank you.

If we are called to contemplative prayer and mean to respond to that call, we must face the fact that this will require a great deal of us – the sacrifice of time, courage to persevere, patience to endure the pain of deepening self-knowledge, fortitude in times of temptation, faith when the way is obscure, and the love which is ready to make every new surrender as the Spirit calls… It has been well said that contemplatives war against the real enemy, and ultimately against the only enemy, for whereas in the world we are up against effects, the contemplative is brought face to face with causes, with the ultimate truths which lie behind the visible… 

And do we realise that as we grow older and the vigour of mind and body begin to decline, this is the work which the Holy Spirit desire to entrust increasingly to the faithful, the work which the author of The Cloud [of Unknowing] does not hesitate to describe as the most far-reaching and deepest work of all? 

Robert Llewelyn, Prayer and Contemplation

I wrote a few months ago here of the difficulty inherent in being called into the contemplative way, especially as one who is – despite their undoubted membership of the Body of Christ, and of the community that is inextricably part of that – not living as part of a formal religious community. I wrote then,

This life of inner solitude and hiddenness – for it is hidden from our own selves within as well as outwardly – is in many ways lived for others. We stand out in the wind, and in some mysterious way we relive Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai, when the Israelites said to him, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” 

The ghosts we outstare are not our own merely; somehow in the silence of prayer we find ourselves confronting the ghosts of those we live amongst, touching the shadows that our post-Enlightenment age casts across all our lives, touching, as did the monks of Mount Athosduring the years of the Stalin’s purges and Hitler’s atrocities, the dark skirts of chaos and cruelty that brush continually against our civilisation.

It would be easy, at least as an observer, to romanticise this struggle, but in truth it isn’t remotely glorious in itself. Like physical hardship, it is messy and unpleasant, and for the one caught up in it, it is a place of fear and of self-doubt. One cannot see the way ahead, and the outcome of even the least moment of prayer is hidden from the one praying. But God is merciful, and in the midst of this inner work there are glimpses of the uncreated light between the shadows among which we all too often move, and our prayer does, as I wrote once, “tend… always to stillness, to wholeness of mind and spirit, to the peace of God, beyond our understanding…” It is that same peace, ultimately, that we seek for those with whom our prayer and our lives are inextricably caught up, simply by virtue of the love of our shared humanity.

The Church, Part 1: The Call

Until the possibility of conscription for war illuminated the Church’s contradictions, I had been an unquestioning and pious Catholic. During my freshman and senior years of high school, I was a candidate for the priesthood in boarding seminaries, and I came close to trying it a third time after high school. My motivation for those repeated attempts can be traced to experiences I had during grade school.

My parents were sober and industrious, but we were not financially well-off. During my eight years in Catholic grade school, we lived in a working-class area characterized by ignorance, intolerance, and occasional violence. Education beyond high school was seen as neither attainable nor necessary: a man who got a secure job in a unionized craft was considered to have done very well. From my perspective, the future looked bleak: I wanted as much education as I could get, and I didn’t want to pass most of my life performing rote tasks inside a noisy factory. One day, I stood in the school athletic field across the street from our home, looked around slowly at the tract houses that enclosed it, and vowed aloud, “This will not be my life.” I would find a way out.

I didn’t have far to look. The Catholic Church offered to lift a boy out of the blue-collar blind alley and into the most respected and important position a man could hold: the priesthood. Like many other devout Catholic boys, I was already considering that offer by the sixth grade. Then, in the latter years of grade school, I was befriended by two popular priests at our parish. Each of them singled me out for conversation, arranged for me to serve him as an altar boy, took me for ice cream and visits to churches in his impressive new car, and gave me gifts. They even addressed me by name in the confessional booth, as if in recognition that one day I should be sitting on the priest’s side of the screen.

If that looks today like grooming for abuse, that’s because, for one of them at least, it was. But that priest, Robert Hopkins, left me alone after the rectory housekeeper blocked his attempt to take me to his bedroom. We had just returned from an afternoon outing, and Father Hopkins said that he wanted to show me something in his room. He looked surprised when the housekeeper called to him from a doorway and asked where we were going. When he replied, “Upstairs,” she asked to speak with him privately. He was gone briefly, and he returned visibly angry. “She says we can’t go up there,” he said. “Go home.” I guessed that she must not have cleaned his room yet, but I was disappointed by his anger at her and hurt by his curt dismissal. I would attribute his subsequent coldness to embarrassment over that display of anger. Many years later, Hopkins would admit that he had sexually abused boys for decades. I then understood that I would have been among his victims had that brave woman not intervened.

The other priest, whose sermons occasionally included condemnation of women who wore shorts and halter tops across the street from the rectory,2 was soon transferred. One of the last times I saw him was when he gave us eighth-grade boys “the talk,” during which he told us that sex, which we must not experience until marriage, was effective at relieving tension. I would speak with him once after grade school, visiting him at the rectory after we moved into his new parish in 1965. During that brief audience, he would offer not even the hint of a smile for his former favorite. And he would say very little, other than to ask, “Do you have any sexual problems?” — and when I said that I didn’t, to dismiss me with, “I’m very busy.” Some time later, I would hear that he’d been sent somewhere for health treatment before being transferred again.

At the time of the grooming, I was a naïve boy who revered priests as alter Christi, “other Christs.” I interpreted the priests’ attentions to mean that two holy men saw something special in me: a calling from God, a “vocation,” to the priesthood. My desire to become a priest seemed confirmed as divinely inspired.

Wanting to learn more about priestly life, I consulted the classic recruiting digest, The Guidepost: Religious Vocation Manual for Young Men. I found that there are two basic forms of the Catholic priesthood: the religious and the secular (also called diocesan). I would need to choose between them. And if I opted for the religious priesthood, I would then need to choose a particular type of religious life from the variety catalogued in The Guidepost, which listed more than 130 distinct groups.

One might assume that all priests should be called “religious,” but in the Catholic Church the term “religious,” often used as a noun, refers to people who have professed vows (such as poverty, chastity, and obedience) as members of an officially approved religious institute. Ideally, religious priests live in communities called monasteries or friaries. Often, the communities are mixed: although all members make the vows, some are not, nor will ever become, priests. In theory, all members of such communities are brothers to each other. However (and despite Jesus’ explicit proscription: see Mt. 23:9), priests receive the title of “Father,” while members who are not priests are addressed as “Brother.”

A Carthusian brother passes a meal into a monk’s cell.

The lives of “religious” are structured according to written rules, with set times for prayer, work, meals, and sleep.3 In addition to its rule of life, each institute has its traditions, spiritual practices, and written constitution. Those things determine the relationship of a religious to the outside world — in broad terms, where his or her institute falls on the spectrum between “active” and “contemplative” lifestyles. Active institutes require extensive interaction with the wider world; contemplative institutes allow little or none. An example of the former is the Dominican Order, whose friars preach and teach (and were major figures in the Inquisition); perhaps the most extreme example of the latter is the Carthusian Order, whose monks remain cloistered (enclosed within the monastery), praying together periodically but spending much of their time, and even taking meals, alone in their cells (private living spaces). Some institutes attempt to blend the two elements.

My primary exposure to institutional religious life was through the nuns, members of the active institute called the School Sisters of Notre Dame, who taught us in grade school. When I served as altar boy in their convent, I thought that it must be lovely to live in such an orderly, peaceful, and sacred atmosphere. I also became acquainted with life in a men’s religious institute by participating in retreats at a Capuchin Franciscan seminary, a boarding school for candidates for the priesthood, in western Pennsylvania. (“Capuchin” refers to the long hood, or capuche, worn by members of that branch of the Franciscan Order.4) The atmosphere there was like that of the convent, although on a much larger scale. In addition, I read books on monastic life by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, pored over The Guidepost, and corresponded with vocation directors (recruiters) for a number of religious institutes.

I didn’t need to research the other type of priestly life: the priests I’d known at my parish were all members of the secular clergy, so I was already familiar with that. Secular priests are said to live “in the world but not of it.” They make promises of chastity and obedience to the bishop. They do not, however, promise poverty; they may have possessions and even wealth. They may share a residence with other priests, but they are not bound by a rule of life; their days can be relatively unstructured.

Weighing those two basic options, I decided to join a religious institute. The nuns and the Capuchin friars had seemed at peace; our parish priests, however, seemed somewhat unsettled. There was an aura of loneliness and even ennui about those men; somehow, priesthood alone seemed not to fulfill them. That, I think, is what led me to seek a regulated community: I wanted the fraternal support, structured life, and routine asceticism that such a community would provide.

Accordingly, at the age of thirteen I began high school at the Carmelite Junior Seminary in Hamilton, Massachusetts, which I had selected from The Guidepost. The Carmelite Order’s Rule of Life offered a combination of prayer and active ministry. “Each one must remain in his cell or near it,” it states, “meditating day and night on the law of the Lord and keeping vigil in prayer, unless occupied with other lawful duties.” That seemed to prioritize contemplation while providing for active ministry as well. It was, I thought, an ideal way of life.

And in many ways, the Carmelite seminary was an ideal place for me. The friars in Hamilton encouraged art, music, and the life of the intellect — within, of course, strict limits. (For example, I found a book of critical Bible analysis in our library, but the friar in charge of study hall took it from me, saying, “You’re too young for this. I’ll return it for you.”) Our freshman prefect, Father John Vianney Kelly, was a kind and generous man who understood and cared about young people. He took us to art galleries, helped us learn to draw and paint, and encouraged my interest in classical music. (I have written more about him in For Father John.”) And the consistent daily schedule, with regular times for study, physical exercise, and prayer, fostered my development.

But it was a lonely place, too. Hamilton was more than 400 miles distant from my home, and I was homesick. Further, although I was one of more than thirty freshmen living together, I had no close friendships. That was part of the program: “particular friendships” between classmates were not permitted; as a result, peer relationships were superficial.

In addition, association with students outside of one’s class year was forbidden. For a few weeks, I enjoyed conversations with a senior named Ray, who shared with me inspirational letters he had received from Father Dominic, a Carmelite friar in Washington, D.C. (Dominic, who had written of having a “manly love” for Christ, would later lose his position at a boys’ high school after admitting to sexual relationships with minors, some of them his students.) But those conversations stopped suddenly and inexplicably, leaving me to wonder what I’d done to cause Ray to avoid me. Eventually, he slipped around a corner and, glancing in fear over his shoulder, told me that he’d been ordered to stay away from me. He risked speaking to me that one last time because he wanted me to know what had happened. (During the ensuing summer vacation, Ray and I corresponded by mail. I later learned that he left the Carmelites after a year of college, and that his subsequent request for readmission was turned down. That was the last news I had of him.)

Later in the year, I was befriended by a young nun, a member of a Carmelite community that had come from Italy to work in the seminary’s kitchen. She would teach me basic Italian phrases while I helped her wash windows in the refectory. That friendship, too, lasted only weeks. One day when I arrived to help her, she told me apologetically that she’d been forbidden to spend time with me. My disappointment must have been obvious; I was close to tears. Although I was unable to acknowledge the implications, our brief friendship had assuaged a deep need for feminine companionship.

Reflexively, I turned to the Blessed Mother, reciting the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary during my free time each day. Often, I would kneel before a white stone statue of Mary on the grounds and talk to her. I found some comfort in the relationship I imagined I had with Mary through those rituals. It didn’t occur to me that anyone would notice my extra devotions, but someone did: after a while I was told that, while prayer was important, my superiors wanted my free time used for recreation or study instead. When I knelt before the statue to tell Mary that I couldn’t visit regularly, I saw as if for the first time that the statue’s eyes were unrealistically carved. Mary was no longer there for me.

As the year went on, I tried to make a virtue of loneliness in other ways, even writing a series of short stories about a hermit. Tellingly, however, my hermit had extensive contact with other people, including women, in every episode — not unlike, I would later learn, my literary mentor Thomas Merton, who lived in a hermitage but corresponded with hundreds and had many visitors.5

Merton’s books, which I had continued to read while in Hamilton, also factored into my unhappiness there. Despite the promise of the Carmelite Rule, in practice it was “other lawful duties,” rather than meditation and prayer, that occupied much of the friars’ time. It seemed to me that the Carmelites fell short of the contemplative ideal extolled by Merton, a seemingly heroic life to which I wanted to believe God was calling me. During my first summer vacation from Hamilton, after Ray and I had talked it over by mail, I decided to postpone seminary while my discernment process continued. I needed a respite from the loneliness of seminary life. I hoped that a few more years’ maturity would make that life easier.

My parents enrolled me at Archbishop Curley High School, a Baltimore day school operated by Conventual Franciscan friars. At the time, I expected that I would graduate from Curley, but I spent only my sophomore and junior years there. It was during those years, as the more obvious manifestations of puberty appeared, that symptoms of chronic depression began to emerge.

The author, 2nd from left (wearing a borrowed jacket), with classmates and Fr. Fergus Lickteig, O. Carm., in Hamilton in 1963 or ’64.

[2]. The priest wasn’t far behind the times: just under two decades earlier, in 1945, a woman had been fined for wearing such an ensemble in Central Park. See I recall my mother asking, though, “Why is a priest looking out the window at women?”

[3]. The requirements of communal life, along with some of the rigid distinctions between priests and brothers, seem to have been relaxed in many institutes after the Second Vatican Council.

[4]. After Francis of Assisi stepped down from leadership, his followers, who would be known as Franciscans, became factious. Of the various groups they split into over time, four major orders were eventually allowed by Rome. They are the Order of Friars Minor (known simply as Franciscans), the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (said to be so named because they lived in convents, or friaries, instead of in hermitages or, as had the original brothers, anywhere someone provided shelter), the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (named, as noted above, for the long hood they wear), and various institutes of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis (originally, members of Francis’s secular [lay], or third, order who were permitted to take vows).

[5]. Michael Mott relates a revealing anecdote involving Merton, his abbot, and a psychoanalyst who knew Merton. “[The psychoanalyst] Zilboorg went on repeating in a level voice what he had said before about [Merton’s] hermitage idea being pathological: ‘You want a hermitage in Times Square with a large sign over it saying HERMIT’ … . [Merton] sat with tears streaming down his face … .” (Michael Mott, The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, Houghton Mifflin, 1986, p. 297.) Despite that, the abbot eventually permitted Merton to live apart from the community in a hermitage about a mile from the main monastery buildings. Within a year, Merton, then 53, would have an affair with a 19 year old woman.

Next week: “The Church, Part 2: ‘The Habit Covers a Multitude of Sins'”

God will forgive 
All you have done
That is why God sent
His only son
David Herr

16.02.2019 – Human Wrongs Watch

The 20 Warmest Years on Record Have Been in the Past 22 Years – The Degree of Warming during the Past Four Years Has Been Exceptional, Both on Land and in Ocean’
UNICEF/Adrak | Khair (left) is the father of seven children, who is no longer able to feed them. The drought has destroyed his land in Daykundi Province, Afghanistan; and this year he harvested nothing. (June 2018)

In the wake of data released by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO), showing the past four years were officially the ‘four warmest on record,’ UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for urgent climate action and increased ambition, ahead of his climate summit in September.

His reaction came after WMO issued a report confirming that 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 were the four warmest years recorded to date.

The analysis, based on the monitoring performed by five leading international organisations, also shows that the global average surface temperature in 2018 was approximately 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) baseline.

The long-term temperature trend is far more important than the ranking of individual years, and that trend is an upward one,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. “The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years. The degree of warming during the past four years has been exceptional, both on land and in the ocean.

Temperatures are only part of the story. Extreme and high impact weather affected many countries and millions of people, with devastating repercussions for economies and ecosystems in 2018,” he said.

“Many of the extreme weather events are consistent with what we expect from a changing climate. This is a reality we need to face up to. Greenhouse gas emission reduction and climate adaptation measures should be a top global priority,” said Mr. Taalas.

Noting “with concern” this data, which was first released in November 2018, UN Secretary-General Guterres said it confirms “the urgency of addressing climate action”, and echoes the science presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its October 2018 special report on the impacts of a global warming of 1.5°C.

The IPCC report that found that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities” and that global net emissions of carbon dioxide, attributable to human activity, would need to fall by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050.

The Secretary-General stated that, “to make these transformations, we need to significantly increase the global level of climate action and ambition”.

In order to mobilize political will, Mr. Guterres is convening a Climate Summit on 23 September this year, focusing on nine key areas:

  1. Raised ambition on climate mitigation measures.
  2. How to manage the transition to alternative energy sources.
  3. Managing industrial transition.
  4. Coming up with solutions through agriculture, oceans, forests and nature-related environments.
  5. Focus on infrastructure, cities and through local action.
  6. Issues of climate finance, notably carbon pricing.
  7. Increased resilience and adaptation, especially for the most vulnerable.
  8. A focus on social and political drivers.
  9. Citizen and political mobilization.

The Secretary-General is working closely with Member States and non-party stakeholders to enable outcomes in these areas to the Summit, in order to send “strong market and political signals that can inject momentum into the race” to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which countries committed collectively to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Informing the discussions at the Summit alongside other key scientific reports, WMO will issue the full 2018 State of the Climate report this coming March.  It will provide a comprehensive overview of temperature variability and trends, high-impact events, and key indicators of long-term climate change such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations; Arctic and Antarctic sea ice; sea level rise and ocean acidification.

It will be accompanied by UN-wide policy recommendations statement for decision-makers on the interplay between weather, climate and water supply, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (SOURCE: UN News).

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

Tax justice

Quakers are campaigning for a tax system that fosters peace, sustainability, equality and integrity.

From the early days of Quakerism, Quakers have always placed great emphasis on honesty in financial matters, and been clear that “we shall not attempt to evade our proper obligations to the community by way of taxation.” (Quaker faith & practice 20.54)

Yet there is more to tax justice than simply paying tax as individuals and organisations.

Areas of work

A Quaker view of tax

Our Principles for a new economy briefing (PDF), which set out a Quaker vision for a new economy, states that “the tax system redistributes from richer to poorer, with richer people paying a greater proportion of their income. It also applies to land and wealth. Payment of taxes is viewed as a matter of justice to support those things that contribute to human flourishing such as health care and education whilst discouraging harmful activities such as arms production and those causing pollution, ill health or ecosystem destruction.”

Currently, when all taxes are included, poorer people pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than rich people. Meanwhile, unearned income such as rent and dividends is taxed at a lower rate than income from employment.

Tax breaks for oil and gas, and a failure to reflect the true cost of pollution, are leaving us trapped in our fatal dependence on fossil fuels.

Seeing these wrongs, more and more Quakers are being led by their faith to act in support of a just tax system.

Church Action for Tax Justice

Church Action for Tax Justice (CAT) is a coalition of church organisations and secular partners promoting tax as a public good and campaigning for a fairer and more effective tax system. Quakers in Britain helped launch CAT in 2018 and are represented on its steering group. CAT’s plans for 2019 include resources for worship and a series of panel events.

Tax Justice Sunday

This summer, churches around the UK will observe Tax Justice Sunday as part of Fair Tax Week. It is an opportunity to celebrate the organisations that are proud to pay the right amount of tax for the benefit of all, and call for further measures to ensure that large companies are more transparent about the amount of tax they pay.

Tax Justice Sunday is being organised by Church Action for Tax Justice in partnership with the Fair Tax Mark scheme. We will post an update here soon about how you and your Quaker worshipping community can get involved.

Tax transparency

The secretive nature of tax dodging makes it very difficult to measure. However, estimates from a range of organisations suggest that governments around the world lose out on at least $500 billion per year from multinational companies alone.

Quakers were a member the Tax Dodging Bill campaign in 2014/15, along with many other organisations including Oxfam, Christian Aid and the Tax Justice Network.

Since then, there has been significant progress on tax transparency, with the UK introducing a public register of beneficial ownership (showing who really owns a company) as well as requiring large companies to report on their activities, profits and tax paid in each country they operate in. However, many loopholes and exemptions remain.

Our investments

Like many other faith groups Quakers in Britain invest some of our centrally held funds. This give us an opportunity to emphasise the moral and business case for tax responsibility with the companies in which we invest. We have been doing this with selected companies in our centrally-held investment portfolio since 2016, asking them about their tax practices and encouraging them to adopt the highest standards of tax governance and transparency.

Find out more

  • Invite QPSW to run a workshop to explore tax justice issues with your meeting. Contact Olivia Hanks
  • Register your interest in marking Tax Justice Sunday by emailing We’ll let you know when new resources are available.
  • For more information about Church Action for Tax Justice see
  • “Tax should not be seen as a burden, say churches”: Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain, joined other church figures and politicians at the launch of Church Action for Tax Justice.

16.02.2019 – Karina Lagdameo Santillan

One Billion Rising, 2019: From a Campaign to End Violence against Women to a Way of Life.

Valentine’s Day. In Manila, Philippines, thousands of students at St. Scholastica Manila take part in One Billion Rising 2019, a global campaign that aims to end the violence against women and children worldwide. In another part of the city, the urban poor and workers of Tondo dance to “Rise for Genuine Rehabilitation, Rage against Demolition! Rise for Worker’s rights, Rage against Contractualization!”

Up North, the Women of Cordillera Philippines call for the release of political prisoners, the end to the Train Law, and against misogyny. The Alliance of Women’s Organizations in the Cordillera rise for good governance and politics of change.

While down South, in Davao, lumads (indigenous people) at the Haran evacuation center call for Lumad rights, rising against martial law in Mindanao, against militarization, mining and environmental plunder, for land, dignity, equality, freedom, making an appeal to stop the attacks on Lumad communities and schools.

In cities and towns. Multi-sectoral groups. Indigenous peoples. Women, men, students…

In the Philippines and around the globe, Valentine’s Day is not just a day to express outpourings of love and affection, but is also V-Day, with women from different walks of life and all corners of the world rising and coming together in the spirit of solidarity and collaboration to end all forms of violence.

In Delhi India, OBR hosts a powerful feminist political play, a biographical play on Savitri bai written and performed by veteran actor Sushama Deshpande, who has traveled with it for 30 years, to perform the Marathi play in Hindi. Women like Savitri bai and Fatima Sheikh teach us about the power of advancing marginalized women’s voices. In Madurai, justice, peace and equality lovers rise against violence and patriarchy with courage and dedication.

In Kolkata, the OBR event was organized through the efforts of Swayam, Loretto House and other organizations, a display of the power of love on the day of Love.

At the 10th anniversary celebrations of AZAD FOUNDATION in Jaipur, it was a celebration of the spirit of women trained in the non-traditional livelihood of driving a taxi. The #1BillionRising event also featured activist singers Vinay and Charul and included an Azad Kishori Mela.

Tamil feminists are also RISING across the border in Sri Lanka, in Jaffna Batticloa and Colombo with “Living Proof”, a visual storytelling project the represents the daily resistance of a silenced community. In solidarity with the global campaign, One Billion Rising (Revolution) 2019, the activists in Bangladesh held a program in Jibtali, Rangamati, a remote area of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. There were games for the children challenging gender norms and stereotypes, a talk on VAW, cultural performances and the OBR Flash Mob performed by the students of Jibtali Gov. Primary School).

In Nepal, the call against violence and patriarchy was also raised.

On the African continent, the rising is against the killings in Nigeria, while a Youth Artfest entitled “We Men for Women Art Fest” was organized in Kenya, focusing on social injustices, sexual and gender-based violence, championing positive masculinity. In Malawi, the cry was for women’s participation in decision making.

Senegal is doing their first rising thanks to OBR Coordinator in Senegal Professor Ndioro Ndiaye, the former Minister of Social Development and Minister for Women and Children.

On the other side of the world, in Italy, Croatia and other parts of Europe, scores of Risings have taken place, making the One Billion Rising a truly global movement of concerted empowerment.

In the USA, the OBR event in San Antonio focused on survivor stories, art, music and poetry and, supported local resources and women in prison and the formerly incarcerated. In Concord, California, participants performed the BreakTheChain dance as part of the 1BillionRising movement advocating for women’s empowerment and against violence against women in all its forms. At Florida International University on V-Day, creative and engaged, visionary students exchanged revolutionary ideas on how to change the statistics of gender violence in their lifetimes, together with their teacher and cutting-edge expert, Sandy Skelaney.

These are just some of the many “Risings” worldwide in an ongoing movement that brings to the fore the urgent need to actively and creatively express and collaborate towards ending violence against women.

Now on its 7th year, One Billion Rising is a global movement founded by Eve Ensler in 2012 to end rape and sexual violence against women. One Billion because, based on a UN Statistic, one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. Since then, the campaign has expanded, with thousands of Rising events held on all continents; its scope expanding and ever-widening, uniting the collective efforts of activists against all forms of violence against women and escalating to include a rising call against the systems that cause other forms of violence: imperialism, fascism, racism, capitalism, and neo-liberalism, working to highlight where all these issues interconnect.

Panel discussions, press conferences, town halls, movies, articles, gatherings, poetry, art, posters, rallies, dances, bold artistic initiatives that reflect the actions taking place in communities, multi-sectoral involvement, the One Billion Rising Campaign, which is part of the V-day Movement, provides a unique space to engage people from all walks of life. To quote, “Every February, we rise – in countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence. We rise to show we are determined to create a new kind of consciousness – one where violence will be resisted until it is unthinkable.

For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Monique Wilson, Global Director One Billion Rising at V-day

God was with me
When I turned to prayer
Then God said to me and said
I am with you, do not despair
David Herr

Thais Carr‎ a Quaker Prayer Group

Reading for February 15 from Praying for Justice. “[The beast] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time.” Daniel 7: 25

“All of us [Young Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns] have suffered discrimination or isolation because of our sexuality. We are all both angry and sad about the discrimination we face in everyday life, whether it consists of being unable to talk to work colleagues about a partner, or having to hide our sexuality in order to keep a job. The consequences of such necessary dishonesty can be very destructive both personally and for society.”

Tessa Fairweather, 1993

(To prepare the Quaker Socialist Society contribution to the Quaker Faith and Practice revision process, we’re posting an extract each day. Does this speak to you? Should it stay in the text? Like or comment below.)

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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