Without Shame or Fear

From Adam to Christ

A. Robert Hirschfeld

Feb/2017, 128 Pages, Paperback, 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN-13: 9780819233349



Shame severs our relationship from God. It is so powerful that it often results in denial, apathy, and even a self-defensive wrath toward neighbor. At the same time, shame may drive us to discover the true source of our dignity beyond our isolated and broken self. The arc of the biblical narrative takes us from the fig leaves of Adam and Eve, who desire to hide from God and each other, to the liberation from self-consciousness that Jesus displays at the Last Supper, which can be seen as “undoing” the shame of Adam and Eve. Shame is the experience that can bring us close to the experience of the Cross, the place of simultaneous condemnation and liberation. By examining the biblical stories of shame and some personal and public stories of shame and of being shamed, Hirschfeld delves into this emotional and spiritual phenomenon to mine what shame has to teach. Shame cannot be erased, but God does not want us to be stuck in it. Working through our shame can lead us to a deeper sense of joy and freedom so we can, as the Proper Preface for Advent says, “without shame or fear rejoice to behold [Christ’s] appearing?”

A. Robert Hirschfeld served as a parish priest in academic communities (Yale, University of Connecticut, the Five Colleges of the Amherst, Massachusetts region) until becoming the Tenth Bishop of New Hampshire. His studies in literature and existential philosophy have informed his interpretation of the scriptural themes of alienation from God and the restoration of human dignity in Jesus. He lives in Concord, New Hampshire.

"Beginning with the story of Adam and Eve, Bishop Hirschfeld's helpful book invites us to consider our response to God's question to our first parents in the Garden: 'where are you?' By paying attention to our own reasons for hiding, Rob helps us to examine the role of 'shame' in our lives. Using Biblical stories and personal reflections he addresses how shame shapes and wounds us, not only as individuals but also as people of faith. Considering those same stories he holds up for us the possibility of living beyond 'shame and fear' and helps us to reflect not simply on our own dis-ease, but also on our healing and path of wholeness. This book will be helpful not only for individuals caught in cycles of shame and guilt but also in study groups where participants seek to help one another 'grow into the full stature of Christ.' We all know the reality of shame. Healing comes, not when we ignore those moments, but when we realize that those moments are not all who we are."––Brother James Koester SSJE, Superior, Society of Saint John the Evangelist, Cambridge, Massachusetts

"Rob Hirschfeld has taken a fresh look at how Jesus releases us from the experience of shame and draws us into the glorious freedom of God. Drawing heavily on both personal experience and the Biblical narrative, Hirschfeld invites us to a life of reckless love as we reclaim the dignity that belongs to us in Christ and are washed in God's loving regard."––The Rev. Canon John W. Newton, author of Falling Into Grace and New Clothes: Putting on Christ and Finding Ourselves

"Like all outstanding preachers, Bishop Rob Hirschfeld moves seamlessly from the world of the Bible to our contemporary human experience and back again, all the while exploring with keen insight the experience of 'shame and fear' that keeps us from more fully embracing our call to respect the dignity of every human being, including ourselves. Taking us by the hand, he leads us all the way from the Garden of Eden to the Garden where Mary encounters the Risen Christ on Easter morning, inviting us along on this journey where, without shame or fear, we, too, might rejoice to behold Christ's appearing."––The Rev. Dr. Richard M. Simpson, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts

"Grace dissolves shame. Bishop Rob Hirschfeld doesn't just tell us this; he helps us experience it firsthand by walking us through Scripture and sharing tender stories from his own life. If you want a deeper sense of Jesus' liberating love, this book is for you."—The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Bishop of Western Louisiana and author of Gospel Memories

"Think you already know everything about shame? Think again. Without Shame or Fear takes the reader beyond the clichés of pop psychology and into the depths of spiritual wisdom. Like Henri Nouwen, Rob Hirschfeld is able to disclose his own fears and failings in a way that invites readers to acknowledge our own experiences of shame and to find healing in the boundless love of God. Written by a pastor who looks with compassion on the complexity of the human heart, this book offers keen insights into Scripture, literature, and the arts, and sets us on a path to freedom."––The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ, and author of Joy of Heaven, to Earth Come Down; Christ's Passion, Our Passions; and Holy Hunger.

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