When I Review Webber’s Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail

Ever since I read the Huffington Post’s “8 Habits of Extremely Well-Rested People” last week, I’ve been trying to become, well, better-rested. One of the changes I’ve implemented is putting away my electronics (other than my Kindle) an hour before I go to sleep and engaging in some kind of winding-down routine: usually personal hygiene, a bit of reading, and some stretching. I’ve had quite a few theological books open and unfinished on my Kindle bookshelf for the past six to eight months, to be honest, so I figured why not start there as far as pre-bedtime reading goes. I picked up (virtually picked up, that is) Robert Webber’s Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals are Attracted to the Liturgical Church because I’d only left off reading it at about 40% through.

Preface: the toughest part of my new reading ritual has been staying awake for the full hour before bedtime! Teaching seriously wears me out. I say this as a preface because I want you to know that I wasn’t falling asleep because Webber’s book was a bore but only because I have a day job of lesson plans/unit plans/course outlines/grading/constant human interaction!

But . . . Webber’s book WAS a bore. Or at least it turned out to be a bore. To be fair, I didn’t settle on that label until I was three-quarters of the way through. When I first started reading it months ago, I thought it was fairly interesting, a little dry, much more un-academic than I’d anticipated, and somewhat one-sided. When I “picked” it back up last week, I thought it was fairly interesting and on the verge of becoming more interesting as I hit Part Two, the part where Webber shares a number of others’ personal stories about their evangelical-meets-the-liturgy experiences. And then it all of a sudden turned COMPLETELY. BORING. With a turn toward I’m-irritated-now-I’m-more-irritated-now-I’m-REALLY-irritated-because-why-can’t-there-be-some-diversity-in-these-stories?! thrown into the pot as well. Part Two seemed as if Webber had simply a) chosen a handful of people who agreed with his preference for the liturgical to say the same thing over and over again and to include a bunch of dates and official church and event names instead of simply sharing their stories. (Whew, long-winded complaint. Sorry.) Part One was, well — I barely remember it. And Part Three, well — I did what I hatehatehate to do and just put the book down without finishing it. So I can’t tell you about Part Three.

Moral of the story: The title of this book was catchy, at least for me, but a waste of my anticipation. Second moral of the story: Keep trusting Rachel Held Evans’ recommendations because, fear not, this book was only once referenced by her, not recommended.

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