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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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  287 ratings  ·  35 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


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
...more
Aaron Terrazas
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
...more
Melissa Miller
Jan 13, 2008 Melissa Miller rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
R. C.
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
Peg
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
...more
Jennifer
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
...more
Stacy Rancourt
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
Sarah
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.

Quake
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Amanda
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 ...
Jen
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.
Ami
I loved this book. I took notes. I felt strongly. I'm still thinking about it today.
Lauri
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
Joy
they've got their priorities straight. a really great and quick read.
Jamie Archer
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.
Laura
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.
Chris
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!
Caleb
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.
Martha Mena
Changed my perception of integrity. I recommend it to all, specially those who are having an existential crisis, like I was.
D'face
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.
Jodi Bash
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!
Mark
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.
Andrew
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
"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.
Julia
I liked it, made me want to be a Quaker. Mostly I liked reading a book about non-frivolities. Lessons learned, let your life speak!
Tommy Estlund
This was a nice little synopsis of the basic tenets of Quakerism. Some really great wisdom is to be found within. (Pun intended.)
Chantale
A dear Friend offered me that book. It happened to be more than a gift but a light in darker times.
Highly recommend it.
Jordan
A wonderful read. Written in a vary warm and accessible way. If your feeling down I totally recommend this book.
Sarah
This is my how-to book for life. I read bits of pieces of it at least once a week. It's calming.
Andy
I really enjoyed this simple explanation of 'Quakerism', the history of, and his background..
K C
I am enjoying this introduction, via personal memoir, to the philosophy of the Friends.
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