Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Readings: Week of Dec 9

I've begun reading: Two Paths: Papal Monarchy — Collegial Traditions, by Michael Whelton. A snippet from the book can be found here.

A short Second Terrace post on Revival (in the extract below, the author comments on what Revival has come to mean):
Revival means the absence of historic order and hierarchy. It means the absence of old-fashioned fanciness (e.g., icons, gold chalices, lampada, incense, bells); although new-fashioned fanciness would be okay, because one must have their transparent plexiglass lecterns, ferns, and Amway auditoriums with horns, drums and gurgling fountains.

Revival means not just absence: it means the presence of a quasi-informality, an adoption of a practiced boisterousness, a tragic hybridization of modern idioms (e.g., self-help and temperance movements, business and townhall models) with expositions of isolated scriptures.

It also means the adoption of ecstasy or catharsis as the gold standard. "I was blessed at Church." "The anointing is here." "The Spirit was really there last night." "Revival broke out."

Another interesting, Second Terrace, fourfold blog post on: Power/Revolution, Nature/Time, Prayer/Particularity, and Heroes/Beast. Below, the author comments on prayer:
It is always better to opt for God as a Divine Neighbor than a philosophical construct. Any flower or tree, mountain or sea, if properly looked at, will keep one from knowing about God rather than knowing Him. One cannot denature the Apostolic Vision into propositions. One cannot subject theology to philosophical categorization, simply because theology is not an intellectual object: as it is the empirical experience of God's Uncreated Energies, it is above all academic captures and caricatures.

Perhaps in the West it is permitted to define theology as "a word about God," but not in the East. Theology is the experience of Triune energies, the apostolic vision of the Uncreated Light: any intellectualized confinement of "theology" -- especially in a dialectic manner -- is a diminution of the term. The intellectual prejudice against experience is the reason why St. Paul's rhetoric at Mars Hill was a mixed success. St. Dionysios heard and received the Word -- not because he was an intellectual, but because he was willing to be called a fool for a bright enough light.

Bajis, Jordan - Common Ground:
Provides clear, stimulating answers to the challenging questions that American Christians typically put to Orthodox. But the book goes farther than this. Common Ground begins by showing how Christianity is inherently Eastern, and from there, gently challenges the Protestant and Roman Catholic reader to re-evalute his or her own views of Christianity against the Orthodox perspective. Common Ground is perfect for the Western Christian interested in Ancient Faith, the sincere student of Orthodoxy, and the mission minded Eastern Christian who desires to communicate his faith in a sensitive but compelling manner. The book is a product of three years extensive research and is thoroughly documented. Common Ground definitely helps fill the need for Orthodox literature which can address the concerns of the American Christian. There is no book like it.
I've been reading this book bit-by-bit for quite sometime now. It's a good introduction to some of the more Protestant-contentious aspects of Orthodoxy. Of course, those looking for a detailed treatment of the various topics should consult the resources listed in the well furnished bibliography. This book is worthwhile simply for the copious footnotes at the end of each chapter.

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