Saturday, July 13, 2013

Book Suggestions for Orthodox Newbies

Over on one of the groups I frequent on Facebook, the question was asked what books are recommended for a life-long protestant person who just experienced their first Divine Liturgy.  The answers were, in part, expected, such as The Orthodox Church and the The Orthodox Way, and books by Clark Carlton, but there were a number of books that I haven't read yet.  I confess that my spiritual reading has fallen off a bit in the last decade or so, and I haven't really kept up with what has been published in that time.

When I look back over my Orthodox life, and I can see stages.  When I was 16 years old and searching for God, I found The Orthodox Church by Sergius Bulgakov in the Boston Public Library, quite by chance, and I was hooked.  I now know that God's plan for me was to embark on that journey of theosis, moving toward Him, at that young age.  For the next four or five years, I read what I could find on Orthodoxy, which was not much, and mostly written from a western point of view, but I never experienced Orthodox worship. During my first Liturgy at 20, I fell in love and I have never fallen out of love with Orthodoxy, but I hesitated to leave Roman Catholicism behind and fully  embrace Orthodoxy until I was 24.  Then followed a decade of intense reading of everything I could find, and this mirrored the growth of Orthodox publishers such as Light and Life and St.Vlad's, so there was lots to choose from.  In retrospect, I was still trying to form an Orthodox phronema, and lots of reading served me well. I became a mother in the 10th year of my Orthodoxy, and my focus became my daughter.  Reading deep theological and mystical writings fell away as I dealt with life's joys and tragedies - Oh, I read some, but not the voracious consumption as before.  Each lenten period (there are three each year, for you non-Orthodox), I always chose a book to read, so that was three books a year, plus a few others.  Not much.

After reading the list of recommended books, I see that I am completely out of touch with Orthodox publications today.  So many books that I've never read, and some that I've never even heard of!  I feel the need to compile a list, so here it is, direct from Facebook:

The Truth of Our Faith by Elder Cleopa
The Orthodox Church by Kallistos Ware*
Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells* and FB page of the same name
Let Us Attend! A Journey Through the Orthodox Liturgy by Fr. Lawrence Farley
Divine Energy: The Orthodox Path to Christian Victory by Braun
Becoming Orthodox by Fr. Peter Gilquist*
Partakers of Divine Nature by Archimandrite Christofos Stavropoulos
The Orthodox Way by Kallistos Ware*
Light from the Christian East
The Way of the Ascetics*
The Orthodox Church by Fr. McGuckin
A Place of Healing for the Soul by Peter France
Orthodox Worship: A Living Continuity with the Temple, the Synagogue and the Early Church*
Mountain of Silence by Markides*
Common Ground by Dr. Jordan Bajis
Rainbow Series by Fr. Tom Hopko*

Only 17 books listed so far, and I have read some of them already.  Some are calling my name....   I will update this list as people add more suggestions on FB.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories
The Apostolic Fathers, Fr. Jack Sparks, ed.
Orthodox Christianity by Alfeev
Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Fr. Michael Pomozansky
Theology and the Church by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae
The Mystery of the Trinity by Fr. Bobrinskoy
On the Incarnation by St. Athanasius
The Philokalia, Volume 2
Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ by St. Justin Popovich
The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms by St. Athanasius
Divine Energy by Braun