Conversations, VOLUME 6

Philip Gulley – Living the Quaker Way [Interview]

[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”0307955788″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”” width=”106″]Page 3: Philip Gulley Interview


Bob: Many of your readers consider you to be a kind and understanding soul. As a seasoned and respected writer who is often tackling very controversial issues, how do you keep yourself from becoming snarky or irreverent in your writing?


Philip: (Huge bout of laughter.) I just remember the days when I thought I knew it all. When somebody said something I disagreed with, I argued with them. I remember people who were very kind to me during that phase of my life, even when I didn’t deserve that kindness. I remember my history and all those times I was less than kind to people, but they were so kind to me in response. I have the opportunity to pay some of that back. You know, you live long enough…That’s the nice thing about aging: you look back on your life and you think about how you wish you wouldn’t have said or done this or that, but then you get chances to make amends for it.


Bob: It seems like a lot of the writers who are wrestling with the same issues that you’ve been wrestling with in Living The Quaker Way and some of your other books, are quick be snarky, apparently for the sake of sounding cool.


Philip: Yeah. Yeah, that just doesn’t appeal to me.


Bob: In contrast, when I read your stuff, I always feel invited into a conversation.


Philip: That’s great.


Bob: I grew up in Indiana in the Lutheran church, then I ended up in an Anglican church in college, and then I served a Mennonite church—all before I left and found my home with the Friends. What do you think Living The Quaker Way might have to offer those in other denominations, especially those from the conservative and mainline denominations?


Philip: Well, I hope it serves to remind people that spirituality is a way. It’s more than the assent of one’s mind. It’s more than being able to raise our right hand and say we believe certain things. It is an opportunity to live differently, in a way that blesses the world. So I hope that’s the effect it has. For some reason—and I don’t know when this started in religion, though I expect it started pretty early—religion became all about believing the right things. I think that’s a misguided priority. For me, anyway, religion became meaningful when I realized that it was about more than believing the right things. It’s about letting my life steep in these ideas, letting them affect how I spend my money, how I treat people, and how I live. That’s when it became a thing of joy to me.

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