A Contrasts Review
Walker, Riley and Marcia Patton. Foreword by Stephen E. Ott. When the Spirit Moves: A Guide for Ministers in Transition. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 2011. 161 Pages. Paper. $14.99. www.judsonpress.com (LHP)
Dyrness, William A. Poetic Theology: God and the Poetics of Everyday Life. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011. 351 Pages. Paper. $26.00. www.eerdmans.com (LHP)
Book review journals often decline to review books they have received.
Many are so deluged with unsolicited books that they wouldn't get reviews done for books of interest to their readers if they didn't decline to review most of the unsolicited books.
Some unsolicited books are self-published and so poorly written or edited they remain unreviewed to save everyone's time.
We have a moral obligation to review books that LHP QBR requests from publishers. And we've had the time to review nearly everything sent to us, requested and unsolicited.
After five years, we've begun to post the following when we realize, upon receipt of an unsolicited resource, that it would not be suitable for our publication:
We received one such unsolicited book and reviewed it in Volume 3, Issue 4, Angels' Tide, 2009.
Dyrness, William A. A Primer on Christian Worship: Where We've Been Where We Are Where We Can Go. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009. 164 Pages. Paperback. $18.00. www.eerdmans.com(LH) 03/20/09
Disappointing. That is my one-word review of Dyrness' A Primer on Christian Worship. A primer should have the facts straight. Early on, Luther is lumped in with other "Reformers" (or else ignored due to the Reformed context, 22). When Luther is mentioned by name (34ff), his reforms are presented in typical Reformed caricature of Lutheranism: "So, while he recovered the centrality of preaching the Good News, he did not help to develop the worship practices that best expressed and celebrated this liberating reality" (35). Calvin, according to the author/revisionist historian (36), got it right, of course, succeeding where Luther failed!
We are once again fed the falsity that "liturgy is 'the work of the people'" (47). What of God's role in worship, Him speaking first and the people listening, repeating back to Him His most certain and true Name and Word?
Pietism is praised (57). Different styles of worship are assumed to be good.
The book fails as a primer because it fails at the basics. It is unsuitable as a reference for Lutherans, unless they use it to learn about the sad state of understanding of worship history, worship theology, and worship practice.
The Rev. Paul J Cain
So, in the interest of our time and your time, we offer the following brief reviews of two books and our suggested alternatives in contrast.
Poetic Theology is by the same author as A Primer above.
Our take: not worth your time or money. I knew upon beginning the book that I didn't like it. It took me until page 292 to find a precise quote to show how silly and backward the whole enterprise is:
Here are my issues with the book:
In Contrast, and to show I have no bias against true "poetics" or aesthetics, I recommend the following from Volume 2, Issue 3, Apostles' Tide, 2008:
What WOULD we like to see from this publisher? How about:
Up next, When the Spirit Moves.
This is a reference intended by the authors for most denominations/church bodies, though I feel its advice will be more at home in more progressive and "mainline" groups. I felt excluded by a lot of the advice and counsel because of who I am as a pastor of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and our positions on doctrine and practice.
That's my take. I'm not saying that the book is unhelpful, but that in writing it for "everyone" it is less helpful for a specific someone.
Would encourage our denominational publisher, Concordia, consider publishing a similar book for pastors (and their families) to read when considering a new Call?
I have yet to personally find an in-print book that I would recommend to a brother pastor or re-read myself while considering a call to a new parish.
LHP QBR is pleased to have a very positive and honest relationship with this publisher. There are theological and practical differences between the LCMS and their expression of the Baptist tradition, yet we can still appreciate wisdom, common sense, and Christ's gifts as Christians.
The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.