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Book Reviews: September/October 2013

An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest

By Alan Fadling

InterVarsity Press, 2013
$12.00; 199 pages

This book is one that was truly inspirational. It is meant to be read slowly and with devotional intention. Fadling encourages readers to follow a pattern of balance and care. Each chapter takes the reader from a place of hurry to a place of calm. In a world that measures success by one’s productivity and the things one collects, An Unhurried Life reminds followers of Christ to live out the most important law: Love God with everything you have and love your neighbor. This book provides material that will motivate even the most ardent member of the “hustle and bustle of the world” to slow down and to be present with God and with others. An Unhurried Life should be a required element in any Quaker library.

Judas, the Apostle

By Van R. Mayhall, Jr.
Iuniverse, 2012
$18.95; 285 pages

Mysteries are one of my favorite literary genres’. This thriller set in Louisiana and covering three continents provides an interesting theory of the motivation of the man who is perhaps the Bible’s most hated character. The author blends many plots together weaving a story of suspense, history and theology that will keep the reader guessing right to the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed every page.

Letters to a Fellow Seeker: A Short Introduction to the
Quaker Way

By Steve Chase
FGC QuakerPress, 2012
$12.95; 98 pages

Meetings often ask for curriculum to use as an introductory course or membership class. My meeting used this book to remind members of the basics of Quakerism.

The author presents his sense of what it means to be a Quaker by writing letters to a “friend” in an imaginary correspondence. Each chapter, then, is a letter to Pat explaining the author’s understanding of what it means to be a Quaker. I did not agree with all aspects of his thoughts, but Chase presents many challenging queries and issues that engage the reader to truly think about his or her own faith and why one continues to be a Quaker. I wonder if I could write to another and explain my faith as well as he.

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

By Philip Gulley
Convergent Books, 2013
$22.95; 224 pages

This is one of Gulley’s best writings. He invites readers to consider the ageless testimonies of the Religious Society of Friends as a means of spiritual transformation. Gulley encourages readers to know the presence of the Divine. From that unity comes a life of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality. The book is filled with queries and concerns that one cannot ignore, such as that four of the president’s cabinet focuses on military programs and war, none on peace. It is a good book with which to study the full implications of embracing the Quaker testimonies. Be forewarned: Living the Quaker Way is a vehicle that will encourage a deeper, more meaningful walk in the Spirit.

Hidden in Christ: Living as God’s Beloved

By James Bryan Smith
InterVarsity Press, 2013
$17.00; 220 pages

I found this to be a good devotional focusing on the scripture text Colossians 3:1-17. As Smith began to meditate on and memorize this selection, single words within each verse seemed to “speak” to him. These words; raised, hidden, wrath, knowledge, affections, peace and many more, formed a new understanding of the gospel message. Smith invites readers to explore the hidden life in Christ by joining him for 30 days, memorizing, meditating and reflecting on these life giving words. As I followed his devotional I found that some words he chose did not speak as strongly to me as did others within the same text now used by God to deepen my life in Christ. This devotional is a vehicle that will “set your minds on things above” and will expose a life hidden in Christ.

John Woolman: A Nonviolence and Social Change Source Book

Edited by Sterling P. Olmsted and Mike Heller
Wilmington College Peace Resource Center & Friends Untied Press, 2013
$12.00; 164 pages

This book is the second in a peace studies series. The authors encourage readers to reflect upon the fact that everyone on earth is a “change agent.” Every action has an effect upon the earth and the human family. This series seeks to have readers become more intentional in action by studying those individuals such as John Woolman who were extraordinary in effecting change. This
particular book consists of selected writings of Woolman with added background material and notes. Its best features are the study questions, its layout and ease in understanding the essence of John Woolman.

Following Jesus: The Heart of Faith and Practice

By Paul Anderson
Barclay Press; 2013 $17.00; 212 pages

This book speaks to the heart of Quakerism. Throughout each chapter the reader is encouraged to envision and consider what it means to live intentionally in Christ. It is a book that urges readers to practice living our faith and to not merely be a mouthpiece of a theology. It is also a book that can be used as a primer to explain the faith and practice of Quakers. I heartily encourage meetings to utilize Following Jesus as a year-long study of what it means to be a member of the Religious Society of Friends.