Tag Archives: spiritual life

“Faith and Practice” by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends

Publication history:

  • Adopted 1955
  • Fifth Revision 2017
  • Ninth Printing 2018

310 pages, including:

  • Foreword and Preface
  • detailed information on sources
  • biographical information on authors, of which there are >125

Genre: Book of Discipline/DIY (religious life)

Faith and Practice starts with a disclaimer. The reader is admonished that the book is “a guide, and not a rule…”

There’s so much included in Faith and Practice. I refer to it frequently, but the closest I ever came to a complete and careful read-through was when I was planning to be married in 1979. I’m sure I skipped a good deal. Investments? Someone else can decide. Committees? Are they mandatory? There have been many changes since 1979, but the book is only a little thicker. Certain newer concerns have emerged, like environmental stewardship.

Why did I put “DIY” above, marking this as a do-it-yourself book? Because Quakerism is do-it-yourself religion! We do not ordain or employ ministers, pastors, priests, etc. There’s no centralized authority, like a bishop. We share responsibilities. Occasionally we hire people to perform services, like a secretary or custodian or landscaper. But our religious life is what WE make of it.

My favorite part of Faith and Practice (judged by how often I read it) is the Queries. A query is a question addressed either to the individual or to a group of Quakers, a meeting. (A meeting is a Quaker congregation.)

Sample Queries:

  • For the individual (from the 10th Query, Ministry of Outreach): How do I share my spiritual life and experience with others?
  • For the Meeting (from the 11th Query, Education): What does our meeting do to support and improve public education?

Obviously, there are no “right” answers!

The Queries are written to be pondered. They are grouped into 12 sets, so a person or meeting may consider them over the course of a year. But in practice, there’s plenty of skipping around! A concern for social justice may lead to review of the 9th Query, Equality and Justice.

I just looked up Faith and Practice on Amazon. The book I have here in my hand is not listed. Too new! It can be ordered from Quakerbooks.org. The versions on Amazon are obsolete or come from Quaker organizations outside the Philadelphia area, like Baltimore Yearly Meeting or Britain Yearly Meeting. Each is a Book of Discipline assembled by Quakers.

But, oh no! WHAT’S THIS??? “Amish Romance Onmibus (Amish Sweet Faith Boxsets Book 7)”. Amazon, how could you do this to us? To the Amish? Quakers and Amish are NOT THE SAME!! Don’t get me wrong. We admire the Amish. We hope they like us. We share a commitment to peace, a concern for simplicity. BUT we came from different places, at different times. Quakerism emerged in the 1640s in England, the Amish in the 1690s in Switzerland. Quaker historical documents are in English. The early Amish spoke German and they still use it sometimes. Both groups are derived from “mainstream” Christianity. Each was in some sense schismatic or dissident. (I wonder what the Amish think of these romance novels!)

But Amazon should know better! Wikipedia is quite clear. I must find a way to educate Amazon.

And I must spend some time with the new Faith and Practice, reading and thinking…