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Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century Paperback – November 6, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

William R. Murry served as president and academic dean of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago from 1997 to 2003, was minister of River Road Unitarian Church in Bethesda, Maryland from 1981 to 1997 and has been a college professor and a college chaplain. He holds a doctorate in theology and culture from Drew University and a master of divinity degree from Yale University. He is the author of A Faith for All Seasons: Liberal Religion and the Crises of Life (Rover Road Press). He and his wife, Barbara, have three children and four grandchildren.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Skinner House Books (November 6, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558965181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558965188
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Peter M. Schogol on April 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
REASON AND REVERENCE by the Rev. William R. Murry was written with the express intent of revitalizing humanism within Unitarian Universalism by grounding it in religious naturalism. The book is getting mixed reviews among 'old-school' humanists, apparently, as I've read comments to the effect that there's nothing that needs revitalizing, that Murry is succumbing to the rage for spirituality by diluting classical humanism with a touchy-feely naturalism, and so on. I've also read comments by theists chiding Murry for his unabashed nontheism.

Murry feels that classical humanism, the humanism of 1933 Manifesto, was overly optimistic about social progress and unmindful of the human capacity for evil. Additionally, he feels that its anthropocentrism and disregard for the intrinsic value of nature have been complicit in nature's despoliation. Further, he feels that by neglecting the affective component of human religiosity, particularly its capacity for awe and reverence, humanism has become dessicated and unresponsive.

Murry insists that not only does humanism need religious naturalism, naturalism needs religious humanism to add an ethical dimension not immediately derivable from amoral nature. He feels that peace, justice, and particularly reverence for life are properly humanistic values which, when added to a religious response to nature, complete a stance he calls humanistic religious naturalism.

I have not done justice to the book in these paragraphs. I would hope people in addition to UUs would read it. In my very humble opinion this book is a milestone in nontheistic liberal religion and I heartily recommend it.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Wyote VINE VOICE on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fine statement of the principles of religious humanism. If you wonder what religious humanism is, the answer is here. There is a history of humanism, a discussion of "the epic of evolution," and several chapters essentially on ethics and well-being.

Nothing especially revolutionary or inspiring here, just the solid truth, simply stated.

Here're an excerpt, sort of the thesis statement of the book, to give you an example of the writing style:

"To be religious does not require that one accept the existence of a supernatural being. To be religious is a matter of one's attitude toward all of life. The religious aspect of humanism consists of an appreciation of the dignity and worth of every person; reverence and wonder at the world of nature, at human creativity, and at life itself; a sense of the unity of all things; joy in human community; and a commitment to a cause that transcends the self (p. 11)."
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Isreal5 on July 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was worried that a book like this one will come along. Basically, it hit me on the head. A wake up call. Two words: "naturalism" and "responsibility". Now "naturalism" didn't affect me much. Especially, because I don't have a strong Christian back ground. But I can see, this book will liberate and empower a lot of Christians who decide to look into UU. Still "naturalism" is quite a radical idea. It kind of reminds me of idealism, that everything in this world is spirit. Naturalism says everything in this world is a miracle. Then we should be in awe of the universe as it is. Biology should be awe inspiring as much as cathedrals do. Now "responsibility" is a heavy word. And the book tells us that we should be responsible of the universe. Responsible of fellow humans, and also ecology, the nature that produces us. And all this comes after rejecting the monolithic God. invokes awe. One must be on top of science. Science can be intimidating. Science can be dry. It is one thing for a scientist to explain us how many stars are in the universe. It is another to feel wonder at the night sky.
The issue that is hanging is: what is the relationship between science and religion. This is quite a touchy subject. On the one hand, it seems to liberate science and promise everything. On the other hand, its opening up the Pandora's box. Just think of genetic manipulation. This might be the key to cure of cancer. But also we may create a deadly deadly virus that has never been. But the book says nothing of this. Perhaps too big a topic. Tho, being muted has its place.
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