Progressive faith is at a crossroads. Liberal pulpits ring with grand sermons about the arc that bends toward justice, and about progress “onward and upward forever.” Meanwhile, the people in the pews struggle to attend to the suffering of their souls and the tragic aspects of life. In this engaging polemic, using stories and metaphor, Nancy McDonald Ladd issues a call for change. Speaking from a rising generation of clergy and lay leaders who formed their commitments to liberal religion at the end of the optimistic modernist age, she shows how the religious life is not characterized by endless human advancement but by lurching movement, crisis management, and pain.
With humor and humanity, Ladd calls religious progressives to greater authenticity and truth-telling rather than blind optimism. She charts a course forward that includes reclaiming rituals of atonement and lament and becoming more vulnerable and accountable in our relationships. She shows how, together, we might build a necessary and greater resilience among ourselves and for the generations to come.
Nancy McDonald Ladd has served as senior minister at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2012. Passionate about preaching, liturgy, and social justice, her first commitment is the building of relationships that sustain and challenge us to grow braver in the face of brokenness and loss. Using her background in community organizing, pastoral ministry, and worship design, her goal is to equip colleagues and lay leaders to do the work that is uniquely theirs to do in the congregation and in the world. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with her husband and two children.