This is the second of my book reviews for Blogging for Books. This time I chose and reviewed Phillip Gulley’s Living the Quaker Way. To be clear, I am not getting paid to write this positive review, but I did get to read a book I was interested in for free, which is pretty cool in its own right. For you bloggers out there, check out Blogging for Books and pick your own free read. As an author, I know how glad writers are when they get an objective review. So, Win/Win.
I loved reading Phillip Gulley’s Living the Quaker Way. I was first introduced to Gulley as a fiction writer, hearing my brother rave about Gulley’s Harmony series. When I looked at Gulley’s author page to find out more about his books, I was thrilled to learn that he also had a nonfiction book on the Quaker faith and
traditions. Having been interested in Quakers for some time, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to learn more.
Gulley did not disappoint. He laid out the basic tenants of the Quaker faith: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality and then expounded on each one. Chapter by chapter, tenant by tenant, I found myself both resonating and being further challenged by Gulley’s expositions. He manages to walk the line between challenging the reader to grow in their journey without completely overwhelming them with an impossible task. He calls us to greater heights and then admits his own failings (After all, who of us can be completely truthful all the time? Certainly not me, and thankfully not Gulley either).
Gulley also interweaves the history of the Quaker movement and the diversities within the tradition as he writes. Like all denominations, Quakers have their more conservative and more progressive groups and have even had factions and divisions over the years. He also debunked an assumption I had that all Friends only sat in silence for their meetings. Some meetings have pastors that give a small message and sometimes there may be music involved with the meeting. Apparently there is no one right way to be a Quaker, which is quite a relief!
What I love most about Gulley’s Living the Quaker Way is that he presents Quakerism as a way of life. One does not have to attend a Friend’s meeting to become a Quaker. Simply embracing the principles that are the heart of the religion and living a reflective life counts. To this end, Gulley actually includes a 30 day guide at the end of the book that takes the reader through the Quaker queries day by day. We are invited to meditate on how we are embracing simplicity by reflecting on questions such as “Do I keep my life uncluttered with things and activities, avoiding commitments beyond my strength and light?” and “Do I recognize when I have enough?” I am greatly looking forward to spending the next month meditating on these queries and seeing where they take me.
I never got tired of reading this book. Gulley stays to the point and keeps the reader interested with personal stories. I did have to pace myself so that I could digest the material properly since the material is so rich and challenging.
In short, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is seeking to know more about Quakerism or just curious about this group of people who simply call themselves “Friends.”