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The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  6 reviews
Described by Cornel West as “a towering public intellectual and the leading universalist philosopher of his generation,” Forrest Church was one of the preeminent liberal theologians of our time. His final gift, The Cathedral of the World, draws from the entire span of Church’s life’s work to leave behind a clear statement of his universalist theology and liberal faith. Giv ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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While the book made me wish I could have known Mr. Church personally, I don't feel it delivered what it advertised. It's essentially a "Greatest Hits" collection of excerpts from Church's previous writings that he felt most spoke to his universalism. But the material doesn't come together in a cohesive way to present a unified theology -- at least, not for me. I'm inclined to cut the author some slack given that he was, you know, dying when he put the book together. But if anything, I think it f ...more
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I read this book on recommendation of a friend as I seek to understand UU thinking and theology. I find I have just as many questions at the end as I did before I started.
If Church has been as influential in the UU denomination as I think he has, this book explains how the denomination has turned from humanism to deism. While there is much to agree with in this book, I cannot agree that it makes sense to define god any way you want, and thus since all these different people believe in some kind of god, be it love, a creator, an overlord, or whatever, we are just looking at different aspects of the same god. Sorry, Forrest, that just doesn't fly for me. Clearly Ch ...more
I skimmed some of these brief essays and sermons, but overall, Rev. Church seemed like a highly intelligent man of good will. Universalism tends to be the forgotten half of Unitarian Universalism, so it was interesting to read about his theological take on that particular tradition. Rev. Forest imagined one of the coolest metaphors about religion I've ever read, the eponymous 'Cathedral of the World." Imagine one light, he writes, with many windows. I couldn't do it justice. Coolest image ever. ...more
Joey Dye
This was a great book. Admittedly, not what I was expecting from the subtitle; but the thoughts, insights, and reflections offered here are wonderful. I highly recommend this book. Not for those hoping for an explanation of Universalist theology, but for those who want a glimpse of that theology lived and preached--read the book!
Read this with UU congregation book group. Lots to think about and try to put into practice.
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Rev. Forrest Church served for almost three decades as senior minister and was minister of public theology at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City. He wrote or edited twenty-five books, including Love & Death.
More about Forrest Church...
Love & Death: My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle Over Church and State Lifecraft: The Art of Meaning in the Everyday Life Lines: Holding On (and Letting Go) The Separation of Church and State: Writings on a Fundamental Freedom by America's Founders

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“God language can tie people into knots, of course. In part, that is because ‘God’ is not God's name. Referring to the highest power we can imagine, ‘God’ is our name for that which is greater than all and yet present in each. For some the highest imaginable power will be a petty and angry tribal baron ensconced high above the clouds on a golden throne, visiting punishment on all who don't believe in him. But for others, the highest power is love, goodness, justice, or the spirit of life itself. Each of us projects our limited experience on a cosmic screen in letters as big as our minds can fashion. For those whose vision is constricted (illiberal, narrow-minded people), this can have horrific consequences. But others respond to the munificence of creation with broad imagination and sympathy. Answering to the highest and best within and beyond themselves, they draw lessons and fathom meaning so redemptive that surely it touches the divine.” 11 likes
“So it's pretty simple for me: Love when you can. Do the work that is yours to do. Be the person that is yours to be at any given time. Think to wish for what is yours at this very moment. To love. To serve. To touch. To know. Think to wish for all that is yours to have. Think to wish for all that is yours to do. And think to wish that you might be who it is that you might most fully be. Avoid wishful thinking. Avoid the traps and pitfalls of nostalgia for the past. Savor every moment as it passes. And enlist yourself in saving that which can be saved this very moment, ir order that it, too, may endure for others to enjoy.” 8 likes
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