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The Dangers of Christian Practice: On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Challenging the central place that “practices” have recently held in Christian theology, Lauren Winner explores the damages these practices have inflicted over the centuries

Sometimes, beloved and treasured Christian practices go horrifyingly wrong, extending violence rather than promoting its healing. In this bracing book, Lauren Winner provocatively challenges the assump
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Yale University Press
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Rachel This is a scholarly book, so the tone, level of academic detail, and density of the argument will be significantly different from books like *Mudhouse…moreThis is a scholarly book, so the tone, level of academic detail, and density of the argument will be significantly different from books like *Mudhouse Sabbath* or *Girl Meets God.* It probably has more in common with her *A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith* (Yale UP, 2010) than her better-known books. It jumps right into the theological deep end, launching a technical discussion of the doctrine of sin in the very first paragraph. It's an important work of theology, but not something to read because you are seeking the joy of spending time with Winner's accessible prose styling as found in her more popular books. (less)

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Adam Shields
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Takeaway: Spiritual practices are not magic bullets.

Over the past few years I have become a disciple of spiritual practices. I have a spiritual director. I regularly use the Book of Common Prayer. I really do think that the eucharist and baptism should be central to worship. This makes me the target audience of Lauren Winner’s new book, the Dangers of Christian Practice.

The rough thesis is that spiritual practices, while good, have weaknesses that need to be paid attention to. Just like the chu
This is an important contribution to the discussion of Christian practices that deserves serious attention. Winner's careful historical work describing and analyzing the ways some beloved Christian practices (Eucharist, petitionary prayer, baptism) can be badly deformed is an important corrective to much theological and devotional work that treats Christian practices as unalloyed goods. The work draws richly on Winner's scholarly and pastoral sensitivities in fruitful ways.

As with the best of co
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a really helpful and challenging addition to the conversation around Christian practices. It raises important questions about the reception and enactment of the gifts of Eucharist, prayer and Baptism which do not allow for easy or rose-tinted answers. Instead Winner calls us to grapple with the ways in which these practices have become deformed in our all too human hands not to cause us to despair but rather to call us to an honest participation in these divine gifts which God still uses ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Winner's book argues against the notion that Christianity has a set of pristine practices that are immune to corruption. She argues this by looking at the history of certain practices: How the Eucharist caused antisemitism, prayer has been used by slave-owners to make their slaves more obedient (and make themselves feel better about beating them), baptism that is used to reinforce social loyalties and divisions, etc. While the immediate knee-jerk reaction to all these stories is that these were ...more
Jonathan Badgley
Lauren F. winner’s The Fangers of Christian Practice is a thoughtful review of the ways Christian practices, sacraments of Eucharist, Prayer and Baptism in particular, can and have been deformed in Church history. Winner argues that Christian practices bear within them intrinsically the modes of their deformation:

* Eucharist is reflective of violence, and anti-Semitic violence has plagued church history, specifically leading from the metaphysics of Eucharist
* Prayer is about our desires and inti
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My women’s ministry group just started Wendy Capp’s Me Over We--a study of loving and living as the church. Scripture tells us, "His bride has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7) Lauren F. Winner’s The Dangers of Christian Practice provides a perfect companion to Capp’s study as Winner explores the ways that we can fulfill Revelation 19:7. She addresses the underbelly of Christian practices gone wrong, blighted by the sin of the sinners who practice them. Winner shines light on the insidious stains ...more
Potter McKinney
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Winner has written what is one of the most important theological works for our present moment that addresses, in such an elegantly, literary, yet immediately intelligible way, what Christians have to do with the nitty-gritty of our oft-blighted history. It is easy to think that the simple solution to the world’s problems is to pray more, grow the church, commune more people, encourage fasting, or any other sort of practice. One wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But, Winner argues, these things ofte ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
While the premise of this book shows promise and the author probably has a strong argument in her own mind, she fails to back it up with much useful analysis. Most of the anecdotes are significantly lacking a broader cultural perspective and some of her conclusions seem to be a reach. I was particularly disappointed with the chapter that was based solely on newspaper clippings from the 19th century as justification for why people did things. The most redeeming quality of the book were the commen ...more
Rob O'Lynn
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read it, and I appreciate the conversations that Winner is attempting to have. However, it is not a "novel," as proposed. It is a collection of obscure case-studies, which is in itself problematic. Her conclusions are more prompted by anecdotal doctrinal debate than biblical exegesis. If she had spent as much time reading Paul rather than missals, she may have landed on some more solid -- if not still controversial -- conclusions that would have allowed for conversation and debate, rather than ...more
David Bjorlin
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm still mulling over whether I completely agree with Winner's claims, but I believe this is an important and necessary challenge to those theologians, ethicists, and liturgists that have treated worship and Christian practices as goods that work ex opere operato to form people in the Christian virtues.
Amanda Patchin
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated Winner's corrective perspective. I would have appreciated more philosophical reflection and insight into changing our approach to the rhetoric of practices in the church. I think that Winner's challenge will be helpful to Christian educators thinking about the "characteristic damage" of even the best teaching practices - I know that I will be reflecting on this for some time.
Andrew Blok
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I don't read that much theology, so this one was a stretch for me at times. A powerful look at some of the ways Christian practices (Eucharist, prayer and baptism) can lead to harm (or at least anti-Christian beliefs).
Jon Coutts
May 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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For me this has to be in the conversation for theological book of the decade -- the result of which might depend on which decade Jennings' 2010 The Christian Imagination belongs in.
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Lauren F. Winner is the author of numerous books, including Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath. Her study A Cheerful & Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia was published in the fall of 2010 by Yale University Press. She has appeared on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washing ...more

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