Quaker Life, Mercy, Fall 2020
Purchase a single copy of the Fall 2020 issue of Quaker Life: A mosaic of Friendly living on the theme of Mercy.
As Colin Saxton points out in his essay in this issue of Quaker Life, what we mean when we use the word “mercy” is neither easy to define nor to agree upon, and the breadth of pieces in this Mercy-themed issue confirm his point.
Several of our authors present mercy as the act of forgiveness. Deborah Suess cautions that healthy forgiveness is forgiveness that does not keep open the possibility of further harm. Michael Jay points out the importance of remembering God’s mercy to ourselves as we learn to offer mercy to others. In a similar vein, John Greenleaf Whittier discovers that a reminder of the sad and final ending of each of our lives spontaneously draws forth mercy from his heart.
In conjunction with mercy in its appearance as forgiveness and grace, several authors meditate on the scandal of mercy. Julie Rudd wonders whether any of us honestly desire wrongdoers to be forgiven. Michael Jay asserts that God’s generosity, in the story of the prodigal son, is measurably unfair—especially when we realize that the younger brother’s celebration was thrown together out of the older brother’s portion of their father’s estate. Kelly Kellum meditates on the complexities of drawing back into community those who have damaged the community.
Sometimes mercy is seen as the demonstration of God’s lovingkindness. Certainly God’s lovingkindness is at work when Getry Agizah makes sure a child receives further medical attention. Colin Saxton writes that God’s lovingkindness comes to us in God’s work to liberate us from our sinning—not only to forgive our sins. I write about mercy as our human participation in God’s kingdom.
Other authors write about mercy as the redemption of suffering. In a story of generational suffering, Heather Fogel writes about how God’s mercy eventually healed her childhood trauma, and how God’s mercy to her daughter, similarly traumatized, has enabled her daughter to minister to others suffering from similar wounds. Getry Agizah and Katrina McConaughey write about mercy as compassionate care for an innocent, voiceless child—while at the same time lifting up the practice of justice as a necessary component for the child’s healing. In a complicated reflection on the slave spiritual “The Blind Man,” Howard Thurman reflects on the presence of suffering within the Christian faith, and the reality that some suffering is never relieved during our lifetime. Under these circumstances, Thurman writes, the ability to know that we suffer, to continue to desire what we know we do not have and will not receive, the ability to voice that desire to God—these are God’s mercy to us.
“Mercy is a sacred and scandalous gift that reveals the face of God,” Kelly Kellum writes. A face presented differently to each of us.
— Daniel J. Kasztelan, Quaker Life editor
Individual subscriptions in the US/Canada are $40/year, click here.
For group discounts, please call the office at 765-962-7573 or email your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.