Summer “What We’re Reading” Wednesday

One of the great joys of academic life is that folks pay us professors to do what many of us deeply enjoy: read, read, read!  For this post, I’ve decided to divide my reading list into three categories: liturgical material, serious academic reading, and guilty pleasures.

Liturgical Material

Another great advantage to being an academic is that established presses will send you versions of their up-coming publications to read while they are still in galley proofs in order to get a testimonial that may persuade others to read the work.  Thus I have the joy of reading both of the following still in galleys:

Anscar Chupungco, OSB.  What, Then, Is Liturgy?  Musings and Memoir.  Scheduled to be released from Liturgical Press in August 2010. I count myself blessed to have been one of Fr. Chupungco’s students at St. Anselmo when I was there 1987-1991.  Just from skimming  the Table of Contents it is clear that this volume will not be a purely academic work, but a combination of autobiography and reflections on liturgical renewal after a lifetime spent engaged in both teaching and practice in more than one cultural context.  I only wish more of the “giants” of the Vatican II era (e.g., Vaggagini, Jungmann, Gy, Bugnini, Gelineau, Deiss, etc.) had had the time or the inclination to write of their own experiences and considered judgments.

Paul Turner. Guide to the Order of Mass.  Scheduled to be released by Liturgy Training Publications in 2010. I likewise have the joy of counting the remarkable Fr. Paul Turner, careful scholar, fertile author, excellent keyboardist and faithful pastor, as a friend, too.  Since he has been intimately involved in the process by which the new English translation of the Order of Mass have been created and will be introduced to praying communities, his comments in this Guide should be both informed by academic insight and tested by pastoral care.  I think that LTP may change the title before it is released.  I also think that this will be a companion volume to Fr. Turner’s Let Us Pray: A Guide to the Rubrics of Sunday Mass (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2006).

Journals will also send copies of recently published books for review.  I confess that I am behind WAY behind in books that I am reviewing for Worship, but I have set the goal of getting reviews of the following books in to the Review Editor before the end of June:

Leachman, James G.  (ed.)  The Liturgical Subject: Subject, Subjectivity, and the Human Person in Contemporary Liturgical Discussion and Critique.  Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009.

Brown, Frank Burch.  Inclusive Yet Discerning: Navigating Worship Artfully.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.

Baldovin, John F.  Reforming the Liturgy: A Response to the Critics.  Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2008.  (Given how important this work is, I am ashamed that I have not found the time to review it until now.  Of course, doing so has allowed me also to read the 2 volumes of Martin Klöckner and Benedikt Kranemann [eds]’s Liturgiereformen: Historische Studien zu einem bleibenden Grundzug des christlichen Gottesdienst, Munster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2002 [Band 88 in the Liturgiewissenshaftliche Quellen und Forschungen] for some historical perspective.)

Finally in this category, I have a few works that I’m reading “just for fun”:

Byars, Ronald P.  What Language Shall I Borrow? The Bible and Christian Worship.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

Cullinan, Edmond Gerard.  The Story of the Liturgy in Ireland.  Dublin: The Columba Press, 2010.

Irvine, Christopher, and Anne Dawrty.  Art and Worship.  Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002.

Pecklers, Keith.  The Genius of the Roman Rite: On the Reception and Implementation of the New Missal.  Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2009.

Academic Material

One of the great joys of summer is that I finally get to read all the back issues of the academic journals I enjoy, so my plan is to make it through the articles I find interesting in:

Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture (published by the Catholic Studies program of which I am a part at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN)

Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies (published by Cambridge University Press for the Medieval Academy of America)

Horizons: The Journal of the College Theology Society

Theological Studies (and I am especially interested in reading an article by a colleague of mine at St. Thomas, Dr. Massimo Fagioli,  tracing the reception of Sacrosanctum concilium in the years since Vatican Council II which is supposed to appear in the next issue)

Since my primary appointment at the University of St. Thomas is to teach Catholic Studies (and not liturgy/worship/sacramental theology), I plan to read the following to keep abreast of my own field:

Holley, David M.  Meaning and Mystery: What it Means to Believe in God.  Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Henriksen, Jan-Olav.  Desire, Gift, and Recognition: Christology and Postmodern Philosophy.  Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.

Lakeland, Paul.  Church.  Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2009.

Egan, Philip A.  Philosophy and Catholic Theology: A Primer. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2009.

But I am most excited to read Alasdair MacIntyre’s God, Philosophy, Universities: A Selective History of the Catholic Philosophical Tradition.  Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.  After having read only the first three chapters, I know that I will enjoy this contribution to the on-going debate about distinctive Catholic identity in institutions of higher learning.

Guilty Pleasures

But lest I give you the impression that all my reading is fairly academic, I want to confess my guilty pleasures in the consumption of the printed word.

First of all, I LOVE the New York Review of Books and devour it whenever my subscription arrives.

Second, I’ve been teaching myself art history and appreciation for the last ten years or so and I’m very much looking forward to reading William Lyster’s report on The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit at the Monastery of St. Paul, Egypt.  New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

Third, as a former English major I am always on the lookout for good poetry, so I will be searching through Robert Hedin (ed).  Where One Voice Ends Another Begins: 150 Years of Minnesota Poetry (St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2007) for authors I haven’t explored.

Finally, I confess to an inordinate enjoyment of crime and murder mysteries.  P.D. James is probably my favorite author in this area, but I spent the Memorial Day holiday polishing off the latest Monkeewrench mystery and a novel by Alex Kava on a terrorist plot unleashed at the Mall of America.  But I also love these kinds of novels set in other countries, so I’m planning to read the last of the Steig Larsson novels (beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Henning Mankell’s wonderful Kurt Wallender mysteries (although I have his Depths as my next read) and Erin Hart’s False Mermaid.

I figure this should keep me busy and out in the sunshine through June.


  1. With two kids under 5 at home throughout summer, I’ll be grateful to get a chance to read the headlines in ‘The Times’ once or twice a week.

    Oh for the rigours of the monastic life!

  2. Dear Chris,

    I am acutely aware of what a privilege I have as a celibate and an academic in the leisure that is given me to read and pray. You should know, though, that I’m a diocesan priest, not a monastic, much as I admire my brothers and sisters who follow Benedict’s holy Rule. Pray that through God’s grace I don’t turn into (or for that matter remain) a self-centered bachelor, but a genuine celibate in service to God’s people when convenient or inconvenient and I will pray that you grow in holiness by your care for your little ones, keep your sanity this summer, and find moments of respite for reading and adult conversation. God’s blessings!

  3. And with your spirit.

    (That means ‘same to you’ but, well, sometimes ‘elevated language’ is needed . . . )

    And I’m a self-centered bachelor who long ago gave up any hope of keeping my sanity!

  4. My dear friend Michael enjoys good books like no one I know… I have already read Keith Peckler’s book: “Genius of the Roman Rite” – wonderful, and very helpful… and I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Paul Turner’s new book (I was asked to write a blurb for the back cover, which I happily did), which will be titled “The Supper of the Lamb” with LTP.. outstanding contribution, which will help us navigate the storms ahead.

  5. A book that I reading right now, is “Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite” by L. Michael White (HarperOne), which is a wonderful exploration into Historical Jesus studies… a good read, and I am learning a lot, as well as finding support for stances taken by good responsible scholarship these days. While I am certainly not a theologian by ANY stretch of the imagination, I find this book very enlightening.. I recommend it highly.

  6. Thank you, Fr. Michael, for your kind words about Paul Turner’s new book. As publishers often do, we’ve since changed the title of the book from “Guide to the Order of Mass” to “At the Supper of the Lamb: A Pastoral and Theological Commentary on the Mass.” It’s not available yet, but customers can preorder the book. Here’s the link to our Web site:

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