Hi everyone-

I'm very, very new to this faith. I've been a Lutheran all my life, but in college I started going to a local Meeting with one of my very good friends. After graduating, I did a lot of thinking this past summer and fall. Eventually I realized that the tradition that I was raised with is, ultimately, not for me. I told my parents over Thanksgiving. They're fine with it, but curious because they don't know much about Quakers. Actually, in reality, neither do I.

I've recently relocated to Boston and am about to start searching for a Meeting that I like. I still don't fully understand what is calling me; but I know that it is there.

What books can y'all recommend to help a neophyte out?

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Scott's selection is great. If you're looking for something a bit more contemporary, Thomas Hamm's "Quakers in America" is a very accessible snapshot of the different types of Friends. You're lucky in Boston as there's a couple of really good meetings and a strong 20-something community. I'm sure QuakerQuaker member Jeffrey Hipp could give advice on local opportunities.
Hi, Roxanne,

Some writings I find helpful are Thomas Kelly's Testament of Devotion, a little softcover book by William Taber called Four Doors to Meeting for Worship, and several of Max Reich's writings.

Ohio Yearly Meeting has a list of books and publications that inquirers and newcomers might find helpful under an "Our Library" link from the home page on that site.

Welcome, and please stay in touch!

I found Friends for 300 Years by Howard Brinton wonderful. The latest version is updated to "350 Years", though I found the 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's recommendation of the Hamm book. 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" (whoever "us" 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,

Hi Roxanne-

Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I was a LCMS Lutheran for 30+ years before becoming a Quaker. In fact my father is a Lutheran Minister. I completely understand where you are coming from. I have read many books and will tonight, when I am at home, give you a list of ones that I have read and enjoyed. 300 Years is a good introduction, but also look into books about early Quakers, to really give you a feel of where this society started from. Hope you are able to find what you are looking for.

When I was ready to read more about Quakers, I asked someone at meeting who I felt knew me pretty well what books she would recommend. She asked me what sorts of things I like to read in general, so that's what I'll base my response on:

Do you like history? Then I would go along with David Carl's recommendations (see his response for what those are).

Do you like personal story, with a strong mystical bent? Then I would suggest, as others have, Thomas Kelly's "Testament of Devotion" or the second part of the ever-popular Britain Yearly Meeting's Faith & Practice.

Do you like journals that have a historical bent on where Quakerism came from? Look at the journal of George Fox or John Woolman (I haven't read the latter, mind you).

Or do you like having the faith more clearly articulated, how and why we practice as we do? Then I'd look at the very dense but helpful "Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order," by Lloyd Lee Wilson. Or a shorter book/longer pamphlet by Howard Brinton, "Guide to Quaker Practice."

Apart from specific recommendations, I want to encourage you to gather up more experience among Friends, seek out those whose vocal ministry and/or actions resonate with you, and then ask them what books have influenced their Quakerism.

And in case you haven't already figured it out, the whole "Quaker book recommendation" question easily morphs into a black hole of wonderful reading in general!

For more ideas--and to prove my point--check out the QuakerBooks website (once there, click on the word "Topics" on the left to see more particulars).

Keep us posted about how things are going.

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

I just posted a very similar discussion. I'm also new to Quakerism and am anxious to read more. Have you read anything good since posting this?

Michael Birkel's Silence an Witness is a really good comprehensive introduction. I learned things and I grew up Quaker. He's also a family friend so I plug his work when I can.

There should be a committee, usually an attenders committee that serves as point people for attenders. Make use of them, a struggle in the meeting I'm attending is welcoming and orienting new attenders and it always always helps to be approached, so you can generally just pick someone who looks comfortable and ask them about who to talk to. Advancement and Nurture committees exist to have conversations and help folks feel the spirit and presence so have no fear about not knowing protocol. Chances are we don't either.
Hello Friend!

It's exciting to find a new spiritual path. You take me back to my own start some 25 years ago. What I remember is the feeling of coming home -- that I had always been a Friend and had just found out.

I'd suggest worship as the singular most powerful experience to learn about being a Quaker. It was the experience of the Silence, and the teaching that came through the silence, that helped me learn to hear the leadings of God in my life, and to find this home..

Beyond that I found Faith and Practice, which I believe every yearly meeting publishes, to be the simplest way to begin to learn more about how the Society of Friends lives and works. It is the closest thing that we have to a "Book of Order" in meetings.

For fun, and a little more light-hearted understanding, I love to read Irene Allen's mysteries, into which she wonderfully incorporates her experience of Quaker meeting and life. I believe Ms Allen is a member of Cambridge Meeting, or at least that is the meeting that her heroine belongs to. You'd be amazed how much you can learn from her books, called, Quaker Witness, Quaker Testimony, and there are two more as well.

Enjoy the journey!
One of the places that you can go to get a broad picture of how Quaker librarians rate the "kowledge" suitability of books, pamphlets and tracts on or by Quakers go to www.localquakers.org and bring up A Friendly Reading List. There you will find all of the publications that at least one of the 22 professional Quaker Librarians felt were appropriate out of the 484 that were listed in the Quaker bookstore catalogs for each of the following levels.

The first section, these librarians chose 132 of these publicationsis for the first time attender; .
The next section's criteria was suitability for 3-6 month attender;
Section three for long term attender;
Section 4 for the new member
Section 5 for the long time member
and sections 6, 7 & 8 for the three age groups of youth.

Happy Readings

Quaker Cassandra
Hello Roxanne! Just to add my own recommendation...This past summer, I had a long discussion with my Presbyterian friend about Quaker worship. I sent him a pamphlet I'd picked up from meeting called "The Gathered Meeting" by Thomas R. Kelly, the fellow a lot of other folks seem to be recommending (for good reason). I carry this little thing with me all over the place. I've read it over many times, and it always seems to speak to me differently with each read. It's a wonderful, short meditation on Quaker practice that really illuminates Quaker faith. You can read it at the website of The Tract Association of Friends, www.tractassociation.org.

What I do, too, is read lots of Quaker blogs. Because our faith is about personal experience with the living God, I learn so much from the diversity of voices that can be found in the 'Quaker blogosphere.' Hope that helps!

(and greetings from your neighbor in Providence, RI!)
I felt the same calling for nearly my entire life, that something that you just don't understand, but is "there". I was a seeker and attender for a few years, and am now a member of a Meeting. So from a fairly new Quaker, welcome!

May I recommend A Quaker Book of Wisdom, Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense. This is the book that did it for me.....simple and easy reading, yet really spoke to me and called me home.

Enjoy all of the recommendations!
There are many good books already suggested. One I would add is Portrait in Grey by John Punshon. I do hope that you stop by Fresh Pond Meeting. We meet at Cambridge Friends School, 5 Cadbury Rd. at 10:00 am.

Will T

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