NOT A COOKBOOK. Not a how-to book. Not a book of profound spiritual guidance, but practical direction: a sort of guidepost pointing travelers to Orthodox oases.
HUNGRY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN READER is a sampler of books and types of Orthodox writings that are “hidden.” Although they are foundational Orthodox literature and currently available in English, they are hidden through unfamiliarity or, surprisingly, a seeming too much familiarity. Many are hidden away in scholarish, multivolume sets of books. Other staples of Orthodox reading have only recently arrived in English. Certain others are avoided as though proscribed: for priests only. Those obscured by ostensible over-familiarity—the services, for example, with their expansive beauty and depth—are simply taken for granted and too often become burdensome obligation.
This collection provides an encouraging glimpse into and introduction to these “hidden”—though widely available—texts and sources. The various selections deal not so much with what Orthodox believe, but rather how Orthodox believe. They aim toward a more Orthodox culture, world view, way of life. The book is for hungry Orthodox: lifelong church members who feel there must be more to Orthodoxy than they perceive on Sunday morning; converts who seek the “fullness” they were promised; and “reverts” who left the Church because of hunger but now hungrily return.
Thy life-giving side, O Christ, flowing as a fountain from Eden, waters Thy Church as a living Paradise. Then, dividing into the four branches of the Gospels, with its streams it refreshes the world, making glad the creation and teaching the nations to venerate Thy Kingdom with faith.
Stained Glass Interpretation: Fredrick G. Redinger, Fredrick Stained Glass, Chicago
Photo: Theresa Bertocci Photography
Publisher: OLGA Press
Paperback, 320 pages
Hungry Orthodox Christian Reader can be ordered at almost any bookstore and from the following online outlets:
Barnes & Noble
Save on overseas shipping.
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.
More .pdf info (and fun stuff) resides within the Large Screen Format