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Author Topic: Personal Books about Conversion  (Read 3177 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: December 27, 2009, 05:15:29 AM »

My wife is interested in reading a book or two on people who have converted to Orthodoxy.  She was raised in Independent Christian Churches (from the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement) and the Southern Baptist Church.  She's not interested in theology or anything very advanced.  She likes to read autobiographical-styled books about peoples' experiences, so something with a personal touch is going to be up her ally more than even "lite-theology."  I loved The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, but I know that she would not enjoy or understand these books, at least for now.

The two books I am familiar with are Becoming Orthodox and Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy.  I just ordered the latter.  Her writing style seems annoying to me, and as others have commented, a bit too "chatty", but my wife just might be able to connect with it.

The thing is, she's not really disillusioned with her own form of Christianity, and most of these books seem to be about people who weren't happy with the Christianity around them.  She is.  So if these books end up being too polemical, then they will turn her off.  She needs a positive orientation, not a negative one that operates contra-Evangelicalism.  I have heard that Fredrica's book takes a lot of jabs at Protestantism, and hopefully this isn't true.

So do you all know of any other books that might fit the bill, and would you recommend either of the two I mentioned?  This is all pretty delicate right now, and I don't want to blow it by giving her the wrong book.  She is honestly just trying to understand this whole Orthodoxy thing more because she is my wife, she loves me, and she has seen some positive changes in my life over the last year and a half or so.  She has attended maybe ten to twelve liturgies over the course of that time, but the things that are the hardest for her are the usual culprits: the Theotokos, veneration of the saints, prayers for the dead, liturgical worship in general as ritualistic and "dead", et cetera.  So if any books deal with these subjects in a casual and personal way, then they will meet her where she is at.  She doesn't care for my theological explanations of why these things are done, and I don't really know how else to address them.  

Anyway, your suggestions are appreciated.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 05:25:11 AM by Alveus Lacuna » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2009, 01:19:34 PM »

I'm reading "Thirsting for God in the Land of Shallow Wells" by Matthew Gallatin.

It's very good and he nails the feelings and conclusions that I've come to. He can convey those things much better than I can. I talked to my wife (who's not really that interested in becoming Orthodox) and asked her to just read this one book with me. She called me from work this AM (she's a RN) and told me that she started it this morning during her quiet time.

His point that Sola Scriptura being the problem with Protestant churches I think is right on. This morning in my non-denominational church, Pastor laid out 9 Prayer Points for our local church this year. I have absolutely no idea what my current churches theological positions are. Sounds like a mixture of Arminianism and Calvinism and now for the 1st time in the 5 years we have been faithfully attending he adds that he believes that the gifts of the Spirit did not cease with the Apostles. So just what kind of church are we? I have no idea! Other than the typical pick the doctrines you like American drive through church. That's Sola Scrpitura right there in practice.

Oh and he says he wants us to be Biblical Christians not American Christians. And of course reads the Acts 2 account of the church. All this while he's standing on a stage with 4 rotating light show arrays, 3 huge flat screens on the wall and a smoke machine that goes on and off during worship.

 Huh
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2009, 03:15:52 PM »

My wife is interested in reading a book or two on people who have converted to Orthodoxy.  She was raised in Independent Christian Churches (from the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement) and the Southern Baptist Church.  She's not interested in theology or anything very advanced.  She likes to read autobiographical-styled books about peoples' experiences, so something with a personal touch is going to be up her ally more than even "lite-theology."  I loved The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, but I know that she would not enjoy or understand these books, at least for now.

The two books I am familiar with are Becoming Orthodox and Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy.  I just ordered the latter.  Her writing style seems annoying to me, and as others have commented, a bit too "chatty", but my wife just might be able to connect with it.

The thing is, she's not really disillusioned with her own form of Christianity, and most of these books seem to be about people who weren't happy with the Christianity around them.  She is.  So if these books end up being too polemical, then they will turn her off.  She needs a positive orientation, not a negative one that operates contra-Evangelicalism.  I have heard that Fredrica's book takes a lot of jabs at Protestantism, and hopefully this isn't true.


Conciliar Press seems to put out good books for potential protestant converts. I too am no big fan of Federica or Conciliar Press in general, but by wife has enjoyed some of her writings and your wife may as well. She may also like The Illumined Heart: Capture the Vibrant Faith of the Ancient Christians<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=traditionalorthodoxy-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B002PJ4PH8" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /> while it is not a conversion story it is a very short simple story of how to incorporate ancient Christianity into contemporary life.

Also from Conciliar Press:
Surprised by Christ: My Journey from Judaism to Orthodox Christianity<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=traditionalorthodoxy-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1888212950" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Coming Home<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=traditionalorthodoxy-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0962271322" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Thirsting For God in a Land of Shallow Wells<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=traditionalorthodoxy-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1888212284" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam<img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=traditionalorthodoxy-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1888212659" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

 
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 03:20:34 PM by Sinner Servant » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2009, 04:11:33 PM »

Have you read 'Facing East" yourself? This would seem like a great introduction for her, I would think.


Perhaps this link may provide some articles of interest: 

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/inq_convert.aspx
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 04:14:04 PM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2009, 04:34:43 PM »

From Baptist to Byzantium by Fr. James Early
http://www.reginaorthodoxpress.com/frbatoby.html

Autobiographical, theology when presented is presented simply, lots of books recommended as you follow the author's journey, and I can't recall that he was ever a disaffected Southern Baptist before taking an interest in Orthodoxy.  It's short enough that you could skim it quickly to see if it meets your criteria.
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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2009, 07:55:47 PM »

Facing East is good. I don't recall any nasty potshots at Protestants.

Be careful with Gallitin's book -- he was part of the Vineyard charasmatic churches (if I recollect correctly), then the Seventh Day Adventists. Aren't Campbellites kind of skeptical about charasmatics? I also think they would not approve of Seventh Day Ad's.

Gallaitin's  protestant experience was exactly the kind of left-field extremism that I was always wary of and actually quite nauseated by as a Reformed Calvinist, so his book was useless to me and could have had a negative impact if I had not read other books first when converting (the first book I read was Frederica's At the Corner of East and Now, which I would also recommend - it takes one through a year in an Orthodox mission parish).

I think Fr. Gilchrist's book, Becoming Orthodox is rather gentle in its critique of his Campus Crusade past.

Conciliar Press carries quite a few convert titles: I think there is one about an African American who became Orthodox and a Jewish person who became Orthodox and one called An Eglishman in the Court of the Czar; plus Gallitin's book and Gilquist's and Harper's (see below) books.

I liked A Faith Fulfilled by Michael Harper. He was a very well known leader in the English charasmatic Anglican movement and converted. But, being Anglican and evangelical before his charasmatic experience, he never committed intellectual suicide like many independent charasmatics did and he never went off the deep end with many of their extremes. However, if my first concern about Campbellites regarding charasmatics is correct, this may not be a good book to recommend.

There have been a number of suggestions thus far in this thread. I would skim through any book you plan to give her and pitch it if you have any reservations.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 07:57:50 PM by BrotherAidan » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2009, 08:05:21 PM »

Avoid Clark Carlton if you are worried about anti-protestant polemics; also avoid Frankie Schaeffer.

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« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2009, 08:12:45 PM »

To: Dave in CSA
I mean no offense to you or your experience in relating my critique of Matthew Gallitin's book!
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« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2009, 08:19:33 PM »

I have mixed feelings about Becoming Orthodox, but based on what I can remember from the book, I think it'd probably be good  for those who are looking for an Orthodox conversion story without a lot of theological or historical jargon/details. My wife seemed to like it when she read it, and she's also one who doesn't like a lot of fancy theology or in-depth history in the books she reads. She also enjoyed One Flew Over the Onion Dome, but I don't think that's quite the same as what you are looking for, as that seems to be geared more towards new converts.
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« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2009, 08:46:28 PM »

Be careful with Gallitin's book -- he was part of the Vineyard charasmatic churches (if I recollect correctly), then the Seventh Day Adventists. Aren't Campbellites kind of skeptical about charasmatics?

Recently (last 20 years or so), liberal Campbellites have a been a bit more open to charismatics. But traditionally, yes, Campbellites find charismatics almost, if not more, suspicious than Roman Catholics.

For the OP, I do not recall either Fr. Peter or Khouriya Frederica's books being at all polemical. The books are much more "this wasn't working for *me* or for *us* and so we looked around and found this, and then as we explored it, we found..." Fr. Peter's is slightly more polemical, but its more on having a few sections which are explicitly, "we had to figure out correct doctrine on X and this is what we came too". Again, it doesn't really attack where he was, just focuses on the teaching itself. And those chapters are skippable if she wants to focus on the experential side of it.
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« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2009, 08:58:10 PM »

I have mixed feelings about Becoming Orthodox, but based on what I can remember from the book, I think it'd probably be good  for those who are looking for an Orthodox conversion story without a lot of theological or historical jargon/details.

This book didn't do much for me. I can't put my finger on why, but it just didn't leave much of an impact on me. I think I remember the writing style being dry.
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« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2009, 11:28:51 PM »

http://www.conciliarpress.com/books/intro-to-orthodoxy/our-hearts-true-home.html

This book is a collection of essays on Orthodoxy written by women, some of them are conversion stories. A woman at my parish wrote one of the essays. When we were inquirers our priest had me read the book. It is very much a personal story/struggle book. The only jabs that I recall were at the Anglican church when they started be become increasingly liberal.

And I must also endorse our parish priest Fr. A. James Bernstein's book; Surprised By Christ. It is as much a conversion story as it is a small primer on Orthodox theology. He teaches his catechism class in part on his notes from that book. If you are in our area you can buy it at a discount and have it signed at coffee hour on Sunday!
« Last Edit: December 27, 2009, 11:36:22 PM by Quinault » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2009, 12:15:04 AM »

That's wonderful, Quinault!
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2009, 12:41:32 AM »

http://www.conciliarpress.com/books/intro-to-orthodoxy/our-hearts-true-home.html

This book is a collection of essays on Orthodoxy written by women, some of them are conversion stories. A woman at my parish wrote one of the essays. When we were inquirers our priest had me read the book. It is very much a personal story/struggle book. The only jabs that I recall were at the Anglican church when they started be become increasingly liberal.

Thanks for this suggestion.  This looks along the lines that I was talking about.  I already ordered Facing East, so if she makes ti through that and wants another afterward, I'll order this one.
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2009, 02:40:01 AM »

All the best to you Alveus L and to your wife.
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« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2009, 03:58:23 AM »

All the best to you Alveus L and to your wife.

The best wishes to you as well!
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2009, 03:20:02 PM »

I'm reading "Thirsting for God in the Land of Shallow Wells" by Matthew Gallatin.

It's very good and he nails the feelings and conclusions that I've come to. He can convey those things much better than I can. I talked to my wife (who's not really that interested in becoming Orthodox) and asked her to just read this one book with me. She called me from work this AM (she's a RN) and told me that she started it this morning during her quiet time.

His point that Sola Scriptura being the problem with Protestant churches I think is right on....
I would not really recommend this book. He makes some good points, but toward the end it kind of falls into Orthodoxy-as-a-drug syndrome. Most convert literature does, though. That said, I haven't read the other books recommended here.

As one who still has one toe in the Evangelical world, I don’t have much taste for convert literature anymore (which is, actually, a very Evangelical thing to do, convert to something and then write a religious testimony autobiography). A lot of the books/memoirs I have read — and I’ve read a number, unfortunately for all the time I wasted doing so — about converting to Catholicism or Orthodoxy have statements that begin with, “As I studied, I began to believe ‘x.’ I thought I was all alone, until I discovered that Orthodoxy also believed in ‘x.’ I was so delighted that I became a catechumen the next day and now say 15,000 Jesus Prayers daily, never even look at meat on Wednesdays or Fridays and have grown an enormous beard. It isn’t always easy, but since converting life has been filled with rainbows, lollipops, and the unicorn rides. I never could have understood the significance of unicorn rides as a Protestant.”

The problem I’ve noticed with this approach is that they present Orthodoxy as something that can be approached with a Protestant mindset — I believe this, so I will join this Church. They’re not so much submitting to Holy Tradition as happening to agree with it.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just being grouchy today.

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« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2009, 05:30:05 PM »

There's quite the diversity of opinions on Matthew Gallatin's book, so I will throw mine out there too.  ;-) 

We loved this book and would name it as the one book we read that turned us toward the Orthodox church.  I had read Fr. Gillquist's book which *I* loved but my husband did not.  I also loved Facing East.  But it was Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells that we read out loud as a family in one day, and by the end we knew we'd be pursuing Orthodoxy.  I will say that we had a similar journey as Mr. Gallatin's -- through different sectors of Protestantism (including Charismatic, but not SDA).
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2009, 06:18:45 PM »

Quote
The problem I’ve noticed with this approach is that they present Orthodoxy as something that can be approached with a Protestant mindset — I believe this, so I will join this Church. They’re not so much submitting to Holy Tradition as happening to agree with it.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just being grouchy today.

Fwiw, that accurately describes how I was going about exploring Orthodoxy for a while. Eventually a priest in the OCA pointed out that such was not really an Orthodox way of going about things, and I tried to change as much as I could--though I'm sure I still fall into that tendency from time to time. I think Chesterton's idea of a "truth telling thing" helped me sort things out a bit... if I could just look at the Church in that way (as being theanthropic and guided by God)... then I would have to follow it, whether I understood or agreed or not.
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« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2009, 07:59:03 PM »

My wife is interested in reading a book or two on people who have converted to Orthodoxy.  She was raised in Independent Christian Churches (from the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement) and the Southern Baptist Church.  She's not interested in theology or anything very advanced.  She likes to read autobiographical-styled books about peoples' experiences, so something with a personal touch is going to be up her ally more than even "lite-theology."  I loved The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, but I know that she would not enjoy or understand these books, at least for now.

The two books I am familiar with are Becoming Orthodox and Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy.  I just ordered the latter.  Her writing style seems annoying to me, and as others have commented, a bit too "chatty", but my wife just might be able to connect with it.

The thing is, she's not really disillusioned with her own form of Christianity, and most of these books seem to be about people who weren't happy with the Christianity around them.  She is.  So if these books end up being too polemical, then they will turn her off.  She needs a positive orientation, not a negative one that operates contra-Evangelicalism.  I have heard that Fredrica's book takes a lot of jabs at Protestantism, and hopefully this isn't true.

So do you all know of any other books that might fit the bill, and would you recommend either of the two I mentioned?  This is all pretty delicate right now, and I don't want to blow it by giving her the wrong book.  She is honestly just trying to understand this whole Orthodoxy thing more because she is my wife, she loves me, and she has seen some positive changes in my life over the last year and a half or so.  She has attended maybe ten to twelve liturgies over the course of that time, but the things that are the hardest for her are the usual culprits: the Theotokos, veneration of the saints, prayers for the dead, liturgical worship in general as ritualistic and "dead", et cetera.  So if any books deal with these subjects in a casual and personal way, then they will meet her where she is at.  She doesn't care for my theological explanations of why these things are done, and I don't really know how else to address them.  

Anyway, your suggestions are appreciated.

Does your wife like podcasts and DVD's?

There was a DVD I saw called either "upon this Rock" or "The Orthodox Church" in where a few converts talk about such things. One of the people was "Steve the builder" from "our life in Christ" podcast. He is a former Cambellite.

But as far as books go, there is one or two by Fr. Peter Guillquest:
http://www.conciliarpress.com/coming-home-why-protestant-clergy-are-becoming-orthodox.html


and

http://www.conciliarpress.com/becoming-orthodox-a-journey-to-the-ancient-christian-faith.html



You have books by other people as well:
http://www.conciliarpress.com/books/surprised-by-christ.html


and

http://www.conciliarpress.com/a-faith-fulfilled-why-are-christians-across-great-britain-embracing-orthodoxy.html



Oh, I can't forget the autobiography of Fr. Seraphim Rose, I read this back in 2002 when I was still protestant. I was depressed for months because the girl in whom I was gonna marry dumped me for someone else. And all I could do was either drive, take long walks or just stay in the room and read this book.....even missing class because I couldn't put the book down. It really got me through a hard time.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0938635522?tag=oldworldrusco-20&link_code=as3&creativeASIN=0938635522&creative=373489&camp=211189








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« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2009, 10:56:31 PM »

I think that a great book about conversion in general is "The gurus, a young man and Elder Paisios" by Athanasios Rakovalis. It's been published in the US recently, right? The "young man"(the author) went through hypnotism, new-age, hinduism at its roots and highest points(Babaji in Himalaia) etc., etc. and he has a lot of most enlightening theses to mention and invaluable experience!!  Nevertheless, I should say, if you're interested in converting to the correct faith about Christ from some flawed(=blasphemous), then maybe you should search elsewhere...
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« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2009, 09:47:26 AM »

To: Dave in CSA
I mean no offense to you or your experience in relating my critique of Matthew Gallitin's book!

I'm so offended that I'm going to find another Orthodox forum to post on!!!!!!!

 Grin

None taken!

Actually, I might withdraw my recommendation for Gallitin's book. He tends to wander off topic. He starts off a chapter saying he's going to discuss a certain topic. He starts and then rabbit trials off and never IMHO gives the meat off the information I'm looking for. It's a pretty quick read though, I'm almost done.
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« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2009, 11:51:21 AM »

A lot of the books/memoirs I have read — and I’ve read a number, unfortunately for all the time I wasted doing so — about converting to Catholicism or Orthodoxy have statements that begin with, “As I studied, I began to believe ‘x.’ I thought I was all alone, until I discovered that Orthodoxy also believed in ‘x.’ I was so delighted that I became a catechumen the next day and now say 15,000 Jesus Prayers daily, never even look at meat on Wednesdays or Fridays and have grown an enormous beard. It isn’t always easy, but since converting life has been filled with rainbows, lollipops, and the unicorn rides. I never could have understood the significance of unicorn rides as a Protestant.”

I vote for Facing East also, since it more or less started my journey to Orthodoxy. It wasn't the theology but rather the worship that she described that resonated with me. I had always thought that worship should be like that, but never found it, and had given up hope. No unicorns yet, however, and life really hasn't been all that easy. It would probably, in some respects, been easier if I had remained Protestant.

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« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2009, 11:55:30 AM »

A lot of the books/memoirs I have read — and I’ve read a number, unfortunately for all the time I wasted doing so — about converting to Catholicism or Orthodoxy have statements that begin with, “As I studied, I began to believe ‘x.’ I thought I was all alone, until I discovered that Orthodoxy also believed in ‘x.’ I was so delighted that I became a catechumen the next day and now say 15,000 Jesus Prayers daily, never even look at meat on Wednesdays or Fridays and have grown an enormous beard. It isn’t always easy, but since converting life has been filled with rainbows, lollipops, and the unicorn rides. I never could have understood the significance of unicorn rides as a Protestant.”

I vote for Facing East also, since it more or less started my journey to Orthodoxy. It wasn't the theology but rather the worship that she described that resonated with me. I had always thought that worship should be like that, but never found it, and had given up hope. No unicorns yet, however, and life really hasn't been all that easy. It would probably, in some respects, been easier if I had remained Protestant.

FWIW, I didn't care for Coming Home -possibly because I didn't have the Evangelical frame of reference, and didn't like Franky Schaffer or Fr. Jon Braun at all.
Also I didn't get much from Clark Carlton, though Evangelical friends who have read him just loved his books. It was the lives and letters of the Saints that really made an impact on me, however.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2009, 11:56:18 AM by katherineofdixie » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2009, 12:27:32 PM »

I love Carlton!  Grin
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« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2010, 11:07:38 PM »

two I jighly recomend to you are:  "Coming Home: Why Protestant Clergy are becoming Orthodox"  and  "Dancing Alone" by  Frank Schaeffer
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« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2010, 09:53:45 AM »

I love Carlton!  Grin
So do I. He is a little bitter about his roots, which I am not crazy about. But he is a wealth of information.
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“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” - Mark 9:24
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