Archives For Liturgy


A True-pointing Compass
for the Journey

A Review of 

The Prayer Wheel:
A Daily Guide To Renewing Your Faith With A Rediscovered 
Spiritual Practice

Patton Dodd, Jana Riess and David Van Biema

Hardback: Convergent, 2018
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Aarik Danielsen

Abbreviated from the review in 
our Lent 2018 magazine issue. 
and be sure to receive our next issue… 


A fulfilling prayer life can seem like a white whale to many Christians: faraway, elusive, hard to line up in your sights. If the ideal and reality of prayer fail to match up frequently, disciples tend to turn their faces toward one of three sources of resolution. There’s innovation— inventing a new acrostic or mnemonic, treating an obscure Biblical prayer as the key that will unlock all heavenly doors. There’s tradition—planting yourself in ancient gardens such as lectio divina, or forging personal habits, custom-made to bring prayer to life. Saddest of all is attrition, when spiritual fruit dies on the vine because a Christian never grows comfortable in prayer or assumes God is too cruel or too cool to answer.

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Jan. 28 marks the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas.

We celebrate the occasion with three hymns that he wrote, and that have been passed down through church history…


Want to read more Aquinas?
Our Intro Reading Guide


Adoro te devote
St. Thomas Aquinas

(Trans. Gerard Manley Hopkins)

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Sacred Ordinary/Ordinary Sacred
A Feature Review of 

Liturgy of the Ordinary:
Sacred Practices in Everyday Life

Tish Harrison Warren

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [  Kindle ]
Reviewed by Michele Morin

Watch for our interview with the author
in our Lent 2017 print magazine…

Annie Dillard has (famously) said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”  This is a cautionary saying for those of us who live our days as the sandwich-makers, the sock sorters, and the finders of misplaced library books.  Therefore, Liturgy of the Ordinary has landed upon my reading list like a benediction, for in Tish Harrison Warren’s words, I hear the husky contralto sound track of Peggy Lee’s musical question “Is That All There Is?” Thanks be to God, Tish arrives at a resounding “No!”  The daily, mundane tasks that comprise civilization and self-maintenance on this planet are clearly not “all there is.”  On the contrary, they are shot through with the sacred — even all the repetitive and seemingly Sisyphean tasks that, while admittedly are sacrificial, seem hardly to be sacramental.

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One of the best new book releases of the last week was…

Liturgy of the Ordinary:
Sacred Practices
in Everyday Life

Tish Harrison Warren

Paperback: IVP Books, 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]

Watch the book trailer for this excellent new book:

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This summer, the Wild Goose Festival will be honoring Phyllis Tickle (recently diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer) by incorporating prayers from her Divine Hours prayer book (Pocket Edition) into the schedule of the festival.

If you will be coming to the Festival, it is recommended that you bring a copy of this prayerbook with you…

Don’t have one? You can purchase it here:

The Divine Hours
(Pocket Edition)

Phyllis Tickle

Buy Now from Amazon:
[ Print Book ]  [ Kindle Ebook ]

Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith,
Founding editor of The ERB
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Alexander Schmemann

Since the Christmas holiday, I have been enjoying Alexander Schmemann’s classic book For the Life of the World.

I also recently discovered that a pamphlet that he wrote on Lent is available in the Public Domain.

The following piece is adapted from that pamphlet.

DOWNLOAD the full pamphlet for Kindle!

(Alt.Kindle, epub and versions for other e-readers
are available at Project Gutenberg…)



Lent in the Orthodox Tradition
Alexander Schmemann

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“Practices that Resist the Colonization
of the Christian Imagination

A review of

Migrations of the Holy:
God, State and the Political Meaning of the Church.

By William Cavanaugh.

Review by Micah Weedman.

[ Read an Excerpt of this book here… ]

Migrations of the Holy - William CavanaughMigrations of the Holy:
God, State and the Political Meaning of the Church.

William Cavanaugh.
Paperback: Eerdmans, 2011.
Buy now: [ ]

When I was in seminary, I made it a point to carry with me my copy of William Cavanaugh’s Torture and Eucharist whenever  I could.  I can’t say for sure, of course, what my classmates made of this, if anything.  But I liked to think it gave me a certain seriousness.  The cover of the book alone—that stark, black border with the even starker picture in the middle and the simple but distressing title—seem to signal that the study of theology, or church, or even ministry wasn’t safe anymore.  Cavanaugh’s work, of course, merits serious devotion, though toting his books around isn’t necessary.  That it merits such devotion on the part of so many readers has to do with, I suspect, the reality that the truth of what he says renders so many of our inherited convictions about church, state and politics not just wrong, or upended, but unsafe.

In Cavanaugh’s newest book, Migrations of the Holy: God, State and the Political Meaning of the Church,  the author continues his previous work of exploring—and in most cases, exploding—the myths that we tend to associate with the role of the state, the mission of the church, and how these things relate to our understanding of God.  While it lacks the raw depth of Torture and Eucharist, the powerful coherence of Theopolitical Imagination or the accessibility of Being Consumed, the book presents a collection of previously-published essays that, when grouped together, take Cavanaugh’s work further than it’s gone before.

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An Excerpt from COMMON PRAYER:
By Shane Claiborne, Enuma Okoro
and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

To Be Relased in November…

Shane Claiborne, Enuma Okoro
and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Hardcover: Zondervan, 2010.
PRE-ORDER: [ Amazon ]

Excellent Review of the Television Show
THE WIRE (and related books) in

The most intriguing phrase Simon has used regarding The Wire is to say that it is about “the death of work.” By this he means not just the loss of jobs, though there certainly is that, but the loss of integrity within our systems of work, the “juking of stats,” the speaking of truth to power having been replaced with speaking what is most self-serving and pleasing to the higher-ups. In a poker game with the mayor, one folds on a flush to allow the mayor to win. (As opposed to the freelance stickup man Omar, who, beholden to no one, shows up at at a kingpin’s poker night with two pistols and the Dennis Lehane line “I believe these four 5s beat your full house.”) Police departments manipulate their stats for the politicians; schools do the same; newspapers fake stories with their eye on prizes and stockholders. Moreover, in the world of The Wire almost everyone who tries to buck the system and do right is punished, often severely and grotesquely and heartbreakingly. Accommodation is survival at the most basic level, although it is also lethal to the soul.

Ideas are no good without stories. Stories are no good without characters. In drama, characters are no good without actors. If the integrity of The Wire derives from the integrity of its creators, its power lies, in an old-fashioned way, in the brilliant acting of a varied and charismatic cast. Not to diminish the quality of the writing or the careful cinematography, but little of Simon’s agenda would convince without the series’s acting: this is how the humanity of various people is given its indelible life. The Wire‘s producers claim it contains the most diverse cast ever on television, and it is hard to doubt it.

Read the full review:

The Wire: Truth Be Told
by Rafael Alvarez,
with an introduction by David Simon
Paperback: Grove, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Orion Magazine Review of
The Common Man: Poems
by Maurice Manning

IN KENTUCKY, the muse might be an older boy who says, “Take ye a slash / o’ this—hit’ll make yore sticker peck out?—“; or the muse might be the moonshine the boy hands over. Either way, Maurice Manning’s The Common Man  begins with a hint of the illicit and a shot of whiskey. Such an initiation forecasts the diction, desire, and occasional delinquency that course through Manning’s fourth collection, which amasses to an oral history of the landscape and community that the poet has consistently and creatively plumbed. Manning’s earlier collections each coalesce around a specific figure: an imagined adolescent (Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions); Daniel Boone (A Companion for Owls); a breathless shepherd (Bucolics).

Read the full review:

The Common Man
by Maurice Manning
Hardback: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


An excerpt from one of the books to be featured in our
first print edition…  (Have you subscribed? )

America’s Four Gods:
What We Say about God–and What That Says about Us.

Paul Froese and Christopher Bader.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


A Review of

Worshiping With the Church Fathers.
Christopher Hall.
Paperback: IVP Academic, 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

[ Read an excerpt of this book here… ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Christopher Hall - Worshipping with the Church FathersWorshiping with the Church Fathers is the third volume of Christopher Hall’s four volume work on the Church in its earliest centuries.  This new volume, looks specifically at the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, the practice of prayer and the spirituality of the desert fathers.  His objective is:

To present as clearly as possible the fathers’ understanding of what worship is and what it isn’t.  I have tried to allow them to speak for themselves, to present their case and then to encourage readers to make their own decisions as to the validity of the particular patristic viewpoints.

Hall does a fine job both of achieving his stated goal of letting the Church Fathers speak for themselves and of providing enough context through which the reader can understand the writings of the Fathers.  The book’s first two chapters explore the roles of baptism and the Eucharist respectively, with a particular emphasis on the sacramental (and material) nature of both practices.  Hall explains that the material nature of the sacraments is rooted in the incarnation of Christ:

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