May 12, 2005

My Quaker book recommendations

Over on the relatively new Quaker blog Spiritual Journeys [aka Quakerspeak], Claire has asked for book recommendations. I encourage readers to check the comments on Claire's post—and add to them there—rather than split the booklist between our two blogs.

Instead of retyping these titles that I love so much over and over again, I thought I'd just post them all here. Now: before you click on your bookmark to go to the evil Amazon to order any of these, please consider ordering from and supporting this wonderful online Quaker independent bookseller: Quaker Books of FGC!

Okay, back to the booklist. I'm including Claire's original questions, since I think they are valuable.

What books do you think every Friend should read?

Tough call. I wouldn't want Friends to idolize any single book! wink

The Journal of George Fox. Whichever edition. I'd say "every Friend should read it" because it gets referred to so often! It's also nice to have some of Fox's most popular quotes in their original context. But I had to be ready myself to read it, lest I be bored and wonder why somebody I had never met recommended it. smile

any Faith & Practice, for the same reason above. These books are talked about often, and it makes sense to know what folks are referring to. Like Robin said in her comment to Claire's post, having a copy of your yearly meeting's F&P makes a lot of sense.
What books do you think a young Friend like myself should read?
anything that speaks to you in the moment. I'm half serious.

I once came across a book by British young adult Friends, Who Do We Think We Are? It spoke to me at the time.

Britain Yearly Meeting's Faith & Practice, but more for the ability to just open to any page or segment; not so much for reading from front to back.
What books blew (blow) you away and took (take) part in your own (or anyone's) spiritual transformation?
Members One of Another, which I see Robin recommends also. The author's description of the four areas of responsibility of a meeting really helped me understand what it is I personally seek and yearn for from my faith community. This book also has helped me frame many of my ideas for the Gathering workshop on Quaker identity I am scheduled to lead this summer.

Paul Lacey's Pendle Hill pamphlets, Leading and Being Led, #264, and The Authority of Our Meetings Is the Power of God, #365. Clear specifics about one Friend's understanding of what leadings are and how to test them [in both pamphlets], plus the sources of authority [in #365].

Walking Humbly with God: Selected writings of John Woolman. Very small book, so it even looks manageable! Gave me a great flavor of Woolman's writing as well as his life as a Friend.

Resistance and Obedience to God: Memoirs of David Ferris 1707-1779. A more "accessible" journal than Fox's, in my opinion. It was easy for me to relate to some of his spiritual struggles in being obedient to the call of the Spirit. Plus, great study notes in the back (relates Ferris' spiritual journey to that of our own), and a good historical summary of Friends in the introduction. (Gotta love Marty Grundy! smile)

A Testament of Devotion, by Thomas Kelly. I also had to be spiritually ready to read this book. Ditto for some of his other writings. Spiritually rich imagery. Clearly moved by the Spirit when he wrote. Wish I had known the guy...

Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order, Lloyd Lee Wilson. I see Robin lifts this book up, too, but I'm guessing you maybe have seen enough of/heard enough from Lloyd Lee in your experience among NCYM(C). Still, this book changed how I look at Friends and their practices.

Listening Spirituality, Patricia Loring. Personally, I liked Volume II much better than Volume I, from what I can recall. Volume II is subtitled "Corporate Spiritual Practice Among Friends"; volume I is "Personal Spiritual Practices Among Friends."
Things I forgot to include in my original comment to Claire's post:
Gospel Order, by Sandra Cronk. In the same vein as Lloyd Lee Wilson's book (above), but focused on the topic of gospel order.

If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person, by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Very accessible, easy reading. Since the authors are pastors in Quaker meetings, this book helps soften my heart toward programmed Friends.
And remember: You can get any book you want at Quaker Books of FGC!



Anonymous said...

I'm just going to be a nudge and remind Friends to also consider visiting their LOCAL independent bookstore. They also can get ANY book that you want. One of MY favorites is Amazon Women's Book Collective. :-)

Unknown said...

What books do you think every Friend should read?

I'm not so sure that would be helpful. If one thousand Quakers each read George Fox's Epistle 10 would we be in greater unity in heart mind or spirit? Maybe. But I doubt the epistle would be the agent. Having said that -- its a great epistle.

What books blew (blow) you away and took (take) part in your own (or anyone's) spiritual transformation?

Church Dogmatics 1.1: Doctrine of the Word of God (part 1) by Karl Barth (well, you did ask!)
Velvateen Rabbit by Marjorie somebody-or-other
Letter of James (bible)
A Christian's Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith (I named my cat after her ...)

Anonymous said...

Liz wrote:
anything that speaks to you in the moment. I'm half serious.

That's my preferred way to choose books to read! Browsing shelves in the my home, meeting, or public libraries, I seek books that "speak to my condition." The heart knows!

- The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. Or Adam, Eve & The Serpent, or Beyond Belief, her latest one about the Gospel of Thomas.

- Walter Winks' "Powers" trilogy gives amazing insights into the worldview of the Mediterranean cultures that produced the Greek scriptures, but it is awfully hard slogging. I read it in my mid 20's as a new Quaker attender. He did publish a fourth book as a follow up that summarized the first three. An essential contribution to understanding the spiritual dimension of power in the world. His analysis of the Sermon on the Mount transformed my understanding of what Christianity can be.

- Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hahn

Just lately, I re-read the entire Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, mostly because my seven year old started one or two of the books but didn't want to continue (too much fighting for his sensitive Quaker soul, I think). I'm not entirely aligned with Lewis's version of "mere Christianity" but they are wonderful tales.

Thanks for the easy links to Quaker Books, where I was delighted to find that the other Obadiah books by Brinton Turkle are now back in print. Hooray!

-- Chris Mohr

Johan Maurer said...

Somewhere recently I posted some non-Quaker books that I thought were good spirit-food for Friends. I'll repeat that list here, gladly noticing that others who've already commented above, have already gone outside the Friends intellectual ghetto with their suggestions. (Yay Velveteen Rabbit!)

1. Brian McLaren's new book, A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN. McLaren does a delightful job of helping people through the thicket of issues and allergies surrounding Christianity, always shining a light into the center and putting side issues in perspective. His sometimes playful approach has a serious purpose: to demystify, detoxify, to do whatever it takes to acknowledge and neutralize social and cultural forces that obscure the heart of the Gospel for modern and postmodern people. Many of the issues that bring people to Friends (rather than to another part of the Christian world) are issues to which McLaren is sensitive.

2. Sara Maitland, Big-enough God: Artful Theology. Maitland shows how orthodox Christian theology (I'd say "generously orthodox" to borrow a reference from McLaren) is not just compatible with what we think we know about the universe, but gives joy and beauty to the contemplation of those mysteries. She writes as if theology is humane and fun. She is good at confronting rigidities on the right and left, without using a mean, one-upping tone. She's also a good novelist.

3. Lee C. Camp, Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World. A nice outline of radical evangelical discipleship, based on some essential questions: If Jesus is truly Lord (or as early Friends might have said, if Jesus is our prophet, priest, and king), what are the implications for the way we conduct church, and what are the implications for prayer, evangelism, and our political, social and economic behavior? These are questions that Friends tend to answer in some particular ways, at least in theory; I like the fact that Camp comes to many of the same conclusions based on what I believe is a faithful reading of normative evangelical theology. This book is good on its own merits, but may also be useful for Friends who think we have a corner on righteousness, and for Friends who want to make common cause with other Christians who reject the co-optation of our faith by some on the far right.

4. Brennan Manning's books - almost any of them. Manning is a Catholic writer who has become popular with many evangelical Friends. Among the themes that run through his books: a passionate love of Jesus finds expression in social justice (but a grounded social justice that loves real people, that doesn't stay a safe distance away from the messy world); and, a constant message that God's love is unconditional. Manning is always finding ways to confront us with God's tenderness and healing power, often through the most amazing real-life stories, including his own. I can recommend his books The Signature of Jesus; Ruthless Trust; The Wisdom of Tenderness.