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.