Presences: A Bishop's Life in the City

Paul Moore, Jr., Author
Paul Moore, Jr., Author Farrar Straus Giroux $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-17567-2
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-1-56101-168-1
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Once, when his chauffeur drove young Moore past the bread lines of Hoboken, N.J., in the family Rolls-Royce, he was ""so embarrassed... that I hid on the carpeted floor."" But for an epilogue written in 1995, Moore's memoir begins with his silver-spoon birth in 1919 and closes with his last sermon as Episcopal Bishop of New York in 1989. His crowded life--in which he has somehow found time to raise nine children--has been a collision of gilded inherited values with the realities that his religious vocation presented him. After the traditional WASP education at St. Paul's School and Yale, and a near-fatal war wound as a Marine officer on Guadalcanal, Moore joined the clergy, bringing to it an activist social conscience. His story, simply written, relates how he ""pushed the edge of the envelope of liberal behavior"" but stayed ""within the system."" In Manhattan, he attempted to turn the ""massive pile of stone"" of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine into a setting that went beyond liturgical uses--to suggest ""that God is in the very center of the hustle and bustle, the joys and tragedies, the filth and beauty of the everyday."" An unusual cleric in every way, Moore suffuses his story of radicalism with an intense and deeply felt spiritual dimension. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
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