Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Good Book on Worship Is on the Way

I’m back on the blog.

The demands of the December holidays sapped my blogging energies—what with all the fun family stuff and the church music demands plus an early January trip to frigid Orange Park, Florida, to speak at the opening convocation for the new term at Bob Webber’s graduate school of liturgics, the Institute for Worship Studies.

The weather was colder in Orange Park/Jacksonville than it was in Chicago, but the trip was worth it: The students and faculty I met were mighty impressive. Check out IWS’s newly refurbished website.

* * *

Speaking of worship studies, here’s a new book to watch for. I just e-mailed Paraclete Press an endorsement for Mark Galli’s forthcoming book, Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy. According to the publisher’s website, the slim volume of short essays is “for those who find themselves attracted to liturgy but don’t quite know why.” The book is due to be out April 1.

Here’s what I sent to Paraclete:

Genuine worship raises our sights above ourselves. It sets us into a community—past, present, and future. It fits us for God's mission. Above all, it brings us face-to-face with Jesus and trains us to play our role in his story. Much that passes for worship these days misses all of this. But Galli gets it decidedly right.

And here’s what I have to say to you about my friend Mark Galli. He’s a learner. In this book he talks vulnerably (as we said in the 70s) about the lessons he needed to learn and how he learned them in the school of life. Those same lessons, he shows, are taught us on a regular basis in the liturgy.

Take, for example, chapter 4, where he writes about courting and marrying his wife—only to discover that what he thought was a shared passion for theology was only a passing interest on her part. How do we get to know “the intimate Other” in marriage and in worship? Abandon romantic illusions, says Mark, both about your spouse and about God. At least when it comes to God, the liturgy helps us to face reality—and the real God (like the real wife) turns out to be both more challenging and more satisfying than the imagined one.

When the book rolls off the presses, be sure to get a copy.

1 comment:

Chris Monroe said...

Ooooh! I can hardly wait to get my hands on this. I wrote a review of Mark's book: Jesus Mean and Wild did an interview with him on my blog. I respect his honesty and am very interested in what he'll have to say. It almost goes without saying that this is a topic that I'm particularly interested in. SO GLAD you've mentioned it, David. Thank you.