August 25, 2008

When Forrest Church announced to his congregation that his esophageal cancer was terminal and that he had months, not years, to live, he promised that he would write one last book. Love and Death serves as his last will and testament, containing many of his thoughts and stories about life and death, along with some of his sermons from the past. As the longtime pastor of the Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, he holds theological perspectives that Christian Century readers might want to argue with: he’s sure that Jesus wasn’t resurrected from the dead, and he’s agnostic about an afterlife. Still, he is certain of the love of Christ that endures beyond our own lives, and he criticizes fundamentalisms of both the right and the left. This book rewards the reader with many wise and quotable thoughts. “The purpose of life is to live in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for,” he says. His life’s mantra has been “Do what you can, want what you have, and be who you are.”

This revision of Migliore’s earlier The Power of God seems more relevant now than when the first edition appeared in 1983. Migliore’s understanding of the power of the triune God, who is neither sheer power nor powerless, both subverts and criticizes many human understandings and uses of God’s power. This very readable book is one that lay audiences would find beneficial. It includes a totally new chapter, “Toward a Christian-Muslim Dialogue on the Power of God.”