Living the Quaker Way

September 07, 2013

I recently read Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom For a Better Life Today by Philip Gulley. I received an advanced reading copy of the book, which comes out later this month, from the publisher (Convergent Books). This book, which is written for non-Quakers and is not designed to convert people, lays out some basic attributes Gulley (a Quaker minister) has learned from the Friends that he believes other Christians should model. It also provides some nice background and aspects about Quakers probably unknown to many people - like me before reading the book. An interesting and well-written book, Gulley does an excellent job of laying out Quaker principles and mixing stories and arguments to make the case for following these ideals. He focuses on the principles of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. Gulley models humility as many of the stories are times when he failed to live up to the principles he advocating, which gives the book a more encouraging tone instead of a holier-than-thou, come-hear-the-master-sage tone I expected. Each of his five overall principles challenged me to live out my faith more thoughtfully, carefully, and completely. The book ends with thirty Quaker queries, questions designed to promote introspective consideration of one's thoughts, words, and deeds. He numbers them so one can dwell on a prompt a day for a month, which might be a like an apple a day for your soul. I appreciated these prompts, which kept me thinking about some of the concepts he wrote about for the next month. The queries also reminded me of my recent stay at the William Penn House, a Quaker hostel in Washington, D.C. (see post here), since they had Quaker queries (though I did not know what they were until reading Gulley's book) posted in the bathrooms and elsewhere. I recommend this book and believe Gulley identifies attributes that are especially needed more in American Christianity.