On the Lived Theology Reading List: On Second Thought

On Second Thought: Essays Out of My Life, by Donald ShriverEssays Out of My Life

Donald Shriver, Jr. has had a distinguished career. Trained as a minister and a Christian ethicist, he won the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his 2005 book Honest Patriots and served for 16 years as president of Union Theological Seminary in New York. In his memoir, On Second Thought, Shriver offers his insights on a variety of topics and his hopes for the future. Subjects range from a chapter on ecology based around his own experiences at his family property and his reflections on the life of his eldest son, to his appreciation for Beethoven. In the introduction Shriver say he aimed to follow the advice of a friend, to avoid making this book a scholarly tome replete with footnotes and instead to “write it from the heart.” The result is a religious and deeply personal book of essays.

Reviews and endorsements of the publication include:

“In Chapter 5, Shriver puts this wise question: “Whoever grew up without a lot of help?” (p. 68) However we grow in life, and whatever we accomplish in life, we do so on the shoulders of others. I have been inspired also by Shriver’s reverent practice of reaching out and offering “thank you” messages to several persons who have shaped his life. Shriver’s chapter on friends and friendship describes friends as “gifts arriving in one’s life without notice or asking.”  In his final chapter, Shriver offers an intriguing letter about his hopes for his great-grandchildren that he will never see: That they will be alive and well in 2060. That they will be daily grateful. That they will be honored to belong to a worldwide human family. That they will be deeply in love in a permanent marriage of companionship and fidelity. That they will be faithfully aware that they are greatly loved and empowered to love by a “love divine, all loves excelling.”  I chose this book as the basis for our retreat discussions because Shriver winsomely articulates what has been ultimately important to him and his life pilgrimage. I believe his reflections provide a remarkable instrument for exploring what is ultimately important for each reader.”—Dean K. Thompson Former president, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

For more information on the publication, click here.

Donald W. Shriver Jr. is an ethicist and an ordained Presbyterian minister who has belonged to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations since 1988 and was president of Union Theological Seminary from 1975 to 1991.

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