The Sacred Meal: The Ancient Practices Series - eBook
It has been some time since IÃ¢ÂÂve had to read a book as an assignment. Most books I read are either for enjoyment or to learn something. I just finished a book that was neither enjoyable nor instructive. Despite its brevity at only 115 pages, The Sacred Meal by Norah Gallagher was a test in my resolve to finish a book. Normally, I would have just tossed the book aside, but I was compelled to finish it so I could write this review.
In The Sacred Meal, Gallagher attempts to explain the practice of the EucharistÃ¢ÂÂor Communion or the LordÃ¢ÂÂs Supper. She shares about her personal experiences regarding Communion from her first exposure while visiting a Catholic church as a child to her serving as a Lay Eucharist Minister in her Episcopal church. Primarily, she describes Communion as a holy meal that unites people togetherÃ¢ÂÂethnicity, social status, economic station, and even religious affiliation notwithstandingÃ¢ÂÂgiving us a picture of heaven:
Was Communion, I wondered, what Jesus invented to give us a preview of what the kingdom of heaven could be like? Ã¢ÂÂp. 52
Gallagher depicts Communion as shrouded in mystery, which it may be and the reason I chose to read this book, to learn more about a sacrament I am disappointed not to practice much these days. (My church celebrates communion only a handful of times annually.)
We, too, may have come to Communion with twin desires: to give thanks and to seek a magical solution to a given problem. I see nothing wrong in the desire for magic; itÃ¢ÂÂs who we are. Ã¢ÂÂp. 74
Unfortunately, any book that addresses Communion but says little of the Cross and how Jesus bled and died for our sins is not worth the paper itÃ¢ÂÂs printed onÃ¢ÂÂor e-ink. Gallagher briefly mentions sin, however rightly, saying that it is what separates us from God, but she gives no explanation as to how weÃ¢ÂÂve been reunited with God. She hardly speaks about Jesus at all. Perhaps her participation, as she describes on page 83, in ecumenical worship servicesÃ¢ÂÂspecifically uniting Jews, Muslims, and ChristiansÃ¢ÂÂhas diminished what should be the resolve of every follower of Jesus, that he is the only avenue to the Father.
The communion table is more than the soup kitchen table Gallagher frequently references. No, it isnÃ¢ÂÂt a community table open to everyone. It is exclusive for believers in Jesus to remember his death on our behalf and celebrate his resurrection. And if we havenÃ¢ÂÂt trusted Jesus as the only way to know God, then eating crumbs and a shot of wine (or juice) is a futile practice.
As is reading The Sacred Meal.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÃÂ®.com <http://BookSneezeÃÂ®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
February 17, 2011
The Sacred Meal, written by Nora Gallagher, is a book within the The Ancient Practices Series. Each book within this series centers itself on a specific "Ancient" topic or practice. This book is centered around the practice of communion and its proposed meaning.
Writing has and always will be subjective, or in essence, based on the author's opinions on the given topic or subject. In most cases, this is not found to be a problem, for those who write are entitled to their opinions as much as anyone else. But when someone tackles a subject as obvious and controversial as communion, one must utilize more than just personal opinions.
The Sacred Meal is, in my opinion, a book written more in the author's personal opinion/beliefs than on religious practices or scriptural fact. Communion is described in the author's words on page 35 as, "A web, a web of people who were being stitched together. And tomorrow, we would need to be stitched together again. Over and over. One person to the next."
Although communion is usually taken within a gathering of believers, it is not a stitching together of one person to another. Communion is a believer coming before God, seeking to remember all that He has done for him while gaining the strength to move forward into a new week, a new moment within his life. That, of course, is my opinion and is available to be challenged.
All in all, the book was, shall I say, an interesting read but not recommendable unless, after reading this, curiosity has taken hold of you.
Dr. Jeff Krupinski
I received this ebook free of charge and the opinions I have expressed are my own.
January 11, 2011
Not an historic look, but a personal testimony
Here are my thoughts on this book:
First of all, this work is part of a series of books looking backwards at "ancient practices." While emphasizing the Christian portion of the practices, the series also notes the similar practices in other faiths, notably Judaism and Islam.
Second, Gallagher's point of view is different from mine. Radically different, to be honest with you. I'm going to try as best possible to evaluate the book on its merit without attempting to over-analyze the theology. However, some of the theology has to be dealt with.
Finally, this book is not what I was really expecting. I had hoped for a book detailing the ancient practice of Communion and placing it well within its historical groundings in the Christian faith. Examining, for example, the roots of when the church moved from a weekly meal with Communion into a church service only, onto a once-a-year habit, and then back into the place it holds in various traditions today.
This work does not really delve into that history. In truth, this work is more of a personal testimony of Gallagher's own experiences in pursuit of religion. That being established, the book in perspective shows a person searching for truth, and finding a common thread woven through various churches and their observance of Communion.
What she finds, though, is only an experience, and the theological filters applied to that experience do not leave her with any truth. This can be found in the attempt to link Christian Communion with, of all things, Muslim Ramadan. I find it difficult to understand how the author expects Christians to find a clearer understanding of Communion by examining a religious feast founded nearly 600 years after the founding of the Christian Church, and founded by a religion that is hostile to Christianity.
Likewise, the author downplays the view of non-liturgical groups that the Gospels can be trusted as the appropriate source of information regarding the life of Christ, and also lightly dismisses the idea held by Baptists that the Lord's Supper is a symbolic reminder.
In all, I would not recommend this work in general. While someone using multiple sources to research various views on Communion will want to consider it, this is not one to be used as a single source. Neither would I commend it for a group study.
Disclosure: I received a free e-book from the publisher in exchange for the review.
January 10, 2011