I’m glad that someone with a close knowledge of Frank Schulman wrote first about his posthumously-published worship manual.
I’m sorry I said I would review it.
First, I should say that it makes for an endearing memorial to a man so many of us knew as a talented and giving colleague and minister. His advice on ordinations is generally helpful — as a rule, they tend to be liturgically more conservative than much else Unitarian Universalist do — though I think his understanding of the imposition of hands is off-base. His guide also gives the reader an insight as to how well-established First Unitarian churches conducted worship a half-century ago, and how some of the surviving UU Christian churches conduct worship today. Perhaps British Unitarians would have a more positive read of his book, since Schulman seems to be writing for both American and British audiences.
And, at last, the book doesn’t profess to be anything other than a parting gift, in the form of advice and experience. I needed to say that on the outset.
If you are deeply devoted to the memory of Frank Schulman, browse out now.
I cannot recommend his book. It has little or nothing to say to minister-less congregations, self-identified Universalists, Pagans, “non-lyric” Humanists, congregations without traditional church buildings, congregations with multiple modes of worship or persons that want to learn liturgical theory. The marriage service and directions assume not only a bride and a groom, but a bride’s father.
The book is peppered with errors of fact that a new worship learner might not catch, especially in the glossary. To be fair, some of these errors can be fixed by changing current truth into the past tense, and making some absolute statements less so.
Schulman had a highly ordered sense of worship, but I won’t be alone in asking “what’s the point?” He made “do this and not that” distinctions that look arbitrary and to a contemporary sensibility, not very convincing.