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The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theologyby Forrest Church
Synopses & Reviews
An essential read for anyone interested in liberal religion.
Church] reminds us in so many words how lucky he and we are to be in the hands of a lovingly liberal God. . . . This book] feels like a swinging wide open of the doors of a dusty house and a letting in of sunshine and fresh air.
Church challenges us to see the light shining through the many windows of the cathedral of the world and to be receptive to the mysteries which abound in our lives. . . . A] fine compilation.
—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, SpiritualityandPractice.com
Church has been called the most important UU theologian of his generation, but none of these essays uses academic language. Instead, he expresses his theological insights as a preacher, using extended metaphors, aphorisms, and anecdotes to make his points. . . . Church's religion invites people into a renewed sense of awe and gratitude for each other and for the world, his beloved cathedral. —Christopher L. Walton, UU World
Forrest Church is a towering public intellectual and the leading universalist philosopher of his generation. This last testament to his prophetic thought and witness is a gift of faith, hope, and love to us all
—Cornel West, author of Race Matters
How we depend on Forrest Church for guidance, instruction, and inspiration, and this book does not disappoint. He is at his best. He makes theology interesting, relevant, and even fun.
—Peter J. Gomes, author of The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus
The Cathedral of the World sums up in a dramatic and powerful way the work of one of America's most gifted clergymen. Forrest Church has lived his theology as well as proclaimed it. Ours is a better world because he did.
—Bishop John Shelby Spong, author of Jesus for the Non-Religious
One can only be grateful that Forrest Church has chosen to revise and re-imagine the major themes of his writing and preaching career. I am nourished by his passion and his eloquence.
—Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Forrest Church, a leading pastor and American religious historian, is also the leading Unitarian Universalist theologian of our time. But he has never pulled together the pieces of his luminous universalist theology, until the gift of this book. The Cathedral of the World is a jewel of theological and grace-filled imagination.
—Gary Dorrien, author of The Making of American Liberal Theology
In the spring of 2008, Forrest Church wrote what he believed would be his final work, Love & Death. But when an experimental cancer treatment gave him a temporary new lease on life, Church saw he had a chance to tie up the one loose end in his remarkable oeuvre: his vocation as a liberal theologian.
The Cathedral of the World offers the culmination of a lifetime of thought and lived theology from one who has been called the leading universalist philosopher of his generation. Here Church draws from the entire span of his life’s work to hammer out a clear statement of his universalist theology, gathering his thoughts on religion, faith, and God in a single volume and definitively framing his theological teachings.
After opening with a liberal interpretation of the divine, Church compellingly argues that our country was founded on universalist principles, laying out a firm grounding for his theology. Providing a taste of universalism in action, Church’s faith next becomes the inspiration and support for a lifetime of communityactivism and social justice. Bringing the arc to an end is a systematic unpacking of Church’s theology—the universalist good news that beats near the heart of almost every faith tradition.
In a society in which religion has been hijacked by the religious right and ridiculed by the secular left, Forrest Church gives new voice to the power of liberal religion, openhearted and open-minded, humble and awestruck. In answer to the divisive global trend toward competing fundamentalisms and the dangerous spread of neighborly hate, Church invites all seekers to enter the Cathedral of the World, where there are many windows but only one light.
On September 24, 2009, Forrest Church succumbed to a three-year battle against esophageal cancer. As his final gift, the beloved minister and acclaimed author wrote one last book, leaving behind a clear statementof his universalist theology and liberal faith. The Cathedral of the World draws from the entire span of Church's life's work, recasting public addresses and adapted book chapters, articles, and several previously unpublished pieces into a single argument. Giving new voice to the power of liberal religion, Church invites all seekers to enter the Cathedral of the World, home to many windows but onlyone Light.
About the Author
Forrest Church (1948–2009) served for almost three decades as senior minister and was minister of public theology at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City. He wrote or edited twenty-five books, including Love & Death.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
Introduction — Invocation: The cathedral of the world — Book I: God and other famous liberals — The greatest liberal of them all — Mother God — Book II: The American creed — The role of religion in American democracy — The American creed — What would Jefferson do? — America's promise — From nationalism to patriotism — Book III: A liberal pulpit — The presidential pulpit and religious politics — The commonwealth of God — Fear and terror — Shall we overcome? — World Peace 2000 — Choose life — Evil and sin — Religion and the body politic — Book IV: Universalism for the twenty-first century — The search for meaning — The church of the future in light of the past — Universalism for the twenty-first century — Emerson's shadow — There is no hell — The seven deadly virtues — Home after dark — At home in the universe — Book V: Love after death — Love and death — Love's tribunal — Benediction: Where did we come from? Where are we going?
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