Another book review thanks to the Book Review program of Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nora Gallagher wrote The Sacred Meal as part of the 8 volume “Ancient Practices” series edited by Phyllis Tickle covering topics like fasting, spiritual disciplines, sabbath, etc. Gallagher’s volume discusses the history, practice, and mystery of the Eucharist. She is a writer, not a scholarly theologian, and her insights into the practice of Communion represent the beauty that she finds in this ancient Christian practice.
This is a book I read slowly. I found myself rereading parts – writing parts down – and sharing the book’s words with others. Gallagher is a gifted writer, and the book’s insights are powerful. She combines stories with theology with history with memoir to capture the transcendent nature of the Eucharist. She describes Communion as a practice, intended to “gradually move us out of one place and into another” (15). Gallagher paints a picture the Eucharist as a practice which deeply affects us – our theology as well as our physical reality. Scanning the reviews on Amazon, a number of concerns have been raised about Gallagher’s orthodoxy and theological precision. While I did not fully agree with Gallagher’s theology in all areas (particularly some Christological implications), I believe that, even if at times imprecise, her reflections on the beauty and mystery of Communion are valuable and beneficial.