(Review) Quaker Quicks: Telling the Truth About God

In Quaker Quicks: Telling the Truth About God, Rhiannon Grant presents a case that Quakers must talk more clearly and openly about God and theology, and encourages us to see the ways that we already do. The book gives a clear view of what (liberal) Quakers often do and don’t say about God, as well as what things could be added to the conversation to find unity in our diversity of beliefs. It could serve readers well who are looking for an entry point into Quaker theology, and it has many worthwhile insights for more experienced Quakers, as well.

The book explores the unique theology that Quakers express by pointing out some ways our values show up in conversations about God: value in negation, value in silence, and value in listing possibilities. Grant turns some of the standard Quaker tropes and jokes on their heads as she draws out the theology that we express with statements like “I wouldn’t say that” or “consider that you may be mistaken.” At the same time, she cautions that we may actually have an over-reliance on some of these less explicit conversational tools which can be detrimental to our community and shared story. She also shows sympathy to Quakers who feel hesitant to use more traditional Christian expressions and those who feel that doing so is vital to their religious practice, and presents some methods for bridging these conversational divides.

One thing which I deeply appreciated about this book was the way that it demonstrated how clear talk about theology in Quaker circles can push back on the hyper-individualistic tendencies of our culture. Grant points to ways that we express our openness to individual experience and leading, but reminds us that the essence of Quaker faith is to value and process those experiences in community. She highlights several ways that our universalist tendencies can be life-giving and acknowledges ways which they can be condescending to or exclusive of those who hold more focused beliefs in one definition of God.

This book is an excellent resource for Quakers looking for advice on how to work within the tension that exists in our broad faith community, as well as a tool for clarifying to newer Quakers what all our odd expressions and vague-sounding statements mean. Grant shows a way that we can value silence and be open to many experiences of God, but that we can hold our community together and grow stronger by living out our value of honesty in the ways we speak to each other about those experiences.

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