From Library Journal
This short, readable work represents seven sermons and speeches delivered primarily to university audiences by controversial activist preacher Coffin (former chaplain at Yale University and senior minister of New York City's Riverside Church). By his own admission, he's an old man in a hurry: at times strident, at others just plain earnest. He comes down strongly on the side of social justice, championing notions like nuclear abolition, compassion for the homeless and disenfranchised, and the democratization of the American market economy. Not merely political, Coffin takes a strong stand against religious zealotry; the Bible, he claims, serves as a signpost, not a hitching post. Biblical literalists, he argues, sacrifice their intellect while holding to the self-delusional security of their fundamentalist creeds. Passionate, sometimes angry, yet never defeatist, Coffin reads as vibrantly and dynamically as he has lived. His confrontational tone serves as a challenge to anyone willing to engage this old moral warrior. Recommended for American religion and history collections.ASandra Collins, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Lib.
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In the civil rights and antiwar movements, in 18 years as Yale University's chaplain, and long service as president of SANE/FREEZE, Coffin has been a clergyman even atheists respect, a voice of conscience whose passion for justice ensures that his sermons speak to a wide range of believers and nonbelievers. This slim volume gathers seven speeches and sermons Coffin delivered at various universities or churches (including Riverside Church in New York, where he was senior minister). As he did a quarter century ago, Coffin engages in issues facing the nation, such as the interaction between the spiritual and the secular, the "politics of compassion," homophobia, the nature of biblical authority, and military spending. Christ's message of love, Coffin maintains, demands action in the world: real compassion requires confronting those who oppress others, and the central component of civility is not simply good manners but actively caring for others. It is to that difficult but rewarding form of Christian witness that Coffin calls readers. Mary Carroll