In college, I had a professor who I didn’t like very much. It probably had more to do with the fact that he was cool and I never seemed to connect one-on-one with him. It didn’t help that he was also my advisor.
I flunked out of college and when I came back, I was more focused and tried to take another class with him in an area that I cared deeply about – Survey of Worship. The class was half theology students and half music ministry students. This made for very interesting conversations. One of the books we read was Marva J. Dawn’s A Royal Waste of Time.
It is this book that completely changed the way I have read books since. I have always been a voracious reader, but something changed when reading this book before class started. I started reading the book in the footnotes… before I would finish the chapter I was currently reading! Dawn might reference a book by Neil Postman. I would finish the paragraph, head to the school library and check out the book by Postman. I would read the book, and then go back to finish reading the chapter in Dawn – unless there was another footnote.
I don’t think that Dawn is the most magnificent writer, but there was a beauty in the way she tied theology of worship to the practices of worship. I fell in love with the theology of worship. It was the centerpiece in how I moved forward in the rest of my theological education. My lens for viewing all the other subjects – church history, doctrine of holiness, pastoral leadership/care, etc – was through the lens of worship.
Marva Dawn is the main reason (as interpreted through my professor – who I like a lot more now) I was able to succeed and get my theology degree. This book is what put her on my map.