Author Topic: Requesting Help Answering An Inquirer's Email  (Read 459 times)

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Offline hewhoknocks

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Requesting Help Answering An Inquirer's Email
« on: August 30, 2017, 01:52:07 AM »
Hi all,
I got the e-mail below from someone who wants to learn more about Eastern Orthodoxy. There are some good questions here, how would you answer them? I told him I would get feedback from a variety of Orthodox folks. Thanks in advance for reading through this e-mail and your answers to his questions.


"My questions pertain to, as you may have guessed, your "conversion" to Eastern Orthodoxy. I'm intrigued about it for a number of reasons. Chiefly because I know that I am not "home" in Evangelical Protestantism. I tell people who know me I'm a closet Anglican and that's probably mostly true. Yet in my studies of the church and in my readings (Hauerwas, J.K.A. Smith) I'm feeling pretty unmoored not so much in my core faith (atheism or non-orthodox faith has no draw), but in how to best express it. I want to experience it in a coherent, deep fashion. Currently, due to the dearth of good options in my rural part of Oregon, I attend a very evangelical house church. There are no Anglican or Orthodox churches for an hour drive or more. Anyways, as I explore these questions I would love to be led in a decent direction. So I guess, perhaps, my question is this: Where would one go to understand the move towards Orthodoxy? Obviously reading the Church fathers would do me well in this regard. But I'd also like the kinds of resources that help me understand what it looks like today. Books, articles, thinkers, theological resources, podcasts even. I don't expect you to have some extensive list or anything, but maybe just perhaps your favorites and maybe even things that help you keep to the liturgical practices of the Church. I just want to learn, that's it. I'd love for your basic guidance in this. I have a really good friend in Washington, DC (his story) who has been Russian Orthodox for a very long time and it's been good to talk to him about these things. In addition to his perspective, I'm seeking yours :)

One other thing: I'm going to Istanbul and Cappadocia in three weeks. I'm leading a historical tour out that way. Through a connection there I might be meeting with some Orthodox Church leaders in Istanbul--potentially including an assistant to the Grand Patriarch. Given how nascent a lot of my thoughts and understanding is, I'm wondering what I should even do with that opportunity. So my question definitely isn't "what should I do?!", because that's too large of a question and in my studies of the next few weeks will inform that decision. But perhaps my question is this: What would you want to know, see, or understand being there? Does that make sense? As a practitioner of this ancient, beautiful and complete expression of the Christian faith, what is to be gained (in a sense) by time spent in the seat of the Church? Which I think it officially is, right? Or is it Moscow? In a wonderful way, Istanbul, in relation to Orthodoxy, doesn't seem to be like Rome in that it is this imposing, drastic place of pomp and circumstance. I'm excited to go there all the more. I'm a little taken aback by the opportunity, really.

Anyways, I'd love your thoughts... about any/all of this. That being said, please don't feel compelled to respond or to feel like you must respond on behalf of all Orthodoxy, haha. I am just using my connections to learn!

Thanks for any/all assistance that you can render!"

Offline Rohzek

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Re: Requesting Help Answering An Inquirer's Email
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2017, 05:54:50 PM »
Well, in terms of resources, I'd definitely recommend Timothy Ware's The Orthodox Church. Since he clearly has an interest in the Eastern lands of Orthodoxy, I'd also recommend reading some general histories of Byzantium for a lay audience. Something like, Judith Herrin's Byzantium: The Surprising Life of a Medieval Empire or John Julius Norwich's A Short History of Byzantium. Herrin's book is probably the better choice of the two. These latter two are more histories than religious texts, but they might prove useful in grounding his further inquiries.

Some interesting religious sites aside from the Hagia Sophia might be the Chora Monastery/Church in Constantinople. It's now a museum:

I actually don't know much about what specifically resides in Turkey itself. It sounds like the trip is restricted to Turkey. Others ought to have much better suggestions than mine.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 06:03:09 PM by Rohzek »
"Il ne faut imaginer Dieu ni trop bon, ni méchant. La justice est entre l'excès de la clémence et la cruauté, ainsi que les peines finies sont entre l'impunité et les peines éternelles." - Denise Diderot, Pensées philosophiques 1746

Offline hewhoknocks

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Re: Requesting Help Answering An Inquirer's Email
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 11:06:39 PM »
Thank you very much! All very helpful. Best, Nathan

Offline Daniel2:47

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Re: Requesting Help Answering An Inquirer's Email
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2017, 07:41:09 AM »
As for books written by modern converts, a few that I would recommend include:

  • Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells - Matthew Gallatin.
  • From Baptist to Byzantium: How a Baptist Missionary Traveled Halfway Around the World to Find the Ancient Orthodox Faith - James Early.
  • Becoming Orthodox - Peter Gillquist. (Considered a classic, as it includes the story of the 2000 evangelicals that joined the Antiochians)
  • Surprised by Christ - Fr James Bernstein (Interesting because Fr James is from a Jewish background)
  • Evangelical is Not Enough - Thomas Howard

All of these are written by former evangelicals who have joined the Orthodox church (except Thomas Howard who joined the Roman Catholic church) and address questions about liturgy, tradition and the personal experiences they went through on the journey. I would also recommend a couple of podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio: At the Intersection of East and West and The Illumined Heart.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 07:44:43 AM by Daniel2:47 »