In The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life, Joan Chittister makes the church calendar and the importance of liturgy come alive. This is the seventh book in Thomas Nelson’s Ancient Practices Series, which focuses on different spiritual disciplines. This series is strongly influenced by primary voices in the Emergent Church Movement such as Phyllis Tickle and Brian McLaren. In my opinion, the return to spiritual disciplines of the monastics and the early church is a helpful part of the Emergent Movement.
As a Southern Baptist, the church calendar and liturgy were two areas which were very unfamiliar to me. Chittister has a very strong Catholic influence. This came through in some aspects of the book. The focus on church festivals centered around Mary were concerning to me personally. However, I was very encouraged with how Chittister approached the role of the saints as serving as examples of how to live the Christian life. Chittister’s descriptions of the different elements of the church calendar were short yet helpful to the reader.
Why would someone, who is not a theologian, want to read a book on liturgy? This is the unspoken question in the minds of readers throughout the book. Chittister does an excellent job of addressing this issue. She clearly connects the role of the church calendar and liturgy to phases in a Christian’s growth in their personal walk with Christ. This made me want to more intentionally incorporate the church calendar and liturgy in my own personal devotional life.
I would recommend this book for thoughtful reading. The theological persuasion of the author clearly influences the book. Like with any other book, readers should be careful to read with biblical discernment in order to filter truth from error. After reading this book, I think that it would be helpful for more non-liturgical Christians to adopt the rhythm of life that is experienced through the church calendar and liturgy.