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Friday, August 31, 2012

Review of Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher L. Webber

[Author note:  HubPages is making changes again and I'm moving some of my hubs to other outlets.  This article was originally published in 2011 when I was considering attending Episcopal services.  I don't plan to now, so please consider this a snapshot in time of my thoughts back then. But this is still a good intro book, so I'm republishing the review here.]

A Beginning

I've been looking for a church that isn't too far right or left of center and won't chase me from the pews if I don't take the Bible completely literally. I would also like a church that is open to discussion on the nature of God.

At the very least, I want to be left alone to contemplate God and vote for who I want to without being denigrated. Growing up Baptist and then spending 20 years in neo-paganism, I know this is a tall order as I've found that some people of both religions don't allow much room for discussion politically, religiously, or socially.

From the research I've done so far, the Episcopal Church would seem to be a good fit. But I wanted to read an introductory text on the church and Christopher L. Webber's Welcome to the Episcopal Church: An Introduction to its History, Faith, and Worship is where I began.

History of the Church

I've seen some reviews which criticize the fact that Webber has more history than theology in the book. I don't agree with this view. Besides being interested in history in general, I think someone completely new to the Episcopal Church would be interested in learning about its origins. Knowing the history of a branch of faith also gives you insight into what shapes the theology.

Webber covers the beginning of the church from the Church of England and its outreach to the world. He spends the most time on the history of the church in America which I found fascinating.

Theology and Worship

What attracted me first to even considering the Episcopal Church is their emphasis on scripture, tradition and reason—reason being the key word for me. Webber explains how the Bible is seen and interpreted in the church, something they get a lot of flack for. And after reading his explanation, I don't see why unless the person criticizing their approach actually thinks we shouldn't remember the times the Bible was written. He also delves into the fact that a cornerstone of the church is worship and developing a community which is what seems to have been the driving force in growing the church in America.

Study Format and the Author

There are questions at the end of each chapter to get readers thinking more. I would assume this book is used in new member classes in the church.

According to the bio in the book, Mr. Webber is an Episcopalian priest who has served in many types of parishes including city, suburban and overseas. He has a conversational writing style. He's speaks honestly about the good in the church as well as why some see it as negative. Some of his other books include The Vestry Handbook and Welcome to Sunday: An Introduction to Worship in the Episcopal Church.

Rating

The author touches on the most important aspects new members are likely to be curious about. But due to the fact that it's a very short book at under 150 pages, none are explained in depth. I give this 4 stars out of 5 for being a good place to start for those who don't know anything about the church.

FTC Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the library and I have not been compensated by the publisher for this review.



 © Trish Deneen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Runa Raven and Rune-Gild News

Update February 2013:  Unfortunately, I didn't receive my order from Runa Raven after many months.  I received one email with a lame excuse but did not receive any response when I asked them to either send my order or refund my money.  While I may still enjoy books that were published through Runa Raven Press, I couldn't recommend doing business with Mr. Thorsson if he ever decides to open the Press again.

****

Runa Raven Press, the Northern European tradition publishing house run by Edred Thorsson, is closing September 20, 2012.  Thorsson is the author of the rune magic trilogy consisting of Futhark:  A Handbook of Rune Magic, Runelore:  A Handbook of Esoteric Runology, and Runecaster's Handbook among many others.  I know he's a controversial figure but I enjoy his rune writings as part of the larger body of rune books by many authors and he's certainly no intellectual slouch.

They're still taking orders up until the end date.  Besides runic titles, there are books on Heathenism, other magical traditions and the left hand path.  Read more at the link.  Runa Raven Closing 9/20/2012

Thorsson's initiatory order, the Rune-Gild, has also undergone some changes in the last year.  A post from April 2012 states that the Gild was destroyed and recreated with a different structure.  Thorsson left as chief administrator of the Gild and it's now run by a High-Rede consisting of four members.  Thorsson still continues on as the executive officer.  From the site:
"An important dissolution, transformation, and reintegration of the Gild took place at the World Gild Moot on November 11th, 2011ev. Through ritual re-dedication and pragmatic reorganization, the Gild affirmed its essential unity and common purpose. There are many abroad in the world today who may have been part of the Gild in the past, but only those who were there when the Spear was raised and the Stone was carved – together with those they have named as fellow travelers – will truly know the shape of the Gild and do its work in years to come."
Thorsson's book The Nine Doors of Midgard is the foundation for the Gild's work.  You don't have to be a member to work with the book.  But if you wish to, then the first step is to become an associate which includes a one-time fee of $50.  With this, you receive Nine Doors plus Gildisb√≥k, a text that I don't believe is available to the public.  There is also a forum for members.  Visit the Rune-Gild site to learn more.

© P.J. Deneen