New in February
from Graham Garner
“The book the funeral industry doesn’t want you to read” it says on the front of Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death. Perhaps my other job as caretaker of a large Quaker burial ground means I should not recommend this excellent and thought-provoking item, but it addresses a matter of growing interest to Friends. The book’s first 150 pages educate you on the current state of the funeral industry and the alternatives likely to appeal to Quakers—green or simple burials prominent among them. The final 350 pages are a state-by-state guide to all the different and arcane laws, which would allow you to take charge of end-of-life practices and arrange simple, meaningful, family- or meeting-based “disposition” of a body. You can see many other books on this topic here, including the Quaker-written Dealing Creatively with Death that has been a steady seller for us for many years.
Living the Quaker Way by Ben Pink Dandelion is not actually new, but it’s new to us. Our copies experienced many travails and delays crossing the Atlantic in the months since its publication in Britain. Ben characteristically packs an enormous amount of information into this small, slim publication. A companion to his earliler booklet (Celebrating the Quaker Way), it explores the Quaker “distinctive”—why Quakers do the things they do in the way they do them. (And don’t worry, the books didn’t get damaged in their long travels.)
The Last Runaway is a novel by Tracy Chevalier. It is not that often that a well-known author takes Quaker values as a central theme of a novel, but here is the story of Honor Bright who moves from England to Ohio in 1850. She encounters danger, hypocrisy, and inspiration in the Quaker community she is now part of . This is a story of the Underground Railroad by the author of The Girl with the Pearl Earring
Turn the World Around: A Photojournalist Discovers Paths to Peace Traveling a War-Torn Planet is an unusual book by Blair Seitz. This member of Lancaster Meeting (Pa.) has travelled more than twenty countries with his Quaker camera and pen. In a unique and adventurous travelogue, he captures inspiring paths of peace he has found amongst the chaos.
In a similar vein, Feeling Light Within, I Walk is a memoir by Quaker, social activist, mother, late-in-life lesbian, and fearless protestor against wrong Peg Morton. The author describes her witness for peace and social justice around the world, mostly in Latin America.
If you or your meeting is contemplating a retreat, you will find helpful and inspiring guidance in Valerie Brown’s new Pendle Hill pamphlet, Heartfulness: Renewing Heart, Mind, and Spirit on Retreat and Beyond
Another book that is not new, but has been hard for us to get, is now in supply. Handbook of Nonviolence contains “The Encyclopedia of Pacifism,” written by Aldous Huxley in 1937. In the mid-1980s Robert Seeley added much more material to update it with the developments in pacifist and nonviolent thinking and practice, which then, like now, were in ferment. This is the hardback at the paperback price, and the ideas are just as relevant today, if not more so, than when the book first appeared.
A Few Children’s Books
The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart for ages five and up tells movingly of a young Mexican girl moving to 1950s America.
Fat Boy Chronicles (ages 12 and up) addresses childhood obesity, bullying, and other social problems in a story that is both moving and hopeful. Again, this book has been out for a couple years, but we have decided to carry it because of the dialogue prompted by the book and film treatments of this true story.
I also have to mention Wonder—a book my nine-year-old son’s class read last year. We had waited to stock the paperback edition, but as that has been delayed, we’ve decided to carry the hardbound version of this powerful story. Young Auggie was born with such severe facial deformities he was not expected to live, but with extensive treatment he survived. Entering the fifth grade after being home schooled for his early years, Auggie and other characters enter a community’s struggle toward empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
A Sustainable Life
God And The Gay Christian