Quakerism in a Nutshell
Like many religious groups, Quakers (also known as Friends) have had splits and theological divisions over the years. As a result, there are branches of Quakerism that look and feel very different from each other, both in their form of worship and in the religious language that they use. Eileen Flanagan belongs to the more liberal "unprogrammed" tradition, referring to a form of worship where people gather in silence, rather than a planned service with a preacher. She is happy to be connecting with those from other branches through her blog and through Internet forums like QuakerQuaker.
Because there are different forms of Quakerism, and because liberal Quakers traditionally emphasize each person's relationship with the Divine and reject the notion of a universally agreed on creed, it is very hard to make generalizations about Quaker faith without someone objecting to them. That being said, Quakers often speak of "that of God in everyone" to sum up the belief that each of us is connected to God and can feel God's guidance in our lives (whether we use that word or not). We also generally agree that our beliefs should be expressed in the way we live, not just our words. These two convictions have led Quakers to what are called Testimonies: Peace, Equality, Simplicity, Integrity, and Community. A brief history and explanation of the testimonies can be found on the Earlham School of Religion website.
Friends World Committee on Consultation has an extensive list of Quaker organizations from the different branches. Their above map can help you find Quakers in your part of the world. If you are interested in visiting an unprogrammed meeting for worship in the US or Canada, you can find one here. If you want to spend a weekend at a beautiful retreat center learning more about Quakerism, Pendle Hill offers Inquirers' Weekends on a regular basis.
The major Quaker booksellers have extensive book lists for those new to Quakerism, as well as those seasoned Friends who want to learn more about their faith. Quaker Books is run by Friends General Conference, an umbrella group for Friends in the unprogrammed tradition that publishes some of its own material. Pendle Hill is a study and retreat center founded by Quakers which includes a bookstore and book mail order business. Check out their sites for a variety of materials available on Quakerism.
Some of Eileen's favorites include:
Light to Live By by Rex Amber.
The Journal of George Fox edited by John Nickalls.
The Journal and Major Essays of John Woolman edited by Phillips Moulton.
The Quaker Reader edited by Jessamyn West.
Four Doors to Meeting for Worship by William Taber.