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The Heart Is a Little to the Left: Essays on Public Morality
William Sloane Coffin offers an antidote to the politics of the religious right with a call to passive intellectuals and dispirited liberals to reenter the fray with a Christian view of social justice.
Published October 1st 1999 by Dartmouth
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My progression of understanding the teachings of Jesus have filled a spectrum perhaps wider than most. Like many, I adhered to the structure and form of the Bible quite literally in my early years, mostly concerned with the affairs of the next life and the rigidity of a set of parameters I though were essential to belief. What has happened over the succeeding years can only be described as a slow tearing of my foundations into the middle ground of love and doctrine that God has been drawing me i ...more
A brief and enjoyable book from an important voice from the later half of the last century. William Sloane Coffin was a minister at Yale during the Viet Nam War (where he was immortalized in the comic strip Doonsebury as Rev. Sloan), and as the pastor in New York's storied Riverside Church. Rev. Coffin was a religious liberal, or a Left wing Protestant, or a Progressive Christian, or something like that. He was a remarkably intelligent man, or so it seems to me. Erudite, thoughtful, and willing ...more
Coffin is a master of the one liners and zinger turns of phrase. His brilliant assessment of the Four Moral Stages of the Bible has always stuck with me. His commentaries on the Vietnam War have also stuck with me. Coffin was inclusive and edgy--a rare combination. One time when he was giving an inclusive message based on the Gospels, a couple of people started heckling him... He stopped his message, pointed directly at them, and said sternly, "I'm trying to be inclusive here. Do you have a prob ...more
Really enjoyed this collection of essays. I first found out about this author during a random scan of bookshelves in our public library. You don't have to agree with everything he says to admire his wit and way with words. His thoughts on "the warhorse" are very interesting to read as they were written 10 years ago, pre-9/11, pre-Iraq and Afghanistan, but they are so applicable. Each essay can be read in about 10 minutes. A great collection of quick reads that make you think!
Very simple, but meaningful defense of left liberalism as more consistent with Christian principles and values. I have to say that there was very little in there that I hadn't already thought for myself, but it was nice to read another spiritual leader defending left liberalism and critiquing right reactionary thinking.
Must read!!! I started underlining things I thought were particularly profound and ended up with a book full of pen markings. Coffin was not afraid to speak the truth to power and to do so in a way that is stirring, beautiful, and witty. He had a great gift, and I miss him.