cover image BRINGING GOD HOME: A Traveler's Guide

BRINGING GOD HOME: A Traveler's Guide

Forrest Church, Author, The Reverend Forrest Church, Author .

Church is probably one heck of a preacher: learned, thoughtful and gifted at reshaping famous phrases to confer new meaning while retaining their hallowed echoes ("We are the religious animal"). In this book-pulpit, the senior minister of New York's All Souls Unitarian Church is also a proponent of the gospel of second chances. He refers often enough to his own all-too-human errors—a failed first marriage, an enduring affair with alcohol—but autobiographical passages, including glimpses of his famous father, the late Idaho senator Frank Church, only leaven the book. The author or editor of 18 other books has here crafted a series of meditative essays, unified by the leitmotif of home. They constitute a spiritual travel guide through centuries of human wandering toward spiritual home and human wondering about the persistent questions that are the diet of the religious animal: where do we come from, whither do we go? The personal essay is a time-honored Western literary form, and Church fills this mold with artillery drawn from the canon: this poet, that saint, still another thinker or painter. At times the range of reference seems a little too wide, too illusive, to follow the tracks of the author's thought. But the minister eventually leads his reader to the point, to a sense of what Buddhists would call equanimity and what this Unitarian thinker calls home. As a pastoral Virgil, Church leads the way. (Mar.)