Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom for a Better Life Today
A good informative book
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and writer and speaker from Danville, Indiana so he is the perfect person to author Living the Quaker Way. I think for the most part, the most anyone knows about the Quakers is they churn their own butter, build their own homes and they love oatmeal.
First off, Quakers mostly refer to themselves as "Friends" and consider themselves a Christian denomination. Quakers for the most part are passive conservatives, but there are also liberal Quakers (I was surprised to learn that to!)
The book is useful in two ways, one it is a nice simple primer that introduces the reader to the Quaker lifestyle and faith and dispels perhaps any stereotypes that might be there.
Second the book highlights five areas of the Quaker faith and offers them as good lessons to live by. The five lessons are: simplify, peace, integrity, community and equality. I think in this faster paced "gotta have it" world that we live in - the chapter on simplifying is probably my favorite and the most useful.
Mr. Gulley writes well and has a nice reading voice. The book was informative and does a good job explaining itself - I don't know that it's a "page turner" or that it says anything new, but it is certainly well thought through.
Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for the review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
October 14, 2013
Book is well written; I can't recommend beliefs
I have to admit that curiosity was what brought me to read this book, Living the Quaker Way by Philip Gulley. I realized that I knew little about the Quakers (in my misinformed mind they were sort of like the Amish), but that the words on the back cover about the simplicity of the Quaker lifestyle resonated in me and I wanted to know more.
Gulley, a Quaker pastor, starts the book by handling some of the usual questions people have about the Quakers--questions similar to mine--about their beliefs and practices. The first chapter, "What is a Quaker?" is devoted to this. I learned that a Quaker congregation is called a meeting, and that a meeting may or may not have a pastor. However, at the end of the chapter I did not know much more than when I began it; essentially, it seems, a Quaker can be pretty much anyone who believes pretty much anything, There appears to be no doctrinal foundation that defines a Quaker. Rather, they seek to live by five principles: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality (SPICE being the acronym). The rest of the book is spent expounding on these principles.
My evaluation of this book is divergent: on one hand, there is the issue of whether Gulley did what is promised in the title, which is to explain how Quakers live and to describe how their principles appeal to our electronically cluttered, money-grabbing, isolationist world. He did do this. I do believe that anyone who is seeking to embrace the Quaker way has a lot of information here. Gulley is engaging, gentle, and his stories are warmhearted. I am sure that Quakers live lives that are good, compassionate, and engaging in the needs of the world around them.
However, as an evangelical Christian I was disappointed to find little mention of Jesus in this book and very little Scripture. Perhaps it is due to my misinformation about Quakers, but I had been under the impression that, in the early days of this country, these were a people devoted to the Scriptures as a foundational basis for life. I may be very wrong! However, wrong or right, I would have a hard time recommending a book to others that does not present the Bible as absolute truth. Quakers do not apparently believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and in fact it appears to me in the reading of this book that salvation is not even defined as important.
I know that because of Gulley's emphasis on integrity, he would give me the thumbs up for being honest about my feelings towards Quakerism, while being respectful of his right to practice it. I hope that comes across in this review.
September 15, 2013
When I first saw this book, I was excited to have a chance to read it for two reasons: one, I have read and enjoyed Mr. GulleyÃ¢ÂÂs writing before; and two, I come from a long line of Quakers and hoped this book would give me insight into what they believed. Once I started reading the book, however, I quickly realized that the way my conservative, Bible-based Quaker ancestors believed and what Mr. Gulley described are similar but two very different things.
The first chapter endeavors to answer the question, Ã¢ÂÂWhat is a Quaker?Ã¢ÂÂ Although it seems like a straightforward question that would be simple to answer, the reality is far different. Based on what I read in that chapter, it appears being a Quaker (and even what makes one a Quaker) means many things to many people. There is no simple definition, not even one based on sharing the same beliefs, as evidenced by the fact that there are Quakers who are atheists as well as those who firmly believe in God. Mr. Gulley puts forth a valiant effort to offer an all-inclusive definition of the apparently undefinable. As a result, he presents readers with this statement: Ã¢ÂÂDespite our differences, most all of us agree that to be a Quaker is to live out as best we can the virtues of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality.Ã¢ÂÂ
The remainder of the book is dedicated to explaining each of those virtues. Each chapter contains examples from Mr. GulleyÃ¢ÂÂs life, other Quakers, and ideals of what the world could be if everyone embraced the Quaker way of life. While packed with information presented in an easy-to-read format and suggestions we would all do well to take to heart, there were several statements I (as a conservative Christian) disagreed with. At times, I wondered if the Quaker religion still values the Bible and the teachings contained therein. The liberal ideas presented by Mr. Gulley made it clear to me that I would not be comfortable in many Quaker meetings because of the differences in their beliefs and mine. However, reading this book was an eye-opening experience for me, one I appreciate having the opportunity to enjoy.
For someone questioning their beliefs or dissatisfied with their current religion, this book could be a wonderful resource. Those who want to make the world a better place will appreciate the insights shared. However, if you are a conservative Christian like me and believe the Bible teaches truth and is a guidebook for our lives, this book may be disappointing in some of its suggestions and descriptions of both the authorÃ¢ÂÂs beliefs and the beliefs of the Quaker religion as a whole.
Disclaimer: I received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This review is based solely on the contents of the book and my experience reading it.
September 14, 2013
Living the Quaker Way, by Philip Gulley
Although Philip Gulley is himself a Quaker pastor, he is not necessarily trying to convince people to formally become Quakers. Rather, he believes that the world would be a better place if everyone would embrace five virtuesÃ¢ÂÂSimplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality (SPICE)Ã¢ÂÂwhich are hallmarks of the Quaker faith.
(As a side note, before reading this book I didnÃ¢ÂÂt realize that there even was such a thing as a Quaker pastor. I thought that Quakers sat in silence at their Meetings until someone sensed the Spirit urging him or her to speak. Apparently there are different varieties of Quaker Meetings and different varieties of Quakers. Gulley acknowledges, Ã¢ÂÂThis makes the seemingly simple questions, What is a Quaker? or What do Quakers believe? almost impossible to answer.Ã¢ÂÂ However, one of the clearest statements Gulley makes about what defines a Quaker is: Ã¢ÂÂTo be a Quaker is to always understand yourself and your actions in terms of the world. It is an invitation to reflect, not simply react, to keep before you the question, Ã¢ÂÂWhat would the world be like if everyone did what I am doing?Ã¢ÂÂ)
Gulley devotes a chapter to each of the five virtues. Using many real-life examples, he unpacks each virtue in an attractive and compelling way, displaying the benefits of living it out at individual, communal, and global levels. Gulley is a master of penning one-line Ã¢ÂÂgemsÃ¢ÂÂ and short passages that merit extensive consideration. For example:
Ã¢ÂÂAny god we claim to fully understand is not God.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂIt requires little courage to believe the best about ourselves, but to acknowledge our need for growth is difficult.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂIt is because of our participation in the we that we learn to be an I.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂ[T]ruth can come from any person or event at any time, usually when we least expect it.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂBehind every saint is a community.Ã¢ÂÂ
For the most part, I found myself drawn to the principles in each chapter, but the chapter on Peace left me confused and unsatisfied. Quakers are against weapons, violence, and war of any kind (at least, that is the perspective presented in this book). I found the Peace chapter to be completely idealistic with no practical solutions and no answers to my Ã¢ÂÂBut what ifÃ¢ÂÂ¦?Ã¢ÂÂ questions. The only inkling of an answer I received to the questions that kept popping into my mind during the Peace chapter was provided later in the book: Ã¢ÂÂ[F]or the Quaker it is a matter of integrity to live out the ideals of faith, even when others arenÃ¢ÂÂt.Ã¢ÂÂ
The final chapter of the book is a monthÃ¢ÂÂs worth of daily Ã¢ÂÂQueries,Ã¢ÂÂ which are thought-provoking questions to reflect and meditate on as an individual or as a small group.
Disclosure: I received a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review.
August 24, 2013