Year End Reflections on Critical Conversations

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As 2022 comes to an end, I reflect with a grateful heart on this opportunity to connect with you and others through Critical Conversations. In this post, I’d like to share a little about how Critical Conversations came to be what it is, and to thank you – the readers, and the team of guest contributors, editors and technical supporters  – who make this post possible. My life is enriched with love and joy by notes and comments from readers, from the courage and insights of guest contributors, and the generosity and talent of my friends who edit and assist in the weekly writing of Critical Conversations. Many blessings in 2023 to each of you!

When I retired from nonprofit consulting in 2018, I intended to write more on topics of interest to me. I was curious about where this intention might take me. I figured I would finish up, with my co-author Joy Jones, a book we had started on the of the world-changing work of Bill Wilson, co-founder of A.A., and his wife Lois Wilson, co-founder of Al-Anon and how their marriage made their legacy possible.  And then see what my next book might be about. The Wilson book will be completed and published in 2023.

Along the way, I began writing short reflection pieces. I then learned that most reputable writers have a website. It didn’t make much sense to develop a website for just one book. So, I explored with my writing coach Shirin McArthur and writer friends how I might populate a website with my reflection pieces. 

Not being a simple one idea person, I landed on four topic areas that from my point of view are important to our individual and collective quality of life. As regular readers know, the areas of focus are: Spirituality and Love, Racial Equity and Justice, Recovery and Growth, and Leadership Transitions.

Two and a half years ago, George Floyd was murdered. Like many, I turned to writing to try to make sense of an insane act of violence. I started posting my thoughts on Facebook and quickly realized it wasn’t the best place for these kinds of reflections because of limits of ongoing access and the need for brevity.  These writings changed my plan to focus on racial justice “later”. I  began posting on racial justice in Critical Conversations.  My intent was and is to over time show how all four topic areas were connected and to focus on each one for short periods of time.

The murder of George Floyd reminded me that if I stayed silent on racism and the violence that has supported white domination in America since its inception, I was colluding with the continuation of a racist, unjust society. It is difficult to write about love and stay silent on racial inequities and other justice issues. Similarly, having benefitted from Twelve Step recovery through several Twelve Step programs for over forty years, I cannot watch the exponential growth of so many addictions – drugs, alcohol, food, work, sex, gambling, technology, and many others – that destroy the lives of those addicted and those who love them. Addiction is an undeclared pandemic that impacts families in many ways like the Covid pandemic. Except the impact goes on for generations.  To write about love and justice, I have to write about addiction and recovery.

My professional career involved being a leader and supporting effective leadership in nonprofit organizations.   Until retirement, most of my writing was on this topic including my first book The Nonprofit Leadership Transition and Development Guide. I continue to be interested in the question of who leads and why. The growing attention to racial equity has changed the leadership transition field in which I worked for the better. I have less to contribute about leadership as I get further from the practice.

Some weeks the reflections are about one of the four topics. Examples include More about Love and Loving, Lessons For Today from AA’s 87 Years and Racial Justice and the Good/Bad Binary. Other weeks, I write about the connections across two or more of the topics. Examples of these kinds of posts include Gratitude as a Path to Love,  Learning from Wise Friends, and What’s Therese of Lisieux Have to do with Anti Racism?

Because I envisioned Critical Conversations as an interactive community, I am delighted when a friend or a friend of a friend says yes to sharing a perspective as a guest contributor. We are all enriched by these gifts and I invite you to consider being a guest contributor in 2023. It is difficult to single out a few of the posts by guest contributors because they all are so powerful. You may remember Married for Life: Exploring Love, The Greatest Generation and Righting Vatican’s Wrongs: When an Apology is not Enough.

Critical Conversations is also interactive when readers make comments on the post or drop me a note. The comments broaden the perspective of the posts. I encourage you to become an active member of our community and share your comments when moved to do so.  And if you enjoy a post, I’d appreciate if you would share it with a friend and encourage them to consider signing up for weekly delivery of Critical Conversations

Finally, a special word of thanks to the outstanding team that is the “back office” of this weekly post. Thanks to Shirin McArthur, my writing coach and advisor on the development of the blog; to Judy Alnes and Tim Wolfred, who each week edit my rough draft and polish it to make more readable for you; to Joy Jones, my collaborator on the Wilson book and advisor on writing questions; and to Kimi Fleming, who graduated with honors from the U of Md last May and got her first job with a major Washington DC TV station. Gratefully Kimi continues to take care of the posting and quality of our posts and website. Without this team, there would be no Critical Conversations. I am grateful and deeply appreciative of each of you and your talents.

I look forward to 2023 and continuing to share Critical Conversations with you. Many blessings to you in the year ahead.


  1. Geraldine

    Thanks Tom for the reflections!

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks sweetie, for being such a loyal reader! Tom PS Geraldine is my wife and we were testing the site. If you tried to make a comment yesterday, we had some issues which are hopefully resolved. Please try your comment again. Happy new year, Tom

  2. Patience Robbins

    I really appreciate hearing the back story of Critical Conversations, Tom. I had no idea so many people were supporting all of this.
    Thank you to all!

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Patience for being a regular reader and commentator. Your commitment to the contemp;ative life is a great inspirtation to me and benefits all our readers. Peace, Tom

  3. sally mac

    Tom, it takes a Village!
    We’re all on the Journey as we “sally forth” into 2023….

    • Tom Adams

      Amen, Sally! Keep sallying! Tom

  4. Buffy

    I also enjoyed reading the backstory on Critical Conversations. Happy New Year!

    • Tom Adams

      All the best to you, Buffy. Blesssings on your time in Denmark, Tom

  5. Shirin McArthur

    You’re welcome Tom! It’s been an honor to work with you on this project and watch it unfold and develop into an important element of our cultural conversation. I look forward to what 2023 will bring too!

    • Tom Adams

      Thanks Shirin for inspiring me with confidence and helping me find clarity on mine to do. Much joy and love, Tom