Rites and Rituals

After the “proper” way to interpret scripture, the second topic most likely to provoke a Christian death match, regardless of the denomination, is the shape of the Sunday service. Whether it is worship so “high” that the choir appears to have been sniffing glue or a service so “low” that oyster crackers and plasticized gluten pass for “bread,” everyone has an opinion about what Christians should do when they gather on Sunday. And sometimes the fights can get so ugly that you’d rather go to Drunk Uncle Joe’s Thanksgiving Extravaganza and Family Feud than show up to church.

If you want a peek into the current hullabaloo in Roman Catholicism over everything from liturgical translations to where to put the altar, to who washes the Communion dishes after worship, you’ll enjoy John Baldovin’s Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics (Liturgical Press, 2009). No matter your tradition, you’ll recognize the church-tearing tension that often accompanies changes to the way we pray. And you’ll learn what “Amish Catholicism” is.

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Sojourners Magazine November 2009
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