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The Heart Is a Little to the Left: Essays on Public Morality Hardcover – October 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 93 pages
  • Publisher: Dartmouth; 1st edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874519586
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874519587
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

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

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Customer Reviews

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This should be required reading in all seminaries!
Fred W Hood
I found his arguments challenging to my positions and his supporting points were well presented.
Richard W. Vernon
I have probably given sixty copies away so that others can read and KEEP it as well.
P. Melsha

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Fred W Hood on June 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I recently chose to go into the life of one who greatly influenced me in the 1980's I chose "The Heart is a Little Left of Center" because it's filled by Coffin's big & best themes! In his years while at Riverside he stayed busy with Conferences like Montreat Music & Worship Week! Not only did he admire my wife's soprano voice but I could sit next to him in the bass section of Elaine Brown's fabulous choir. He was at home with great choral traditions...Always intensely in-tune with both the text & music. I quickly saw first-hand how his preaching each day in Worship was an exact replay of his momenteous living!
Those themes woven into this later book are "Authority of the Bible, Homophobia, Fundamentalism, Meaning of Life & Death, and Civility!" As he goes thru his severe heart problems in Calif. with his Family, I can bet he's still an inspiring, giving, and caring Person! Still quoting Bishop Tutu, ML King, Rabbi Abraham Heschel: "some are guilty but all are responsible." Thoreau as well as, Abba Eban: "God is not mocked!" Likely unknowingly that he was also quoting Robert Shaw, in Atlanta, who called him Bill Coffin! I will always be able to hear his resonant, deeply rich bass voice both preaching and singing in the Choir. This should be required reading in all seminaries! Retired Chap Fred W Hood
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sara Anne Corrigan on November 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is so inspiring that I wish I could send copies of it to every single Congressman and Senator poised to go to Washington in 2007.

This book is so inspiring that, if they ever do a remake of the movie "Fahrenheit 451" I want to play the part of the person who commits this book to memory.

This book is possibly the most life-affirming thing I have read in the past year -- and I read a LOT on this general subject.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Everything I think and feel as an advocate for peace and justice but can't put into words!! I had to buy several copies so I can give them out to everyone else I know would who love it as much as I do.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Coffin's writing is clear, understandable, and challenging. I found his arguments challenging to my positions and his supporting points were well presented.
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This is one of the best books I have ever read. I have probably given sixty copies away so that others can read and KEEP it as well. It is book you will read over and over. In such a short volume, there is an abundance of important questions, food for thought and challenges for the mind and for your life. Coffin has a gift of cutting through all the rationalizations, distortions and man made doctrines to shine a light on the obvious if we would all only think critically about our human purpose and our fellow man. This is an excellent book for a group study, a couple, a young adult breaking out into the world and anyone that wants to think deeper and live a fuller more valuable life.
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