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Table of Contents and Preface (pdf 50 KB)
Description and Synopsis (pdf 90 KB)
Many Orthodox writings currently available in English seem to be “hidden”: by the haze of academia, crossing of jurisdictional lines, and just plain unfamiliarity. Hungry Orthodox Christian Reader is a sampler of and introduction to various texts, types of writings, and their sources for Orthodox people who want to know more about Orthodoxy but may not know where to look. The individual articles focus less on what we believe and more on how we believe, a foundational difference between East and West.
Many of the articles in this anthology are from multivolume sets of books that an individual would naturally hesitate to purchase: because of their cost, the mystery of their contents, or the trepidation engendered by their bulk. Even if these multivolume sets are available in the church library, their enormous size is daunting and discourages perusal. They are easily assumed to be for scholars, even though they contain normal, everyday, Orthodox reading. This anthology gives an encouraging glimpse into their contents.
Another highlighted source is monastic periodicals, which are generally unknown but would be helpful for any Orthodox reader. Other excerpts are from service books, sadly considered to be the domain of clergy, but potentially edifying for the laity: demystifying the services (“What are they saying?”) would engage the congregation and unveil the Mystery’s majesty.
Still other readings are from types of writings (e.g., homilies) that one might not think to investigate (“those are for priests”), and from authors whose very names are intimidating (“St Gregory Palamas is too scholarly, it would be completely over my head”). Many people assume these writings are too abstruse, arcane, unapproachable. To the contrary, they are surprisingly accessible to normal people—and delightful, to boot. In several instances, the writings have been translated and published only recently.
Each chapter is followed by a short section of Miscellanea comprising specimens, considerations, and suggestions of related books or authors. Many of these are Parent Friendly tips for busy parents and their children. The book also emphasizes the value of a church library to make these sources available to all members of the congregation.
One cannot read one’s way into Orthodoxy or, to the point, salvation. Nevertheless, reading (in a literate country) is an integral, indispensable part of Orthodox life. Not only will individual readers benefit from the diversity of the many articles, but more important, the clearly referenced sources (in English!) can open the way to a lifetime of reading, prayer, and praxis.
For individuals, for adult education classes or discussion groups, and even for older youth groups, the book will surely spark lively conversation. In any case, this Reader will provide hungry Orthodox readers an introductory familiarity with those topics, authors, and genres that they might otherwise never discover.
A synopsis of the Reader is available with the above description as a pdf file.