The Quakers in America is a multifaceted history of the Religious Society of Friends and a fascinating study of its culture and controversies today. Lively vignettes of Conservative, Evangelical, Friends General Conference, and Friends United meetings illuminate basic Quaker theology and reflect the group's diversity while also highlighting the fundamental unity within the religion. Quaker culture encompasses a rich tradition of practice even as believers continue to debate whether Quakerism is necessarily Christian, where religious authority should reside, how one transmits faith to children, and how gender and sexuality shape religious belief and behavior. Praised for its rich insight and wide-ranging perspective, The Quakers in America is a penetrating account of an influential, vibrant, and often misunderstood religious sect.
Who are the approximately 100,000 religious adherents to Quakerism in America, and what are their doctrines, politics, and relations with other denominations within the ecumenical movement? Hamm (history, Earlham Coll.), archivist of the Friends Collection, describes and explains American Quakerism in its considerable diversity. Hamm briefly discusses their history, starting in 1652 with founder George Fox of Yorkshire, England, and continuing through to present-day America. Quakers were confronted with opposition from other religions and society as their beliefs (e.g., that women were the spiritual equals to men) challenged myriad theological and social conventions. Hamm follows his history of Quakers with an overview of the doctrines and practices, including Conservative, Evangelical, Friends General Conference, and Friends United forms of worship. Individual pastoral meetings and churches have distinct styles, but the common theme is the worship of Spirit and the ministry to all believers. The commitment to outreach of Quakers and various Friends organizations is also detailed, as is their work in affecting local and foreign policy. Short biographies of 15 well-known Quakers appear at the end. With its broad approach to the topic, this scholarly yet readable book deserves careful reading by anyone interested in Quakerism. Recommended for all collections.-L. Kriz, West Des Moines P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.