Judith A. Merkle examines the situation of Christian spirituality today, in a secular age, through the images of dance, silence, and music. Drawing on the work of Charles Taylor as well as core aspects of the tradition of Christian theology on discipleship, Merkle asks how these new conditions affect the practice of Christianity as modern discipleship.
The author calls God the music maker. She argues that response to the reality of God can be captured through the image of dance. Merkle reminds us that people in secular society connect to God in diverse ways, not in the least through the call of creation and the call of conscience. She explores discipleship as a lens through which we can understand how a community of faith, service, prayer, worship, and sacramentality can be viewed and integrated in daily life. She emphasizes how the interconnection between prayer, Eucharist, and a believing community is inseparable from the dance of discipleship as it can be lived in secular society. The image of dancing to silent music is a powerful symbol of Christian religious experience in modern times.
Judith Merkle has written a nuanced and thought-provoking book about the future of Christian faith and practice in a secular age. ... Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant and nuanced interpreter of the complex contours of modernity. * Studies in Christian Ethics * In this signal volume, Judith A. Merkle invites us to consider the features of a renewed Christianity not in flight from the earthly city, the saeculum or secular world, but through an engagement that meets the best of human aspirations, pointing humanity and all of creation to their proper end. Merkle identifies the issues that Christians must grapple with if the church is to renew its mission in a changing world and avoid the useless resuscitation of obsolete forms of religiosity. A must-read. * Catherine E. Clifford, Saint Paul University, Canada * Combining erudite scholarship with lucid prose, Judith A. Merkle provides an elegant account of the search for the transcendent in the modern world. Her interdisciplinary analyses illuminate the function of faith and spirituality in a climate of contingency. In this ambitious book, Merkle deftly choreographs a new asceticism for our day. * Kristin E. Heyer, Boston College, USA * Merkle's analysis of secularity deepens our appreciation of its profound influence on religious and nonreligious people alike. She explores how our secular context requires reconsideration of our understanding of church and salvation, and the development of new spiritual and religious practices. This clearly written, creative book is theologically insightful and a rich resource for pastoral practice and reflection on one's own life of discipleship. * Christopher P. Vogt, St. John's University, USA *