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Author Topic: Recommended Reading for Those New to Orthodoxy  (Read 17197 times) Average Rating: 5
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« on: April 22, 2008, 07:20:10 PM »

Since we've had several requests for books explaining Orthodoxy, let's start a thread here for that.  Please list the title, author, and a brief synopsis of the book.  Thank you!

To start:

The Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  Includes a section on the history of the Orthodox Church and a section giving an overview of doctrines of the Church.

The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  More on the doctrines of the Church, but more in depth than what is found in TOC.
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2008, 07:54:17 PM »

The Mountain of Silence by Kyriacos Markides is a book that helped me a lot. It's about the Athonite tradition of Christian spirituality and prayer of the heart.

The only thing to be aware of is that sometimes the author expresses views that don't quite agree with "orthodox" Orthodoxy, but it's fairly easy to tell when he is giving his own interpretation instead of the interpretation of the Church. He is an academically trained sociologist, which at least partially accounts for some of his non-traditional interpretations of things. But on the whole it is a good book.
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2008, 02:51:31 PM »

Introducing the Orthodox Church by Fr Anthony Coniaris.    
The Illumined Heart by Frederica Matthews-Green        
Let Us Attend! A Journey through the Orthodox Liturgy  by Fr Lawrence Farley
Christ in the Psalms by Fr Patrick Henry Reardon    
Early Christian Writings  ed. by A. Louth (Penguin)      
ditto on  His Grace Kallistos Ware's books.
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2008, 12:51:29 PM »

These are not exactly books explaining Orthodoxy, but I do not trust most of them.  They often seem so careless:  some sacrifice the faith in the groves of Academe, while others prettify revelation with religion.  The list which follows was called EASILY OVERLOOKED ORTHODOX GIANTS OF THE 20TH CENTURY, but could also be dubbed

BOOKS I WISH I HAD READ AT THE CUSP
 
In the last few decades there has been a fair explosion of Orthodox literature.  Here as elsewhere circumstances indifferent to merit have arbitrarily awarded some worthy giants with plenty of exposure (one thinks in music of Beethoven or Wagner) and others with silence or footnotes (one thinks of Spohr or Field).  This list merely mentions giants who are not as widely read as many other deserving ones.
 
1.  Fr. Schmemann wrote a good number of books on most if not all essential aspects of the faith.  However, his journals (_The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann_, Juliana Schmemann, trans.) are possibly more precious, revealing the heart from which all his academic work originated.  His observations on church, church politics and life are invaluable correctives on the main directions in which most Christians are inclined to veer:  academics, by which the faith is reduced cynically to mere opinion; politics, by which the faith is simply lost from sight in the daily struggle for domination; and pietism, by which the accidents obtain a decisive victory over essence.  In the bargain, the reader is introduced to the finest example of humanism this century may have to offer.
 
2.-5. Mother Gavrilia (_Ascetic Of Love: Mother Gavrilia_, by Nun Gavrilia [a spiritual daughter]) and Elder Porphyrios (_Elder Porphyrios:  A Spiritual Child Remembers_, by Klitos Joannidis & _Elder Porphyrios: Testimonies and Experiences_, by Constantine Yiannitsiotis) offer the reader the lives and wisdom of two souls who loved Christ with all their hearts.  It is difficult to express in words what it means to see this love in action.  Another book has come out on Elder Porphyrios (_Elder Porphyrios:  Wounded by Love_, ed. by the Sisters of the Holy Convent of Chrysopis), which will gratify deeply the fans of Elder Porphyrios.  What Mr. Gavrilia and Elder Porphyrios offer the world is astounding.

6.  Mother Maria died in the Nazi Holocaust.  Her essays on Orthodoxy (Mother Maria Skobtsova: _Essential Writings_, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2003) rank among the most incisive critiques of Orthodoxy.  However, she does not satirize or lampoon; all her criticism comes directly from a positive vision, one which brought her to an early death.  

DanM
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2008, 01:55:57 PM »

When discussing books about the Orthodox faith, it's important to note that there are several different categories of books each dealing with different aspects of the Orthodox Christian life.  Below is a list that includes several books in a few categories for those in various stages of 'newness'.  I add this list to the great list of books already mentioned.

1. The Orthodox Study Bible.  

2. On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius.  Remains as the definitive exposition of Orthodox Trinitarianism.  Every Christian library should have this book.  I've given an online link to it, but do yourself a favor and purchase it so you can highlight it and go back to it over and over.

3. The Ancestral Sin by Fr. John Romanides. A comparative study of the sin of our ancestors Adam and Eve according to 1) the paradigms and doctrines of the first-and second-century Church and 2) the Augustinian formulation of original sin.  

4. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church by Vladimir Lossky.  In this classic study of Orthodox theology, Lossky states that "in a certain sense all theology is mystical, inasmuch as it shows forth the divine mystery: the datat of revelation...the eastern tradtion has never made a sharp distinction between mysticism and theology, between personal experience of the divine myteries and the dogma affirmed by the Church." The term "mystical theology" denotes the realm of human experience, that which is accessible yet inaccessible; those things understood yet surpassing all knowledge.

5. Beginning to Pray by Archbishop Anthony Bloom.  A wonderful little (but spiritually giant) book which deals with prayer.  Archbishop Anthony was a medical surgeon turned monastic.  

6. The Heart by Archimandrite Spyridon Logothetis.  From the back cover- ""Every man has two hearts.  One is the body's heart.  The other is the soul's heart.  The good or bad condition of both of our hearts is very important.  If something happens to either one, then we have heart problems and our life is in danger, whether it is the life of our body or the life of our sould.  Unfortunately, many Christians, both clergy and laity still don't understnd this.  And although they take great care to appear externally good, decent, honest, consistent, religious and loyal people, unfortunately they care very little, if at all, or almost at all, about having a clean, good and holy heart."  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

7. Return: Repentance and Confession- Return to God and to His Church by Archimandrite Nektarios Antonopoulos.  Most of us take the Mystery of Repentance (Confession) for granted.  This little gem guides us back to the original attitude and to a correct approach to Confession in a gentle and loving manner.  

8. The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Klimakos (Climacus).  Not enough can be said about this giant of a book.  Traditionally read during Great Lent, it's wisdom is timeless and should be read throughout the year.

9. Any book that deals with, and explains, the Divine Liturgy.  It is incumbent upon all Orthodox Christians to not just participate when they can, but to understand the rubrics and prayers of the Divine Liturgy.  It's difficult to fully appreciate something if you don't adequately understand it.

10. The Great Lives of the Saints

In Christ,

Gabriel



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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2008, 02:13:00 PM »

These are not exactly books explaining Orthodoxy, but I do not trust most of them.  They often seem so careless:  some sacrifice the faith in the groves of Academe, while others prettify revelation with religion. 

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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2008, 02:33:53 PM »

Unsubstantiated subjectivity.

Is "unsubstantiated" meant to be a pleonasm?
I do believe that a great deal of research really is what we often despise popularization for being--substantiated opinion.
Therefore, I cannot totally disagree with your charge.
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2009, 03:52:18 AM »

I am new to Orthodoxy. I was baptized into the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on June 15, 2008. I came to the Church from Protestantism. Although I am Non-Chalcedonian (or Oriental Orthodox), Kallistos Ware's book, The Orthodox Church, has been very helpful.

For those like myself who are coming to Orthodoxy from a Protestant background, I also highly recommend Daniel B. Clendenin's book Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A Western Perspective

But for those who are seriously interested in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, please make sure to read Archbishop Abuna Yesehaq'sbook The Ethiopian Tewahedo Church: An Integrally African Church

The Ethiopian Synaxarium: Lives of the Saints has also been extremely edifying. You can read this and download it at "Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Books Online."

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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2009, 05:18:43 AM »

9. Any book that deals with, and explains, the Divine Liturgy.  It is incumbent upon all Orthodox Christians to not just participate when they can, but to understand the rubrics and prayers of the Divine Liturgy.  It's difficult to fully appreciate something if you don't adequately understand it.


One of the classic little books on the Liturgy is Nikolai Gogol's "Meditations on the Divine Liturgy."

Not overly scholarly or historical but an inspirational treasure of a book which people come back to again and again.  
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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2009, 08:47:52 AM »

I recall that during my short catechumenate (January - early February 2007) I was particularly impressed by "Journals" of Fr. Alexander Schmemann. My priest gave me a list of books, including Lossky and Metr. Kallistos, but back then, these books did not impress or influence me to the extent Fr. Alexander's daily sketches of life and faith did. Honestly, I found Lossky incredibly thick and boring, and Metr. Kallistos "prettifying" things in a very "propagandistic" way. Since that time my perception of both L. and M.K. changed, however.
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2009, 02:26:38 PM »

Hmmm, if brain food alone constitutes what it means to become Orthodox, perhaps these books will function.  They may break down certain pillars of anti-Orthodox apologetical objections and subsequently re-enforce the intellect's wall of defense and desire to protect itself from an intellectual fear of drowning in a storm of philosophical reasoning whereby the unstable mind is tossed 'to and fro', but there is certainly no certainty that the mind will indeed become Orthodox by reading them.  

I became Orthodox because therein I experienced and witnessed a Holiness which I have not seen elsewhere.  My intitial and subsequent approach to Orthodoxy followed the intellectual route which is common to many converts from the ephod of Protestantism.  

God is with us, understand O' ye nations, and submit yourselves, for God is with us.

First and foremost are the Holy Scriptures, but some might reason that is a given; while others seem to feel and/or reason that the Scriptures are far to cryptic and foreign for modern Orthodox experience.  

Seconly, and essential to developing an Orthodox approach to reading the Scriptures is On the Divine Images.  In my opinion this book should be a primer and frequently read.  In it St. John of Damascus establishes the principles whereby the Orthodox Church is in continuity with the Mosaic Law and the Prophets.  Within its pages can be found the pattern of Orthodox  usage of the Psalms both in her services and in the daily life cycle of the Orthodox Church; whether gathered or dispersed.  This book dwarfs all subsequent attempts to construct a "Biblical Theology" out of the Old and New Testaments upon which most of Protestantism depends.

Thirdly, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt.  This book, IMO, provides a modern existential theological exposition of what it means to purify the heart.  If our Orthodoxy is manifest only by a correct adherance to the Orthodox apologetic it will not engage us in humility. It seems to me that  very few can actually maintain apologetical correctness without seperating ourselves from those who are in need of a Physician if they are not actively engaged in purifying their hearts and seeking to establish Holiness in the inward parts.

Fourthly, On Marriage and Family Life, by St. John Chrysostom.  Orthodox Theology is not experienced in the Ivory Tower of intellectual debate, but in the struggle to "have this mind in you that was in Christ Jesus."   "The Lord God said, "It is not good that man should be alone..."  We Westerners a afflicted with a hyper-sensation of our individualism.  This book, IMO, should be a primer frequently read for its practical theological exposition of "...as Christ loved the Church."  Love, the Apostle defined as the perfect bond of peace, but love is frequently sensualized and when the senses grow cold their love grows cold.  Orthodoxy is very much about maintaining a bond of peace and unity in likemindedness.  This is not achieved by mearly confessing the Creed/Symbol of our Faith; it is not even achieved by partaking of the same Cup and Bread, but through living in community and enduring with one another in patience and humility allowing the workings of the Holy Spirit to manifest Himself in orderliness and submissiveness.  This ideally should take place in the home, but Western home and Family has been under attack from individualism from the beginning: "So the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise...".



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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2009, 02:56:24 PM »

Thirdly, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt.  This book, IMO, provides a modern existential theological exposition of what it means to purify the heart.  If our Orthodoxy is manifest only by a correct adherance to the Orthodox apologetic it will not engage us in humility. It seems to me that  very few can actually maintain apologetical correctness without seperating ourselves from those who are in need of a Physician if they are not actively engaged in purifying their hearts and seeking to establish Holiness in the inward parts.

I am very suspicious of that person, in all honesty. If I recall correctly, he bragged that he and his wife never had marital relationships (which, to me, qualifies him as a total nutcase - not that he never had sex with his wife, but that he bragged about uit). Also, this source: http://www.hrono.info/biograf/bio_ch/cherno100.html says that Ivan Ilyich Sergiev a.k.a. John of Kronshtadt belonged to the infamous "Black Hundred" (Чeрная Cотня), a Judeophobic organization that stood behind numerous Jewish "pogroms."

Now, it may be that a nutcase writes a masterpiece in theology... possibly... but I am not sure.

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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2009, 04:26:24 PM »

On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius

Is there a solid collection of important writings like this that are collected into a single, and preferably hardcover, edition?  I just didn't want to get this alone if I can get it with other Orthodox classics.
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« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2009, 05:31:25 PM »

the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose, by Fr. Damascene
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« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2009, 06:02:39 PM »

the biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose, by Fr. Damascene

I second this recommendation. This is a very inspirational especially for the American Convert.
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2009, 11:02:29 PM »

The readings I would highly recommend anyone new to Orthodoxy is the writings by H.H. Pope Shenouda III:

http://www.copticpope.org/modules.php?name=Web_Links
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« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2009, 08:44:18 AM »

I love The Way of the Pilgrim, by an unknown Russian pilgrim. It's beautifully written, and it always inspires me to say The Jesus Prayer more often. And, more than that, reading it helps my faith grow. Sometimes it's hard for me to do even some of the littlest things asked of me, like saying daily prayers and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I read how this man gave everything he had to grow closer to God, and suddenly my life seems all that much easier. And life in general seems that much more beautiful.

I also love Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. I don't know that I'd give it to a new convert so much as someone who was considering converting, but it's still a lovely talk about his journey through a variety of sects into Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2009, 01:51:56 AM »

I love The Way of the Pilgrim, by an unknown Russian pilgrim. It's beautifully written, and it always inspires me to say The Jesus Prayer more often. And, more than that, reading it helps my faith grow. Sometimes it's hard for me to do even some of the littlest things asked of me, like saying daily prayers and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I read how this man gave everything he had to grow closer to God, and suddenly my life seems all that much easier. And life in general seems that much more beautiful.

I also love Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. I don't know that I'd give it to a new convert so much as someone who was considering converting, but it's still a lovely talk about his journey through a variety of sects into Orthodoxy.

The Way of a Pilgrim is truly a classic. A good recommendation for new converts because of it brevity and depth.

Thanks for mentioning this other book by Matthew Gallatin. I'm not familiar with it, but the title alone makes me think it must be worth reading.

Selam  
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« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2009, 02:20:27 PM »

Has anybody read this book?



Orthodox Spirituality, A Brief Introduction
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2010, 04:35:01 PM »

The readings I would highly recommend anyone new to Orthodoxy is the writings by H.H. Pope Shenouda III:

http://www.copticpope.org/modules.php?name=Web_Links

I just read some of these and they are amazing!  Very (deceptively) simple in writing technique, but profound!  Today is Saturday and I'm at work; I downloaded a few of the texts he's written and plan on spending tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon, reading them.  THANK YOU FOR SUGGESTING THEM TO US.
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« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2010, 12:39:08 AM »

The books that I recommend for new Orthodox Christians or people considering Orthodoxy are:

1. Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life http://amzn.to/1oAEr36

2. The Orthodox Faith Series http://tinyurl.com/yz3ovxu

3. Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith http://amzn.to/1E0VDIU

here are some other books that I can recommend... the first one is a really simple and gives the nuts & bolts of Orthodoxy... Same with the Orthodox Faith Series... very simple and can be read online.
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« Reply #21 on: March 21, 2010, 01:24:13 AM »

I love The Way of the Pilgrim, by an unknown Russian pilgrim. It's beautifully written, and it always inspires me to say The Jesus Prayer more often. And, more than that, reading it helps my faith grow. Sometimes it's hard for me to do even some of the littlest things asked of me, like saying daily prayers and fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I read how this man gave everything he had to grow closer to God, and suddenly my life seems all that much easier. And life in general seems that much more beautiful.

I also love Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells, by Matthew Gallatin. I don't know that I'd give it to a new convert so much as someone who was considering converting, but it's still a lovely talk about his journey through a variety of sects into Orthodoxy.

The Way of a Pilgrim is truly a classic. A good recommendation for new converts because of it brevity and depth.

Thanks for mentioning this other book by Matthew Gallatin. I'm not familiar with it, but the title alone makes me think it must be worth reading.

Selam 


I have since read Matthew Gallatin's book, and I highly recommend it. Very readable.

Selam
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« Reply #22 on: April 22, 2010, 04:41:23 AM »

Some books I'd recommend to those new to Orthodoxy...

How Are We Saved? The Understanding of Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition, by Met. Kallistos (Ware)
Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives on the Nature of the Human Person, by Panayiotis Nellas
Sayings of the Desert Fathers, tr. by Benedicta Ward
Women and Men in the Early Church: The Full Views of St. John Chrysostom, by David Ford
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2010, 04:01:33 AM »

If I had to choose a single introductory book to recommend to a potential convert, or even a new convert, it would probably Arch. Meletios Webber's Bread and Water, Wine and Oil.
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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2010, 11:00:50 AM »

Thirdly, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt.  This book, IMO, provides a modern existential theological exposition of what it means to purify the heart.  If our Orthodoxy is manifest only by a correct adherance to the Orthodox apologetic it will not engage us in humility. It seems to me that  very few can actually maintain apologetical correctness without seperating ourselves from those who are in need of a Physician if they are not actively engaged in purifying their hearts and seeking to establish Holiness in the inward parts.

I am very suspicious of that person, in all honesty. If I recall correctly, he bragged that he and his wife never had marital relationships (which, to me, qualifies him as a total nutcase - not that he never had sex with his wife, but that he bragged about uit). Also, this source: http://www.hrono.info/biograf/bio_ch/cherno100.html says that Ivan Ilyich Sergiev a.k.a. John of Kronshtadt belonged to the infamous "Black Hundred" (Чeрная Cотня), a Judeophobic organization that stood behind numerous Jewish "pogroms."

Now, it may be that a nutcase writes a masterpiece in theology... possibly... but I am not sure.



I believe the Wiki entry that says Saint John did belong to the "Sojuz Russkogo Naroda (Alliance of the Russian people) but did not commit himself politically." (my emphasis). He was indeed greatly bothered by the rapid breakdown of the Russian society early in the 20th Century; probably exemplifieed by the year 1905 when the Alliance of the Russian People was formed, the Russians lost the war with Japan, and experienced the Revolution of 1905.

According a ROCOR site dedicated to Saint John, "...towards the end of his life, his conservatism, authoritative and outspoken, on matters of principle, both theological and political, aroused the bitter enmity of the liberal pseudo-intellectuals who were zealously preparing the way for the overthrow of both church and monarchy, and with them of every public and private virtue, and the establishment of an ungodly and inhuman tyranny. They could not but hate one who saw them for what they were, who preached Christianity so powerfully and persuasively, and whose own life was an example of it far more persuasive than any preaching.

For his part, Father John during his last years constantly predicted the approach of terrible events in Russia, and openly denounced those who with increasing success were leading people astray, above all those in positions of authority. In all his sermons of 1907 he spoke of the terrible judgment of God, and urged the need of repentance and a return to common sense, declaring that if Russia ceased to be Holy Russia, she would become nothing more than a mere horde of tribal savages, intent upon destroying each other."
http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/johnkr_e.htm

I must say that the Alliance was indeed a bad lot (one of the several black-hundredist organizations) and was partially responsible for many genocidal programs (physical against the Jews and cultural against Ukrainians, among others). Nonetheless, what we encounter here is a holy man with a blemish on his record (surprise! surprise!) I honestly believe that this holy man, who had tirelessly served the people, did not have time to truly be involved in the doings of the Alliance. His membership in the Alliance was indeed that one blemish, that exception to the rule, that proves his sainthood.

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« Reply #25 on: June 28, 2011, 10:46:24 PM »

The Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  Includes a section on the history of the Orthodox Church and a section giving an overview of doctrines of the Church.

The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  More on the doctrines of the Church, but more in depth than what is found in TOC.

How good or valuable are these books compared to Thomas Hopko's "Orthodox Faith" Rainbow Series?
http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp

I was just reading most of volume 1 online and it was very interesting. But which of these is most preferred? Kallistos' 2 books or Hopko's 4 books?

Thanks in advance,

- GTA
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« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2011, 04:58:48 PM »

I would most definitely NOT recommend many of the modernist-renovationist writings suggested so far in this thread, by authors of dubious Orthodoxy---to put it politely.  There have been a few useful suggestions posted, however.

Here is a seemingly novel concept: how about suggesting more writings by actual saints, rather than by modernists, schismatics, renovationists, and ecumenists?  Why does everything recommended have to be so new?

St. Vincent of Lerins:

"All possible care must be taken that we hold that Faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all....What if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be the Christian's care to cleave to antiquity, which to this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty."

This is the age that we live in: one of great apostasy, where novel contagions have infected not merely insignificant portions of the Church, but the whole.  What does the saint implore us to do?  Cleave to antiquity!   The ancient writings of the saints have been spread everywhere throughout the four corners of the globe, in many different languages, and through process of time have been fully vetted and accepted by the Church by countless generations of Orthodox believers.  As the saint explains, these teachings cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

So, given this, it is only fitting that I would recommend people start with time-tested pearls of beauty:  St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures, and St. John Damascene's Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.  Of course, anything and everything by Chrysostom is a given; there is enough Chrysostom translated into English to keep one occupied for YEARS.  Literally hundreds and hundreds of sermons and treatises, and they are all quite edifying.
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« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2011, 01:39:52 PM »

I would most definitely NOT recommend many of the modernist-renovationist writings suggested so far in this thread, by authors of dubious Orthodoxy---to put it politely.  There have been a few useful suggestions posted, however.
What is that?
Can you substantiate your criticism, please?
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« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2011, 01:52:11 PM »

St. Vincent of Lerins:

One of my favorite western writers. His words are completely abused by people such as yourself, of course, but he's still great.

Quote
St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures,

Always found them to be sort of meh.

Quote
and St. John Damascene's Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

A bit better than St. Cyril. I guess. St. John was a great collator. But most people don't really want to read through page after page of what he says about Jesus, the Trinity, etc., especially when he spends so much time talking about the subjects and then describes God as ineffable. "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." Besides, his Orthodoxy is not the Orthodoxy most people think of today (e.g. he was a Protestant who ripped some of the books out of the Bible)

Quote
Of course, anything and everything by Chrysostom is a given

No one's a given, though if I had to put anyone forward for most recommended it'd be St. Gregory the Theologian. Except his five theological orations, which you can skip without missing much.

Quote
there is enough Chrysostom translated into English to keep one occupied for YEARS. 

I'm a fairly slow reader, but I'm pretty sure I could get through the works of Chrysostom in English in a few months.

Quote
Literally hundreds and hundreds of sermons and treatises, and they are all quite edifying.

I think he stretches things a bit. And he's confusing. And if you're willing to be confused then why not someone a bit more intelligent, such as Pseudo-Dionysius or St. Maximos?
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« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2011, 01:53:07 PM »

At the risk of vanity and shameless self-promotion, I do hope that there is much in this book that will be helpful to those who are interested in learning about Orthodoxy:

http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/Products/SKU-000365534/MYSTERY-and-MEANING.aspx

Pray that it will be fruitful and glorify God.


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« Reply #30 on: June 10, 2012, 04:11:23 PM »

Has anyone read My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)?  It was gifted to me recently.
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« Reply #31 on: June 22, 2012, 04:57:39 PM »

I really recommend:

Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Compiled By St. Demetrius, Bishop of Rostov (1651-1709)

I think it is the best of what is in English.

and this is good as well: "The paradise or gardens of the holy Fathers being histories of the anchorites, recluses, monks, coenobites and ascetic fathers of the deserts of Egypt between A.D. 250 and A.D. 400 compiled by Athanasius Archbishop of Alexandria, Palladius Bishop of Helenopolis, Saint Jerome and others."
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« Reply #32 on: June 22, 2012, 10:11:59 PM »

Has anyone read My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)?  It was gifted to me recently.

It's long. I've been plodding my way through it for several months. Like the Philokalia, I find it's helpful to read only a page or two in one sitting.
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« Reply #33 on: June 23, 2012, 06:00:09 AM »

St. Vincent of Lerins:

One of my favorite western writers. His words are completely abused by people such as yourself, of course, but he's still great.

In what way St. Vincent's words are abused?

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« Reply #34 on: June 24, 2012, 09:20:17 AM »

I think the Domostroi ("Foundation of a Home") lays a good foundation. I think reading the Domostroi along sides the books I already mentioned would be quite profitable .

http://amzn.to/1v6DinC
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« Reply #35 on: June 24, 2012, 10:11:30 AM »

Why would a book from a particular time and cultural situation be necessarily applicable in all ways to the present?  I have read the Domostroi and have a copy on my shelves and much of what is in it (wedding customs, advice on food preparation, disciplining of servants and family and so forth) aren't germane now.
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« Reply #36 on: June 24, 2012, 10:16:37 AM »

Why would a book from a particular time and cultural situation be necessarily applicable in all ways to the present?  I have read the Domostroi and have a copy on my shelves and much of what is in it (wedding customs, advice on food preparation, disciplining of servants and family and so forth) aren't germane now.
It has good introduction material about how to pray, and, how to honor ikons etc. All of the information about wedding customs, and food preparation (like praying at meals) is useful as well, because, it provides valuable insight.

Also its good to look on a culture known for its piety, rather then conform to a culture, I believe is rather known for its lack of piety. This book is a good example (and product) of Orthodox Culture.

This book has been read by beginners since it was first published and is still highly valued today. It has not fell out of use.
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« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2012, 04:49:27 PM »

Has anyone read My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)?  It was gifted to me recently.

It's long. I've been plodding my way through it for several months. Like the Philokalia, I find it's helpful to read only a page or two in one sitting.

Thank you for the advice.  It does appear to be rather long.  I may stretch out of few more pages at a time, but I think pacing myself will work well.
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« Reply #38 on: August 26, 2012, 06:38:44 AM »

To add:

Way of the Ascetics, by Tito Colliander
Man and God-Man, by St. Justin Popovich
Counsels on the Spiritual Life, by St. Mark the Monk
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« Reply #39 on: November 15, 2012, 03:09:00 PM »

Has anybody read this book?



Orthodox Spirituality, A Brief Introduction


Do you mean the book by Met. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos? If you do, that is actually the book I popped in here to mention.

I just read it yesterday. As far as a short primer goes, it is the best I have read so far: only 100 pages, relatively easy to read, but with plenty of theory and doctrine.

If you compare it to "Orthodox Spirituality" by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, which I've also been reading lately, the Met. Hierotheos book is much mroe approachable and easy to handle for the newcomer. I have gotten about halfway through the Fr. Dumitru book and really hit a wall. I don't think I am ready for it yet.

So, for me, if I had to recommend three books to anyone who was looking into becoming Orthodox, it would be "The Orthodox Church" by Met. Kallistos, "Orthodox Spirituality" by Met. Hierotheos, and then one of the many conversion memoirs floating around.
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« Reply #40 on: November 15, 2012, 03:34:59 PM »

The Saving Work of Christ by St. Gregory Palamas (14th c.), about 130 pp of several sermons of timeless clarity. This should be a most undisputed gem, even according to "tradtionalists" & most layperson friendly. I understand there are some rather deep writings of St. Gregory (the Triads I beleive?) but this collection is substantive, basic, & inspiring with homilies on the Nativity, Transfiguration etc. see:  http://amzn.to/1qWkQKg
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« Reply #41 on: November 15, 2012, 05:24:25 PM »

Any suggestions for normalish people (read: not philosophy/theology/religious studies nerds) exploring from a non-Christian, non-religious background? 

Something simple and succinct would be the best.  Tall order, I'm guessing.
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« Reply #42 on: November 15, 2012, 06:17:46 PM »

I would particularly value any suggestions of books suitable for enquirers from a totally on-Christian background: we have one person from China doing her Master's degree and another from Iran completing his PhD.

They have no knowledge of the Bible or of the life of Christ, or what it might mean to believe in and love God in Trinity. And yet they are drawn to worship with us.

The only books that are that basic seem to be written for children, so their tone is completely inappropriate for people with their level of education. And most of the books suggested above are written for people who come from a Christian background other than Orthodoxy and presume too much prior knowledge, and may be too concerned with emphasizing the ways in which Orthodoxy is different.
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« Reply #43 on: November 16, 2012, 07:02:41 AM »

I would particularly value any suggestions of books suitable for enquirers from a totally on-Christian background: we have one person from China doing her Master's degree and another from Iran completing his PhD.

They have no knowledge of the Bible or of the life of Christ, or what it might mean to believe in and love God in Trinity. And yet they are drawn to worship with us.

The only books that are that basic seem to be written for children, so their tone is completely inappropriate for people with their level of education. And most of the books suggested above are written for people who come from a Christian background other than Orthodoxy and presume too much prior knowledge, and may be too concerned with emphasizing the ways in which Orthodoxy is different.

When I first started the catechumenate, the first book I was told to read, before anything Orthodox, was 'Mere Christianity' by C.S. Lewis. I wasn't coming from a non-Christian background but the priest wanted to make sure of the basics first (which is probably a good thing). Maybe that might be a good introduction to Christianity in general, which is I guess what you're after. The specifically Orthodox books might then make more sense afterwards - perhaps suggest following that with Metropolitan Kallistos' books.

James
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« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2012, 06:07:05 AM »

Thank you for your suggestion. I've ordered a cheap secondhand copy of 'Mere Christianity' to have a look at it myself first.

Someone I asked mentioned an Orthodox book they had seen on the Creed. They thought it was by a layman, but the only one I've found is by Fr A. Coniaris, called The Nicene Creed for Young People'. A pity about the title, as the material might have been a good beginning. Does anyone know of another Orthodox book approaching an introduction to Christianity via the Creed?
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