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Faith in the Public Square Kindle Edition
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Cornwall doesn't attempt to delve deep into the concerns he raises. Rather he offers what are essentially conversation starters. Yet he provides some strikingly insightful lines for those who already have a degree of acquaintance with the issues he discusses. The chapters are engaging and accessible. He speaks with a humble and reasoned tone, offering a moderately liberal alternative to the far right religion that has dominated the public square for the last few decades.
From torture, genocide, and war to racism, immigration, interfaith relations and voting, Cornwall serves as a tour guide to hot topics. Those who want to linger in one place to take in more than the conspicuous sights will be disappointed. But that is really not due to a fault in the book. Cornwall doesn't intend to travel down every alley and out-of-the-way place. This is a book best used by those just beginning the journey from private faith to public engagement.
The chapters were initially written for a weekly newspaper column while Cornwall served a church in Lompoc, California. Some updating is apparent. At the same time, the original occasion of certain chapters show through. Labor Day, Independence Day, Palm Sunday, Easter, among others, became opportunities for Cornwall to offer some relevant words about current issues.
There were points at which I had wished he had taken a clearer and more decisive position. But I suspect he sought to avoid premature closure in order to stimulate further conversation. This book is a fine tool for groups or individuals who are beginning to think about how the faith proclaimed in the sanctuary has bearing on the frequently divided, violent and unjust world. Hopefully some readers will be moved, not just to think, but put those thoughts into constructive action for the common good.
The title of Cornwall's new book intrigued me, and the writing didn't disappoint. How is it that religion remains a constant presence in our public lives, yet is disappearing from public conversation? Robert helps out with this collection of short, two-page essays written for publication in the Lompoc Record (Lompoc, California). I can picture the Record lying open to his column on a Lompoc park bench, two men holding it down between them against the brisk wind. They are reading and discussing the day in 2007 when Congress convened, witnessing several American religious firsts, including the seating of two Buddhists and a Muslim as congressional representatives. Does this mean we're witnessing the realization of America's promise as a land of freedom for people of every religious background?
Cornwall's passions seem to be religion and politics, and he loves writing about where the two overlap (whether beneficially or not), but the topics aren't limited to this. Toward the end of the collection he strays to other controversial issues such as stem cell research, the source of sexual preference, and "enhanced interrogation techniques" (torture). Cornwall's writing is piercing, yet engrossing because it's both intelligent and balanced. Of religious differences, he is respectful, sharing his own beliefs without elaboration or evangelism.
I really enjoyed this one. But hopefully I'm allowed one complaint: Guys, when you put together an anthology of writings like this, could you please date each one? Our world is changing so fast, and I'm one of those readers who begins every book by noting the publication date, so I can match the writing to the atmosphere and knowledge of the day.
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