Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

Nora Gallagher’s book, The Sacred Meal, is about the Christian tradition known as Communion. As she examined the different elements of Communion, the author drew out the at-large value of that element and, in a very transparent manner, relayed the more personal values and lessons about that element as learned from her own Communion experiences. The bottom line in her mind is that the Sacred Meal is exactly that – it is sacred because it is uniquely spiritual, communal, and powerful.

While I scratched my head on a few comments, I did connect with her call to recognize anew the powerful ceremony that is Communion. A major contention of her short work (137 pages) is that the Sacred Meal is intended to move us from one spiritual place to another spiritual place. It is more than a token ritual. But even though the personal accounts that she shares are interesting and, at times, moving, they are subjective. I think the book would have been more accurately titled, ‘My Thoughts on the Sacred Meal.’

While I have not read any other books in the Ancient Practices Series, I had expected more info on the ancient side of this ancient practice. Gallagher majored on personal, modern-day stories. There was no tracing of historical developments in Communion traditions. There was no significant examination of the Biblical texts regarding Communion.

Having said these things and for fear of sounding angry, let me be clear. I hold some different theological beliefs than the licensed Episcopal preacher does, but I do appreciate the high value she places on the Sacred Meal. Her willingness to share her stories and observations caused me to think again on this valuable practice instituted by Christ. And as was her intent, I did not think on the nuts and bolts or the history of this ritual but rather the meaning, the spirit, and the power of this ancient practice. If you are looking for a textbook of sorts, look somewhere else. If you need some food for thought, give this book a try.

1 comment:

Rick Rouse said...

I agree with you Robert. The Sacred Meal is an interesting and engaging read, but I believe Mrs. Gallagher missed the mark a bit by not using more Biblical references and providing more hostorical background on The Last Supper. The book is more of a "feel-good" tome than the historical discussion that I was led to believe it would be. A good book indeed, but not for its intended purpose I'm afraid. On a side note, I really like your writing style.