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Author Topic: What is everyone reading?  (Read 369418 times) Average Rating: 5
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« Reply #855 on: December 09, 2008, 01:36:38 PM »

DICO  1st, note that the author is the daughter of a Methodist clergyman.  Then observe that you find in the beginning of the book a meeting of magicians who do no magic, but like to talk about its history:  he felt that mirrored his Methodist seminary.  The title characters were eccentric because they actually did magic:  one apparently does find the occasional believer, even in the faculty of a seminary.  This reminds me of a conversation I had with an English pastor who recalled classmates at Cambridge who would from time to time ask their seminary professors if they actually believed what they were teaching, and the retort was, "No, of course we don't."
Two comparable authors deserve mention:  Tolkien's crypto-Catholic Middle Earth and Calvinist Rowling's Harry (It's your destiny) Potter.
DanM

Thank you, DanM.  That is indeed interesting.

I do not think that Harry Potter is all destiny, though.  The point about having choices and doing what's right is also part of the world that Rowling created.

If you have time, could you expand a bit on Tolkien and Rowling, please?

Oh yes, and my class reading is on the political structure of Nigeria.


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« Reply #856 on: December 09, 2008, 01:43:11 PM »

I saw it referenced here on this website, so I picked up From the Holy Mountain: Among the Christians of the Middle East by Dalrymple. It's fascinating!

And I found a neat little book called How to Live a Holy Life by Metropolitan Gregory of Saint Petersburg, that I'm slowing working through.
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« Reply #857 on: December 09, 2008, 01:47:08 PM »

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie (this is for work.  sort of.)

That's my kind of work!

Less glam than it sounds, but it's certainly more palatable than plowing thru Titus Andronicus was!
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« Reply #858 on: December 11, 2008, 12:10:34 PM »

I'm slowly reading A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson and Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food.  I think both of these should be used as textbooks... they're very informative and interesting and you don't typically get those in the same book.
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« Reply #859 on: December 11, 2008, 12:40:51 PM »

I just began Orhan Pamuk's Snow, about (among other things) the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Istanbul. I bought in when he first wrote it about five years ago, but priorities caused me to delay reading it. I'm really glad I finally did get to, though. He's a talented writer who uses a nonchalant style that makes the story seem somewhat distant. It's quite interesting to me.
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« Reply #860 on: December 11, 2008, 09:25:33 PM »

Just finished "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned" by Anne Rice. If one likes that sort of thing, they are excellent and thrilling reading; even if they are inclined to meander in a few places. For the moment, I'm left without any vampire books to read; which is kind of sad.  Cry







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« Reply #861 on: December 15, 2008, 08:28:27 AM »

^ Have you read Twilight? All the teenagers want to read this during all their classes, so I can say with all certainty that it is more interesting to a teenager than school.

Sigh. It's a snow day.
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« Reply #862 on: December 15, 2008, 01:02:45 PM »

^ Have you read Twilight? All the teenagers want to read this during all their classes, so I can say with all certainty that it is more interesting to a teenager than school.

Sigh. It's a snow day.
I'm praying for a snow day tomorrow. LOL
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« Reply #863 on: December 23, 2008, 12:27:16 AM »

I recently started Universalism by J.W. Hanson, after seeing it recommended as being a text which evidences early Christian belief in the doctrine of universalism. I'm about 1/5th of the way through, and so far I have been less than impressed by it. For one thing, there is quite a bit of arguing from silence; e.g. the entire chapter on the Creeds is almost a continuous argument from silence. He also quotes so many things and tries to make so many points that he sometimes seems to contradict himself. And the footnotes, at least in the version that I have, are nearly useless, though he gives references for only a small portion of the quotes that he supplies anyway. Thus far it has been a major let down for me, as I was hoping for something scholarly and well-reasoned, which is how it was portrayed.
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« Reply #864 on: December 23, 2008, 05:33:15 AM »

^ Have you read Twilight? All the teenagers want to read this during all their classes, so I can say with all certainty that it is more interesting to a teenager than school.


No, I haven't, but I have it on my wishlist. Smiley
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« Reply #865 on: December 25, 2008, 06:32:43 AM »

I had some free time tonight/this morning, so I read three small booklets by Abba Seraphim, who is "Head of the British Orthodox Church within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria". The first book was The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism: Present and Future (69 pp.), which was, as one might guess, about ecumenism and the Oriental Orthodox Church. I thought that it followed a nice "middle path" between extremes on either side, which is something that it set out to do. I was suprised by some of what I read, though, such as the strong (if brief) condemnation of creationism. The second book was The Importance and Contribution of the Oriental Orthodox Churches Today (36 pp.), which gave a brief overview of the history and culture of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. I found this small introduction to be an engaging read, and much enjoyed it. The third book was Scripture and Tradition (64 pp.), which, you guessed it, was about scripture and tradition and the interplay between them. The book gave fairly introductory remarks on the subject, and also went into some depth about the place of tradition in the Orthodox Church, and also discussed Orthodox/Protestant similarities and differences at (relative) length.
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« Reply #866 on: December 30, 2008, 11:53:26 AM »

I'm in a C.S. Lewis phase right now during my holiday break. I've been reading Perelandra, which is the sequel (sort of) to Out of the Silent Planet.  I would highly recommend Perelandra for its allegory.  Then I plan to start on Till We Have Faces.  I also just finished Sir Steven Runcimann's seminal work 1453:  The Fall of Constantinople.  I'm so glad to have these days off to catch up on my reading.
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« Reply #867 on: December 30, 2008, 02:29:02 PM »

^ I have 1453: The Fall of Constantinople on my shelf, hoping to read it soon.  How was it?  I just finished:
The Forgotten Man by Amity Schlaes, a fascinating history of the Great Depression,

Crash Proof by Peter Schiff, a great book about economics and especially about the current economic situation, highly recommended.

ETHIOPIA: THE CLASSIC CASE,  A biblical nation under God that survived great trials for 7490 years of its existence and ordained to invoke divine judgment and condemnation upon he world! Will the Present Generation of Humanity Hearken This Time To The Divine Warning In Order To Avert Another Imminent Universal Cataclysm?: THE MESSAGE Delivered by Ermias Kebede Wolde-Yesus, Nibure-Id.  Sometimes a very wordy book to the point of rambling, yet a very informative book about the classic and ancient Ethiopian identity as the covenantal nation of the people of God by the currently exiled high priest of Axum.  Very interesting information from Ethiopian tradition about the identity of Melchizedek and his relationship to the identity of Jesus Christ and the Theotokos, concepts of racial unity, concepts of freedom, the 7 covenants preserved by Ethiopians starting with the marriage of Adam and Eve and finalizing in the Eucharist made possible through the life of Jesus Christ and the Holy Virgin Mary.

I'm currently reading the Wisdom of Sirach in the Orthodox Study Bible
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« Reply #868 on: December 30, 2008, 05:14:27 PM »

^ I have 1453: The Fall of Constantinople on my shelf, hoping to read it soon.  How was it? 

It was good.  He tells the history in a nice narrative fashion.  He has good notes on sources and two appendices.  I recommend anything he has written. Unfortunately, a lot of his works are now out of print, but if you can find them in a library, works like The Byzantine Theocracy or the Byzantine Empire are excellent and seminal works on the history of Constantinople up to the fall in 1453.  Other works that are not out of print are his histories of the crusdaes and 1280:  Sicilian Vespers.   He is the best expert on the history of Byzantium.  John Julius Norwich is adequate but no where near the calibre of Runcimann.
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« Reply #869 on: December 31, 2008, 04:25:12 AM »

I recently borrowed two books from the local public library (I'm starting to get quite a stack of books next to the bed!) The first one is Christainity & Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, by Ramsay MacMullen. I must admit that his writing is quite clumsy at times, as for example in this sentence: "Quite remarkably alive to a quite remarkable date was the Nile festival celebrated on the night of January 5th to 6th at Giza, within sight of the Great Sphinx on the banks of the river, when those banks and an island in midstream were illuminated by thousands of torches." (p. 40) Not that my writing isn't also clumsy at times! Anyway, the main point he is trying to get across is that paganism wasn't stamped out in the Christian Roman Empire as quickly as most had previously thought. Overall I've enjoyed the book, though it had a slow start and is only slowly building up in speed.

The second book is When Women Were Priests: Women's Leadership in the Early Church & the Scandal of their Subordination in the Rise of Christianity, by Karen Jo Torjesen. I love my wife's reaction to these type of books, as she doesn't understand why I like to read books that I probably disagree with. The main point being put forward by this book is, you guessed it, that there were women priests (and bishops!) in early Christianity. So far--I'm about 60 pages in--the book has been less than convincing, and not a lot of evidence has been put forward to evidence the main point being made. I do have to admit, though, that if what little that has been put forward is indeed true, then I might have to reconsider my view on the female priesthood. This is definitely one of those subjects where I'm gonna end up having to do a lot more reading. Unfortunately Torjesen doesn't provide a bibliography, so I'm gonna probably end up combing through the footnotes looking for books that look promising.
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« Reply #870 on: December 31, 2008, 04:32:18 AM »

Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution by Ruth Scurr
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« Reply #871 on: December 31, 2008, 11:16:34 AM »

I'm in a C.S. Lewis phase right now during my holiday break. I've been reading Perelandra, which is the sequel (sort of) to Out of the Silent Planet.  I would highly recommend Perelandra for its allegory.  Then I plan to start on Till We Have Faces.  I also just finished Sir Steven Runcimann's seminal work 1453:  The Fall of Constantinople.  I'm so glad to have these days off to catch up on my reading.

Do you have That Hideous Strength the third of the "Space" books?  I'd be very interested in your thoughts on Till We Have Faces, if you'd be willing to post on that.


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« Reply #872 on: December 31, 2008, 02:25:23 PM »


Do you have That Hideous Strength the third of the "Space" books?  I'd be very interested in your thoughts on Till We Have Faces, if you'd be willing to post on that.

I'm finishing up Palendara right now but I have yet to read Out of the Silent Planet and I've not heard of The Hideous Strength until you mentioned it.  When I finish Till We Have Faces, I'd be glad to share my thoughts.
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« Reply #873 on: January 15, 2009, 11:41:03 PM »

Re-appreciating the 1st volume of the Philokalia…

These words of encouragement found me at the most needful of times:

“No stain is intrinsic.  If a man has tar on his hands, he removes it with at little cleansing oil; how much more, then, can you be made clean with the oil of God’s mercy?  You find no difficulty in washing your clothes; how much easier is it for the Lord to cleanse you from every stain, although you are bound to be temped every day?  When you say to the Lord, ‘I have sinned’, He answers: ‘Your sins are forgiven you; I am He who wipes them out and I will remember them no more.’”  (sweat tears of joy emoticon)
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« Reply #874 on: January 16, 2009, 02:11:33 AM »

I'm currently listening to:
The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern World
by Justin Pollard and Howard Reid.  Outstanding listen/read so far, after only about 2 hours into the 12 hour audiobook version.  This book tells the history of the city of Alexandria and its contribution/relationship to world culture and the peoples behind it.  Now I want to go visit and see it today.
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« Reply #875 on: January 16, 2009, 08:40:17 AM »

The back of a diet soda can....ICK
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« Reply #876 on: February 04, 2009, 10:09:29 AM »

Vol 2 (A Clash of Kings) of George R.R. Martin's series, A Song of Ice and Fire.  How did I ever miss reading these books years ago?  They are fantastic.
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« Reply #877 on: February 04, 2009, 12:43:28 PM »

The Problem of Pain - C.S. Lewis
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« Reply #878 on: February 04, 2009, 03:38:15 PM »

A (Catholic) student of mine gave me a book called O, Holy Mountain! by Fr. Basil Pennington, a Trappist monk who lived on Mt. Athos for an extended period, much longer than normally granted non-Orthodox visitors.  It is essentially is daily journal.  He records his conversations with various monks and spiritual fathers, as well as other guests to the Holy Mountain, whether Greek, Russian, American, etc.  It is a good read and really quite descriptive as to what goes on on the Holy Mountain, though this was published over 30 years ago.  Although he is quite frankly mistaken on many Orthodox beliefs and he goes to great simplistic lengths to comment on why union with Rome should no longer be an obstacle since he thinks all of our beliefs are the same, it is quite obvious that he is touched a great deal by his stay on Athos and I can only hope that what I read here prepares me for when I have the opportunity to visit the Holy Mountain for myself.
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« Reply #879 on: February 04, 2009, 03:41:53 PM »

For the Life of the World, Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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« Reply #880 on: February 04, 2009, 05:48:37 PM »

A (Catholic) student of mine gave me a book called O, Holy Mountain! by Fr. Basil Pennington, a Trappist monk who lived on Mt. Athos for an extended period, much longer than normally granted non-Orthodox visitors.  It is essentially is daily journal.  He records his conversations with various monks and spiritual fathers, as well as other guests to the Holy Mountain, whether Greek, Russian, American, etc.  It is a good read and really quite descriptive as to what goes on on the Holy Mountain, though this was published over 30 years ago.  Although he is quite frankly mistaken on many Orthodox beliefs and he goes to great simplistic lengths to comment on why union with Rome should no longer be an obstacle since he thinks all of our beliefs are the same, it is quite obvious that he is touched a great deal by his stay on Athos and I can only hope that what I read here prepares me for when I have the opportunity to visit the Holy Mountain for myself.

It's got to be better than a book I read a few months ago called Paradise Besieged by Richard John Friedlander.  Think Anthony Bourdain meets Athonite monk.  So many people want to read about Mount Athos from an insider's view but it's only edifying when the person doing the chronicle has a solid, stable Orthodox faith, isn't prone to unhealthy zealotry and obsessiveness that eventually turns into cynicism, and doesn't bore you to death with his sexual stuggles and conquests.   There were a few moments of genuine insight and edification, but if you're a new convert or not too strong in Orthodoxy, this book is a soul killer.
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« Reply #881 on: February 04, 2009, 09:40:11 PM »

"Night Watch", by Sergei Lukynenko.

In the process of reading "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief". Finding it interesting, but I have been sidetracked by "The Mummy", by Anne Rice, "The Alchemist's Daughter", by Katharine Mcmahon and "Twilight", by Stephanie Meyers (so rivetting, that I have ordered two more in the series). I had better get LOG finished before they arrive. Grin

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« Reply #882 on: February 05, 2009, 08:37:25 AM »

"Night Watch", by Sergei Lukynenko.

In the process of reading "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief". Finding it interesting, but I have been sidetracked by "The Mummy", by Anne Rice, "The Alchemist's Daughter", by Katharine Mcmahon and "Twilight", by Stephanie Meyers (so rivetting, that I have ordered two more in the series). I had better get LOG finished before they arrive. Grin


R - the slash and burn comments of Stephen King obviously didn't put you off reading Twilight did they.  He really slammed the books for their writing which I thought was a little like the pot calling the kettle black.  Who cares what someone thinks about another authors' story or writing style, you're the one who's enjoying it.  Each to his own.
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« Reply #883 on: February 05, 2009, 08:57:30 PM »

"Night Watch", by Sergei Lukynenko.

In the process of reading "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief". Finding it interesting, but I have been sidetracked by "The Mummy", by Anne Rice, "The Alchemist's Daughter", by Katharine Mcmahon and "Twilight", by Stephanie Meyers (so rivetting, that I have ordered two more in the series). I had better get LOG finished before they arrive. Grin


R - the slash and burn comments of Stephen King obviously didn't put you off reading Twilight did they.  He really slammed the books for their writing which I thought was a little like the pot calling the kettle black.  Who cares what someone thinks about another authors' story or writing style, you're the one who's enjoying it.  Each to his own.

Nah, I don't let any critic put me off deciding what I will read. My enjoyment of a book isn't anchored on it being great prose. If I can't stop turning the pages, it was something I consider it a good read. As you say; each to his own.  Grin
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« Reply #884 on: February 06, 2009, 10:46:59 AM »

Right now - my sudents' midterm exam  Grin

The Homilies on Hexaemeron of St. Basil the Great, in a Russian translation (http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/vasilv2/Main.htm).
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« Reply #885 on: February 07, 2009, 06:23:14 PM »

Right now - my sudents' midterm exam  Grin

The Homilies on Hexaemeron of St. Basil the Great, in a Russian translation (http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/vasilv2/Main.htm).

Yikes!  I just finished the third week of my semester and you're already giving midterms!? 
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« Reply #886 on: February 07, 2009, 06:38:03 PM »

Right now - my sudents' midterm exam  Grin

The Homilies on Hexaemeron of St. Basil the Great, in a Russian translation (http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/vasilv2/Main.htm).

Yikes!  I just finished the third week of my semester and you're already giving midterms!? 

Ah, that's just another experiment... dividing the material into smaller portions and giving more exams during the semester...  Undecided
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« Reply #887 on: February 08, 2009, 12:41:45 AM »

I'm taking a break from Washington's bio to read Eisenhower's memoirs from the war - Crusade in Europe.
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« Reply #888 on: February 08, 2009, 08:54:47 PM »



Elder Paisios of Mount Athos - Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters
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« Reply #889 on: February 08, 2009, 09:26:10 PM »

Introduction to statistical analysis for the behavioral sciences..................zzzzzzzzzz Sad
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O Sebastian, spurning the assemblies of the wicked,You gathered the wise martyrs Who with you cast down the enemy; And standing worthily before the throne of God, You gladden those who cry to you:Glory to him who has strengthened you! Glory to him who has granted you a crown!
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« Reply #890 on: February 08, 2009, 11:13:47 PM »

I just read a short story by Andrei Platonov called "The River Potudan" (Река Потудань).  All I could find was this summary in English:
https://segue1community.middlebury.edu/index.php?action=site&site=dparker&section=20785&page=90984

Unfortunately it focuses on the sex way too much (which was a minor part of the story) and misses the big picture to an extent.  The idea one of my professors put forth is that Nikita was suffering from PTSD and this is Platonov's literary presentation of it, long before psychologists began to understand it.  It is definitely worth the read, and it is quite brief. 
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« Reply #891 on: February 08, 2009, 11:26:38 PM »

Most recent few, from the past week:

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America- Randall Balmer

American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon-  Stephen Prothero

There Goes the Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up - Lance Freeman

Prothero's was probably the most interesting. It explores America's changing understanding of Jesus from Jefferson to the present day ( It may suffer from taking too much of an emblematic approach, but still pretty good.) From amazon: From Thomas Jefferson's cut-and-paste Bible to Jesus Christ Superstar, from the feminized Christ of the Victorians to the "manly redeemer" of Teddy Roosevelt's era, from Buddhist bodhisattva to Black Moses, Prothero surveys the myriad ways Americans have remade Jesus in their own image.
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« Reply #892 on: February 09, 2009, 02:41:13 AM »

Persian Mirrors: The Elusive Face of Iran by Elaine Sciolino.

Cafe Europa: Life After Communism and How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed both by Slavenka Drakulic.  I'm always amazed at the enigma that is the Balkans.  Truly amazing people.
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« Reply #893 on: February 18, 2009, 09:44:48 AM »

Continuing my reading of the Rutgers Byzantine Series I just completed Origins of the Greek Nation, The Byzantine Period 1204-1461 by Apostolos E. Vacalopoulos.
As a recent poster in this thread made comment that there were not enough reviews in this thread, I must elaborate on the work.
First, it dispelled some preconceptions, false ones, I had about "Greeks" - both ancient and modern. I had always assumed that modern Greeks were more of a recent invention with little real connection to the ancient Hellenes. AND I had assumed, as many here also, that "Roman", referring to Byzantine (East Roman),  meant a multi-ethnic political entity. In fact this was so, but not for the entire East Roman period. Vacalopoulos points out that by 1204 the empire had in fact been reduced to an area populated alomost exclusively by Hellenes who were awakening to their ancient Hellenic roots. Previously "Hellene" connoted pagan, while "Roman" meant Christian. By 1204, this had changed and the Greek Byzantines were employing BOTH terms in self description.
Yes, there was some absorbing of Serbs, Vlachs and Albanians, but for the most part the Greeks knew they were , well, Greek. Their 'country" was the empire (in reduced area). Now I understand the "Great Idea" of reconquering Constantinople, Pontus, Ionia. The empire - now less Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Armenia - was "Greek country" by then.
The book goes further detailing the effects of the Turkish take-over of the Hellenic area - the quick apostasy of the aristocrats wishing to preserve wealth and the migrations west for those who could afford to do so. Sad stories are related of many of the Greeks and what they had to do to survive in the west, (Venice, Genoa, Spain). Most interesting were his descriptions of the Church filling the void for the ordinary Christians, now deserted by their landlords, orphaned by the emperor.

I may be a "Greek"-American but I don't think I can quite be so quick to judge a real Greek when he views the "Greek Orthodox Church" to be his church, for Greeks. Not that I agree with that sentiment (I don't) but I can understand it much better now.
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« Reply #894 on: February 22, 2009, 11:19:53 AM »

Just discovered for myself this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Historical-Road-Eastern-Orthodoxy/dp/0913836478

Proropresbyter Fr. Alexander Schmemann, "The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy."

(I am, actually, reading it right now in its Russian original, Прот. о. Алeксандр Шмeман, "Историчeский путь Православия." http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/shmeman1/Main.htm)

Incredibly beautiful, both content-wise and stylistically, narrative of the entire history of the Orthodox Church. Written in the form of lectures that Fr. Alexander actually gave, first at the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris and then at the St. Vladimir Seminary in Crestwood, N.Y., in 1945-1951.

I am not sure who translated this series of lectures into English (it could have been Fr. Alexander himself, or maybe someone else), and I actually do not even want to read it in English. For all of you who can read Russian, my very enthusiastic recommendation is to read this book in its original Russian. Fr. Alexander's language is just fantastically strong and beautiful. (Yes, that says I, the notorious Russophobe. Smiley )
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 11:21:54 AM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #895 on: February 22, 2009, 12:29:20 PM »

Quote
Incredibly beautiful, both content-wise and stylistically, narrative of the entire history of the Orthodox Church.

We seem to have had very different reactions to this book Wink
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« Reply #896 on: February 22, 2009, 03:12:09 PM »

Quote
Incredibly beautiful, both content-wise and stylistically, narrative of the entire history of the Orthodox Church.

We seem to have had very different reactions to this book Wink

Really? What is yours? I don't remember you expressing an opinion about this book, honestly.
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« Reply #897 on: February 22, 2009, 03:43:03 PM »

Overall I guess I liked it to some extent (after all, I did go to the trouble of finishing it), though I seem to remember not liking the way he dealt with St. Justinian very much. I might have a totally different view were I to read it again though, this was probably 6 or 7 years ago that I read it.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 03:43:36 PM by Asteriktos » Logged
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« Reply #898 on: March 03, 2009, 05:57:58 PM »

I'm about half way through Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and I think it's very good.  It's about near future San Francisco where due to a terrorist attack the DHS has taken to tracking everyone as much as possible. A high school student and three friends were arrested during the first hours after and subjected to interrogation and suspicion that they were terrorists because the main character has his phone and other files on his electronics under good passwords and the feds want to know what he has. Doctorow writes well including about such things as Bayesian math (used in spam filters among other things) and the Paradox of the False Positive as well as speaking out on the Bill of Rights and personal freedom and privacy. 

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« Reply #899 on: March 03, 2009, 07:38:18 PM »

Just finished the Twilight Series; a total of four books; Twilight, Eclipse, New Moon, Breaking Dawn. Personally, I find this vampiric saga commendable, especially as it's young adult fiction. While the prose might not be the greatest in the history of literature, this romantic tale is a compelling enough read to keep those pages turning. I particularly like the way that Ms Meyers has portrayed the prominent vampires in the books as determined not the take human life and retaining the moral standards of the bygone times when they were still human.
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