Review: At the Heart of the Liturgy: Conversations with Nathan D. Mitchell’s “Amen Corners,” 1991-2012

At the Heart of the Liturgy: Conversations with Nathan D. Mitchell's At the Heart of the Liturgy: Conversations with Nathan D. Mitchell’s “Amen Corners,” 1991-2012 by Maxwell E. Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book, almost predominantly because of the structure that had been adopted by the editors.

This was no mere collection of essays, though the new essays contained in the book were of a very high quality and well worth reading in and of themselves. No, this book represented two collections of essays: a series of nine essays originally written by Nathan D. Mitchell in the journal Worship, and a collection of essays written in response to the selected essays of Mitchell that were composed by Mitchell’s postgraduate students.

In structuring this volume in this way the reader is able to gain some idea of the contribution made by Mitchell to the field of liturgical scholarship over many years, a contribution that is revealed most poignantly in the way in which his students engage with his writings respectfully yet critically.

For those who might be interested in contemporary liturgical scholarship, this book would be a most welcome addition to a library.

From the “blurb”:

From 1991 to 2012, Nathan D. Mitchell was the author of the “Amen Corner” that appeared at the end of each issue of Worship. Readers of Worship grew accustomed to Nathan’s columns as invitations to rethink the practice of Christian worship through a liturgical theology that was interdisciplinary, aesthetic, and attentive to history. With the soul of a poet, Nathan was always on the lookout for the turn of phrase, image, stanza, or metaphor from other classic wordsmiths that could capture the liturgical insight he wanted to explore.

For the first time, this volume assembles some of the most important of these columns around the themes of body, Word, Spirit, beauty, justice, and unity. In addition, Nathan’s former students offer substantive commentary through essays that invite the reader to consider how the themes raised by Nathan might develop in the coming years.

This collection is a must-read both for those who admired Nathan’s contribution to liturgical studies and for a newer generation of scholars seeking to discern the frontiers of liturgical theology.

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