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The Dream of God: A Call to Return (Seabury Classics)

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"The Dream of God is a small masterpiece. . . . Her vision of the Bible is insightful and persuasive, her writing accessible and powerful." -- Marcus Borg "This contemporary prophet has touched lives and transformed hearts through her books and talks. Many centuries before Verna Dozier, there was Amos, from the country, speaking out in the market square against the corrupt "The Dream of God is a small masterpiece. . . . Her vision of the Bible is insightful and persuasive, her writing accessible and powerful." -- Marcus Borg "This contemporary prophet has touched lives and transformed hearts through her books and talks. Many centuries before Verna Dozier, there was Amos, from the country, speaking out in the market square against the corrupt practices of merchants who 'sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes.' In this century we have Dozier, a black female, spreading God's word in the nation's capital, across the country, and outside its borders." -- Washington Diocese Again and again the Christian church has fallen away from the dream God has for it, a dream in which we are called to follow Jesus and not merely to worship him. Through adept storytelling and Bible study, Dozier reawakens our sense of calling and our desire for truth.


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"The Dream of God is a small masterpiece. . . . Her vision of the Bible is insightful and persuasive, her writing accessible and powerful." -- Marcus Borg "This contemporary prophet has touched lives and transformed hearts through her books and talks. Many centuries before Verna Dozier, there was Amos, from the country, speaking out in the market square against the corrupt "The Dream of God is a small masterpiece. . . . Her vision of the Bible is insightful and persuasive, her writing accessible and powerful." -- Marcus Borg "This contemporary prophet has touched lives and transformed hearts through her books and talks. Many centuries before Verna Dozier, there was Amos, from the country, speaking out in the market square against the corrupt practices of merchants who 'sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes.' In this century we have Dozier, a black female, spreading God's word in the nation's capital, across the country, and outside its borders." -- Washington Diocese Again and again the Christian church has fallen away from the dream God has for it, a dream in which we are called to follow Jesus and not merely to worship him. Through adept storytelling and Bible study, Dozier reawakens our sense of calling and our desire for truth.

30 review for The Dream of God: A Call to Return (Seabury Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an excellent book about how Christians have become too focused on worshipping the triumphant Christ and not focused enough on heeding thencall to service by Jesus. We read it for our EfM class- the best book since Jesus and the Disinherited.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    The primary premise in this nonfiction book is that the institutional church has emphasized the worship of Jesus at the expense of his call to serve others in a heralding of the kingdom of God on earth. This message brought to mind Marcus Borg's concept of a pre-Easter Jesus and post-Easter Christ. The weight of her message belies the shortness of the book. There is much to think about in its 114 pages.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Verna Dozier is a prophet of our times. This book is a must read for those seeking to be Servant Leaders and those who want to expand their notions of God.

  4. 5 out of 5

    D Ellis Phelps

    Verna J. Dozier is a candid, intellectual religious working to bring a community of divided Christians together around one central idea: that the dream of God is not that Christians worship the teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth, but that they embody his teachings—do what he did. She writes, "The important question to ask is not, 'What do you believe?' but 'What difference does it make that you believe.' Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?" She refutes what Verna J. Dozier is a candid, intellectual religious working to bring a community of divided Christians together around one central idea: that the dream of God is not that Christians worship the teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth, but that they embody his teachings—do what he did. She writes, "The important question to ask is not, 'What do you believe?' but 'What difference does it make that you believe.' Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?" She refutes what some might call fundamentalist, literal, or traditional interpretations of the Biblical message throughout her writing, challenging readers to consider what these historical texts mean, neither as facts nor as edicts of right and wrong, but within their “continuing lives....” She is political, calling Christians “to challenge the systems that cause people to be hungry [or disempowered] in a land of plenty.” Ms. Dozier’s writing is thick with Biblical reference and inference. She consistently quotes the work of other scholars, arguing or supporting their points as the case may be. In other words, this is not an easy, light read, nor is it inspirational meditation, but instead it is a heady book for study, one to digest in small sections over time. I do not recommend this book to the spiritual seeker: someone hunting the Great Mystery. I do not recommend this book to those wanting to mature childhood Christian beliefs, nor to those whose early brushes with religion have been thwarted by unfortunate disappointment or abuse. But if you are reader looking for ammunition to dismantle beliefs you find may not be working to lift you, one who needs help understanding why Christian dogma ruled by an ineffective hierarchy makes you squirm, or one who can no longer accept teaching based on stale, literal interpretations of the Bible, this book may prove to be a marker on the journey to new understanding.

  5. 4 out of 5

    James

    This was available on Kindle Unlimited and I downloaded it without knowing anything about the author. She was an African American school teacher and lay theologian who was big in the Episcopal church, especially in the 1980s. This book is a critique of the way institutionalization in the church has been destructive to 'the dream of God' even as the institution of the church has preserved the witness to the dream of God (which is the kingdom of God). Dozier discerns three falls. (1)the Genesis 3f This was available on Kindle Unlimited and I downloaded it without knowing anything about the author. She was an African American school teacher and lay theologian who was big in the Episcopal church, especially in the 1980s. This book is a critique of the way institutionalization in the church has been destructive to 'the dream of God' even as the institution of the church has preserved the witness to the dream of God (which is the kingdom of God). Dozier discerns three falls. (1)the Genesis 3fall of Adam and Eve where humanity decided to try their hand at being God, (2)the rejection of God as King, to have a king like the other nations in 1 Samuel, (3)and the accommodation of Empire with the ascendancy of Constantine. Certainly, a critique on the institution of the church can be overstated, but the fact that she does this within the Episcopal church tells me that Dozier's critique on the church institutional carries some nuance. She isn't exactly advocating for a 'burn it all down' approach to Church, but she does chasten it, and calls us back to the prophetic counter cultural witness of the dream of God.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Janet Mahlum

    I read this as part of the EfM study and found it to be the best of what we have read so far. In clear, easy-to-understand language, yet not "dummied down", Dr. Dozier carefully explains what Jesus meant by "the Kingdom of God," our responsibility, the church's responsibility. In Chapter 2 she carefully goes through the Biblical story from Genesis to John. There are so many gems in this book it is impossible to list them all here. But here are a few: "We are a part of God's dream of a good creat I read this as part of the EfM study and found it to be the best of what we have read so far. In clear, easy-to-understand language, yet not "dummied down", Dr. Dozier carefully explains what Jesus meant by "the Kingdom of God," our responsibility, the church's responsibility. In Chapter 2 she carefully goes through the Biblical story from Genesis to John. There are so many gems in this book it is impossible to list them all here. But here are a few: "We are a part of God's dream of a good creation, and we are to use our freedom [free will] to do God's will. That is the Biblical understanding of creation." "We have missed the meaning of what it is to be created in the image of God. It has nothing to do with looking like God. It has to do with God's freedom." "The Biblical story is that God then entered history to show the world in Jesus the Christ the glory and the promise - the cost and the reward- of life lived in absolute allegiance to a way that is not the world's way." There are so many quotes that can be pulled from this book and used in small group discussion groups. I am just sorry we have to spend so much time on TR that we can't discuss more of the book. I would highly recommend this book to clergy, laity, seekers, students, anyone interested in learning more about God's dream.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Troy Rosamond

    My impression upon finishing: "I love this book more than any book I've loved before" My impressions after reading only the first section (which takes up all of 4 1/2 pages): a) "This book speaks to me" b) "This book beats around the bush of truth unlike anything has ever beaten around the bush of truth before" c) "Some books you can read nearly whole - i.e. the last one on Christian morality - and still have to 'generate' meaningful discussion. On this one, we could fill a class period of deep deba My impression upon finishing: "I love this book more than any book I've loved before" My impressions after reading only the first section (which takes up all of 4 1/2 pages): a) "This book speaks to me" b) "This book beats around the bush of truth unlike anything has ever beaten around the bush of truth before" c) "Some books you can read nearly whole - i.e. the last one on Christian morality - and still have to 'generate' meaningful discussion. On this one, we could fill a class period of deep debate from just the first four and a half pages." After reading all but the last chapter, I was moved to say: "I wholeheartedly stand by what I said in my first impressions: 'This book speaks to me!' and the thing about truth too!" Furthermore, my impression now is that, even if all I received from my four-year participation in efm was the privilege to have read this book, then I've gotten well more than my money's worth! And you can value all of my time involved over that four years with maximum Mammon hyperbole. I've still gotten well more than my money's worth! I feel as if I've gotten riches beyond riches beyond imagination of riches. i.e. I'm a little fired up!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    A classic, an incredible theologian who speaks simply, plainly and powerfully. So glad this has been re-released.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rich Colvin

    One of the best books I've read This book helped me clarify my beliefs better than any I've read. A really worthwhile read if you are prepared to challenge your thinking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David

    This is a solid, but dense book on the history of the church and how people of faith have missed the mark on participating in "The Dream of God". I read this for a church book club and it was certainly not as popular and well-received as our previous book about snake handling! That is certainly because this is a compactly written, heavily theological book about the history of salvation. The book originated as lectures, and perhaps that would have been a better way to receive this material. That b This is a solid, but dense book on the history of the church and how people of faith have missed the mark on participating in "The Dream of God". I read this for a church book club and it was certainly not as popular and well-received as our previous book about snake handling! That is certainly because this is a compactly written, heavily theological book about the history of salvation. The book originated as lectures, and perhaps that would have been a better way to receive this material. That being said, Verna Dozier makes a coherent argument that ties together not only the history of Judaism, but also Christianity and the modern church. While I am not sure that I agreed with everything that she had to say, her argument is coherent and forceful. I do wonder if she may have drifted into some heretical ideas along the way. I also found myself simply disagreeing with her one some points. However, this is a good book to read as modern Christians see the diminution of the church in the culture and wonder what can be done. She encourages us to get back to our roots of following Jesus and walking in his footsteps as opposed to being maintainers of the church as an institution. That point is correct and also very inspiring. If you are looking for an intellectually challenging book that also inspires, "The Dream of God" is perfect for that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gwendolyn B.

    Clergy spanning the widespread spectrum of Christian denominations struggle with the question of how to convince the faithful to live Christ's teachings outside of their weekly one-hour session in the sanctuary. If they had and read and lived this book, they would know exactly what to tell their congregation. Dozier reminds us that "ministry" isn't a unique, untouchable niche for an educated hierarchy to hand down to the Rest of Us; on the contrary, ministry *is* the Rest of Us. Simply put, it i Clergy spanning the widespread spectrum of Christian denominations struggle with the question of how to convince the faithful to live Christ's teachings outside of their weekly one-hour session in the sanctuary. If they had and read and lived this book, they would know exactly what to tell their congregation. Dozier reminds us that "ministry" isn't a unique, untouchable niche for an educated hierarchy to hand down to the Rest of Us; on the contrary, ministry *is* the Rest of Us. Simply put, it is our call as Christians and must infiltrate our daily lives and big-picture vocations. Dozier takes this core idea and peppers it with quotable nuggets of wisdom, such as (p. 110): "Nothing scares us more than freedom. We are always afraid that freedom will degenerate into choice--as it often does--so to escape chaos we flee to authority, which means authoritarianism." (Ouch). Or from page 74: "Jesus did not call human beings to worship him, but to follow him." (Wow). I will add my voice to the chorus of Education for Ministry students who found this book refreshing, thought-provoking, and often even uncomfortable in its scrutiny of the institutionalized church.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maya Senen

    An interesting examination of the failings of the church as an institution. Dozier outlines the fall of the people of God as a pattern- first in the story of Adam and Eve, second in the people of Israel choosing the kingdoms of this Earth over the kingdom of God, and then culminating with Constantine establishing the church institutionalized. She contends this institution is not actually following Jesus. While the content is compelling, I was hoping Dozier would have more solutions to offer, rat An interesting examination of the failings of the church as an institution. Dozier outlines the fall of the people of God as a pattern- first in the story of Adam and Eve, second in the people of Israel choosing the kingdoms of this Earth over the kingdom of God, and then culminating with Constantine establishing the church institutionalized. She contends this institution is not actually following Jesus. While the content is compelling, I was hoping Dozier would have more solutions to offer, rather than pointing out and explaining problems

  13. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    We read this beautiful book for EfM and I am just now getting to post about it. Busy, busy. I love everything about this book. We are called to follow Jesus, not just worship, but what does it look like to follow, especially in these modern times? Here's what we were asked to do and I'd suggest you do the same if you are reading this book: 1. What is your favorite "gem" ( word, sentence, phrase- even paragraph ) in the book? 2. What do YOU think is the thing that has destroyed God's Dream?

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jean Marie Angelo

    Verna Dozier was a D.C. school teacher and administrator who became a lay preacher and a theologian the Episcopal Church. I received so much from this book and I will be visiting her other works. Lovely and thought-provoking ideas in a slim but powerful volume. She was an educator and it shows. Ideas and distinctions between following Jesus of Nazareth and worshiping God it was has become the organized, institutional church. I want my worship to be informed by following Jesus. I thank her for th Verna Dozier was a D.C. school teacher and administrator who became a lay preacher and a theologian the Episcopal Church. I received so much from this book and I will be visiting her other works. Lovely and thought-provoking ideas in a slim but powerful volume. She was an educator and it shows. Ideas and distinctions between following Jesus of Nazareth and worshiping God it was has become the organized, institutional church. I want my worship to be informed by following Jesus. I thank her for this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    I will never ever tire of reading theologians who offer a revolutionary perspective on the institution of the church at large. Verna Dozier is a black woman and offers an even more nuanced perspective from her Baptist upbringing and her life as a teacher and now an Episcopalian priest all while still of course being a black woman. She offers a well developed alternative to the “literalist” reading of the Bible and a call to the laity going so far as so call St Paul’s idea to separate the clergy I will never ever tire of reading theologians who offer a revolutionary perspective on the institution of the church at large. Verna Dozier is a black woman and offers an even more nuanced perspective from her Baptist upbringing and her life as a teacher and now an Episcopalian priest all while still of course being a black woman. She offers a well developed alternative to the “literalist” reading of the Bible and a call to the laity going so far as so call St Paul’s idea to separate the clergy and the laity a sin. (!) she’s just an all around badass. Highly recommend!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dexter

    Powerful read and game changer Well written an persuasive argument that we drop our allegiances to institutions and try to fulfill the dream of God. What is the dream of God? That we, made in his own image, and given free will would choose to love Him and one another, as he loves us. As Christ have shown us, it is an awesome task and our fear of fulfilling “the Dream” drives us to hide behind the dogmas and rituals of the institutional Church, rather than drop these robes and be true followers, d Powerful read and game changer Well written an persuasive argument that we drop our allegiances to institutions and try to fulfill the dream of God. What is the dream of God? That we, made in his own image, and given free will would choose to love Him and one another, as he loves us. As Christ have shown us, it is an awesome task and our fear of fulfilling “the Dream” drives us to hide behind the dogmas and rituals of the institutional Church, rather than drop these robes and be true followers, disciples, of Christ.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Paigeforeman

    A book that has now profoundly informed my own vision for my ministry. I loved her insights into the three Falls, the clergy vs. the laity, and humans as co-creators of the dream of God, which the Jesus of the Way chose (this was a radical choice--it led to his crucifixion). Her message is simple and straightforward: we humans must not be afraid to live and be free.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Denise Junker

    This was difficult to understand at first. Her writing was so poetic I didn’t understand her stance at first. After the first discussion with my EfM group, I understood what I needed to look for. Her stance is clearly and pointedly stated in quick sentences. Then you realize how strong a stance she is taking. She was a prophet; I hope we listen.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Margie Dorn

    This book was assigned reading for our EfM classes by the powers that be, and it was one of those truly wonderful choices. All our students absolutely loved it, and it has been sparking wonderful discussions. I'm filled with admiration for the author as well--it's worthwhile reading her bio online.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Adafrog

    This was the best book I've read in EfM this year, and most of my group agreed. Well done, easy to read, understandable, great ideas. Love Verna.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Theology in an easy-to-read nutshell. Loved this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    Great critique of the institutional church. Good review of what the NT tells us about diversity of thought in the early church. Hopeful vision for the future of Christianity in the 21st century.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charlie De kay

    Phenomenal book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    I actually skimmed the last bit when I began to think that the author didn't believe Jesus is God. Sorry, Jesus is God incarnate. Full stop.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Frazier

    There’s a lot to digest in this little book, looking forward to re-reading

  26. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    I HAD TO STOP READING VERNA DOZIER AT WORK BECAUSE SHE MADE ME TOOOOO CRAZY jk i did not, in fact, stop reading verna dozier at work and she did almost make me cry what’s UP.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Peter Dunn

    This is an excellent book about what God has called us to be and do - contrary to what conventional institutions may have led us to believe. It gave me a whole new perspective on my faith and the role of the institutional church in my life.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This is an OUTSTANDING book. Verna Dozier really has it all right! She knows what is important about living a committed life and she is one Christian who really recognizes the value of the Hebrew Scriptures. I cannot praise this book highly enough and recommend it to enough people.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    Will you follow Jesus? Or will you just worship him...will you feed off the tables of empire six days a week and then briefly check in and witness archaic ritual before returning to the real world? (I am paraphrasing...)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Brooks

    This book is a blasphemous rehashing of tired, simplistic arguments against the Church and her dogmas with a smug, self-righteous pretense of populism.

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