A Friend After 50 Years

A record of one journey into a peculiar type of Quaker Christianity, and a bit of silliness to boot.

Location: Arkansas

Monday, December 01, 2008

Books Advice for a New Friend

At QuakerQuaker, a new Friend seeks book advice:


My response, lightly edited below, probably says more about me than about what a new Friend ought to read. I'd humbly submit, however, that one couldn't go hopelessly wrong with the following reading list:

I found Friends for 300 Years by Howard Brinton wonderful. The latest version is updated to "350 Years", though I found the rather add-on not so helpful. A new attender at our meeting really liked Exploring Quakerism, see http://www.quakerbooks.org/MarshaHolliday.

Early on in my Friendly sojourn "21st Century Penn" by Paul Buckley made quite an impression on me. Its a little tough slogging - very argumentative (as was the style of religious discourse at the time) but gives a good and clear overview of how Friends viewed their faith at the beginning of the movement. Whether you feel drawn to their approach or not (and I do), its always good to know where we started, at least to have a point of comparison to what you will see happening among Friends in the present. My testimony: reading Penn (and Fox, and Penington, et al) had a tremendous and direct influence upon my spiritual life.

Truth of the Heart by Rex Ambler is also one of my favorites. Its a sort of distillation of Fox's spiritual teachings on various topics, with translations into modern English.

I agree with Martin Kelly's recommendation of the Thomas] Hamm book, Quakers in America. Its a little like reading a book on entomology (these little bugs believe this, those little bugs believe that, and these other little bugs ...), however, its a good cure for any notions one might develop about all Quakers being just like "us" -- whichever "us" that might be.

Another more contemporary recommendation would be A Living Faith, An Historical and Comparative Study of Quaker Beliefs, by Wilmer Cooper.

Finally, I'd recommend getting ahold of your Yearly Meeting's Faith and Practice if you haven't already done so. This can give you an orientation to "what's happening now" among Friends in your neck of the woods, along with some practical insight into how things are actually done, meeting structure and governance, etc.

Hope that helps and is not too overwhelming! Take your time, read contemplatively, and pause now and then to listen to your Teacher within (a reminder to myself as much as anything!)

In Friendship,

David Carl

'What can I do?' - SiCKO