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. The very name for this people came from George Fox's admonition to a judge to "tremble before the word of the Lord"; the judge then ridiculed him, calling him a "quaker". 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.
Disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers for review purposes.