Monday, December 26, 2011

Book Review of Flames of the Spirit: Flames for Worship ed. by Ruth C. Duck

Flames of the Spirit

Flames of the Spirit: Resources for Worship
Edited by Ruth C. Duck
ISBN 978-1-60608-584-4
Published by Wipf and Stock Publishers
Reviewed by Clint Walker

About the Publisher
This month I was honored to have Wipf and Stock join in with the number of publishers that I review books for. Wipf and Stock is a wonderful little small publishing house out of Eugene, which also happens to be about an hour from where I was born. Wipf and Stock does not exclusively publish religious but many of them are faith-based. Nearly all of Wipf and Stock books are what I would call "thoughtful", by which I mean that they are for people who buy books to expand their thinking and help them to grow and learn intellectually. I am so excited to get to share about some of their books with you!

About the Book
Recently, as I make the transition from a town and country church with informal worship to a church with a more formal worship tradition, I have been seeking some resources to provide me with well-written litanies, unison prayers, and responsive readings. Being familiar with Ruth Duck from my seminary texts, and seeing occasional church readings attributed to her, I decided to find a way to get a hold of her book Flames of the Spirit. Now, as I plan worship for the coming year, I find that Ms. Duck's book is helpful to have in my library as one of many resources that will guide me as I plan worship.

Flames in Spirit is organized in relationship to the Christian Year, which is very helpful in liturgical churches. It not a large book (121 pages). Because of its brevity, Flames of the Spirit does not cover every reading for Years A, B, and C in the Revised Common Lectionary. The text that each reading is designed to support is referenced at the beginning of that reading though, which makes it easy to understand where the reading fits into the service that one is planning.

The readings are done in a collaboration of a number of readers. I think this is good. It increases the quality of readings that are offered. It also ensures that as one uses this book over time in worship leadership, that every reading does not sound like all the others.

Flames of the Spirit is written from the perspective of progressive, mainline Christian leaders. For this reason, all of the readings use inclusive language for both God and humanity. Many of the readings also come from the perspective of a more "social" gospel, emphasizing peace and justice issues. I personally am sympathetic to some of the concerns, but do not feel as invested and beholden to these concerns as the authors of these litanies and readings might. This means, as I hinted at earlier, that I will use this book a lot, but I will also supplement this resource with other similar resources as well.

All in all I think this is a very helpful book. I am glad to have it on my shelf.

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