Book Review: Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground

Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground Book Review

When I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure I was going to review it, let alone enjoy it. By the time I got to the end of it, whilst I was still sure it is pretty niche, I was glad I’d read it and think that for leaders of churches with large buildings (Whether they are technically cathedrals or not!) it is a useful piece of theological reflection. It is, of course, also more than that.

The Church Times noted that this is a rather expensive book – and that will limit it’s utility and readership.

This is a shame. Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground is an important book in the emerging field of cathedral studies not because it opens this field up (though it does!) but because it is a readable and fascinating introduction to some important areas of debate. The author takes the reader by the hand – as someone not well versed in the field, I was walked carefully through the book in a way that made me feel I had understood what was going on, whilst also aware that there was more going on than I was understanding!

In four parts – eleven chapters, including the short conclusion – Muskett invites us to consider the legacy, minsitry and reality of cathedrals and greater churches. Whilst she focuses almost exclusively on the Church of England, there are lessons here for those involved in running churches with large buildings regardless of their tradition. Simply put, I think those involved in leadership at, say, Trent Vineyard in Nottingham, would be well placed to read this book and ponder it. Muskett’s work here intersects with thinking about mission, architecture, place, public space and more, in a way that means that it is worth reading even if (like this reviewer) it is not necessarily the most obvious book to pick up.

If this review makes sense to you and piques your interest, I would suggest that Shop Window, Flagship, Common Ground might be worth borrowing from your local library or getting as an eBook. It’s high price means, sadly, that it will likely not easily get the readership that this interesting and unique book deserves.

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