Review

Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom for a Better Life Today

by Philip Gulley

Philip Gulley is the author of 17 books, host of the PBS programs “Porch Talk with Philip Gulley” and “Across Indiana,” and a contributor to The Saturday Evening Post. More importantly, though, Gulley is a Quaker (the Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church). His kindness-laced, easygoing style makes reading his work a restful, peaceful endeavor. Quite in opposition to the chronic, hurry-hurry of the day, settling down for a long read is simply medicine to the soul.

And wisdom? LIVING THE QUAKER WAY is full to overflowing with timeless wisdom and insights for bettering not only one’s own heart, mind and soul, but also everyone else’s too. Gulley makes it his mission to keep a sharp lookout for the well-being of everyone who crosses his path. He and his wife make it their lifestyle to live simply, contentedly, peacefully, and with a consistently service-minded purposefulness.

"LIVING THE QUAKER WAY is full to overflowing with timeless wisdom and insights for bettering not only one’s own heart, mind and soul, but also everyone else’s too. Gulley makes it his mission to keep a sharp lookout for the well-being of everyone who crosses his path."

In this lovely resource, Gulley explains what a Quaker is (and what it isn’t). He shares that unity is very important to the Quakers, and yet they allow themselves areas of disagreement, so it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what a Quaker is to outsiders. Quakers, writes Gulley, espouse simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality. In many ways, they aspire to live by the evangelical’s fruits of the Spirit, but while they may use the Bible for a source of their beliefs, they embrace other religious principles and religions as well. Christians would discover that Quakers live their lives as Jesus taught, but they don’t require the sacrifice Jesus gave for their salvation.

Readers will value Gulley’s insertion of today’s modern issues and problems into his timeless text on living simply. He offers real-life scenarios of folks who have gotten on the mindless, endless treadmill of materialism and then opted out (and how they did it and what they gained from their choice). He also hits upon the taxes Americans are forced to pay and how a good portion goes to military support (he again offers alternatives to this standard). Perhaps one of the most fascinating parts of this text is his persuasive section on how to live life more simply (and what the immense gains are when this freer path is chosen).

At the close of the book, Gulley includes a reflective question section where readers ask themselves a question each day for deeper contemplation or for use in a group. Among these thoughtful queries: Do I live simply and promote the right sharing of the world’s bounty? Do I keep my life uncluttered with things and activities, avoiding commitments beyond my strength and light? Do I refuse to let the prevailing culture and media dictate my needs and values? Do I recognize when I have enough? Do I keep myself informed about the effects my style of living is having on the global economy and environment? When differences arise, do I make an earnest effort to end them speedily? Do I treat conflict as an opportunity for growth, and address it with careful attention?

Surely, even with a cursory read through this fine text, readers of many faith traditions will find themselves thoughtfully challenged and encouraged. No wonder Gulley’s work and words are so transcendent.

Reviewed by Michele Howe on October 16, 2013

Living the Quaker Way: Timeless Wisdom for a Better Life Today
by Philip Gulley