Title: Living the Quaker Way
Author: Philip Gulley
Publisher: Convergent Books
Philip Gulley invites us into a bracing encounter with the rich truths of Quakerism—a centuries-old spiritual tradition that provides not only a foundation of faith but also vision for making the world more just, loving, and peaceable by our presence.
In Living the Quaker Way, Gulley shows how Quaker values provide real solutions to many of our most pressing contemporary challenges. We not only come to a deeper appreciation of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality, we see how embracing these virtues will radically transform us and our world.
Living the Quaker Way includes a 30-day spiritual practice that applies the Quaker tradition of Queries.
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. Gulley’s 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, “What is a Quaker?” 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: “Despite 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.”
The remainder of the book is dedicated to explaining each of those virtues. Each chapter contains examples from Mr. Gulley’s 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 author’s beliefs and the beliefs of the Quaker religion as a whole.