Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review: "The Sacred Meal" by Nora Gallagher

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher is a Christian memoir exploring the subject of Communion. Gallagher relates her personal experiences and insights into the various elements of receiving and distributing the Eucharist. While it was a quick and interesting read, I found it a bit disappointing in its lack of factual information.

One of the positive elements of the book is the structure of the chapters. Gallagher breaks down the topic of Communion into separate sections providing an opportunity for reflection on each aspect. The chapters are broken down as: Waiting to receive communion, receiving, after receiving, the history of communion, practical applications of receiving and the benefits thereof. I really enjoyed reflecting on these separately as a way to deepen my own Eucharistic experience.

A weakness of the book was the narrow Protestant audience it addresses, with an irreverence toward Catholics. As a Catholic I found this rather disappointing. I believe this book would have made for a more compelling read had it been inclusive to all Christians--Catholic and Protestant alike. Her lack of facts regarding the Catholic Church left me irritated. Furthermore she makes some rather bold statements on the subject of who can and should receive communion. In an attempt to draw all to the Communion Table, she over-simplifies important matters such as Transubstantiation. Matters such as these cannot just be tossed aside as petty minutia. While I appreciate her desire to mend the division of the Schism between Christian sects her message falls flat in its lack of facts. One cannot undo hundreds of years of theological differences with the mere telling of a few personal anecdotes.

Although flawed, the book had some beautiful moments including her personal religious experiences and unique insights regarding the Eucharist. Gallagher's devotion to Christ and her desire draw people near to Him shines through. Her love of the Eucharist is very clear, as is her belief that receiving Him is an amazing gift of the utmost importance. The book's high points almost cancel out its flaws, so long as one can overlook the lack of facts and narrow audience it addresses. I came away with fresh insights and a greater appreciation of the Sacrament of Communion. This book would make a refreshing read for a fallen-away Christian or someone who has had negative experiences with the Church but is looking to make a return.

While I wouldn't recommend this book to someone looking for facts, I believe it would make a pleasurable read for a Christian looking to deepen his or her Eucharistic experience. If you're interested in a Christian memoir, you might want to give this book a try. However if you're looking for solid information on the topic of Communion, I would definitely look elsewhere.

Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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