Living the Quaker Way: Discover the Hidden Happiness in the Simple Life

Living the Quaker Way: Discover the Hidden Happiness in the Simple Life

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by Philip Gulley

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A Publishers Weekly “Top 10 in Religion” selection.

“This is nothing less than the gospel itself…a much-needed book.”
Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Living the Quaker Way is a treasure trove of practical wisdom about what it means to bear


A Publishers Weekly “Top 10 in Religion” selection.

“This is nothing less than the gospel itself…a much-needed book.”
Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Living the Quaker Way is a treasure trove of practical wisdom about what it means to bear witness to our hope for a better world.”
—Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak
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.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Quakerism has many admirers but considerably fewer adherents. Gulley, a Quaker pastor and much-published author (The Evolution of Faith), hopes to reach new members with his newest work, part of the inaugural list of a new imprint aimed at the spiritually curious. He explains central Quaker values and practices—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality—in clear and inviting ways, drawing on Quaker history to provide context and illustration of the distinctive ways of the Religious Society of Friends (another name for Quakers). He also draws on his own life, acknowledging shortcomings in ways that disarm and attest to the Quaker value of integrity of speech. The set of queries at the book’s end is extremely helpful; queries are spiritual tools for self-examination and reflection that can give readers a small taste of the faith. The author goes light on his trademark charming humor, which is unfortunate; religion goes down easier when preached with a smile. Still, Gulley might make “nightstand Friends”—people who flirt with Quakerism, reading about it before going to sleep. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Living the Quaker Way

“Anybody who has ever thought that the Quakers invented oatmeal will learn differently from Living the Quaker Way by Indiana pastor and highly readable author Philip Gulley. He describes the values of the Quaker way: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. Gulley is published by the new Random House imprint Convergent, which aims at people in the growing ranks of the spiritually curious but religiously unaffiliated.”
—Publishers Weekly Top 10 in Religion, Fall 2013

“Ever since I ‘discovered’ Quakerism, I’ve wondered why Quakers are so quiet about their core values—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality—in a world that so clearly needs them. So I was thrilled to find this book by Phil Gulley, a great Quaker writer, aimed at making those values more accessible. Gulley makes no effort to convince the reader to become a Quaker. He simply says, ‘If you’ve been looking for ways to live out these values, here’s what Quakers have learned over three and a half centuries of dedicated experimentation.’ His book is a treasure trove of practical wisdom about what it means to bear witness to our hope for a better world.”
—Parker Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, Let Your Life Speak, and The Courage to Teach

Living the Quaker Way is not only refreshing and inspiring, it is challenging in all the right ways. Even though I am not a Quaker, their core values challenge my real life as well as the life of the faith community that I pastor. Filled with honest stories, deep wisdom, and realistic practices, Living the Quaker Way will leave you not only longing to live differently but also with practical ways to do just that.”
—Kathy Escobar, co-pastor of The Refuge, faith blogger, and author of Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus

“This is nothing less than the gospel itself. Quakers have always had the ability to simplify and get to the point, and here it is! I am most happy to add my very positive endorsement to this excellent, clear, and much-needed book.”
—Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Praise for Phil Gulley

“Philip Gulley separates wheat from chaff, experience from explanation, and purpose from function in this book. He calls the Jesus message into a new vision—one that has both power and integrity.”
—John Shelby Spong, former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark and author of The Sins of Scripture

“No one raises provocative questions about Christianity more kindly than Philip Gulley.”
—Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity After Religion and A People’s History of Christianity

“In our ever changing world, Gulley’s book is much needed. An important book for any person of faith.”
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“The verve and clarity of Gulley’s writing underscore the welcome nature of his message to many thoughtful unchurched or alienated Christians.”
—Library Journal

Product Details

The Crown Publishing Group
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Random House
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3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Discovering Your Inner Quaker

It is not unusual in my neck of the woods to drive down an Indiana road and happen upon an old Quaker meetinghouse, set back from the road with a cemetery nearby. The graves will date from the early 1800s to the current day, bookending the span of Quakerism in America’s heartland. Many meetinghouses date from the mid-1800s. Given their age and the unintended message of death every graveyard conveys, passersby could be forgiven for believing Quakerism to be an antiquated tradition, out of step with the modern world.
   I know this misperception is a common one, for I believed it myself before becoming a Quaker; and others, who eventually became Quakers, also thought it true and told me so. To discover people still gather at those meetinghouses each Sunday, still laugh and love and learn within those serene spaces, is a surprise to those of us who believed Quakerism to be a dying expression. Not only is the mere existence of Quakerism a surprise, so are its vitality and relevance.
   What is more surprising is that a religious tradition as evangelically bashful as Friends is still around at all. The average Quaker, if there is such a thing, will warmly welcome a visitor once he or she arrives at a meetinghouse but would seldom have invited that person in the first place, fearing that might be construed as spiritually coercive or pushy. Instead, we rely upon our history and reputation—and in more recent years a website called—to evangelize for us. I first visited that website several years ago and was invited to answer a series of questions in order to determine the religion that best suited me. Intrigued, I took the quiz, submitted my answers for evaluation,and was informed I would feel most at home in a Quaker meeting. I remember chuckling to myself, pleased the test confirmed the path I had chosen over thirty-five years before.
   A few weeks later, a visitor arrived at our Quaker meetinghouse. After welcoming her, I asked if she had ever attended a Quaker meeting.
   She answered, “No, this is my first time. But I took a test on the Internet, and it told me I’d be happy as a Quaker.”
   I mentioned I had taken the same test and had been told the same thing. Many others have visited our meetinghouse since, telling the same story. This has not been unique to our meeting. In my conversations with other Quakers around the country, they have reported the same phenomena. I would later learn a significant number of the quiz respondents were advised to consider Quakerism. This confirmed a long-held suspicion of mine—there are far more people who embrace our Quaker traditions, testimonies, and beliefs than ever join a Quaker meeting. Indeed, were everyone who is philosophically sympathetic to our tradition to join our ranks, ours might be the largest denomination in America.
   Because so many people were advised by to consider Quakerism, I thought perhaps a Quaker had designed the test and was using it to expand our ranks, but that turned out not to be the case. Instead, I learned many people were sympathetic to the ideals of Quakerism without realizing their convictions were shared by a somewhat obscure religious faith over 350 years old. They were Quakers but didn’t know it. 
   These newcomers to Quakerism have defied easy categorization. Some have been young, others elderly. Some have been prosperous, some have struggled economically. While most have had some experience with organized religion, their experience has been broad, ranging from Roman Catholicism to Judaism to Islam to Baptist. More than a few have been agnostics, uncertain about God but appreciative of the Quaker witness to peace and social justice. Several have mentioned finding the Quaker emphasis on silent reflection helpful to their spiritual journey. One man who had lived for some time in Asia said to me, “Quakerism might be America’s closest thing to Buddhism.”
   I’m not sure what to make of our newfound popularity, but I am excited the long-held priorities of Quakerism are being valued by others and hope it signals a wider commitment to the virtues we Friends have cherished and practiced for centuries. At first, I worried the growing attraction of Quakerism was a fad and would fade over time. But as I engage those drawn to the Religious Society of Friends, I am sensing other motivations.
They do not perceive Quakerism as fashionable or chic. Rather, they have found its focus on the inner life to be an antidote to the complexities and challenges of modern life. The Quaker values, what we call testimonies—simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality—offer an ethical and spiritual platform upon which people can happily build their lives.
   It is this platform, this spiritual structure, I wish to explore in the pages ahead. These Friendly testimonies are easily remembered by the acronym SPICE: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality. I would be remiss in suggesting these are uniquely Quaker ideals. They were not invented by us, and people of other faiths—or no faith at all—have lived them out powerfully and creatively. But I do believe these values are best honed in the crucible of community, which is why I remain a Friend. That these priorities speak to so many people today, including many who have scant knowledge of Quakerism, indicates the common ground shared by ancient traditions and modern seekers. We need not jettison the time-tested truths of our ancestors, but we do need to reinterpret them for our age, lest we mistake stale forms for vital living. It is then, with deep appreciation for the past and profound hope for our future, that I offer these testimonies of the Quaker way for your consideration.
   But let me be clear, were I merely to inform you of this way, my job would be left undone. It is the life, the Quaker way, I urge you to take up and live. By that I do not mean for you to seek out the nearest Quaker meeting and become a member, though you may if you wish. I mean for you to embrace these values, to give your assent and your heart to these virtues, so that our world might be transformed. My interest is not in growing the Quaker denomination. My passion is in growing a world in which peace, love, and justice reign.
   In the end, I am not inviting you to a church but to a life.

Meet the Author

Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and popular author and speaker. He has written seventeen books, including the Harmony fiction series, the Porch Talk series of inspirational essays, If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (coauthored with James Mulholland), and The Evolution of Faith: How God Is Creating a Better Christianity. Gulley holds a master of divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary. He is co-pastor of Fairfield Friends Meeting in Camby, Indiana.

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Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom For a Better Life Today 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
mojo_turbo More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Philip Gulley always makes me think, often makes me laugh, and usually helps me clear some of the spiritual muddle in my brain. I'll go back to Living the Quaker Way, and other Philip Gulley works, many times as I continue to grow to what I need to be.
itvln02 More than 1 year ago
I was very intrigued to read this book as I had encounter a Quaker gathering place near one of my very first clinical locations in nursing school in 2004. I had wondered what they believed and had heard that Quakers gather to sit in silence during meetings. The book answered many questions for me about the Quaker's but also caused many more questions than it answered. I found the insights into living life with simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and equality as very good qualities. I was very confused, however, on the marketing being aimed at Protestants and bringing "God's Kingdom to Earth". I agree that this should be the goal of Christians, to live like Jesus now, not waiting to get to Heaven. However, early on in the book, Gulley described that Quaker's come from all walks of life, including athiest. I have not been able to reconcile this detail in my mind. To me "living the Quaker way" does not equate to following Jesus and bringing His kingdom to Earth, despite the similarities. Overall an interesting read and definitely good qualities to live life in, but I would not classify this as a Christian book. Author Website More Info Author Bio Disclosure: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.