No writer or public intellectual of our era has been as sensitive to the role of faith in the lives of ordinary Americans as Robert Coles. Though not religious in the conventional sense, Coles is unparalleled in his astute understanding and respect for the relationship between secular life and sacredness, which cuts across his large body of work. Drawing inspiration from figures like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy Day, and Simone Weil, Coles's extensive writings explore the tug of war between faith and doubt. As Coles himself admits, the "back-and-forthness between faith and doubt is the story of my life." These thirty-one thought-provoking essays are drawn from Coles's weekly column in the Catholic publicationAmerica. In them, he turns his inquisitive lens on a range of subjects and issues, from writers and painters to his recent reading and film viewing, contemporary events and lingering controversies, recollections of past and present mentors, events of his own daily life, and ordinary encounters with students, patients, neighbors, and friends. Addressing moral questions openly and honestly with a rare combination of rectitude and authorial modesty, these essays position Coles as a preeminent, durable, and trusted voice in the continuing national conversation over religion, civic life, and moral purpose.
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