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Mudhouse Sabbath Hardcover – November, 2003

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Although this book is written for Christians, Lauren Winner's message has universal appeal. Having converted from Judaism to Christianity in early adulthood, Winner (Girl Meets God) is a joyful follower of Christ, but a more discriminating follower of Christianity. Early on in her conversion, she noticed that Christianity lacked much discipline or emphasis when it came to performing rituals, so integral to the Jewish faith. "This book is about those things that I miss," she writes. "It is about Sabbaths and burials and prayers, rituals Jews and Christians both observe.... Jews do these things with more attention and wisdom not because they are more righteous nor because God likes them better, but rather because doing, because action, sits at the center of Judaism. Practice is to Judaism what belief is to Christianity. Your faith may come and go but your practice ought not to waiver." She organizes her chapters according to the rituals and values that both religions share--such as prayer, candle lighting and weddings--and discusses how Christians could deepen these rituals by taking a few lessons from the Jews. For instance, she shows the parallels between Shabbat and the Sabbath, and asks Christians to consider the Jewish model--a true day of rest (not even shopping!) in order to deepen the connection to God. ("Mudhouse" is the name of the coffee shop where Winner reads an inspiring account of Shabbat from Nan Fink's memoir Stranger in the Midst.) When talking about mourning a death, she discusses the Jewish "calendar of bereavement" that acknowledges the slow process of mourning, a spiritual discipline that readers of all faiths would be wise to study. Winner's writing is generous, personal and filled with practical suggestions—-a perfect blend for the spiritual growth genre. Overall, she expertly invites Christians into a deeper and more daily level of faith. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

Winner, who wrote about her conversion to Christianity in 2002's acclaimed memoir Girl Meets God, draws on the Orthodox Jewish rituals that shaped her young adult life to rediscover the richness of those customs in her life as a Christian today. Through her personal reflections on 11 spiritual practices, including keeping the Sabbath, prayer, fasting and candle-lighting, Winner illuminates the profound cultural and religious significance of each practice within the Jewish community and modifies those practices to enrich the lives of Christians who seek of deeper experience of their own faith. Taking care not to turn the rituals into legalistic regulations, the author instead cuts to the heart of each spiritual practice and shows, through examples from her own life, how it can fit into a gospel-centered paradigm. The chapter on the Jewish approach to mourning, for example, poignantly conveys the inadequacy in the all-too-short grieving process among Christians. On a lighter, humorous note, a friend's suggestion that she continue the tradition of attaching a mezuzah, or tiny scripture scroll, to the door frame of her home forces Winner to face her unwillingness to expose her Christian faith quite so publicly. As much as anything else it accomplishes, Mudhouse Sabbath-"Mudhouse" refers to the coffee shop where the author read a compelling Sabbath account one Sunday afternoon-succeeds in establishing Winner as a writer of spiritual substance and grace-filled style.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Press (MA) (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557253447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557253446
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lauren F. Winner teaches Christian spirituality Duke Divinity School, in Durham, North Carolina. Her favorite things include October weather, mystery novels, and doodling prayer (see Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color if you'd like to know more about that last one).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By on January 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In her memoir GIRL MEETS GOD, journalist Lauren F. Winner talked about her conversion from Orthodox Judaism to Christianity and her attempts to bridge the two religions by letting her Jewish faith inform her new Christian faith. After seven years as a Christian, MUDHOUSE SABBATH finds Winner exploring eleven Jewish spiritual practices and traditions that she finds indispensable to her Christian life. In short, she finds herself returning to her roots. "This is a book about those things I miss," she writes. "It is, to be blunt, about spiritual practices that Jews do better. It is, to be blunter, about Christian practices that would be enriched, that would be thicker and more vibrant, if we took a few lessons from Judaism."
This slim volume, noteworthy for Winner's engaging voice and lucid prose (one wonders if she could rewrite the "Yellow Pages" and make them intriguing) is full of personal anecdotes mixed with spiritual musings. For Jews, action is the heart of faith, she writes. While she acknowledges "spiritual practices don't justify us. They don't save us," she realizes that the practicing of the spiritual disciplines "teaches us how to live as Christians."

Of all the Jewish practices, observing "Shabbat" or the Sabbath is the one Winner says she misses the most. A little aimless without the framework of the Jewish Sabbath of her past, she often spends her Sunday afternoons with a cup of hot chai and a good book at the Mudhouse, a coffee shop in Charlottesville, "not at all sure that I have opened my heart in any particular way.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"Mudhouse Sabbath" happened to be the first book I read by Lauren Winner, because I wanted to learn more about Judaism, and it was in the Judaica section of a New York bookstore. I really enjoyed the reading because I learned about Judaism differently, in terms of Lauren Winner's personal anecdotes and stories. The book appeared to be so convincing that, at the end, I thought: "But WHY did she convert to Christianity if she loves Judaism so much?" But things are not that simple and reductive.
In Mudhouse Sabbath, Lauren Winner, who comes mainly from a Jewish background, describes the Jewish spiritual practices and ways that still make sense in her new life as a Christian, and that should maybe also make sense to all Christians and people of all faiths. It is with a rare insight that she is able to put the Jewish and Christian practices in parallel, and make a plea for Jewish light in everybody's life. One of the key-practices, the Sabbath, towards which the week turns in Judaism, is probably the one practice she misses (or would miss...) the most, and suggested the title of her book.
All the Christian practices of her new life simply do not manage to supersede or replace her past Jewish practices. These Jewish practices encompass many everyday aspects of life, and were so enriching to her that she came over time to the following logical conclusion: Why not incorporate (or re-incorporate after all) all these Jewish practices and ways in my Christian life? The book even goes further, and is most convincing in this regard, in that it offers support in favour of integrating (or re-integrating) all these practices and ways in the lives of all Christians.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By BSWEIL on July 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mudhouse is the second book of Lauren Winner's that I have read, and I was not disappointed. Reading her books is like sitting down with a friend over coffee and discussing life. I share alot with her, growing up Jewish and converting to Christianity as an adult. Lauren's heart felt spiritual travels have left her a deep knowledge and understanding of her roots and how they play a part in her christian life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a deeper understanding of judiasm, and wants to increase their spiritial knowledge of the judeo-christian life we live in in the USA. As a convert, I see christianity as a deepening of my faith.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In a beautifully designed book from Paraclete Press, Winner reflects with fond yearning on eleven facets of Judaica, ranging from the Sabbath (shabbat) to hospitality (hachnassat orchim) and prayer (tefillah); from fasting (hiddur p'nai zaken) to candle-lighting (hadlakat nerot) and the artistry of mezuzah doorpost reminders.
Winner points out in her introduction that, "the spiritual disciplines... can form us as Christians throughout our lives.... " Toward that end, she takes these eleven timeless forms -- devoting a chapter to each -- and expands her readers' knowledge of scriptural and midrashic reasons for the various observances and traditions. She then views the disciplines through her insightful and personal lens, focusing on the ways her past is shaping her present Christian journey.
As 21st Century Christianity moves from a knowledge toward pragmatism, and as headlines turn toward daily Middle Eastern tensions, Mudhouse Sabbath gracefully returns our thoughts to the beautiful practices that God's People have quietly undertaken for thousands of years.
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