Black Cat Book Review
Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley
The Society of Friends, or Quakers, is considered a religion that has been around about 400 years. Most people if asked to define Quakers would probably start with how they used to dress like the pilgrims and are rather conservative “religious” folk. Anyone who reads Gulley’s book will learn contemporary Quakers don’t fit that description. Though they may (or may not) be conservative in their dress or habits they cannot be put in a one-size-fits-all box.
I have always thought the Quakers were an interesting group but did not know much about their beliefs. After reading this book some of my thoughts have been confirmed…they are active in political and social issues, live simply, there are meeting houses not churches with many styles of worship, they are generally pacifists. There are others I was not aware of…some meetings have pastors some do not, what they believe is not confined to the bible, there is no formal joining of the meeting, one can join or not and still be considered a Quaker…are a few of the things I learned.
Gulley explores the Quaker Way; simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. His views are interesting and thought-provoking for me. Some I agree with, some I disagree with, and some I am still thinking about.
Right from the first chapter, What is a Quaker?, I found myself surprised by some of his statements and I kept asking myself is the Society of Friends a religion or a way of life, a philosophy? Apparently, it is a question they ask themselves with many different answers. For example, from the first chapter:
“…For some Friends–indeed for most Friends–Quakerism is first a religion, an understanding and experience of God that leads to a certain way of life. But for others it is a way of life rich in its own right, needing no origin in or confirmation from a divine entity.”
“… while Quakerism for some Friends is a way of life rooted in our experience of God, that is not the case for all. At one time, I would have mightily resisted that view, but now I am quite willing to welcome as brother and sister those persons whose integrity will not permit them to affirm a god they have not encountered. Though our perceptions of the Divine may differ, our mutual commitment to the Quaker way allows us to stand with one another as Friends and friends.”
At the end of the book there are 30 questions, Queries, to consider for yourself. Gulley encourages the reader to use them as a personal check-list of sorts or as a small group discussion. The questions are well worth pondering and discussing.
Overall, I liked the book because I like to hear what others think about God and faith and life. I also liked it because it made me look a bit closer at what, and why, I believe. It’s worth a read but probably not for everyone.
This book was sent to me by Blogging for Books free of charge in exchange for this review.