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Letters To A Young Doubter [Hardcover]

By William Sloane Coffin (Author)
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Item description for Letters To A Young Doubter by William Sloane Coffin...

The former minister addresses questions of the Christian faith in a collection of letters written to an imaginary college student.

Publishers Description
In Letters to a Young Poet, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke advises to be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves, for gradually, you will live into the answers. These words have long struck renowned preacher and activist William Sloane Coffin as a wise way to view a growing and evolving life. Thus inspired, Coffin, former university chaplain at Yale, imagined a similar volume of letters. In an exchange of letters over the months of an academic year, Bill writes an imagined bright, young college student, answering his questions and giving typically-Coffin sage advice about problems of faith, the difficulties of personal life, and the ever more confusing and complex problems of today's world. In these letters, Bill Coffin demonstrates that a strong religious faith despite doubts is far stronger than one without doubts. And, as he says, no one so reveals an absence of faith as a dogmatist.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Letters To A Young Doubter by William Sloane Coffin has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Library Journal - 06/27/2005
  • Ingram Advance - 07/01/2005 page 91

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   185
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.12" Width: 5.42" Height: 0.83"
Weight:   0.64 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2005
ISBN  0664229298  
ISBN13  9780664229290  

Availability  0 units.

More About William Sloane Coffin

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! WILLIAM SLOANE COFFIN (1924 2006) served for 18 years as chaplain of Yale University, was senior minister of Riverside Church, and was president emeritus of SANE/FREEZE: Campaign for Global Security. His books include Once to Every Man: An Autobiography, The Courage to Love, Living the Truth in a World of Illusions, and A Passion for the Possible."

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > Inspirational
6Books > Subjects > Teens > Religion & Spirituality > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Inspiration > Motivation > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Letters To A Young Doubter?

Concise and makes one think  Jun 17, 2006
A short book but one that caused me to stop and think what I believe and what I want with my life. Coffin puts forth hard questions: Who tells you who you are? What would it be like to have God tell us who we are? Do you think God is too hard to believe in, or too good to believe in? Does religion bring out the worst as well as the best in people?
Throughout the book, he asks the reader to question is a better life lived with faith or without forcing the reader to look within.
A Great Man's Last Book  May 16, 2006
On April 12th of this year we lost a great man, Rev. William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Of all his writings I want to recommend for your reading edification a small but wise volume, written shortly before the author's death at 82, Letters to a Young Doubter. The work was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet, who in his July 16, 1903 letter wrote these famous and wise words of encouragement to the young aspiring poet, Franz Xavier Kappus:

"... have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves . . . Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them . . . Live the questions now . . . , someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answers."

Coffin was also encouraged by Tolstoy who believed that certain questions are put to humanity "not so much that we should answer them, but that we should spend a lifetime wrestling with them." For he believed that faith is no substitute for thinking, but faith makes good thinking possible.

In several ways Rev. Coffin shares the company of people like Dietrich Bonhoefer, Francis of Assisi and those who came from wealthy, comfortable and established families only to find their calling in leaving a life of ease to enter the service of Christ. Impossible to pigeon hole, this sagacious man went from being a CIA Agent to Chaplin of Yale University, to President of SANE/Freeze (now Peace Action), and to Senior Minister at Riverside Church, NYC, where he hosted notables like Martin Luther King, Jr, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. If you have never heard of him, surely you have heard one of his most famous aphorism, "Remember young people even if you win the rat race, you are still a rat."

In this light but thought-provoking short work, Coffin, author of the Theological Booksellers' 2004 Book of the Year Credo, exchanges an academic year-long series of letters with a fictional young college student named Tom (after the Bible's Doubting Thomas?) who struggles with issues of his faith, complexities of the modern world, sin, problems with his personal life, values, God's love and God's Power.

It is an easy read offering small delicacies that you need to savor slowly. The book is full of wit and witticism that will make you stop to think and perhaps wish Coffin went deeper into each topic. But we are left with that task to ponder and even struggle with applying his words to our life, as when he writes to Tom and says: "There are two ways of getting rich. One is to have lots of money, the other is to have few needs" and "If you are religious, remember that doctrines are only signposts; love alone is the hitching post.".

If you are like most and have doubts, I recommend this book. Coffin's sense of humor and affection allow him to keep the gravest considerations in perspective. How else can one believe that doubt moves us forward not backward, that guilt is "the last stronghold of pride," that Jesus was "both a mirror to humanity and a window to divinity."

During an interview for one of his books, when he was asked why such a cosmopolitan and world famous figure would banish himself to rural Vermont, he replied "Nature gets more interesting as you're about to join it."

not shining, not terrible  Oct 30, 2005
The book was a little cheesy and somewhat lackluster, but it did have a few interesting and insightful thoughts.
Letters To A Young Doubter   Oct 9, 2005
Definitely not just for a young doubter, this book addresses several challanges to the spiritual journey. I find William Sloan Coffin's writing straight-forward and well thought out. This book is very "readable." Approaching it a letter at a time gives one a chance to digest the thoughts and ponder the topic.
God as ideologue  Sep 21, 2005
I bought this book for my son thinking it was a serious work discussing serious religious issues. It is not. It is a political treatise with a smattering of religiosity (two stars for the smattering). It is unfortunate to find another Christian minister whose political agenda is so intertwined with his faith that he cannot distinguish between them -- whether a Wm Sloane Coffin or a Pat Robertson.

One must be extraordinarily cynical to preach to a "young doubter", as Coffin does, that a particular political ideology is a prerequisite to following Jesus Christ. This book has little to offer serious seekers. Christian parents, progressive and evangelical, should refer their children elsewhere for answers to their doubts.

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