EUCHARISTIC MEDITATIONS FOR "MERE CHRISTIANS"
A Review of Michael McNichols, Shadow Meal: Reflections on Eucharist. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
by Gregory Holmes Singleton, PhD, OFR
Community of St. Francis, Chicago
Just as C.S. Lewis presented Mere Christianity by transcending denominational and theological fine distinctions (or flew under their radar—choose the image that works for you), so Michael McNichols wisely brings us into reflective encounters with Eucharist as experienced rather than wrangle with dead-end debates on how real “Real Presence” really is. In place of static definitions, McNichols places the Eucharist in the context of the complexities, ambiguities and contradictions of daily life. Conversely he also puts the complexities, ambiguities and contradictions of daily life in the context of the Eucharist. In so doing, he invites us to think about this “Shadow Meal” as a place where we meet one another in Christ, a place where we meet Christ in one another, and where we experience a foretaste of the feast to come.
McNichols is an Evangelical theologian with considerable pastoral experience. The theologian is certainly present in these reflections, but the pastoral spirit dominates the substance and the style of this book. Some of McNichols fellow Evangelicals may have some problems with his mystical and downright sacramental perspective on Eucharist. Conversely, some Western Catholics, particularly those with a bent for scholasticism, may have difficulty with the lack of dogmatic definition. This Western Catholic Christian reviewer (with a slight touch of Eastern Orthodoxy in him) found the book both a delight and wonderfully instructive. I found food for thought at every page. Like the “Shadow Meal” itself, I was nourished not only when I partook, but the nourishment remains as I continue to contemplate the varied (and often humorous) reflections offered between the covers of this slim volume with huge implications