Review of “The Sacred Meal” by Nora Gallagher

This is one of those reviews where one will clearly see that a reviewer is not required to write a positive review. You will find most of my reviews are not overly critical and are usually generous and positive. I can typically find something to glean from any book…except this one. I was extremely excited to read this book. Much of my passion in research has been in the area of recovering a fuller understanding and practice of Eucharistic theology in the Church. My concern has been that in many churches, the Sacramental Meal has become nothing more than an ancient ritual devoid of any modern application.

This book, by Nora Gallagher,  attempts to answer many of the questions concerning Holy Communion. It comes highly recommended by Brian McLaren whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for (I especially enjoyed “A New Kind of Christian” and “A Generous Orthodoxy”).

Nora writes from her own deep appreciation and reverence for Holy Communion as an experienced lay person. Her personal stories are to be commended as is her conversational tone throughout the book. There were some shining moments where I found myself reflecting on this transformational means of grace and the effect it has had on my life and faith.

However, I feel this book failed to achieve its main goal. Apart from finding at least one error in paragraph formatting (tsk tsk Thomas Nelson), I felt like I was dissecting run-on sentences more than processing information. More often than not, I found Gallagher’s arguments to be poorly developed or supported. She took the opportunity of this book to argue some theological biases that had little or nothing to do with her subject matter and tried to loosely tie them together. And while I appreciate her deep devotion and appreciation for Holy Communion, I find her Sacramental Theology largely undeveloped.

This book left me wanting something, and I am certainly not inclined to recommend it to anyone else.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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3 thoughts on “Review of “The Sacred Meal” by Nora Gallagher

  1. I definitely agree with you. This was my first book to read for BookSneeze and it’s immediately turned me off to reading any more. Seldom do I finish a book I don’t like. As a Christian not from a liturgical background, I was deeply interested in the topic but was confounded by how little she spoke about Jesus and the cross and the resurrection. It seemed to more about community. She gave more credence to her soup kitchen than propitiation.

    1. Matt, don’t let it turn you off to reviewing more. The other books I have reviewed on BookSneeze have been good. Even other books in the Ancient Practices series have been good. I agree with your critiques of the book. I appreciated her references to community through the Eucharist, as community is an important aspect….but she missed the deep, vast, rich theology that is also present.

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