Although I went to a Quaker high school that had Silent Meeting every week, and although I’ve had a few periods of sporadically attending meeting for worship at Brooklyn Monthly Meeting as an adult, before reading this book I didn’t know much about the history of Quakerism, or about current Quaker practice in areas other than New York/New England/Pennsylvania. I could have told you that George Fox is considered Quakerism’s founder, and that Quakerism started in England, but I couldn’t have told you much beyond that. I didn’t even know that Friends today come in Evangelical, Conservative, and Liberal varieties, with the Evangelical ones being far more numerous globally. (Evangelical Quakers are Christian, with pastors and “programmed” worship that involves silence but also may involve preaching and singing; Conservative Quakers are Christian but with “unprogrammed” worship centered on silence, speaking if moved by God; Liberal Quakers, which are the kind I knew about, may or may not be Christian, and also have “unprogrammed” worship centered on silence, speaking if moved by what Dandelion at one point in the book calls “God, or ‘God’, or not-God-but” (107).)

This book is fairly dry, but it covers a lot of ground despite its short length and I definitely feel like I know more about Quakerism than I did before. I found the chapter on ecumenism less interesting than the others, but I like how Dandelion quotes from various primary sources, including George Fox’s journals and letters, and how he traces different strains of Quaker belief, theology, and practice from the 1600s through to the 21st century.

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