take courage, all you people of the land, says the LORD; work, for I am with you, says the LORD of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not. – Haggai 2:4-5 (RSV)

*   *   *

Consider labor: How do we make a living without seriously compromising our beliefs? The military-industrial complex has extensively penetrated nearly all facets of American society. Not even the universities are immune. And global corporations, in their quest for ever higher short-term profits, incur other moral difficulties. Law? Medicine? And so on. Until we resolve this, we are likely to face either accelerated decline in our faith communities or be unable to maintain our testimonies, which are eroding too rapidly as it is. I’m not just speaking of the Society of Friends, either.

Where do we turn? Retreat into farming? Farmers aren’t surviving. As the French novelist inquired nearly a century ago: Where are the shoemakers in the Society of Friends nowadays?

On top of it all, professionals, as hired guns, are becoming rootless. Living by our wits: how fast can you dance, pardner?

Are we, too, entering a kind of exile?

*   *   *

Though ’tis possible for Men to sin themselves into such a State, by drinking in Iniquity, as the Ox drinketh Water, when through Custom in Sinning, their Consciences become seared as with an hot Iron, that this Principle of God may cease striving with them, and so these may not know when they do Evil. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)


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