NEAR the close of this wonderfully readable spiritual autobiography, Bishop Michael Curry writes: “Stories are the song of the soul in the language of life.” The love for storytelling of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States is the anchor for a message that is both simple and challenging. Drawing on his great hero, Martin Luther King, Curry suggests that love is the beginning, middle, and end of the faithful Christian life.
Without his storytelling, Curry’s message might resolve into a kind of liberal mush. Rather, he takes the Greatest Commandment, as well as 1 Corinthians 13 (on which he memorably preached at the Sussexes’ royal wedding), and shows how love flows through every part of his life.
This includes his sometimes challenging childhood, as well as his ministry as a parish priest in downtown Baltimore, and the fallout from the intense disputes on the issue of sexuality which arose after the election of Gene Robinson as the first same-sex-partnered bishop in 2003.
Curry is a man inspired by the call towards what he calls “the real E Pluribus Unum”: for him, God’s love calls us to a “oneness” shaped by respect and relationship rather than by conformity. There are powerful moments when he reveals the impact on his childhood of losing his talented mother when she was still young. Rather than become bitter, Curry found love in the arms of his extended family.
Whatever one’s theological position, the warmth and enthusiasm of Curry is infectious, and I imagine that he is a stunning pastor. It also has a short practical guide to showing God’s love in action wherever we are.
The subtitle of this book is Holding on to hope in troubling times, and, in a world riven by so much division, Love is the Way is surely a book that we need right now.
Canon Rachel Mann is Rector of St Nicholas’s, Burnage, and a Visiting Fellow of Manchester Met University.
Love is the Way: Holding onto hope in troubling times
Michael B. Curry
Hodder & Stoughton £16.99
Church Times Bookshop £15.30