"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Fagerberg on Schememann

David Fagerberg, of whose books (discussed here) I am very fond, having often assigned them to students over the years, e-mailed me recently to say he has a new book out. This will be of wide interest not only to those who find Fagerberg edifying and interesting, but also to those many who, nearly 35 years after his death, still find much richness and new life in the works of the late Alexander Schmemann: Liturgy Outside Liturgy (Chora Books, 2018), 220pp.

I have asked David for an interview about the book, and he has kindly consented to that. We hope to run it sometime in Paschaltide.

About this book the publisher tells us:
"Does liturgy only matter to members of the Jesus Club when they get together to kill a Sunday morning? Is liturgy basically nothing more than temple etiquette, inessential to the mundane world? Should liturgy matter outside the Church?" This is an important question that David W. Fagerberg, Theology Professor at Notre Dame University, asks himself and us. And to answer this question, he is presenting the thought of Fr. Alexander Schmemann (1921-1983), who was a leading theologian in the Orthodox Church in America and one of the foremost thinker in liturgical theology.
The material is based on careful scholarship, but presented in such a way that the common reader will also benefit from the many powerful insights that can be found in it.  Schmemann made powerful statements to make readers think seriously. For example, about the world he says, “We seem to forget that in the New Testament and in the whole Christian tradition the ‘world’ is the object of two apparently contradicting attitudes: an emphatic acceptance, a yes, but also an equally emphatic rejection, a no.”
And about the relationship of theology and the Church he writes, “[Theology] today constitutes within the Church a self-centered world, virtually isolated from the Church’s life. It lives in itself and by itself in tranquil academic quarters, well defended against profane intrusions and curiosities by a highly technical language." Against the dangers of a liturgy that is auto-referential, Fagerberg observes that “Liturgical reform should not, therefore, be self-serving; liturgical reform is a matter of empowering the Church’s leitourgia, which is the work of a few on behalf of the many.” The liturgical cult does not exist for itself, but for the sake of the world, for the sake of understanding and transforming the world.” This book is not only for academic theologians, but also for all those who love the liturgy and are willing to be challenged with a fresh perspective on this fundamental topic for our Christian life.

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