The Cambridge Companion to Quakerism, the new reference resource on Quakerism edited by Stephen W. Angell and Pink Dandelion, is a prestigious publication of Cambridge University Press. Its release lends new global legitimacy to the Quaker movement.
The new book is part of a series of Cambridge companion volumes on major topics and personalities in theology and religious studies. It is aimed at non-specialists and those who are new to the topic of Quakerism. The editors of this volume are affiliated with Earlham School of Religion and University of Birmingham.1
Angell and Dandelion have shepherded a wide and global diversity of new specialist authors.2 They organize the volume around an overview of Quaker history 1650-2015, and they summarize Quaker relationship to literature, social justice, environmental sustainability, peace, education, and practical life simplicity.
A section on Regional Studies covers North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific. The book concludes with an overview of particular topics of unprogrammed, evangelical, non-theist, and ecumenical Quakerism.
Angell’s introductory essay emphasizes the enduring capacity of Quakerism and the Quaker capacity to adapt to new historical contexts while retaining a significant witness to evolving testimonies, despite schisms, geographical dispersal, and sociological diversity. The editorial purpose is expressly stated: to balance the evangelical and liberal perspectives in the Quaker community, both spirituality and through the global perspectives of those more recent communities embracing the Quaker tradition.
In this book there is relatively little attention to the work of the major organizations (Friends Committee on National Legislation and American Friends Service Committee), which are at the heart and soul of liberal Quaker practice in the United States. However, there is significant coverage of small, less public, interpersonal advocacy, and charitable initiatives of Quaker communities outside the U.S. This book generally portrays Quakers as not thinking globally in their service and ministry initiatives and as currently abandoning robust global initiatives.
The various authors treat Quakers gently on personal sin and schisms. A comparable volume by more independent historians would likely provide a more sobering picture, exploring the Quaker withdrawal from global relief service work and from spiritual formation experiences for Quaker youth. It would consider the benefits and costs of schisms, the absence of coordinating institutions, the lack of strong institutions to prepare youth and adults for Quaker leadership, and the challenge of an expanding awareness of the global scope of care.
The Companion’s references include a remarkable bibliography, very thorough and probably the best, and certainly the most current, bibliography on Quakers currently available. The book also provides a detailed index.
The Cambridge Companion to Quakerism is an accurate companion to the current Quaker reality. Every meeting should steward a copy. No other current resource rivals the comprehensive coverage and accuracy of this volume.
Question to ponder: What Quaker book resource companions do you carry on your life path?
1 From the front matter of the book:
Stephen W. Angell is Leathcrock Professor of Quaker Studies at the Earlham School of Religion. He has published extensively in the areas of Quaker Studies and African-American Religious Studies.
Pink Dandelion directs the work of the Centre for Research in Quaker Studies, Woodbrooke, and is Professor of Quaker Studies at the University’ of Birmingham and a Research Fellow at Lancaster University. He is the author and editor of a number of books, most recently (with Stephen Angell) Early Quakers and Their Theological Thought [Cambridge University Press, 2015; reviewed by Friends Journal, 2/1/2016].
2 From the table of contents:
PART I HISTORY OF QUAKER FAITH AND PRACTICE
- History of Quaker Faith and Practice 1650-1808 – Robynne Rogers Healey
- Conflict and Transformation, 1808-1920 – Thomas D. Hamm and Isaac Barnes May
- Global Quakerism 1920-2015 – Timothy Burdick and Pink Dandelion
PART II EXPRESSIONS OF QUAKER FAITH
- Literature – Nancy Jiwon Cho
- Social Justice and Sustainability – Katherine Murray
- Seeking Peace: Quakers Respond to War – Elaine Bishop and Jiseok Jung
- Quakers and Education – Stephen W. Angell and Clare Brown
- The Changing World of Quaker Material Culture – Emma Jones Lapsansky
PART III REGIONAL STUDIES
- Quakers in North America – Stephen W. Angell and John Connell
- Latin American Quakerism – Ramon Gonzalez Longoria and Nancy Thomas
- Quakers in Africa – George Busolo, Oscar Malande, Ann K. Riggs, and Theoneste Sentabire
- Quakers in Europe and the Middle East – Hans Eirik Aarek and Julia Hinshaw Ryberg
- Quakers in Asia-Pacific – Stephanie Midori Komashin
PART IV EMERGING SPIRITUALITIES
- Unprogrammed Quaker Spiritualities – Michael Birkel and Deborah L. Shaw
- Quakers and Non-theism – Dan Christy Randazzo
- Evangelical Quakerism and Global Christianity – Jon R. Kershner
- Convergent Friends: Renewal, Hybridity, and Dialoguein Twenty-first-Century Quakerism – C. Wess Daniels and Greg Woods
- Intra-Quaker Ecumenism: Women’s Reconciling Work in the Pacific Northwest and Kenya – Margery Post Abbott