Paul Zahl's latest book provides 'healing for alienated relationships'

April 6, 2008

Readers should be left with a sense of "hope, absolution and potential reunion," said the Rev. Dr. Paul F.M. Zahl, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, in reference to his latest literary work "Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life."

Zahl, the author of "2000 Years of Amazing Grace: The Story and Meaning of the Christian Faith" and "Understanding the Windsor Report: Two leaders in the American Church Speak Across the Divide" written with the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, spoke about his books at an April 4 book signing at the Catalyst Café and Books in New York City. He described his latest work as an attempt to understand how the "grace of God or judgment or law of God" relates to various types of relationships and social issues such as "war and peace, and classism."

He said the inspiration came from his devoting more than 30 years in the ministry on God's unconditional love for human beings or the "everyday person who is both sad and often very aggressive."

"After 2003, when the Episcopal Church went into a time of severe conflict, I decided that I really ought to think about this in terms of a way that might be uniting rather than dividing," he explained. "I myself had been part of a rather divisive traditionalism and I said that this can't be fully right because there is quite a bit of anger to it."

"Grace in Practice" is Zahl's attempt be "positive and heartfelt." He said it is a book for everyone but may appeal specifically to "people who have often felt that Christianity was a matter of prohibitions and admonitions and heavy judgment rather than an enabling word of love and grace."

"The book is full of pastoral illustrations that hopefully will make a positive contribution to ministering in both the Episcopal Church and in the wider Christian world," he said. "I want the reader to believe that there is healing for alienated relationships that have been caused by criticism or judgment and that there is hope, absolution and potential reunion with people who otherwise we would consider to be a must to avoid."

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