Friends' Testimonies

Book Reviews

A Sincere and Constant Love: An Introduction to the Work of Margaret Fell

by Terry S. Wallace
pages: 142
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

This book would be a good start for a serious look at Margaret Fell’s work. It starts with a very nice 5-page introduction to her writing and her writing style, and each of the five sections has a historical introduction that is excellent.

Wallace “fixed” the original spelling, punctuation, and capitalization to conform to current usage. He also removed the word “and” a great many places, to make one of her sentences into two or three (or more). He did not, however, “translate” the text into modern English—which would have helped me a great deal.

As a result, I cannot recommend this as a casual read. You really want to use it, though, if you seriously want to read the full text of “Women’s Speaking Justified, Proved and Allowed by the Scriptures (1666),” or the other pieces Wallace selected for this little volume.

Levi Coffin, Quaker: Breaking the Bonds of Slavery in Ohio and Indiana

by Mary Ann Yannessa
published 2001, ISBN: 0-944350-54-2, pages: 74
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Fall 2012

Levi Coffin is best known for his being the “father of the underground railway,” helping escaped slaves move from the south into friendly territory in Michigan or Canada. What this little book tells is more of the story, including his starting a store that refused to sell any merchandise made with slave labor. It deals too with his work in setting up schools and other educational opportunities for the newly freed, so that they could have productive and independent lives.

Love Wins

by Rob Bell
Harper One Publishers
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Summer 2012

This New York Times best seller is a fantastic book for those who were raised in any religious system that divided the world into two groups: "us" who are saved and headed to heaven and "them" who are condemned to hell forever.

How do you reconcile the idea of God's love with God's judgment? Rob Bell argues that the story of heaven and hell that many people are taught is not, in fact, what the Bible teaches. He examines the teachings of Jesus with regard to heaven, hell, and salvation. His conclusion:

"May you experience this vast, expansive, infinite, indestructible love that has been yours all along. May you discover that this love is as wide as the sky and as small as the cracks in your heart no one else knows about. And may you know, deep in your bones, that love wins."

Quaker Writings: An Anthology 1650 - 1920

edited by Thomas D. Hamm
Penguin Classics, 2010
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Summer 2012

This new addition to our meeting library is an interesting one. Dr. Hamm, who is a professor at Earlham College, has put together original texts from our Quaker heritage.

There are the obvious choices: an excerpt from George Fox's Journals, James Naylor's "The Lamb's War," Margaret Fell's "Testimony Concerning Her Late Husband George Fox," and the "Advices of the Elders of Balby"—the full text not just the usual abbreviated version such as in the front of our Pacific Yearly Meeting Faith and Practice.

There are also some unusual and wonderful inclusions as well, from relatively unknown Friends such as Katherine Evans, Elizabeth Webb, John Beals, or Francis Higginson.

Dr. Hamm included a very nice introduction "The People Called Quakers," 21 pages of history of Quakers, emphasizing US Quakers. The volume would be worth a look just for this introduction alone.

Some of the old fashioned language is a bit of a put off, and you may choose to skim about, picking those articles which speak to your condition.

Chocolate Wars: The 150-year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers

by Deborah Cadbury
Public Affairs Publishers, 2010
reviewed by Roena Oesting, Summer2012

I highly recommend this book! And not just because I've toured the Cadbury chocolate factories in both New Zealand and England and lived in one of the Cadbury houses which is now part of Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham.

This is a great story of early beginnings, of Quakers trying to bring their faith into their business lives, of intrigue, and of the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft Foods. Deborah Cadbury is a distant relative of the founding chocolate makers. The inclusion of the Quaker aspect of the chocolate businesses made this book especially interesting.

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