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A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century Paperback – May 3, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Coauthors Buehrens (A Chosen Faith) and Parker (Saving Paradise), both progressive clergy, engage in conversation with each other and with theologians ancient and modern (Origen, Barth, Buber, J.L. Adams). Using the metaphors of garden, walls, roof, foundation, threshold, they construct a theological framework that faith communities can apply to stimulate reflection and reform, which will develop communal hope, discipline, and activism. To educate contemporary faithful about progressive theology's deep roots, the authors offer complementary chapters within thematic sections, reviewing historical ecumenical and universalist movements and illustrating their arguments with personal anecdotes. Exploring such religious themes as eschatology, salvation, and sin, the authors provide credible alternatives to traditional biblical interpretations, arguing, for example, that apocalyptic scriptures don't predict Earth's ultimate destruction but a future when God's will is done on Earth, and that humanity needs salvation not from God's wrath, but from the consequences of sin. Closing chapters introduce process theology, which argues that God both abides and changes. This accessible, engaging book may inspire religious progressives to claim their proud history and vital role in contemporary theological conversation. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“A thoughtful meditation on religion, duty, and the common good.”—Booklist

“To some observers, religion and conservatism have become inextricably fused. But to [Buehrens and Parker], something new is emerging—a liberal religious renaissance.”—Steven Levingston, The Washington Post

“For nearly three decades, journalists and pundits have focused on the views and beliefs of the Religious Right and basically ignored members of America’s mainline and liberal Protestant establishment. . . . [Buehrens and Parker] have set out to reintroduce people to the riches and bounties of progressive religion.”—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice
“Buehrens and Parker begin with the life of service and work for justice and deepen it to show the implicit beliefs that it assumes and that are implicit in it. They show that progressive Protestants can be proud and articulate about their beliefs.”—John B. Cobb Jr., coauthor of For the Common Good

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807001503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807001509
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,946 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Buehrens was president of the Unitarian Universalist Association from 1993 to 2001. He is now minister of the First Parish in Needham, Massachusetts, and special assistant to the secretary general of the World Conference of Religions for Peace. He is author of Understanding the Bible, coauthor, with Forrest Church, of A Chosen Faith, and coauthor, with Rebecca Ann Parker, of A House for Hope.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bartik on May 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Book review of Buehrens and Parker, "A House for Hope: the Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century"

This book sets out a vision of liberal Christianity and liberal theistic religion. It seeks to inform liberal and progressive people of theistic faith of some of the main tenets of their faith, some of its main precedents and historical importance of that faith, and of what it might offer the world. The book is of greatest relevance to liberal Christians, and to Unitarian Universalists of a theistic bent.

Among the issues addressed are what liberal religion considers to be paradise, sin, and salvation. The argument is that the liberal religious path seeks to find or build paradise in the here and now, in this life, rather than to seek it heaven. Sin in found in how we treat others, not in some historical heritage. Salvation is found through our own actions, not someone else's sacrifice, in seeking right relations with others and in welcoming diverse others. The liberal religious community, like other religious communities, can offer support for its members. In our current context, perhaps the community can offer support for those who want to move beyond the narrow individualism and self-centeredness often fostered by modern Western society. The book develops all these themes in much more detail, with citations and quotations to various literature and history, including traditional religious literature. The book also has some specific suggestions for ministers and others who might want to build liberal religious communities.

Parts of the book are likely to be less relevant to religious humanists, as the book is oriented towards those who believe in God as a real presence, albeit a God who is changing and apparent in the world.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peter M. Schogol on July 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A House for Hope doesn't bill itself as a book of theology for Unitarian Universalists much less a book of Unitarian Universalist theology. It is subtitled "The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century." Both of the authors are identified with Progressive (Liberal) Christianity -- Parker is (also) a United Methodist minister, Buehrens is a frequent speaker at events of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship. Both authors have identified themselves as students of Process Theology which appears to be the theology of choice of Progressive Christians (witness the Process and Faith website).

In spite of the above -- and in spite of the occasional reference to Jesus -- I don't think this book could fairly be considered a work of Christian theology. It is, however, theistic in tone -- albeit not theistic in a supernatural sense -- but not at the expense of being anti-Humanistic. Still, it would take a very openminded Humanist to find this book congenial. Then again, it would take a very openminded Christian as well.

By not pointing A House for Hope specifically at UUs, Parker & Buehrens are sidestepping the question of whether such a theology (and in spite of differences they do present mostly a united theological position) could address a real constituency within the UUA or if their intention is to shape one. I think the answer is both. With a Humanistic wing that itself has a classic (rationalistic) as well as an innovative (nature-centered) side; a Christian wing that has both a neo-Protestant and a post-modern component; self-identified Jews, Buddhists, and Pagans; the theology of A House for Hope seeks to address a theistic center which may or may not be the future of the denomination.

I have no reservations recommending this book with the above caveats for those who reject a theistic premise altogether, or one which is clearly rooted in Unitarian (and to a lesser extent Universalist) theologies of the past.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bobby Newman on July 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In A House for Hope, the reasoning behind a call for a more progressive religious stance, one that is evolving and open as opposed to static and unchanging, is offered. Some history and background are supplied along the way, as well as some of the ethical principles that are crucial to such a religious stance, and a strong advocacy is put forth. It is acknowledged that it might be difficult to turn some people who have been raised to believe that only their religion and only their god is the correct path, and thus all others must be converted. An appeal, however, is also made to the millions who feel "spiritual" but have been hesitant to become involved in "organized" religion. The failures of advocates of this more progressive religious stance are noted, and suggestions for moving forward offered. My only criticism of the book is a common one to this genre, the often seemingly inherent equating of religious liberalism with political liberalism. At one point in the book, the recent devestating horror of a gunman opening fire in a UU church and targeting a children's theatrical production is described. The authors, however, take time to point out that conservative books were found in the gunman's home, and that he specifically noted that he was targeting liberals. Those facts are not in dispute. I'm sure, however, that the authors don't mean to say that conservatives generally attempt to murder liberals or that the millions who have read such books will now take up weapons and attempt to murder children in churches. So why note it? Otherwise, one would have to examine the reading lists of mass murderers in the name of leftist political thought. Liberalisim in politics is not equivalent with liberalism in religion (e.g., Owen-Towle, in Free-Thinking Mystics with Hands (p.Read more ›
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