Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Here are a couple of books I've recently completed:

The Beauty of the Infinite - David Bentley Hart

From the book:
One moves in God's infinity only if one moves upon surfaces. To be raised up eternally into glory, to be deified, is to traverse every series of being in such a way as to see God's beauty expressed in each, in endless variety. Sin, violence, cruelty, egoism, and despair are the discords that disrupt the surface, but always as privation, a failure of love; they are no part of being's deep music, but only shrill alarms and barren phrasings, apostasies from music altogether. Evil, for all its ineradicable ubiquity, is always originally an absence, a shadow, a false reply, and all violence falls within the interval of a harmony not taken up, within which the true form of being is forgotten, misconstrued, distorted, and belied. This is not to imagine being as a music without dissonances, but as one without ultimate discords for the soul that turns its motion toward God's all-embracing eternal order of love, seeking to recover the theme of this love and articulate it anew forever.
An interesting book, in spite of my inability to fully penetrate, let alone master, the dense layers of philosophical prose and nomenclature. A variety of reviews can be found online, or purchased from various journals; however, seeing that I'm not entirely satisfied with any of the free ones, I'll defer recommendations.

Unseen Warfare - as edited by Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain and revised by Theophan the Recluse

From the book:

This book, which profits the soul, is justly named 'Unseen Warfare'...For it teaches not the art of visible and sensory warfare, and speaks not about visible, bodily foes but about the unseen and inner struggle, which every Christian undertakes from the moment of his baptism, when he makes a vow to God to fight for Him, to the glory of His divine Name, even unto death. (It is of this warfare that the book of Numbers speaks allegorically: 'Wherefore it is said in the book of the wars of the Lord' [Numbers xxi. 14].) It speaks of invisible and incorporeal foes, which are the varied passions and lusts of the flesh, and of the evil demons who hate men and never cease to fight against us, day and night, as the divine Paul says: 'For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places' (Eph. vi. 12)
This book teaches that the warriors who take part in this unseen war are all who are Christians; and their commander is our Lord Jesus Christ, surrounded and accompanied by His marshals and generals, that is, by all the hierarchies of angels and saints. The arena, the field of battle, the site where the fight actually takes place is our own heart and all our inner man. The time of battle is our whole life.

I enjoyed this book; it was quite practical, and more accessible than the heavier ascetical works within the Philokalia collection of writings and St. John's Ladder.

No comments: