Thursday, April 13, 2006


One of the world's outstanding voices for waging peace has fallen silent. The Reverend William Sloane Coffin died yesterday; he was 81 years old. Former Yale chaplain and Senior Pastor of New York City's Riverside Church, Gerry Trudeau used Coffin for his "Doonesbury" character "Rev. Sloan." Listen to or read a tribute to Coffin at NPR

THE RING OF TRUTH. I've admired Coffin at a distance for years. I've repeatedly read of him in Sojourners. I've read a few of his essays and books (his latest was Credo). I heard him speak once, during the Persian Gulf War, at Christian Theological Seminary. Coffin was firey, precise, and poignant; he had the ring of truth about him.

ECHO AND RESONATE. Perhaps his perspective and voice will continue to echo; perhaps it will find resonance in other like-hearted prophets. Here are few snippets from a 2004 "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly" interview:

WHOLESALE JUSTICE. "What this country needs, what I think God wants us to do, is not practice piecemeal charity but engage in wholesale justice. Justice is at the heart of religious faith. When we see Christ empowering the poor, scorning the powerful, healing the world's hurts, we are seeing transparently the power of God at work."

GOD'S LOVE. "God is not too hard to believe in. God is too good to believe in, we being such strangers to such goodness. The love of God is to me absolutely overwhelming."

HUMAN MALPRACTICE. "It's clear to me, two things: that almost every square inch of the Earth's surface is soaked with the tears and blood of the innocent, and it's not God's doing. It's our doing. That's human malpractice. Don't chalk it up to God. Every time people say, when they see the innocent suffering, every time they lift their eyes to heaven and say, 'God, how could you let this happen?' it's well to remember that exactly at that moment God is asking exactly the same question of us: 'How could you let this happen?' So you have to take responsibility."

ALIVE...OR BORING. "If you back off from every little controversy in your life you're not alive, and what's more, you're boring."

1 comment:

  1. John, i'm a huge fan of William Sloane Coffin. I can remember going to hear him preach (regularly) when I was in seminary. I was always blessed by his faith, his sense of humor, and by his commitment to God's great love in Jesus Christ.

    Mike Mather


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