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When Your Life Is on Fire

What Would You Save?

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Westminster John Knox Press
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If your life was on fire, what would be the one thing you save?

Progressive minister and psychotherapist Erik Kolbell asks that question of 13 remarkable and unique individuals. The answers are provided by such notable people as journalist Jane Pauley, actor Alan Alda, and jazz impresario Regina Carter, as well as Brenda Berkman, a New York City firefighter who responded to the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11, and Don Lange, a U. S. Veteran severely injured in the Iraq War. The insights of these and other ordinary people put into extraordinary situations, will help all of us consider what it is that we value most in life.

His goal, Kolbell says, is not to examine the worth of each of these things. "What matters is that for all of the sham and artifice that can make cynics of us all, there are things, solid things, that compel us onward."

Erik Kolbell is a psychotherapist and former Minister of Social Justice at Riverside Church in New York City. He is the author of What Jesus Meant: The Beatitudes and A Meaningful Life and The God of Second Chances, published by Westminster John Knox Press. Kolbell is a regular guest on many national media outlets including The Today Show, Dateline, Morning Joe, and numerous local television and radio programs.

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"In When Your Life Is On Fire Erik Kolbell listens, provokes, and most of all, shares with us the enduring lessons and insights of life and faith as realized by a diverse population of thoughtful people. It's a town hall of the soul."

—Tom Brokaw

If your house were on fire, what would you take with you? That, in a nutshell, is the premise behind this provocative book. Kolbell, psychotherapist and former minister of social justice at NYC's Riverside Church, asks more than a dozen people-some famous, most not-that very question and divides them into four categories: seekers, artists, iconoclasts, and survivors. Among those polled are Jane Pauley, Alan Alda, a rabbi, a Buddhist priest, a jazz violinist, a storyteller, an Afghan-war veteran, and the first woman to serve in the city's fire department and also one of the responders at the World Trade Center during 9/11. A house, suggests Kolbell, is more than just a collection of objects. It contains "everything you are." That includes your beliefs and principles, likes and dislikes, fears and memories. Ultimately, in deciding what you will take and what you will leave behind, Kolbell says, "you are declaring a kind of values hierarchy." A fascinating examination of values, moral

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