Can Christian worship engage our secular culture? Should it? While engaging thinkers in philosophy, history, religious anthropology, and liturgical theology, liturgical theologian Joris Geldhof argues that such engagement is necessary-that our liturgy and faith should embrace our modern culture. He shows that liturgy itself is an immensely resourceful reality that appeals to any human being, regardless of sociocultural and intellectual circumstances. If properly understood, the liturgy can provide a powerful dynamic that helps people overcome any binary, including the unfortunate one between the "left" and "right" within the Catholic Church.
Joris Geldhof is professor of liturgical studies and sacramental theology at Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, where he chairs the Liturgical Institute and serves as editor in chief of the bilingual journal Questions Liturgiques/Studies in Liturgy. His major research foci are liturgical theology, the Eucharist, and the place of worship in contemporary cultures. He was elected President of Societas Liturgica for 2017-2019.
"Gelfhof's thesis, which is the result of in-depth theological research, cannot be summarized. There is only one option: read the book. Anyone interested in fundamental questions related to the liturgy, the world, God, and being human, will gain much from reading this book."
Tijdschrift voor Theologie
"Pulling together a decade of scholarly research and essays into a single book, Joris Geldhof brings to a wider audience a much-needed application of social-philosophical theory to move analysis of the weakening force of liturgy in late-modernity beyond the tired polemics of so-called traditionalist versus reformist church politics to a deeper understanding of the fundamental challenges yet unique potential for liturgical practice today."
Bruce T. Morrill, SJ, Vanderbilt University
"Geldhof works to heal what most identify as a glaring chasm between liturgy and culture. Bringing together more than a decade's worth of research on the topic, Geldhof contends that the choice between participation in worship and participation in the way of the world is really an artificial ideological construct that demands to be nuanced."
Catholic Books Review
"How does one release a logjam? We ask because there does seem to be a deadlock in certain conversations over liturgy these days. Geldhof proposes that we must look for that bottom log that is jamming things up, and for him that is not the impasse between left and right, it is rather a more radical issue: the relationship of sacred liturgy to the secular world. Utilizing an array of philosophers and interpreters of culture, he challenges the definition of secularism with which we work; utilizing an array of historians and liturgists, he challenges our epistemological approach to liturgy in favor of a soteriological one. The result is not a modernized liturgy, but a liturgy that functions in our modern lives."
David W. Fagerberg, University of Notre Dame
"By situating his theological reflection on the liturgy within and alongside of his interdisciplinary discussion of philosophy and anthropology, he makes legitimate his claim. Having identified the problem, Geldhof sets aside the theories of anthropologists and phenomenologists about ritual, and instead explores the works of liturgical pioneers from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to articulate that `deeper insight into the nature of the liturgy.'"
"Setting liturgical experience in critical dialogue with the current cultural moment—using the deepest insights of the liturgical movement to elucidate the former while using philosophy, anthropology, and the history of ideas to make clear the latter—Joris Geldhof has borne witness to a liturgical theology that joins together matters that are frequently divorced: church and world, cult and culture, heaven and earth, religion and politics, God's future and the present age. This learned, wise, and clearly-written book invites us again to a dense celebration of the liturgy as a complex of symbols that can save us all from the loneliness and isolation belonging to ideological secularism, while refusing to reject secularity itself. Both progressive and conservative, this lovely book affirms the world while welcoming God's urgently needed salvation."
Gordon W. Lathrop, Professor of Liturgy Emeritus, United Lutheran Se minary of Pennsylvania Past-President, Societas Liturgica and Past-President, North American Academy of Liturgy