A number of Werntz’s suggested practices—e.g., regular use of corporate and pre-written prayers, and identifying with a classic confession of faith rather than a mission statement—are already common in many, more traditional Protestant churches and in Roman Catholic churches. Indeed, one gets the impression that Werntz’s argument is aimed primarily at nondenominational evangelicals and Baptists.
It is a hard task to learn to plant roots in a place from which you know you will be uprooted. It is also the task that we, mirroring Israel in Jeremiah 29, are called to do. Through the process of planting gardens, marrying, having children, raising our children, and being planted and watered, we can shadow what our true home is to our neighbors and loved ones.
Ordinary practices may not seem to warrant the kind of energy and attention we devote to global and international affairs, especially given the present calamity. But they most certainly do. After all, even the biggest tasks—including the call to partner with God to rule, bless, and love the world—are accomplished one step at a time.
On return trips to Illinois, or when talking to relatives on the phone, I can tell the difference. Life is a little slower where I grew up, and the people are often more polite and considerate of others. I know from experience how considerate they can be.
It is perhaps that personal search for contentment that makes this book a notable contribution to the literature on the American racial problem: Milliner’s “penitent Midwest regionalism” is first of all an attempt to heal within himself the disease and discontentment produced in those of us who have been told that what matters about us is that we are white.
A Good Party, Tara Isabella Burton suggests, is “a place where bonds of friendship, fostered in a spirit of both charity and joy, serve as the building blocks for communal life overall.” With 52 contributors filling almost 500 pages, we’re speaking of something close to a block party, one at which we run into some familiar faces, meet a number of wonderful new people, and even glimpse a few Almost Famous People.
If such substitution and exchange were genuinely possible, would we agree with Lewis that no gift was more gladly given? Would we too readily assume we could bear another’s burden and so sink ourselves under more than we could carry? Or, would our burdens be lightened by such sharing?
A final benefit of the liturgical lifestyle is its uniting force. Liturgical and sanctoral calendars vary among Christian confessions, echoing more divisive pieties and doctrines. But when the things Christians have in common include commoner things—walks and bonfires, buns and roses—we have one more point of connection.
Frank Mulder is preaching the same Gospel. Pictures of Frank Mulder make him look like he could be a modern-day Johnny Appleseed, on a bicycle, planting sycamores instead of apple trees, helping people, one by one, break free from the threefold madness of money, planning, and crowds.