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A House for Hope

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The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-first Century

Written by John BeuhrensAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by John Beuhrens and Rebecca Ann ParkerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rebecca Ann Parker


List Price: $25.95


On Sale: May 04, 2010
Pages: 0 | ISBN: 978-0-8070-9762-5
Published by : Beacon Press Beacon Press
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Synopsis|Excerpt|Table of Contents


For over a generation, conservative religion has seemed dominant in America. But there are signs of a strengthening liberal religious movement. For it to flourish, laypeople need a sense of their theological heritage. A House for Hope lays out, in lively and engaging language, the theological house that religious liberalism has inherited—and suggests how this heritage will need to be spiritually and theologically transformed. With chapters that suggest liberal religious commitment is based on common hopes and an expansive love for life, A House for Hope shows how religious liberals have countered fundamentalists for generations, and provides progressives with a theological and spiritual foundation for the years ahead.


Hope is rising. The political tide in the United States has
turned, and many are hoping for progress on issues such as
global warming, health care, marriage equality, and international
conflict. But religious fundamentalists of many varieties
continue to promote frameworks of meaning that put earth’s
global community, its diverse peoples, and its ecological systems
at profound risk. More than political change is called
for; America’s liberals and progressives need greater awareness
that at the core of social and political issues lie competing
responses to the classic questions posed by theology. Effective
work for social change requires people of faith who are theologically
literate and engaged. To that endthis book provides a
primer in progressive theology. It recovers and reconsiders the
hope-filled religious frameworks that inspired generations of
activists to work for women’s rights, racial equality, economic
justice, and peace. These frameworks embody reverence for the
sacred, nourish community life, carry forward the aspirations
of our forebears, and respond to legacies of violence and injus|tice that harm our bodies and souls. They hold promise for our
time. As Sara Robinson, blogging in 2008 for the Campaign for
America’s Future, argued:
"Secular progressives don’t seem to understand that while
politics is all about how we’re going to make the world better,
progressive religion tells us why it’s necessary to work
for change.... Liberal faith traditions offer the essential metaphors
and worldview that everything else derives from—
the frames that give our dreams shape and meaning. It has
an invaluable role to play in helping our movement set its
values and priorities, understand where we are in the larger
scheme, and gauge whether we’re succeeding or not.
The conservative movement knew from the get-go that
it would not succeed unless it could offer people this kind
of deeper narrative. Providing that was one of the most
important things the religious right brought to their party.
Progressivism will not defeat it until we can offer another
narrative about what America can and should be—and our
liberal churches have longer, harder, better experience than
anyone at developing and communicating those stories, and
building thriving communities around them."
This book uses the metaphor of a theological house to
articulate the “frames that give our dreams shape and meaning.”
Through this metaphor we explore the classic topics of
theology from a progressive vantage point—reminding the
reader that liberal religion has a long history, and inviting reconsideration
and reimagining of its key concepts. We write
as coauthors because we recognize that no one authoritative
voice can claim to speak to all of liberal and progressive religion.
Dialogue that opens up further conversation is integral
to progressive theological method. We have been in dialogue
with each other for a number of years about many issues in
progressive religion today. We have much in common as a
result, but we do not always agree about every issue or formulation.
To invite the reader into dialogue as well, in each
section of this book there are two or more chapters: one by
Rebecca introduces the theological theme and identifies distinctive
liberal perspectives on the topic; one by John offers
further historical perspective, counterpoints, and reflections on
the theme.
Each dimension of the house—including its setting within
the natural world—corresponds to one of the classic issues
of systematic theological reflection. Theology, we suggest, is
architectural—it provides a framework for human life. It is also
ecological—it creates an interactive system in response to a
specific environment. And it is archeological—it unearths artifacts
from the past that can inspire our imagination and understanding
now. Here are the basic dimensions and coordinates
of this theological house for hope, and the questions that each

Table of Contents

John Buehrens and Rebecca Parker
Part One
The Garden
Chapter One: This Holy Ground
Rebecca Parker
Chapter Two: Last Things First
John Buehrens
Part Two
The Sheltering Walls
Chapter Three: Life Together
Rebecca Parker
Chapter Four: Restoring Heartwood
John Buehrens
Part Three
The Roof
Chapter Five: Deliver Us from Evil
Rebecca Parker
Chapter Six: Taking Refuge
John Buehrens
Part Four
The Foundations
Chapter Seven: The Rocks Will Cry Out
Rebecca Parker
Chapter Eight: The Changing of the Foundations 
John Buehrens
Part Five
The Welcoming Rooms
Chapter Nine: A Home for Love
Rebecca Parker
Chapter Ten: The Welcome Table
John Buehrens
Chapter Eleven: A Sanctuary for the Spirit
John Buehrens and Rebecca Parker
Part Six
The Threshold
Chapter Twelve: No Caravan of Despair
Rebecca Parker
Chapter Thirteen: A Call to Partnership


“A thoughtful meditation on religion, duty, and the common good.”—Booklist

“To some observers, religion and conservatism have become inextricably fused. But to [Buehrens and Parker], something new is emerging—a liberal religious renaissance.”—Steven Levingston, The Washington Post

“For nearly three decades, journalists and pundits have focused on the views and beliefs of the Religious Right and basically ignored members of America’s mainline and liberal Protestant establishment. . . . [Buehrens and Parker] have set out to reintroduce people to the riches and bounties of progressive religion.”—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice
“Buehrens and Parker begin with the life of service and work for justice and deepen it to show the implicit beliefs that it assumes and that are implicit in it. They show that progressive Protestants can be proud and articulate about their beliefs.”—John B. Cobb Jr., coauthor of For the Common Good

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