Archives For Tradition

 

Bernard Sesboüé - Gospel and TraditionA Brief Review of

Gospel and Tradition.

Bernard Sesboüé

Paperback: Convivium Press, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith

Bernard Sesboüé’s Gospel and Tradition is a helpful little book that examines the role of the church throughout its history in propagating the Gospel.  But before I say anything further about the content of the book, I should begin by noting that it is a beautiful book.  Made of high quality paper and full of creative design flourishes (for instance, a solid black page inserted to demarcate chapter breaks), Convivium Press went the extra mile to make this an elegant book to hold in one’s hands. And a quick internet browse shows that apparently this sort of top-notch design is routine for Convivium (or at least for some series of their books).  In the age of the monotonous font and blasé design of ebooks, it was exciting for me have the opportunity to review such a well-crafted theology book.  The design made me want to pick up and read the book, even though I was unfamiliar with the author’s work. Continue Reading…

 

“Back-Stories and St. Benedict

A Review of
Unlearning Protestantism:
Sustaining Christian Community in An Unstable Age.
By Gerald W. Schlabach.

Reviewed by
Gregory A. Clark.

Unlearning Protestantism:
Sustaining Christian Community in An Unstable Age.
Gerald W. Schlabach.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

UNLEARNING  PROTESTANTISM - Gerald SchlabachThe back-story is everything.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s  After Virtue laid down a broad and devastating critique of modernity, and his call for another, “very different” St. Benedict makes sense only against that critique.  Gerald Schlabach’s Unlearning Protestantism follows MacIntyre’s narrative with two differences:  first, the critique of modernity is tied to an analysis and critique of Protestantism, and second, the St. Benedict we need isn’t so different from the first.

The first two chapters of Unlearning Protestantism show that Protestantism has been one important force in the development of modernity.  Protestantism came to be through narration of the context called for deep and thorough reform, and we properly consider as virtues the qualities of character that enabled the reformers to act as they did.  But soon that drive for reform detached itself from the context and set itself up as a principle valid on its own merits.  Schlabach articulates “the protestant principle” in the language of Paul Tillich: “because all human institutions fall short of God’s standard, they are always subject to ‘prophetic’ critique and reform” (24).  Making the principle the basis for community life leads to “the Protestant dilemma”: all institutions, including Protestant churches, are always subject to critique, to being rejected, overthrown, or dismissed as superfluous.  Protestantism is the principle of instability.  The Enlightenment has seen itself as completing the Protestant Reformation ever since.  Schlabach’s second chapter, “The Matter of Continuity,” shows how the drive for perpetual reform played itself out in Mennonite “tradition of dissent” in the 20th century.

Continue Reading…

 

“A Vibrant, Historic Strand
Of the Christian Faith

A Review of
The Naked Anabaptist:
The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith
.

by Stuart Murray.

Reviewed by Dustin Hite.


The Naked Anabaptist:
The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith
.

Stuart Murray.
Paperback: Herald Press, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

THE NAKED ANABAPTIST - Stuart MurrayAs one who might rightly be described as ‘Anabaptist-friendly’, I was quite intrigued when I received notice that this particular work would be released soon.  Having not grown up in a church environment linked to traditional Anabaptism, my fondness for the tradition emerged in my graduate school studies, as I learned of the commitment and dedication of the “radical reformers” (a label that has been applied, by historians, to the early Anabaptists and others) in the face of violent persecution.

Stuart Murray, who himself could rightly be described as someone immersed in Anabaptist tradition, is not so much, in his book entitled The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith, addressing those similar to himself.  Instead, his aim is to address the individuals, much like myself, who may lack any formal connection to an Anabaptist religious tradition, but nonetheless have found much of value in its theology and praxis.

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A Review of

256638: The Paraclete Psalter The Paraclete Psalter

Imitation Leather:

Paraclete Press, 2010

Buy now:
[ ChristianBook.com ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Recognizing that the biblical book of Psalms has historically been the primary prayerbook of the people of God — for the Church as well as for the people of Israel in whom the Psalms had their origins — I have been trying for several years to develop a discipline of regularly praying the Psalms that fits the rhythms of our church community’s life together.  I have a deep appreciation for the Benedictine “Liturgy of the Hours,” a tradition that goes back in history at least as far as Benedict himself (see RB18) and in which the entire Psalter is prayed over the course of a week.  Given that our church community has made no commitments to cloistering or celibacy, I quickly realized that we would have to make our way through the Psalter at a slower pace, so I began the process of adapting the Benedictine Liturgy of the Hours to a longer cycle that would fit our church.  I hadn’t made much progress when I found that Paraclete Press was releasing their version of the Psalter adapted to a four week cycle.  The number of daily prayer services has been reduced from the traditional Benedictine seven to four by eliminating the three that are collectively known as “The Little Hours.”  The book’s introduction describes the four remaining services:

Lauds begins the day, causing our first utterances to be those that are offered to the praise of God.  At Midday, we briefly break from our work in order to remember that God, not our work, gives meaning to our day and that whatever good we do will have prayer at its source.  In the evening, we celebrate Vespers, looking back upon the day with thanksgiving, while acknowledging that not all we have done has been to the glory of God.  Finally, at Compline, we commend ourselves and the whole church to God’s care for the night ahead, and we pray for God’s blessing (viii).

The Paraclete Psalter, in sabbath sort of manner, also reduces the number of services on Saturday and Sunday to one and two, respectively.  In addition to the arrangement of the Psalter over this four week cycle, The Paraclete Psalter also includes brief prayers for the day (or collects) that are included at the beginning of Lauds for each day.   A brief meditiation on one of that day’s Psalms is also included at the end of each day’s Vespers.  My only disappointment is that the Psalms here are presented in the NIV translation which seems an inferior choice when contrasted with other English translations, in conveying both the poetry and the meaning of the original Hebrew Psalms.

A slim volume with a sturdy black imitation leather cover, The Paraclete Psalter is not only an elegant book, it also offers us an entryway into the rich tradition of praying the Psalms that is not only deeply rooted in history, but also sensitive to the life complexities of contemporary non-monastics.  And in so doing, it just might provide what I have been in search of for our church community.