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Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy Paperback – Bargain Price, April 1, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
At a time when magazines and journals are documenting the upsurge of interest in liturgy and ritual, a book from the senior managing editor of Christianity Today would seem well-timed. Unfortunately Galli, trying to cover all the bases from Eastern Orthodox to Presbyterian in exploring how liturgy helps to cultivate God's people, speaks too broadly and generically for an audience that is just discovering and trying to fathom formal worship traditions. Galli thoughtfully addresses the way in which liturgy shapes us in general, by changing our focus, sense of time and culture. But the lack of specific examples (in an effort to be inclusive) leaves readers with theory that may be difficult to translate into Sunday morning worship. However, Galli's love of the liturgy is clear, and his own stories of the way it has engaged and changed him over time are informative. The book's three appendixes (a glossary of common liturgical terms, a comparison of the order of worship in various traditions and a description of the seasons of the Christian year) will be helpful to newcomers to church traditions. (Apr.)
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About the Author
Mark Galli is senior managing editor of Christianity Today. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and the author of Francis of Assisi and His World, and Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God. He is married and has been worshiping in the Anglican tradition for nearly 20 years, most recently as a member of Church of the Resurrection in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
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I particularly liked Galli's explanation of the emphasis on the church calendar.He writes:
"The church calendar aims at nothing less than to change the way we experience time and perceive reality. . . . Advent signals the new year. For the church, the annual rhythm is not winter, spring, summer and fall, but Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. . . . The church calendar is not about the cycle of life - school or sports or harvest time - but about the movement of history toward a glorious goal. We celebrate the past events of history not merely to remember them, but note how they infuse the present with meaning and power, and point us to our future hope."
This is a profound book.
Beyond Smells & Bells is not intended as a scholarly treatment of "high" church liturgy, it does serve as a popular introduction to the how and the why beyond the outward trappings (smells and bells) of Episcopal worship. It is an introduction to "another world."
Thanks to Galli's passion for unpacking the ancient movement of the Liturgy, I know that my own worship experience will be enriched. Galli blows the dust off of prayers and rituals that could easily become dull rote recitations. By exposing the way that the Liturgy offers us incarnational moments with Christ, inviting us into holy time (where past, present and future are united), Galli invites the reader to engage with the deep mysteries of the liturgical experience.
I recommend this book to people who are unfamiliar with liturgical churches, those who are experiencing a desire to return to the Liturgy, or those who have been faithful church goers but don't understand much about why they stand, sit, kneel, and pray the way they do.
Is it possible that liturgy is the remedy to the modern church's addiction to man-centered "relevancy?" Read this book. There is much fuel for future debate.
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The book is a kiss with one lip. No author bio, so the reader has zero serious provenance on the faith journey background and training or...Read more