An example of an American Reappraiser in a Promotional email for a new book by a parish minister

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One occasionally receives emails promoting various books. Here is one from the inbox last night that caught my eye:
Is it possible to find values in all religions and in all people? 1 in 5 Americans - about 46 million people - are among the growing ranks of those who don't identify with any religion. From the pulpit to the many corners of the world, Richard Leonard shares his liberal approach to religion and to life in his new book Ports of Call.
“This world is a vaster place than any of us can imagine, with tremendous variations of culture and human experience,” says Leonard. “Yet the human community is essentially one, physically, and tied into the interdependent but fragile web that sustains all life.”

Leonard has spent sixty years of ministry and is a minister of the All Souls Church of New York. In Ports of Call, Leonard shares with his audience stories, sermons and events from various experiences in his life. His ministry has included development of schools and camps, civil rights as well as music.
“My liberal approach to religion and to life, seeing values in all religions and in all people, will raise the hackles of those who believe there can only be one way of looking at things,” says Leonard.
This is an exquisite collection of sermons and other writings that not only instills wisdom into it’s readers, but also delivers an inside look to the life of a clergyman and how it is not much different than everyone else’s. Leonard hopes that his writings will convey knowledge, compassion and good humor to those that read this book.

Perhaps you wondered as I did about the parish in which the author seerved--check their website here and do not miss their self description--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

8 Comments
Posted November 29, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Charles wrote:

Fr. Harmon,
I guess I’m confused as to what you mean by their “self description.”  If you mean the banner that says “All Souls is a Welcoming Congregation” with a rainbow circle, why is that surprising?  Not sure if you’re trying to make a correlation between this position and the rest of the parish’s website or to the promotional email you quoted, but this is a Unitarian Universalist church.  They not only hold the “reappraiser” position on homosexuality, they’re not Trinitarian [insert most other core Christian beliefs here].

I think I’m missing your point?

November 29, 9:38 am | [comment link]
2. Kendall Harmon wrote:

Well first of all it sounds like a number of Episcopal or other mainline churches….

but my point in the parish self description is this bit—

In the experience of worship, we gather to contemplate the mystery of God, interpret the wisdom of religion, and explore the insights of science. Our purpose is to awaken our sense of the sacred and renew our resolve to transform ourselves and our world.
As human beings, we all emerge from the same Source and share the same Destiny. As a community of faith, we make shared commitments and offer mutual support. As indivi­duals, we each bear responsibility for our own beliefs and actions.
We practice a discipline of gratitude, by which we acknowledge our utter dependence on the people and world around us, and we practice an ethic of gratitude, by which we accept our obligation to nurture others and the world in return.

Does that seem familiar to anyone? It does to me.

November 29, 9:44 am | [comment link]
3. NewTrollObserver wrote:

A Unitarian Universalist Church with a Bible Study? Now I’ve seen everything:

“Bible Study meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Minot Simons Room at All Souls. Rev. Lissa Gundlach facilitates reflection and discussion as we explore the Jewish and Christian scriptures in an open and trusting atmosphere. Bring your copy of the New Revised Standard Edition of the Bible if you wish or read along with provided copies.”

November 29, 10:30 am | [comment link]
4. Charles wrote:

Fr. Harmon, thanks for the response.  Maybe I’m naive, but I’ve never seen such a description on an Episcopal or other mainline website or other materials.  It sounds totally Unitarian Universalist and not Episcopalian.

November 29, 10:52 am | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Does that seem familiar to anyone? It does to me.”

Yup—me too. That’s the kind of prattling that streams on endlessly from countless Episcopal clergy and bishops and that has been well-archived and demonstrated by this very blog over many years.

November 29, 11:28 am | [comment link]
6. Sherri2 wrote:

“our utter dependence on the people and world around us,”— I am glad that this is not where our “utter dependence” lies.

November 29, 11:41 am | [comment link]
7. Ross Gill wrote:

“My liberal approach to religion and to life, seeing values in all religions and in all people, will raise the hackles of those who believe there can only be one way of looking at things,” says Leonard.

Actually, Christians don’t say there is only one way of looking at things so much as say that Jesus is THE way to the Father and no one comes to the Father except through him.  If that restricts my way of seeing things, so be it.  But I prefer to look at it the way C.S. Lewis did when he said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  It is by this light that we see what Leonard’s ‘liberal approach to religion and life’ really is.

November 29, 12:44 pm | [comment link]
8. MichaelA wrote:

“Well first of all it sounds like a number of Episcopal or other mainline churches….”
Touché!

And, Ross Gill at #7, very well put.

November 29, 9:24 pm | [comment link]
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