Surprising book takes a close look at Christian liturgy

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 24, 2009

By Susan Triplett
Rowan Public Library
The season which embraces the most important Christian celebration of the year has fully arrived. What better time to become acquainted with current books on the subject of Christian faith and practice?
Whether you come to the library seeking inspiration, challenge or simply more general knowledge on the topic, Rowan Public Library offers a number of recent acquisitions which may well leave you with a thirst for more.
Mark Galli’s “Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy” may seem an unlikely starting point in its obvious specificity. In fact, the author himself notes that he expects his larger audience to be those who already have some experience of liturgical worship.
Yet it seems that his thorough and thoughtful treatment is as much designed for those, no matter their backgrounds, who would like to learn about the Christian liturgy ó the body of prayers and services that make up the public Sunday worship service in many mainline churches.He provides an able introduction to what these traditions are, where they come from and what they signify. In the face of a large world trend to dressed-down, spontaneous, socially relevant worship, Galli’s book provides a rich counter-cultural response.
Divided into 14 chapters, complete with three appendices, this slim volume is packed. Subtitles to pique the reader’s interest include: “How the Liturgy Draws Us into Community,” “The Liturgy as a Mystery Full of Meaning,” “How the Liturgy Is More Relevant Than We Can Imagine” and “How the Liturgy Changes Us at the Very Core of Our Being.”
In a culture which so often seems driven by the lust for information, efficiency and ready comprehension, one of the most persuasive sections may be the chapter in which Galli considers the dilemma of human desire for an understandable god, a god we can master. Here the reader may find that the awesome wonder and truth of God’s mystery are, paradoxically, beautifully articulated. In fact, the book is laden with paradox, much like Christian faith itself.
This book is occasionally reminiscent of the writings of C.S. Lewis, whom the author references. It’s a book which won’t benefit from a quick perusal. It is Christ-centered, Biblically based and written compellingly in the belief that we are in this world, but not of it.
Care to learn more? See you at the library.
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Teen program: Headquarters, April 27, 5:30-7 p.m. Come to Rowan Public Library for a day of recycled crafts. Make picture frames out of old CDs and DVDs or create an altered book ó let imagination be your guide.
Tuesday Night at the Movies: All movies are at 6:30 p.m. All movies are rated G, PG or PG 13; some movies are inappropriate for younger audiences. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade.
April movies have Rowan connections.
Tuesday, “High Society.”
Displays: Headquarters ó artwork by Delores Medlin, history room by RPL; South ó student art show by South Rowan High School art class; East ó 4-H.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.