Agnostic at the Altar

Searching for Transcendence in the Story of the Prophets

By John Van Hagen

Foreword by Thomas Sheehan

Agnostic at the Altar

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  • ISBN: 9781532675805
  • Pages: 140
  • Publication Date: 4/29/2019
  • Retail Price: $19.00
Web Price: $15.20
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM
Web Price: $15.20

Agnostic at the Altar

Searching for Transcendence in the Story of the Prophets

By John Van Hagen

Foreword by Thomas Sheehan

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781532675805
  • Pages: 140
  • Publication Date: 4/29/2019
  • Retail Price: $19.00
Web Price: $15.20
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM

About-

In Agnostic at the Altar, former Catholic priest and psychologist John Van Hagen engages the voices of the ancient Jewish prophets in an effort to find something of a universal voice that speaks to all people. He builds upon the work of Scripture scholars, religious writers, and his own experiences to pave a path by which readers can engage in religion, while at the same time defending against harmful religious claims and practices.

The prophets, who first appeared in Palestine in the Axial Age, translated their experience of the transcendent into magnificent stories that began with a time of intimacy with their God, a later time of betrayal and turmoil, and a future reconciliation at the end of time. Later, Christians adopted these themes as their own.

Their stories emphasize justice and right worship as a way toward a meaningful and peaceful future. Their insights into a spiritual dimension of reality brought purpose to millions of lives. In this uncertain time of increasing global tension and strife, they could do the same for us. Agnostic at the Altar makes a compelling case that the ancient prescriptions for a just way of living together are not only historically significant, but in perfect keeping with an evolutionary-based desire that all people live in harmony.

Endorsements & Reviews-

“In Agnostic at the Altar, Dr. John Van Hagen offers a remarkably thoughtful, scholarly, yet highly personal reflection on the stories and wisdom of the great Jewish prophets such as Elijah, Ezekiel, Amos, Jeremiah, and Jesus in an attempt to better understand and appreciate the spiritual and transcendent nature of the Judeo-Christian tradition through these prophetic models. Dr. Van Hagen, like so many people today, is agnostic yet searching for meaning, purpose, wisdom, and truth through the stories told within the Judeo-Christian worldview. Anyone interested in a deeper appreciation and better understanding of these spiritual and religious giants within these faith traditions will absolutely love this book and won't be able to put it down.”

—Thomas Plante, Santa Clara University



“Van Hagen combines an honest agnosticism with critical biblical scholarship, his insights as a psychologist, and an open-eyed awareness of both the blessings and toxins of organized religion to share what we can learn from the Jewish prophets (including Jesus) about embracing the ambiguities of our time as we strive for moral clarity and religious integrity.”

—Robert Miller, Juniata College



“In Agnostic at the Altar, John Van Hagen, a clinical psychologist and former priest, takes us on a scholarly, but also very personal journey as he searches for transcendence in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. Most agnostics have separated themselves from institutional religion, but Van Hagen, in his reflective agnosticism, is delving into the heart of religion in the stories of the Jewish prophets in order to find a middle ground between the deficits of organized religion and his need for transcendence. For anyone today who struggles with the failures of organized religion, who wonders where God is amidst the chaos, destruction, and anguish in the world, and yet who still is drawn to the transcendent, Agnostic at the Altar is a timely, well written, comforting, and valuable resource.”

—Brian Cahill, author of Cops, Cons and Grace



“John Van Hagen has written a book that is about his struggles with the stories of the prophets while contemplating his place at the altar of his church. Yet it reminded me of Jacob’s wrestling with an angel. In this book, Dr. Van Hagen wrestles with destroying angels, the angels of our better natures and the angels of ancient times and legend. He wrestles with the prophets of the Bible, engaging them to wrest from them their historical context, their personalities, their unique visions and lessons of wisdom, social justice and the meaning of a life of value. His gifts as both psychologist and priest give the reader victory over ignorance, blind faith, and meaninglessness. A historical, contextual, well reasoned critical engagement that offers much.”

David Greenwald, author



Contributors-

John Van Hagen
Thomas Sheehan

Bio(s)-

John Van Hagen is a psychologist and former Catholic priest who has written about the difficulties of practicing one’s faith when science challenges the biblical narrative and offers its own story of evolution. His previous book was Rescuing Religion: How Faith Can Survive Its Encounter with Science (2012).

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