Thursday, January 6, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Sacred Meal

The Sacred Meal was published in November 2009 as one in a series of books on Christian practices. The author, Nora Gallagher, is an Episcopalian priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, CA.

As for my thoughts on the book, oh where do I start..... Well, I guess I'll begin by saying this book gets a big thumbs down from me! I chose this book because, as a self-published author of my own book on communion, I was curious to see what another author teaches about this familiar act of worship among Christians. Due to the fact that I disagree with many aspects of Episcopalian theology, I didn’t expect to agree with everything in this book, but I did expect to be taught more about the history behind taking Communion, the meaning of it, and the reasons why Christians partake. Since the author is a priest, I expected her to also give Biblical references regarding the topic. Instead, what I found was a lot of emotional “babble” about how serving and receiving communion made her FEEL. Instead of Biblical references, she used many quotes from people that I’ve never even heard of and used a lot of awkward (and rather boring) reasoning for why she feels the way she does during participation of this Christian practice.

Honestly, it would take me a book of my own to pick through and discuss everything I found that I didn’t like about this book (Scripturally and otherwise). But, I don’t have the time for that. So, I will briefly just mention a few of the “biggies.”

Chapter 4 has a large amount of awkward reasoning regarding her understanding of the left and right brain. It was truly pointless, in my opinion.

In chapter 5, the author encourages mystical experiences while taking communion. Scripture gives us no such direction to do so.

On page 66, she goes into a spiel about Jesus’ first miracle - the one where He turned water into wine at a wedding reception. To quote the author, she said, “The wine was hidden in the water.” What? No it wasn’t! Jesus miraculously CHANGED the water into wine! That’s why it’s called a miracle.

Chapter 8 is probably the most informational chapter in the book, as it reveals the authors beliefs on communion - the make of it, the reason for it, who can take it, why, etc. While I expected to disagree with her on most of this, I at least expected to find Scripture references that she uses to support her position. Instead, I was very disappointed, as there was a gaping lack of Scripture references to back up her beliefs (or rather, her opinions). But, that is not surprising considering she seems to hold a very low view of Scripture to begin with (p. 110).

In chapter 9, she prays along with the Muslims at an interfaith gathering. To quote her on page 100, she said she came away “energized by a new way of praying and well fed.” Doesn’t she realize that the Muslims aren’t praying to the same God that we know as God the Father, Jehovah?

I was truly disappointed with this book and do not recommend it. It completely misses the point of what “the sacred meal” is all about. If you are interested in learning more about communion and what it really means, it would be worth your while to pass this one up and move on to one with a lot more substance.
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Disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. The intent of my review is not to stir up strife or divide the church body, but to honestly express my concern over some of the content in this book. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines.

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