At the behest of Russ (who himself has a blog, but, alas, I know not where), our resident computer genius, and in response to his passing chastisement concerning the recent inactivity here at CommonPlaces, I  give you these new and interesting book acquisitions in the library:

Nancy Kalikow Maxwell, Sacred Stacks: The Higher Purpose of Libraries and Librarianship (Chicago: American Library Association, 2006). Much of this book is pure drivel. It is, after all, a product of the ALA. The second chapter, however, was really quite interesting: Librarians Perform Sacred Functions. I came to be a librarian after several years of pastoral ministry, and so I found this chapter’s comparisons of librarians and clergy to be rather interesting (dare I say “insightful?”). That most clergy and librarians are INFJ in personality type is understandable. As is the comparison of librarians with ministers, especially in my context at a theological seminary. I was intrigued by her discussion of “Librarians as Respected Priests,” “Librarians and Receivers of Confessions,” “Librarians as Seers and Gurus,” and “Librarians as Magicians.” She obviously attributes way too much secular religiousity to the vocation of librarianship. Her points about libraries promoting community and transmitting culture to future generations, however, are extremely valid points. But perhaps the author goes a bit far in comparing librarians with “Ascetic, Self-Sacrificing Monks.” Oh, and it wouldn’t be an ALA product without “Librarians as Prophets for Social Justice.”

Charlotte Kroeker, ed., Music in Christian Worship: At the Service of the Liturgy (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2005). I mention this book only in order to recommend the first chapter, “Thinking About Church Music,” by the recently retired Nicholas Wolterstorff from Yale University. Wolterstorff’s philosophical argumentation usually goes way over my head, but I found this chapter to be particularly clear. His discussion of “fittingness” in musical style is especially helpful. Though I may not agree with all that he has to say here (I am, however, still chewing on much of it), it is refreshing to read something substantive and objective on the issue. And not by a Southern Baptist with a church to grow.

Ryan K. Smith, Gothic Arches, Latin Crosses: Anti-Catholicism and American Church Designs in the Nineteenth Century (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006). Just plain interesting.

Roger Homan, The Art of the Sublime: Principles of Christian Art and Architecture (Ashgate, 2006). For when you are feeling like you need more culture in your life.

The Classical Good CD & DVD Guide, 2006 is a 1400+ page book of over 3000 reviews of Classical music CDs currently available. Really quite good.