The Quakers in America (Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series) Info

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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.
Known best for their long-standing
commitment to social activism, pacifism, fair treatment for Native
Americans, and equality for women, the Quakers have influenced American
thought and society far out of proportion to their relatively small
numbers. Whether in the foreign policy arena (the American Friends
Service Committee), in education (the Friends schools), or in the arts
(prominent Quakers profiled in this book include James Turrell, Bonnie
Raitt, and James Michener), Quakers have left a lasting imprint on
American life. This multifaceted book is a concise history of the
Religious Society of Friends; an introduction to its beliefs and
practices; and a vivid picture of the culture and controversies of the
Friends today.
The book opens with lively vignettes of
Conservative, Evangelical, Friends General Conference, and Friends
United meetings that illuminate basic Quaker concepts and theology and
reflect the group's diversity in the wake of the sectarian splintering
of the nineteenth century. Yet the book also examines commonalities
among American Friends that demonstrate a fundamental unity within the
religion: their commitments to worship, the ministry of all believers,
decision making based on seeking spiritual consensus rather than voting,
a simple lifestyle, and education. Thomas Hamm shows that Quaker
culture encompasses a rich tradition of practice even as believers
continue to debate a number of central questions: Is Quakerism
necessarily Christian? Where should religious authority reside? Is the
self sacred? How does one transmit faith to children? How do gender and
sexuality shape religious belief and behavior? Hamm's analysis of these
debates reveals a vital religion that prizes both unity and
diversity.

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