Erik Kolbell is a psychotherapist and Former Minister of Social Justice at Riverside Church in New York City. He is the author of What Jesus Meant: The Beatitudes and a Meaningful Life and The God of Second Chances. Kolbell is a dependable Progressive minister who can always be counted upon to deliver a book that stirs the mind and the soul by asking deep questions and opening up new possibilities. That is exactly what he does here by asking 13 people what they would retrieve from their house if it was on fire and they only had a few minutes to make some important decisions.
Kolbell has divided these individuals into four categories: Seekers, Artists, Iconoclasts, and Survivors. With wit that is part of the author's repertoire, he shares the following bit:
"An interviewer once asked Jean Cocteau, 'If your home was on fire and you could save only one thing from it, what would it be?' Cocteau replied, 'I would save the fire.' Let that one simmer!
The first profile is of Arthur Waskow, a social activist and prolific writer who believes that the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world) has universal relevance and clout. Even at 77 years of age, Waskow is trying to make his small contribution to the betterment of the world. His interest in devotion and rituals has carried him through many encounters where he has spoken truth to power.Others who caught our interest were Cathrine Kellison "a high school drop-out with a world-class education," Brenda Berkman, a retired firefighter who loves the Beatitudes; Fred Newman, a storytelling member of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion; and Tao Porchon-Lynch, a long lived yoga instructor and retreat leader. The stories they tell about their lives and experiences overshadow their responses to the big question. God be praised for creating so many diverse and distinctive people.