A Place Called Hope by Philip Gulley
One day Sam Gardner, a Quaker pastor, is called upon by his friend, a Unitarian minister, to perform a wedding in his absence. Sam did not know that this one wedding would cause his life to turn upside down. The wedding was for two women, while not legal, at the time, the two women wanted something to solidify their relationship. They posed to Sam that since he wasn’t actually marrying them, he was just saying a prayer for them and Sam could find nothing wrong with that. So Sam performed the prayer and went home.
All heck soon broke loose. People wanted to know why Sam had performed a gay marriage, while Sam didn’t initially know the couple was same-sex, he performed it anyway because they had just as much right as anyone else to be happy. The council of his particular meeting soon wanted him out. Sam resigned, but there were no jobs to go to. He couldn’t work at the car dealership. His wife had just started working again and funds were tight. His sons were in college and the army respectively. College was not cheap.
Sam looked to a place called Hope. They had a Quaker meeting there, but there were only twelve members. They took their time deciding if they wanted to hire Sam, months in fact, but finally they did. Sam and his wife moved to Hope, after selling their house. The new meeting was a strange one, at least to Sam. The members would take turns getting up and lecturing about almost any subject and how it related to them spiritually. Sam thought this was weird, but the people of the Hope meeting were quite set in their ways. Sam soon found that Hope wasn’t a bad place to be.
What I liked
I can’t say that I’ve ever read a book about a Quaker pastor. I have read books mentioning Quakers, specifically some early adopters of women’s lib, but not a book specifically about a Quaker pastor. It’s an interesting world and I learned a lot of Quaker terminology, which will serve me well at some point.
I do like that Sam became a bit more open-minded and humbled by this experience as the book went on. Good for him.
What I didn’t like
I don’t know how to exactly describe it, but Sam seems a bit holier than thou. Sure, he’s more open-minded that some, but it still seems he’s on a high-horse in regards to religion. You are supposed to let people worship how, where, or what they may; it’s in the scriptures. This means, if someone finds a way of worship that’s good for them, you leave them the heck alone and let them do it. Why does it matter how they’re worshiping God or whomever, as long as they’re doing it? I feel like Sam would say a lot of, “This isn’t how Quakers do X.” Who freaking cares?
While Sam and his wife are interesting, Sam reminds me very much of a white, older man who thinks he knows how everyone else should do everything. While he does progress in this story, he’s got a long way to go as far as our current day standards as far as how men should not seek to mansplain to everyone, in Sam’s case, Quaker mansplain to everyone.
Quaker Oats–they’re Quaker because they go to church every Sunday…not really; it’s just a name.
What do you think about people like Sam?
Do you find that some people you know seek to tell everyone how to do something rather than doing that something themselves?