Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, edited by Dorothy C. Bass (Jossey-Bass, 232 pp.; $22.50, hardcover);

The Empty Church: The Suicide of Liberal Christianity, by Thomas C. Reeves (Free Press, 276 pp.; $25, hardcover). Reviewed by Robert W. Patterson, a frequent contributor to Christianity Today.

When I was growing up in the 1960s, Sunday—the Lord's Day—was special. The family routine said it all. On Saturday evening, we would get ready for the big day, laying out our Sunday-dress clothes and shining the shoes, while Mom ironed shirts and dresses and Dad gave us boys haircuts. On Sunday morning, we would head off for Sunday school and church in the station wagon, then return home for a big dinner, often with the grandparents, which took the lion's share of the afternoon. We returned to church in the late afternoon for youth groups followed by evening worship—where we learned almost every song in the hymnal. Absolutely nothing interfered with that sacred schedule. We would never darken the door of a store; most of them, including the shopping mall, were closed in any case. Later, when my high-school swimming team would occasionally practice on Sunday night, I had to explain to my coach that I would be in church with my family.

Today, with a family of my own, we still attend Sunday school and worship faithfully every Sunday morning, but the Lord's Day is just not the same. We rarely have a big leisurely dinner, as our extended family lives at a distance. Nor do we return to church in the evening, as many churches have axed Sunday-evening worship services. So I am left with teaching my kids the classic hymns of faith in the family room. On occasion we patronize a commercial establishment—few ...

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