i confess a dilemma here. i am obviously interested in reviews of curating worship and want to engage with them. but i also don't like blogs where they overly hype and promote their own books etc so i don't want this blog to become a list of links to reviews whilst at the same time i am really interested in thoughts and responses around curating. and want to engage in them.
so here's what i would like to do though it may be naive in the extreme. i will make this blog post an extended list of reviews so as i come across new ones i'll link to them here. so if you do a review please put a comment or send me an e-mail whether it's positive, negative or somewhere inbetween - robust is the word i have had used to describe reviews i have done recently! so hit me with some robustness... that way the reviews will be collated in one place and i won't drive blog readers away with being too self obsessed hopefully! i'll then repoint to this post every so often. we'll see if that works.
first up is a review from steve taylor who is one of the people i interview in the book who says some kind things and sees it as a mature and honest book. you can follow the link. but thanks steve! i hadn't thought hard about it but steve points out that i locate the book in a dialogue in the creative world rather than the church. that gives away my theology of culture i'm sure which is a view that god is present and at work in culture - i.e. it's sacramental.
maggi dawn loves the cover and gives the book such a wonderful review i'm almost embarrassed to mention it (thanks maggi!). i felt pleased and sad that maggi points out how unusual it is to find a book in which men and women's voices are celebrated in equal measure (pleased i had a good mix and sad that it's unusual as maggi says especially in some of the newer expressions of church where the old sexism remains unchallenged).
ben edson promised some robustness in advance and i think robustness is the way forward in book reviews. if that's your aim you are likely to be honest and make some good points rather than being nice. dare i say ben manages to be robust and nice :-) . he loves the conversation with cheryl lawrie and catches a glimpse of the future in her chapter and some personal inspiration (which is brilliant to hear - makes the book worthwhile to find out it has that effect). he wishes i had reflected more on the conversations to draw out some points. i think that's an interesting idea but maybe it's something to do now i.e. after the book is out? or it would be a different kind of book. for example he wondered whether i could say more about leadership and power - after all curators have power. i will pick up on this - but not here and not now. i am (supposed to be) writing a grove booklet on leadership and i think this question could feed nicely into that. the other issue ben raises is also a very good question - a lot of the things i talk about with people have happened (inevitably as i'm trying to get them to reflect on the way they curate) and many of them are my contemporaries which raises the question of whether a golden era of alt worship is over. what of the future? this is a great question! i need to think about that one some more as well though i'd welcome other peoples insights on this. my instinct is that i wasn't smart enough about who i talked to and did the lazy thing of talking to my peers when i know there are plenty of younger curators out there...
it could be a worrying moment when a satirisist gets hold of your book but becky garrison treats me kindly and picks out curating worship as a book that has helped her connect worship with everyday life.
infuse:inspirit give the book a plug and suggest that i am describing the worship creatives long for, pray for and thrive on when available. that's probably true!
after the book launch ian mobsby read the whole book that evening and sees it as an importat book. the question he raises is to what extent the worship curated is for dechurched and to what extent it is for those with no experience of church. this is another good question. i'm going to have to start making some responses soon! my initial hunch on this is that the process of curating is entirely appropriate for both especially the moves to curate in public spaces but i'll chew on the question a bit more
james porter says it's the finest book about religion/worship/Christianity he's read this year (though does point out he hasn't read many!)
dave pollendine suggest that i have curated a book about curation
rach's blog picks up on what seems to be the most quoted quote so far -
In many church circles the only gifts that are valued for worship are musical ones (and even then of a small range of music) or the ability to speak well (preferably in a good English accent). This attitude needs shattering, and opening up so that poets, photographers, ideas people, geeks, theologians, liturgists, designers, writers, cooks, politicians, architects, movie-makers, storytellers, parents, campaigners, children, bloggers, DJs, VJs, craft-makers, or just anybody who comes and is willing to bounce ideas around, can get involved.
rob ryan likes the notion of creating space for others to discover god as an approach which counters his experience (and frustration) of something very different with someone controlling the message and the outcome.
steve collins gives a very nice short and sweet review where he says -
as an overview of the whole subject it's currently unrivalled, and the book is filled with ideas and perspectives that give much food for thought. it's not a how-to manual - it's about the whys - what curation means in terms of community and theology, and in relation to theories and practices of art curation which may help or hinder us.
building faith has a review by paula hartzell of both my book and mark pierson's the art of curating worship together. it's nice to read a review of someone who is finding the idea of curation fresh and exciting as it pieces together the art world and worship...
I took Baker’s book home for a cozy read, ready to relax with a good spiritual encounter that would touch my more creative spirit. Wow! The book awakened me to a true convergence of Emerging worship and contemporary aesthetic sensibilities. It’s worship settings go way beyond the tame ideas of theme-based altar decorations popular twenty years ago.
andrew jones gives the skinny on it again along with mark's book. whilst he sees mark's book as more passionate, he's still nice about it...
christianity magazine reviewed it and liked the introductory chapters but not the subsequent interviews. i guess that's a taste thing. i loved hans obrist's book precisely because of the direct voices of practitioners but i can see it is a particular style.
pete rollins has it up on his site but doesn't really review it - just plugs it which is fine by me!
on good reads tim beck seems inspired and says
i feel drawn to the role of curator. the church in America needs more curators of worship to help people connect with a living and loving God (in a fresh way).
chelle wade is clocking her reading through 2011 and in her review says
The themes which stood out for me in this book, reading great story after great story, were:
- the power of collaboration – great ideas plus a hard working team get an event up and running, but then the interaction and contribution of all who are present add to the power of the experience, especially when this event is worship.
- the power of art – most of the bible presents truth in story, all of the bible presents truth in the context of relationships. Art can reconnect us with the creative elements of revelation as it recaptures something of the dynamic of our ‘oral tradition’ (i.e. words prior to the printing press).
- humility – to ‘curate’ worship as opposed to ‘lead’ worship (or ‘preach’ the sermon) is able to be more open ended, question oriented, unimposing of one’s own perspective.
tom lennie reviews it on cross rhythms and i confess i expected more reviews like this! he thinks it is very niche which i completely agree with which is why i was surprised anyone wanted to publish it... he also thinks some evangelicals will think it heretical and suggests it is disturning that there isn't more teaching from scripture. i was surprised that he thinks there is a lot of disaffection coming across and think he is getting confused with mark pierson's book at that point. but i didn't imagine for a moment this would either be abn easy read or popular in more evangelical circles.
andy goodliff gives a lengthy review in regent's reviews see pages 28-29. in it he notes the importance of this kind of worship which engages the senses and moves beyond the auditory loosing poets, artists and storytellers. but he also says there are potential weaknesses and wants me to edit another book drawing those out! i can't imagine i will find time currently and he doesn't go on to spell out what those potential weaknesses are though i am sure i can guess some.