In the know

Newsletters worth your time

or some years now, I won’t say how many, I’ve been receiving a number of issue-oriented newsletters that I find useful for the information they convey and the values they reflect. Belatedly it occurs to me that it may be helpful to others if I list and briefly describe some of these publications. Take that "if" away.

n Pride of place goes to the FCNL Washington Newsletter, published eleven times a year by the Friends Committee on National Legislation. The FCNL defines itself as "a Quaker lobby in the public interest" which "seeks to follow the leadings of the Spirit as it speaks for itself and for like-minded Friends."

You don’t go to a Quaker newsletter expecting jazzy language or juicy news beats. What you get from FCNL’s newsletter is careful judgments expressed in plain and measured terms and covering a range of public-policy issues. Naturally FCNL’s opinions reflect the distinctive Quaker ethic, but the newsletter’s judgments on, say, the military budget or the use of sanctions as a tool of foreign policy are not overdetermined by pacifist tenets; the same conclusions could be grounded in the social teachings of Catholicism.

Another example is the content of a February, 1999 issue on "Economic Justice and Systemic Racism." Among other things, it explains with an amplitude of data why it matters that so few justices of the U.S. Supreme Court hire women or "minorities" to serve as their law...

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About the Author

The late Robert G. Hoyt was senior writer at Commonweal from 1988 to 2002.