Monday, December 07, 2009

New Book You Must Read: Common Worship in Theological Education

A couple of years ago, a group of scholars met to discuss worship in the Christian academy.  It was quickly recognized that, although many Christian academic institutions have some sort of common worship opportunity (sometimes even requiring mandatory attendance), these worship experiences were often not given very much respect in comparison to other academic endeavors.  Even more surprising, it was discovered that no work had ever been published dedicated to the phenomenon of such worship within academic settings.  Recently published by Pickwick Publications, Common Worship in Theological Education seeks to fill that gap.

As a person who works in a seminary setting who occasionally blogs about issues related to worship, it's probably no surprise that I would find such a book intriguing, but I do have a more personal reason.  My wife, who is in the process of completing her PhD in Christian Worship at Fuller Theological Seminary, has contributed one of the chapters to this volume!  Her work sits alongside that of established scholars from a number of theological institutions across America from a variety of worship traditions.  Needless to say, I'm very proud.  Her particular chapter deals with the necessity of recognizing how one's background and experience can often shape assumptions in what constitutes "proper" worship.  People often assume a kind of "neutrality" about their own style of worship that is unrecognized until something happens to change that style, at which point people often exclaim "you can't do that!" without even recognizing why they have such strong feelings.

Since this book has just come out, it's obviously too early to say how well it will be received by the wider market, but I really do think that this is not only worthwhile reading, but that this book (or portions of it.  My wife's chapter, perhaps?) will likely soon be required for many students, especially in seminary settings where would-be pastors are expecting to learn about worship leadership.  There is a sense in which this work recognizes issues that have existed for a long time, and I believe that many readers will find themselves asking, "why has no one pointed this out before?"  If you're able, I strongly recommend buying a copy.

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