Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I haven't said too much recently about what I'm reading. (Guess I've been spending so much time reading, that I haven't had as much time to write.) I was able to buy several books with Christmas money. (No one bothers to buy me Christmas gifts anymore--just assume I'm going to want books and know where to find the best deals myself.) I bought The Arena, which I'd already read before but wanted to own for future reference. Also, Journey to Heaven by St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, which I hadn't read and was very good. My Godfather bought me the first volume of Fr. Michael Azkoul's The Teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church, which provides a good overview, and also loaned me The Soul, the Body, and Death, by Abp. LAZAR (Puhalo), so I could get a better handle on some of the different perspectives I've seen and heard articulated by Orthodox sources. As an afterthought, I was able to track down a very affordable copy of On Spiritual Unity, which includes writings of A. Khomiakov.

Finally, after plowing through all that, my order from Amazon showed up, including Touching Heaven, by (now Fr.) John Oliver. I'd been wanting to read that one for a while, after listening to some talks he gave, I think last year at Holy Cross. I liked his talks, and the topic of the book also looked interesting, which was a pilgrimage to Valaam. It's probably on my short list of places I'd like to visit before I die. It's not quite to the Arctic Circle, so the cold and dark thing is one positive. It's Russian, but practically in Scandinavia--a couple of other good hits. Plus, it's significant historically for American Orthodoxy, since the original band of missionaries who came to North America was from Valaam. If all that isn't enough reason to buy the book, it's got a cool cover design. It was an enjoyable read and something I might pick up again further down the line, so it was worthwhile.

The other book that arrived most recently and the one I'm just getting ready to start is Fr. Dumitru Staniloae's Orthodox Spirituality. It looks like enough substance to keep me busy for a while (400 tight-margined pages)--maybe even into Lent. I shouldn't omit the online reading either--in addition to the usual stuff, I've run across Holy Trinity Orthodox School, which has an incredible amount of material under the Textbooks link. I've also started collecting whatever patristic Bible commentaries I can find online--Chrysostom and Augustine, of course, from the NPNF series, and Cyril of Alexandria on Luke and on John.

The three commentaries on the Gospel of John might come in handy, as we're starting to meet with a small group from Bethany, and the first study will be on John. (I should explain a bit about this group. Bethany Community Church, where Julie and I have attended for years, is starting a small group ministry that will mostly meet in homes. Some good friends of ours who live nearby are starting one, and since Bethany is still very much Julie's church, we're going to participate. I plan to be very up-front, though, about my own inclinations, including giving the Orthodox perspective on whatever we're studying.)

Well, enough writing about reading. Staniloae's book is calling to me . . .

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