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Margaret Fell was an inspiring and practical leader in the early Quaker movement in 17th-century England. Remembered as the wife of George Fox, her writings have been largely forgotten. This book brings them to life again, with excerpts and reflections structured around the four testimonies that have continued to shape Quaker witness to this day: Simplicity, Truth, Equality and Peace. To do this, Joanna Godfrey Wood follows each passage with a modern adaptation of Fell's words and then explores her own personal responses from a 21st-century perspective. We are left with a sense of a strong and beautiful bridge linking past and present.
Wood (Traveling in the Light), a practicing Quaker, unpacks in this accessible work essential Quaker beliefs and the florid writing style of Margaret Fell (1614 1702), the "mother of Quakerism." The author explains her first reading of Fell as revelatory, and parses Fell's prolific writings to explain the profound inner conviction that is central to Quakerism. Wood teases out other Quaker fundamentals simplicity, truth, equality, and peace that Quakers call "testimonies" and Wood finds rooted in Fell's thought. Explaining how Quakerism revolves around the notion "that beliefs cannot be nailed down" and can only be understood through questioning, Wood illuminates how spiritual understandings range from seeing "God as a human construct" to "the Christian Quaker who even perhaps refers to the Trinity." She paraphrases selections of Fell's writing and expounds on common themes: "The word Light' used by early Quakers to convey all that is mysterious or ineffable reveals Truth." Ultimately, Wood can only offer her own personal testimony of Quakerism and shows her aim as a person of faith is "wholeness," but she concedes that she is a "work in progress." While the author intends to explain basic Quaker ideas to those first encountering the faith, even readers familiar with foundational Quaker writings will benefit from this glowing overview.