The nineteenth century was a period of intense religious conflict across Europe, as people confronted the major changes brought by modernity. In Zurich, one phase of this religious conflict was played out in a struggle over revisions to the ritual of baptism. In its analysis of the Zurich conflict, Liturgy Wars offers a strategy for understanding the links between theology, ritual, and socio-politics. Theodore M. Vial offers a new perspective on contemporary ritual studies - and critiques the cognivist approaches of Lawson and McCauley, as well as Catherine Bell's analysis of power and the body - by reintergrating the imporatance of speech acts into considerations of ritual.
"Connecting historical theology with ritual theory, Theodore M. Vial's well-written and stimulating book analyzes this liturgy war, which ended, in 1868, with a stalemate: the adoption of two baptismal rites…Vial's book presses an important point of discussion between those scholars who emphasize practice and those who search for a cognitive theory of ritual." -- The Journal of Religion