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A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons In Simplicity, Service, And Common Sense
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A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons In Simplicity, Service, And Common Sense

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  404 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
The most valuable aspect of religion," writes Robert Lawrence Smith, "is that it provides us with a framework for living. I have always felt that the beauty and power of Quakerism is that it exhorts us to live more simply, more truthfully, more charitably."Taking his inspiration from the teaching of the first Quaker, George Fox, and from his own nine generations of Quaker ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 18th 1999 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1998)
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Vicki Boyd
Aug 19, 2012 Vicki Boyd rated it liked it

I think I like the Quakers the best. They have no church and no service, instead having "Meeting" at which someone may feel compelled to say a few words or it may be an approximate hour of complete silence. Silence is revered as a time of reflection, introspection, whatever.

Quakers refuse to take oaths, believing if you always are truthful an oath to be truthful is redundant. You cannot distinguish one truth from another by oath.

Simplicity is sought in all areas of life. All people are equal re
R. C.
Aug 25, 2009 R. C. rated it did not like it
Shortly after starting the chapter on pacifism I became annoyed. Why is someone who gave up his principles and went to war writing in support of that subject? As they say, being a pacifist between wars is like being a vegetarian between meals. Then I realized that he wasn't actually writing about satyagraha or even peace. He was writing a bunch of feel good mush, vague in the way horoscopes are, so they can apply to anybody no matter what's really going on. Still, I hung in. My dearest friend ga ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Stacia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-america, 2016
A quiet & inspiring look at basic beliefs & tenets of living a life of love & service. A very nice little book with valuable & thoughtful ideas for today's world.
Aaron Terrazas
Apr 30, 2011 Aaron Terrazas rated it it was amazing
Traditionally I am not a religious person, but there is something about the simple rationality and fairness of this book that speaks to me. It's lessons on finding one's own truth amid a noisy, chaotic, and uncertain world provide valuable insight and unintentionally oblige us to reflect on our own lives.

Favorite quotes:

“How much of life can we learn from books? … Deuteronomy reminds us ‘We all warm outserves by fires we did not build and drink from wells we did not dig.’”

“Life is not a problem
Jim George
Oct 14, 2015 Jim George rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I'm glad that I picked up this little gem of a book. It's pages are filled with pearls of wisdom. The book was written by the author as a living legacy for his family. When I picked the book up there wasn't much that I knew about the Quakers, this book opened up my eyes to their faith, and put me in tune with the "whys" of their simplistic life style. First and foremost I think it's very important to let my fellow readers know that Quaker wisdom begins in silence. Their founder, George Fox, asks ...more
Melissa Miller
Jan 13, 2008 Melissa Miller rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: religious people, people seeking a path, people interested in religions in general
I loved this book. I am intrigued enough from this book that I think I'm going to find a Friends meeting in my area and attend. I'm also going to look more into the Quakers; I'm not very familiar with them and I'd like to know more.
Mar 02, 2010 Peg rated it really liked it
I originally picked up this book in hopes of finding a clue to my never ending search of how to simplify my life. I found instead a guide book for a way to live my life. Robert Smith talks about the ethics and simple guidelines that Quakers aspire to live by. He explains why telling the truth is just simpler and that the difference between happiness and pleasure is that pleasure is something you pay for. It is a fast read with chapters on service and family.
I had been looking at the teaching of
Mar 28, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
I found this book sitting in a box of discarded items outside my apartment building. I am not at all a religious person, but I picked it up anyway. I was able to take away some important points and themes and bypass the parts that did not really speak to me. Historically speaking, they are an interesting group of people--they were anti-slavery and promoted peace, social justice, and sustainability.

I think the parts of the book that spoke to me personally were the sections on Silence, Truth, and
Jan 23, 2009 Amanda rated it really liked it
Quick and interesting read about the fundamentals of the Quaker religion. The "Ten Life Lessons" presented at the end of the book are helpful tools regardless of religious preference. Now if only I could better execute the concept of silence ...
Aug 09, 2015 Alyssa rated it really liked it
required reading for my new job...I am thrilled to be working in in Friends school and love the ideals Quakerism strives to uphold. a wonderful inside look.
Aug 11, 2011 Jen rated it it was amazing
LOVED it. I'm so glad it was my first non-fiction book of the year. The first three chapers were full of jaw-dropping wisdom. I highlighted paragraph upon paragraph.
Jul 30, 2009 Ami rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirit-matters
I loved this book. I took notes. I felt strongly. I'm still thinking about it today.
Aug 24, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
There’s a right time for every book, and the time was right for this one. A light, quick read, but refreshing and remarkably insightful. Despite my professed atheism, I’ve come to realize that I may actually be a Quaker at heart. *Gasp!*

Even in the absence of belief in any kind of traditional god, though, Quakerism makes sense in the context of my own understanding of existence through the lens of karma, connectedness to others and to the world, and the fundamental importance of doing good.

Jun 29, 2016 Jayson rated it it was ok
I've been attending Quaker meetings for close to three years now. I read this book toward the beginning of this phase of my spiritual trek. Though occasionally the book contains a gem of insight I don't think it accurately depicts the state of unprogrammed friends or their values with much accuracy. The author certainly doesn't speak for my experience in the society of friends; his qualifications for presenting the views of this very diverse bunch seem to be mainly that he was birthright and tha ...more
Stacy Rancourt
Mar 10, 2016 Stacy Rancourt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspiration
This really is a wonderful book FILLED with wisdom and lots of great advice. What a tremendous gift this book is to the world, but especially to the author's descendants. Writing this book and putting it out there is a wonderful example of service, giving back, sharing wisdom, and letting his life speak. He doesn't just write about these things, he lives them. If every family had someone to pass on wisdom and put their traditions in writing so they would live on for generations to come, it would ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Lauri rated it really liked it
This book was purchased for me by the school where I work, which is founded on Quaker principles. If you've ever wondered about the Friends, this is a nice entry-level book into their beliefs and traditions and how they can shape lives and inform communities. The author is the former Head of School at Sidwell Friends in DC (where the Obama girls go to school), and he is also a lifelong Quaker. It was an easy read, and there are many moments of wisdom that anyone can choose to apply to his or her ...more
Jan 31, 2016 Becca rated it it was ok
I was hoping for a book based on the title and what I thought that would be: the tenets of the Quaker faith and theology, exploring the way they approach the world in a big picture way. The book could more accurately be described as a memoir of the author's life and experience of being a Quaker, with stories from his life, descriptions of the Quaker community, and their involvement in politics. Some might argue the two cannot be separated, but it simply was not the book I wanted to read.
Jamie Archer
Sep 07, 2013 Jamie Archer rated it really liked it
A mixture of personal memoir and teaching, Smith lays out the foundations of Quaker teaching. While I think it is important to remember that this is Quakerism as presented through a specific lens, I do think the author does a good job at laying out the basics. While to me it was bothersome a bit that a very specific perspective provided the background, I think the message of Quakerism is bigger and more important than that, and I think it won out in this work.
Nov 24, 2014 Carly rated it really liked it
This read was short and sweet. Emphasis on sweet. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) have always interested me. One of my goals for 2015 is to actually go to a Meeting, as I've hemmed and hawed about going for over a year now. I deeply relate to and am inspired by Quaker values, and loved this little book. It was comforting and illuminating.
Martha Mena
Apr 18, 2013 Martha Mena rated it really liked it
Changed my perception of integrity. I recommend it to all, specially those who are having an existential crisis, like I was.
Aug 04, 2013 Caleb rated it liked it
I need to go further back to really understand the Quakers, which was my intention in getting this book. There are bits and pieces of their history here but nothing extensive. Not a bad book though.
Oct 25, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2005
I really enjoyed this book. The author's points are so simple, so easy to understand, so basic, and yet are ones people frequently overlook or merely do not think about. In fact, I plan on getting a copy for to have tucked away in my home, to refer back to when things start getting too hectic.
Apr 13, 2010 Chris added it
This is filling me in on what I missed as a child. I've been fascinated by the Quaker way of life for most of my life. Thanks, Dan! I'm on page 32 but who can tell because NOW where do I find that field. This website drives me bananas!
A useful introduction to Quaker thought and practice, I learnt several things I did not know previously. Also a helpful guide to living a useful and happy life. A wonderful bedside book.
Oct 09, 2011 Mark rated it liked it
Part memoir, part Quaker theology. For me, the most interesting part was hearing why he, as a member of a pacifist religion, chose to fight in World War II.
Dec 08, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
a valuable take on Quakerism, though not absolute. I would hate for anyone to form their definition or reference point on Quakers through the text though.
Susan Craig
Jul 11, 2013 Susan Craig rated it it was amazing
"Remember to pay attention to the spirit's first command — to be good at life," Robert Lawrence Smith

A book to read over and over again.
Tommy Estlund
Mar 28, 2012 Tommy Estlund rated it really liked it
This was a nice little synopsis of the basic tenets of Quakerism. Some really great wisdom is to be found within. (Pun intended.)
Jodi Bash
Jan 25, 2009 Jodi Bash rated it it was amazing
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! The simple reminder of how to live and love honestly and simply. I'll never be good enough to be a Quaker ;) Fast and important read!
Dec 29, 2016 Molly rated it it was amazing
More a calm, serene way of living than a religion. Appealed to me so much I'd run out and go to a "metting" if there were any in this area!
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“It is my ever-growing conviction that the compassionate Quaker message badly needs to be heard in today’s complex, materialistic, often unjust, and discriminatory society.” 0 likes
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