exploration and it is so compatible with what Universalists have been teaching for centuries. I highly recommend this book to UNIVERSALIST HERALD readers.
Reviewer, Vernon Chandler is a military chaplain, former pastor, prison chaplain, and also a former editor of the UNIVERSALIST HERALD.
Jesus was a Liberal:
Reclaiming Christianity for All
by Scotty McLennan
"Why has the liberal voice been so muted in Christianity?"
This is the question which Unitarian Universalist minister Scotty McLennan poses in this lively, informative book. McLennan is the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University. From 1984-2000, he was University Chaplain at Tufts. He was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 1975.
In this, his third book, McLennan addresses a wide audience. As a spokesman for Liberal Christianity, he engages and criticizes, not only fundamentalist and conservative Christians, but also atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins. It is time to reconcile silence and religion, McLennan says.
McClennan usefully engages the reader at the political and theological level, often by sharing his personal story, of how he "made the journey from conservative Christianity through atheism," to liberal Christianity.
This is not in any sense a denominational publication. From his position at Stanford, where he is responsible for meeting the spiritual needs of that large and well established University, he is conversant with the entire range of the religious spectrum, extending well beyond "mainline" Christianity. A reader unfamiliar with Unitarian Universalism would not learn much about Unitarian Universalism from reading this book. And I find this refreshing. Too often, we Unitarian Universalists become insular, not engaging Christians of various stripes, even including those whom McLennan would refer to as "liberal Christians."
The Epilogue is perhaps the strongest part of the book. There, McLennan, who is also a lawyer, makes a strong closing argument for "Reclaiming Liberal Christianity." He goes after conservative politicians who use the word "liberal" pejoratively. From there, he goes straight to the Bible, describing how Jesus asserted his freedom from the authority of the religious leaders in Palestine, and how Jesus lifted up the oppressed, preaching to the conservative religious leaders that sinners who make spiritual progress "take precedence over the religiously pure who won't recognize any authority but their own." From there, McLennan goes on to urge liberal Christians to become activists for social and economic justice. Here, he is entirely consistent with such leading ministers from the Universalist side of our tradition as Richard Gilbert, who wrote The Prophetic Imperative.
Subscribers to The Universalist Herald will readily recognize the Universalist God of the 19th century in McClennan's chapter on Christian doctrine. There, in discussing the work of a theologian at Princeton Theological Seminary, McLennan explains that "God the parent is experienced not as a God of absolute power and rule of force, but as one who gives both life and love, as one who empowers by pointing to caring family relationships."
Reviewer, Tom Korson is a retired Unitarian Universalist community minister living in Denver.
Book Reviews 2
LIFE AFTER DEATH: THE BURDEN OF PROOF
review by Deepak Chopra
Sometimes we modern day Unitarian Universalists forget the original meaning of the term “Universalism.” Universalism has its genesis in the belief of an immortal soul and the belief that all souls were eventually reunited with that which we call God. For those of us for whom the original meaning of Universalism and immortality remain a basis of our personal theology, you will find in Chopra’s latest book a comforting, powerful, and insightful investigation into the great mysteries of existence: death and eternal life.
Deepak Chopra grew up in a Hindu family in India and was later exposed to Christian teachings via Catholic schooling. Trained as a medical doctor in both India and the United States, Chopra bridges Eastern and Western thought in addressing the most profound mystery: What happens when we die?
In Life After Death, Chopra draws upon recent medical discoveries, cutting-edge scientific knowledge, quantum physics, near-death experiences (NDEs) and the wisdom of various religious traditions to provide the reader a very hopeful glimpse into the world of consciousness that follows the human death experience. Chopra rejects the notion of Satan as an all-powerful opposite of God. Everything Satan stands for is included in our own self-judgment. What we call Satan is a massive reflection of self-judgment and is a creation of our own consciousness.
The only hell to which Chopra believes exists is psychological hell. We create our own hells. Hell is farthest from that which we call God because hell represents the low ebb of consciousness.
The spiritually mature person, regardless of religious faith, is someone who pursues a meaningful life through the following: self worth; love; truth; appreciation and gratitude; reverence; and nonviolence. To live outside these values is painful, and if intense enough, perhaps the pain puts a person in his or her own psychological hell. When we become disconnected from ourselves, a sense of deserving to suffer begins. Hell is the suffering you think you deserve. When connections with that which we call God are repaired or restored, we no longer believe we deserve punishment and we are back in the flow of life with all its healing properties.
Although Chopra does not use the term, “Purgatory,” his writing alludes to this concept. Bad Karma and/or low consciousness at the time of human death does have an impact upon the souls of the departed. If we have created a psychological hell in this life, aspects of this hell will continue in the next.
For some souls entering the afterlife, there will be torment and suffering. Chopra calls this hellish experience the condition of karmic suffering. However, this suffering is not eternal, but is rather remedial and rehabilitative. This concept is very compatible with early American Universalism.
For Chopra, death deserves to be called miraculous, a “doorway to a far more important event—the beginning of the afterlife” and a mode of being that “can be as creative as living . . . the cosmos that you and I are experiencing right now, with trees, plants, people, houses, cars, stars, and galaxies, is just consciousness expressing itself at one particular frequency. Elsewhere in space time, different planes exist simultaneously.” It is on these other planes, created by the imagination of that which we call God, that the souls of the departed continue the adventure of consciousness. Chopra gives numerous medical and mystical accounts to support his belief in the continuation of the soul following the death of the human body. Life After Death: The Burden of Proof is full of spiritual wisdom. It is a wonderful guide for life after death