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I Was And I Am Dust

Penitente Practices as a Way of Knowing

David M. Mellott

There are a variety of people, practices, and celebrations in the Catholic Church. At times some of these can be dismissed too easily as extreme, superstitious, or uninformed. Such is the case with the Penitentes of New Mexico. In I Was and I Am Dust, David M. Mellott shares his experiences of the Penitentes as an outsider. He explains their struggles with the institutional church, and some of the seemingly extreme rituals they facilitate during Holy Week. Through the voice of Larry Torres, one of the senior members of the Penitentes, Mellott poignantly provides readers with a more intimate picture of this community of practitioners. Yet so much more than an analysis written by an outsider, this work attempts to understand the experience of those within a group whose practices are considered outside the mainstream. With Mellott and Torres, readers may be surprised to discover a depth of meaning in these practices—and to realize the beauty of being dust. David M. Mellott is assistant professor of practical theology and director of ministerial formation at Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in philosophy, ethnography, and theology of ministry. He is committed to supporting and nurturing Christian communities that empower people to live more authentically as they seek to love God, neighbor, and self more deeply.

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Public Worship and Public Work

Character and Commitment in Local Congregational Life

Christian Scharen

In a time of increasing cultural pluralism and vast religious restructuring in the United States, Christian social ethics must take account of how values and commitments shape Christian communities. In Public Worship and Public Work Christian Scharen examines theological claims about the relationship of worship and ethics by means of ethnographic study of the life, worship, and work of three vibrant congregations. Public Worship and Public Work moves beyond two caricatures of the relationship between worship and social ethics. Rather than resolute portrayals of the Church as a reflection of its culture and context and causal accounts of the Church's liturgy forming a Christian witness over and against culture, this book lifts up congregational identity as an area of dynamic interaction between worship, social ethics, and culture. Chapters in Part One are "Liturgy and Social Ethics: Characterizing a Debate," and “Sociologizing the Debate: Identity, Ritual, and Public Commitment.” Chapters in Part Two, Three Case Studies in Atlanta’s Old Downtown are " 'People Living Church’: The Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception,” “’Jesus Saves’: Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church,’” and “’The Church at Work’: Central Presbyterian Church.’” Part Three concludes with "The World in the Church in the World.” Christian Scharen, PhD, is associate director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.

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I Was And I Am Dust

Penitente Practices as a Way of Knowing

David M. Mellott

There are a variety of people, practices, and celebrations in the Catholic Church. At times some of these can be dismissed too easily as extreme, superstitious, or uninformed. Such is the case with the Penitentes of New Mexico. In I Was and I Am Dust, David M. Mellott shares his experiences of the Penitentes as an outsider. He explains their struggles with the institutional church, and some of the seemingly extreme rituals they facilitate during Holy Week. Through the voice of Larry Torres, one of the senior members of the Penitentes, Mellott poignantly provides readers with a more intimate picture of this community of practitioners. Yet so much more than an analysis written by an outsider, this work attempts to understand the experience of those within a group whose practices are considered outside the mainstream. With Mellott and Torres, readers may be surprised to discover a depth of meaning in these practices and to realize the beauty of being dust. David M. Mellott is assistant professor of practical theology and director of ministerial formation at Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in philosophy, ethnography, and theology of ministry. He is committed to supporting and nurturing Christian communities that empower people to live more authentically as they seek to love God, neighbor, and self more deeply.

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Price: $29.95

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Worship As Body Language

Introduction to Christian Worship: An African Orientation

Elochukwu E. Uzukwu, CSSp

Worship sets an assembly in motion movement towards God in response to God's movement towards humans thus creating a resilient and caring community. Worship as Body Language brings the African community's experience of the body and its gestures together with the Christian liturgy, since worship and social action are closely related. The "body language" or gestures of praise, adoration, contemplation, ritual dance, and care of the neighbor are meaningful to the ethnic group; African Christians tune into these body motions to express the one Christian faith. In Worship as Body Language, Father Uzukwu details how patterns of African ritual assemblies and sacred narratives have merged with Jewish, gospel, and early Church traditions to create living Christian communities and liturgies. Using a socio-historical method, this book sheds new light on liturgical action and theology, and suggests more transition rituals. It also provides samples of emergent African Christian liturgies that emphasize intense community participation with appropriate gestures. These local liturgies attest to the patristic principle that different customs actually confirm the unity of our faith in Christ. Scholars teaching and researching the foundations of the liturgy and liturgical inculturation, graduate students, and those organizing workshops on the regional, diocesan, or parish level will find Worship as Body Language a ready handbook on the liturgy. It is also a useful textbook for introducing college students and seminarians to the anthropological, historical, and theological dimensions of the liturgy. Elochukwu E. Uzukwu, CSSp, ThD, lectures in liturgy and African theology in seminaries and Catholic universities in Nigeria, Congo, Zaire, and France. He is the author of Liturgy: Truly Christian, Truly African, and the editor of Bulletin of Ecumenical Theology.

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