Patriarch Bartholomew’s book, Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today arrived yesterday. Metropolitan Dumbledore… er, Kallistos provides the Foreword; Dr. Dn. John Chryssavgis contributes a rather lengthy biographical essay. I am through the Foreword and will work my way through Dr. Dn. Chryssavigis’ material this evening. Likely this book will serve as my Lenten reading in capacity, probably in conjunction with Oliver Clément’s Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, which UPS’ website tells me was delivered today.
(Funny story about the Clément book: I saw it at the St. George bookstore after the Triumph of Orthodoxy Vespers on Sunday. It was $15, and noting a fairly substantial — if not downright questionable — markup on a couple of other items, opted to not get it. Upon getting home, I checked the St. Vlad’s Press website, and found that the book was on sale for $3 — $9 after shipping, but still well worth resisting the impulse purchase.)
The first thing that jumps out at me in the Foreword is liberal use of words to which I try to avoid, like “dialogue.” However, the Patriarch of Constantinople using the word “dialogue” somehow seems more appropriate to me than, well, me using it. I will therefore reserve judgment.
The second thing that is crystal clear is that part of the point of this book, even if it isn’t the prophetic witness regarding the situation in Turkey that some would have preferred, is to give Americans a reason to care that the Patriarch exists.
I’ll have more to say as I go on, but for now — I am at the very least respectfully intrigued.
(And yes, I think the same can be said of the Patriarch’s appearance that can be said of Met. Kallistos’. Check how I’ve tagged this post, then click on the tag, if you don’t understand what I mean.)