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Posts Tagged 'fr. andrew stephen damick'

Brief recap of recent travels

Last month I was fortunate enough to be able to attend, and present a paper at, the Patristic Symposium of the Florovsky Society at Princeton University. I had also been looking for the right opportunity to visit Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary for about the last year or so, and while I missed the opportunity that I had really wanted (I had wanted to coincide with Ioannis Arvanitis’ campus visit, but I wasn’t told it was happening until after it had already happened), I decided that since I was going to be out on the East Coast anyway, I may as well roll a trip to Boston into the travel for the Florovsky Symposium.

I had never been to Princeton before. It was reasonably easy to get there from Newark Airport via train, it’s a lovely little town, and the campus is quite picturesque. It was a good opportunity to see some people I don’t get to see very often; I was able to catch up with an old Jacobs School of Music buddy of mine, Ben Eley, who now works for the university in a decidedly non-musical capacity and whom I hadn’t seen since summer of 2006, and I also was able to stay with our friend Paul who lives nearby. Alexis and Eugenia Torrance, with whom I’ve crossed paths a number of times over the last few years, were there, as was Seraphim Danckaert, whom I first met in the summer of 2004 when he was studying Romanian here. Ioana Patuleanu, a former All Saints-er who relocated to New Jersey last year, was there. My friends John and Katherine, both students at Holy Cross, also came down for the conference, and I rode back to Boston with them afterward.

It was also a chance to finally meet Fr. Andrew Damick in person, with whom I have been friends in the digital world for the last few years. We met for breakfast at PJ’s Pancake House Friday morning before heading over to the conference, and I think found that we are reasonably like-minded on a number of points.

As we walked over to the conference, I saw Fr. Benedict Churchill and Dn. Gregory Hatrak of SVS Press unloading boxes of books. I had met them at Oxford last summer, so I made a point of saying hi and taking one of the boxes to be of help. Well, no good deed goes unpunished; as I set the box down where they told me to put it, I managed to catch something at exactly the wrong angle with exactly the wrong amount of tension, and ripped open the crotch of my trousers.

Do note that this was also the day on which I was presenting my paper. Since I was staying with Paul, whose house was some 5 miles away, there was very little I could do except make sure my jacket was draped strategically and deliver my paper from behind a lectern. This is the kind of thing that happens to me.

Nonetheless, the paper was well-received and got a couple of good, productive questions. The rest of the conference was really interesting, although it was a curious reversal for me; usually I’m a little too ecclesiastical in my focus to neatly fit in with my history colleagues, but here, I was clearly a historian amongst theologians. Well, there we go.

Saturday evening John, Fr. Andrew, Alexis, and I were able to help chant Vespers for the Princeton Orthodox chaplaincy — for that service, in no less of a location than the Princeton Chapel itself. That didn’t suck (although the choir director looked a little shell-shocked at the end and said, “It’ll be lovely to have you all in the choir tomorrow morning, but I think maybe we’ll do a little less Greek chant”). I also got to briefly see an acquaintance I had made in Athens 3 years ago, who just happens to now be at Princeton and was at Vespers (even though she herself is Catholic). Small world. Following Vespers, Paul, Fr. Andrew, and I had really good Indian food for dinner, and then it was back to Emmaus for Fr. Andrew.

Sunday morning, following Divine Liturgy at the chaplaincy, Paul, John, Katherine, and I had breakfast at PJ’s (I just had to do it one more time), at which point the New Jersey leg of the trip had to come to a close, and it was time to head to Boston.

Holy Cross was a great trip; I met some neat people, including fellow blogger Kevin Edgecomb, I had some very good and productive conversations with members of the faculty (I’m contemplating spending a year there while I’m writing my dissertation), I was able to sit in on a number of good classes, especially the Byzantine chant classes, I got to sing in the left choir for a handful of chapel services, and, as with Princeton, I was able to make some new friends and catch up with some existing friends whom I don’t get to see all that often. Something that was a little unsetting was that there were people I met who said, “Oh, I know you! I read your blog!” Well, there we go.

Alas, I wasn’t able to get a Holy Cross shirt; I was told that they only place one order a year, and the larger sizes go quickly, so thus is life. I had to get some item of HCHC swag, though, so I bought a scarf.

One of the great things about the Holy Cross visit was seeing the current level of Antiochian representation there amongst the seminarians. There are 12 AOCANA guys there right now who are all getting a good grounding in Byzantine chant from Grammenos Karanos, good liturgics in the chapel (including the experience of antiphonal choirs being normative), and exposure to Greek and Arabic. This all seems like good stuff to have happening. One of the Antiochian seminarians I met was Rassem El-Massih, whom I’ve heard about for years but had not yet met — he’s an excellent cantor from Lebanon and all around good guy, it seems, and we had a really positive conversation my last morning there. He had some very encouraging things to say about the future of traditional Byzantine chant in the Antiochian Archdiocese, and I told him a bit about the objectives of the St. John of Damascus Society. Hopefully the Society can be part of the efforts he was talking about.

By the way, if you’re a single person considering going to Holy Cross, do be aware that the dorm rooms are tiny. And I mean tiny. Word to the wise.

Anyway, after three far-too-short days in Boston (which, honestly, I didn’t get to see much of because the seminary trip took up all the time I had), it was time to take the train back to Newark and fly home.

And then it was time to start preparing for my next trip, this time to Emmaus, Pennsylvania to give a couple of talks on music at a Lenten retreat at St. Paul’s Orthodox Church, Fr. Andrew Damick’s parish.

I arrived at St. Paul’s the evening of Friday, 2 March, just in time to help sing an Akathist service. Their building is a repurposed valve machine shop; in terms of layout, it’s not unlike All Saints, low ceilings and all, except that enough surfaces are sufficiently reflective that it’s actually a reasonably decent acoustic environment. I was quite surprised.

Saturday morning I sang Matins and Divine Liturgy for St. Theodore the Tyro (we also did the Blessing of the Kollyva). The morning was pretty much up to me, and having such an uncustomary free reign, I sang an all-Byzantine liturgy. It was really nice to sing that repertoire in that room, I have to say.

Following Liturgy, I gave the first talk. There were about 15-20 people, and they had good questions (although some of the questions were such that, the frank way I had to answer them, it was best to omit the Q&A from the online version). Not bad attendance and participation, considering that Fr. Andrew made the mistake of putting my name on the flyer (see for yourself).

During the afternoon, Fr. Andrew gave me a bit of tour of Emmaus, and I have to say, as a town, the place is cute as a bug’s ear. I’d love to have more of a chance to get to know the place sometime.

After Vespers, I gave the second talk. There was about half the attendance, and about half of those people hadn’t been there in the afternoon. Again, some good questions, and all things considered pretty good given that my face was used for advertising. In any event, my job was done, Fr. Andrew took me out for Chinese food, and once again we had a great conversation over a wide range of topics.

Sunday morning, it was back to Kazan and their usual polyphonic mix of things; Gail Ortner is a capable choir director, and truthfully, it was nice to just stand there and sing and not have to worry about everything being my problem.

Thanks to a flight delay, I was able to attend the Lehigh Valley Pan-Orthodox Vespers for Sunday of Orthodoxy at St. Nicholas Cathedral (GOA). It’s a beautiful church, and it was a very nice way to end the visit. It worked out perfectly, and I got to the airport with plenty of time to catch my plane.

And now I’m home until May.

I’ll say this — getting to know Fr. Andrew a bit has been one of the real highlights of the last six weeks. He’s one of the good guys — he appears to have a genuine love of God, the Church, Tradition, and the people he serves; he is able to use his theatrical background and intellectual acuity to great effect (as opposed to great affect, which I’ve seen happen all too often); he seems to very much care about the place he is in and wants to serve it to the best of his ability; he seems to have a very good handle on where his parish is at and what they need to be doing; and — very important — he has a supportive group of parishioners behind him, and a really awesome family at home. I hope to have more of a chance to get to know him down the road.

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Lenten retreat at St. Paul Orthodox Church, Emmaus, PA

As I mentioned, Fr. Andrew Damick has been kind enough to invite me to disseminate some of my crazy ideas about Orthodox church music at his parish. I’ll be talking on Saturday, 3 March at St. Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. Fr. Andrew just posted a schedule for the day on the church website, and he has created a Facebook event. I should note that the flyer marks the first public mention of the St. John of Damascus Society, which hopefully means I’ll be able to talk more about what that is shortly. Anyway, if you’re anywhere close to that neck of the woods, by all means please come!

An itinerary and a couple of labors of love

I’ve got three things to pass along, and I suppose I should relate them in order of interest from least to greatest. Otherwise, you’ll just read the first item and skip the rest.

First — I’m going to be mildly peripatetic in the coming months. 9-12 February I will be in New Jersey to participate in the Georges Florovsky Patristic Symposium, and then 12-15 February I will be in Boston to spend a few days at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. 2-4 March I will be in Emmaus, PA to give a presentation on church music as part of a Lenten retreat at St. Paul Orthodox Church. Then, looking ahead a bit farther, 24-26 May I will be participating in the North American Patristics Society (NAPS) annual meeting in Chicago. I realize that maybe I’m up to three regular readers (counting my parakeet), but if you happen to be anywhere near any of those places when I’m there, by all means let me know. I had the odd experience at the Antiochian Sacred Music Institute last summer of meeting a couple of people who said upon meeting me, “Oh! I read your blog,” and then I also met this gentleman at the Byzantine Studies conference this last October (although neither of us realized whom the other was until after we were both back home). Anyway, I won’t look at you funny or hiss at you if you introduce yourself, promise.

Second — my first peer-reviewed article, “Sensory Experience and the Women Martyrs of Najran”, has been accepted by The Journal of Early Christian Studies. It’s been an interesting road with this project; five years ago, during my initial year of being a non-matriculated continuing student, I took my first graduate seminar, a course on the Middle East in late antiquity, taught by the professor who would later become my advisor. It was my first exposure to scholars like Peter Brown and Susan Ashbrook Harvey and so on, and was a significant broadening of my horizons. The student makeup of the class was very telling; it was a History course that had no History students in it but rather three Religious Studies kids and me.

Anyway, among other things, we read Sebastian Brock and Susan Ashbrook Harvey’s translation of the section of the Second Letter of Simeon of Beth-Arsham that deals with the martyrdoms of the women during the Himyarites’ sack of Najran, and the in-class discussion sparked something for me. Other students were focused on the gory nature of the martyrdom details for their own sake — I specifically remember one person commenting, “I never understood the connection people draw between martyrdom and sadomasochism before now” — but it was clear to me that there was something else governing how those details were conveyed, namely shared liturgical experience. I raised this point, and I still remember the look that I got as clear as day. Needless to say, it didn’t get a lot of traction in class, but when paper topics had to be proposed, I mentioned it to the professor as a possibility. “I can almost guarantee you I won’t buy your argument,” he said. “You’ll have to go a long way for me to see it as at all legitimate.” Well, that’s a challenge, now isn’t it? I wrote the paper, making what I saw as explicit as I could and relating it to known liturgical practices as clearly as I was able. I presented an overview in class, and the professor was quiet for a moment. “You know,” he said, “not only am I convinced, but now I can’t see it any other way. Good for you.”

Later, as I was applying for IU’s Religious Studies graduate program, the paper was used as my writing sample. At the same time, I was alerted to one of the big religious studies journals doing a themed issue on religious violence; I figured, hey, what the heck, if it gets in it can only help the application, and I sent them the paper. I also submitted it to Dorushe, a graduate conference on Syriac studies that was being held at Notre Dame. Well, the outcome of the Religious Studies application was detailed, if somewhat obscurely, here; as far as the paper went, it got into Dorushe, but the response from the journal was a little more ambivalent. The answer was ultimately no, but they included the reviewers’ comments, and said that if I were to revise it they would be willing to look at it again (while making it clear that this was not a “revise and resubmit”). Since at that point I didn’t think I was going to have the chance to go to grad school, publication didn’t really matter anymore, and I shoved the paper and the comments sheet in a drawer. The Dorushe experience was a little weird in some ways (maybe due more to some heightened self-consciousness on my part than anything), but I met some interesting people, and Sidney Griffith, at least, liked the paper, saying, “The way you lay it out, it’s obvious.”

After actually getting in to grad school, I thought to myself a number of times, I should go back and look at those reviewers’ comments, and finally last June I spent a few days thoroughly reworking the paper. I transferred it from Word to Scrivener, I restructured it following the reviewers’ suggestions, and did what was nearly a page one-rewrite so that it reflected better what my scholarly voice (to the extent that I might pretentiously assert the existence of such a thing) actually sounds like these days. Part of this involved reducing block quotes of secondary literature (a bad habit of which I was cured by the wonderful Prof. Sarah Bassett over in Art History, who in the three years that she’s been here has really proven herself to be one of the great, if somewhat unsung, reasons to study Late Antiquity at Indiana University) down to footnotes and paraphrases, and it also involved an overall refinement of the writing style. Don’t worry, I’m still wordy as hell, but I’ve tried to make the wordiness a little more elegant. Also, there’s some additional literature on the Najran incident that’s come out in the intervening five years, and I had to make sure that all got referenced properly. Anyway, once it was done, I opted to not go back to the original publication, instead sending it off to The Journal of Early Christian Studies. In September, I got a note back from the editor telling me that the reviewers’ recommendation was “revise and resubmit”, saying that this was good news and if I took the feedback seriously, there was no reason I couldn’t have a publishable article. By November the revision was re-submitted, and I got word back this last Tuesday that it was in. Now, I have some style adjustments to make before it’s totally done, but at this stage of the game it looks like it will be appearing in the Spring 2013 issue.

So, that first seminar five years ago got me my advisor, my overall area of interest (the interaction of liturgy and history), and my first published article. (Although, while the Najran paper is related conceptually and methodologically to where I think my dissertation is going, it looks like a paper I wrote for a class I took the previous semester, fall of 2006, served as a first stab at the actual dissertation topic. I’ll have more to say after NAPS, I think.) It’s been the gift that’s kept on giving, to say the least.

Okay, on to the final, and most interesting, bit of news.

Third — on or around 26 June 2012, assuming all goes well and without incident, there will be another Barrett on the earth. Yes, be afraid, my genes are propagating, insanity, puns, tendencies towards a prolix approach of oversharing, and all. Thankfully, this child will also be carrying the genes of Flesh of My Flesh, and those characteristics involve practicality, common sense, order, and normality. (To say nothing of great beauty and brilliance.)

We had intended for the last couple of years that we would start trying once Megan got back from Germany, and we were told to prepare for it taking awhile. Well, apparently not. By the beginning of November we at least knew informally, and then our first OB appointment was Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, which confirmed matters and indicated we were nine weeks along. We spent most of the drive to our Thanksgiving destination on the phone with my mother and then Megan’s mother and stepmother; my mom got the first call, since she’s the one parent who doesn’t have any grandchildren already, and she burst into tears immediately.

We’ve been telling friends and family ever since, but a couple of things made it desirable that we wait a bit before making it “Facebook public”, as it were. Anyway, here we are, and I suppose it will be a source of reflection in the coming months/years/etc. If you’re on Facebook and want to be kept more or less up-to-date, you can join the group “Fans of Baby Barrett“; there’s not a lot to tell at this point except that we’re choosing to not find out whether it’s a boy or a girl. We’ve got some name ideas, yes, but it’s hardly practical to openly discuss those when you don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, so I’m not going to go there except to say that there are some “legacy names”, as it were, that might make sense, and you know that we’re going to be getting one of these. We’ll see.

By the way, if you happen to be having a baby in or around Bloomington, Indiana, I really can’t recommend Bloomington Area Birth Services (AKA “BABS”) enough. We’re doing their eight-week birthing class (cue Bill Cosby: “Natural childbirth… intellectuals go to class to study how to do this”), and while, I must admit, it’s a little more of the NPR-listening “educated class” culture than I really expected, it’s a lot of excellent information that’s provided very sensitively and accessibly. I kind of surprise myself with my own reactions to some things; it should really be no surprise that “birth culture” a) exists b) is hyper-feminized, but I find a certain kind of stereotypical “maleness” emerging in how I’m processing some of the information, and it is very much out of character for me. It’s probably mostly a reflexive reaction to the explicit hyper-feminization of what’s being presented, which probably has everything to do with me and nothing to do with them, because they really are terrific at what they do. I’m just really not used to what they do. Anyway, I’ll have more to say about this as time goes on, I think.

So, there’s the news. Two different kinds of babies, I guess. There’s a third kind of baby on the way that I hope to be able to talk about more in depth soon, but it’s an outgrowth of some of the musical efforts I’ve had going here the last couple of years. For now, follow this, and I’ll be able to tell all in the next month or so, I think.

Prayers for all of these babies, please, and prayers most of all for Flesh of My Flesh. She’s got to carry our child in her womb and write a dissertation.

Review: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems Through The Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith, by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick

First of all, in an ideal world, this would have gone up about three months ago. I had requested a review copy back at the beginning of May, and for one reason or another the copy wasn’t sent out until the beginning of August or thereabouts, which meant that I wasn’t actually in physical possession of the book until I got home from Oxford, and by that point it was off to the races for the start of the academic year. More about all of that elsewhere, however.

About six years ago or so, I was corresponding with a gentleman named Charles Carter. Charles was a Baptist who was something of a presence in Anglican online discussion groups, often as something of a gadfly. He was a strict five-point Calvinist (although I don’t know that he himself used that phrase), he had no patience for any kind of sacramental theology, and liked to say things like, “The Reformers had to whitewash the churches and tear out the organs in order to give them back to the people,” or recount how, growing up as a Baptist in the South, he “sincerely” wondered whether or not Catholics were Christians.

When Charles discovered that I was a former Episcopalian who had converted to Orthodox Christianity, he was perplexed to say the least. How was that the least bit justified? “Did you even consider the ‘Geneva option’?” he asked. One of his sticking points was the practice of so-called “closed Communion”, and he argued that any church organization that would exclude other Christians from partaking is demonstrating its lack of catholicity, not affirming it. (“If Jesus visited your Orthodox parish, would you let him take Communion?” was another one of his rhetorical questions. I pointed out that actually, Christ would serve as the celebrant, since he’s the high priest. He wasn’t impressed.) I suggested that this in the context of the historical self-understanding of the Orthodox and Catholics, Charles’ point of view imposed a definition of “catholicity” on them that didn’t take them on their own terms. Charles insisted that in contemporary times, no group that claims to be a Christian organization may presume to be “the Church,” but he acknowledged being largely ignorant of pre-Reformation history, and was open to hearing the historical argument that one might make.

I walked Charles through the history as I understood it, explained how I had resolved certain questions for myself, and also had him read the Florovsky essay “The Worshipping Church” for some background on the relationship between liturgy, ecclesiology, and catholicity, and for a while it seemed like we might be getting someplace. Still, he ultimately couldn’t get past his own presuppositions, and while he initially was quite taken with Florovsky, for example, his last word on it was, “It’s a compelling piece on its own terms, but I’m pretty sure I can disprove his whole argument from scripture.” As far as the historical argument went, he saw it in the end as question-begging (not illegitimate, I suppose, from a Protestant point of view), and our correspondence petered out when it became clear that the differences were insuperable. I’m not entirely sure what happened to him, although there was a commenter who called himself “Bubba” on Rod Dreher‘s old Crunchy Con blog who had an eerily similar temperament and set of pet issues when it came to Christians coming out of a sacramental tradition. I asked “Bubba” once if he was Charles, and he gave a strange, non-responsive answer that seemed to amount to, “Don’t call me that around here,” so I let it drop.

Today, if I were to find myself in a similar exchange, I would still have the person read Florovsky, but I would give him Fr. John McGuckin’s The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture for the history, and Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s Orthodoxy and Hetorodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems Through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith for a clear statement of how Orthodox Christianity sees itself in the midst of religious pluralism, be that Christian pluralism or non-Christian pluralism.

The project of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is to give the reader a clear picture of where Orthodox Christianity positions itself relative to other Christian groups, major and minor, as well as select few non-Christian so-called “world religions”. To this end, Fr. Andrew starts out with a clear statement that, yes, this book is going to deal with doctrine, it is going to do so with the core assumption that Orthodox Christianity teaches the right doctrine, and while all humility is intended to be employed, that’s going to involve saying where we think we’re right and others are wrong. In calling ourselves Orthodox, that presumes that differences constitute heresy and/or heterodoxy, and we’re going to use those words. Key distinctives of Orthodox doctrine are sketched out, and Fr. Andrew then walks the reader through a number of issues, historical and doctrinal, having to do with Roman Catholicism, the various historic Protestant groups (that is, the offshoots from the “magisterial” and “radical” Reformers), Revivalists, fringe groups, and so on.

There’s a very tricky space that the book is staking out from the first page; how do you accomplish the stated objective using the stated methodology without the book seeming like a non-stop polemic? It’s very easy to be tarred with the “anti-” brush just by pointing out where there is disagreement. Well, turns out that there is in fact a way to do it. Fr. Andrew’s approach is to discuss differences, yes, but to also always note agreement and similarities (where possible, at least), as well as points where there could be agreement, or at least similarity, should the other side clarify one or two things or move a little bit in some direction. In short, he calls a spade a spade, but he endeavors to do so to an extent where it acknowledges the positive as well as the negative. An example may be found in the conclusion to his chapter on Roman Catholicism:

…it is critical for Orthodox Christians to note that twentieth- and twenty-first-century Roman Catholicism has seen a number of developments bringing some theologians closer to Orthodoxy and others further away. There is much in the Ressourcement (French, “going back to the sources”) movement with its fresh emphasis on the Church Fathers that should encourage the Orthodox. At the same time, certain disturbing distortions occurred in some sectors of the Roman Catholic Church in the twentieth century, such as Liberation Theology, an attempt to wed church dogma with Marxist politics.

Because of these kinds of developments — as well as the ongoing problem of the gap between official Vatican teaching and what the average Roman Catholic personally believes or is taught from the pulpit — Orthodox believers should tread lightly in discussing theology with Roman Catholics. They may be closer to or further from Orthodoxy than what is officially taught by the Vatican. It is critical to discern what the person in front of you believes before launching into any sort of detailed refutation of Roman Catholic dogman and practice.

I also believe that much of modern Orthodox criticism of Roman Catholicism is based either on pre-twentieth-century models of Rome’s thought or simply on mischaracterizations and oversimplifications of its theology and practice. In my opinion, many of the Orthodox writers of our time have borrowed heavily from Protestant polemics against Rome, which are often based either in exaggerations of misunderstandings of Rome’s theology or are instead based on Protestant theology which is not consistent with Orthodoxy. Again, it is critical that we understand the theology of the person in front of us as well as our own (pp58-9).

Now, I have no doubt that somebody could jump all over him for a point or two here and there (I can think of one or two people who probably would not take kindly to his characterization of Liberation Theology as a “distortion”, for example, and I suspect that any positive assessment of Ressourcement would also raise the hackles of some others), but for my money there’s a lot to this approach to like. There is disagreement between Orthodoxy and Catholicism, but it is not monolithic; this is what’s good, this is what’s problematic, and we’re not exactly perfect in our own approaches to criticism, so let’s have some humility. That is more or less the tone of the whole book, and it is a welcome one.

That said, there are some things that come across more sharply than others. It is accurate to point out, as Fr. Andrew does, that since Orthodox Christianity sees the Church as the New Israel and God’s chosen people, present-day Israel and Judaism have no special status from an Orthodox perspective. It is also uncomfortable to read stated so matter-of-factly in so many words. Again, as noted earlier, pointing out disagreement seems to lend itself easily to accusations of prejudice in the current era. Nonetheless, Fr. Andrew both makes it abundantly clear that’s not where he’s coming from and extends the same notice of similarities and agreement that he does to every other religion discussed in the book.

Fr. Andrew’s writing style is clear and accessible, but it is also articulate enough that one never gets the sense that he is dumbing anything down. He says what he has to say, and explains what he thinks needs explaining, and the end result should be quite readable for the average person while still being sophisticated enough for the reader who perhaps might assume that the book is written for a fifth grade reading level. There are occasional moments where his lucid prose style is interrupted with a logical leap I couldn’t quite follow, but these are few and far between. He demonstrates a wide familiarity with source materials for other religions, and also a wider knowledge of Orthodox sources than I might have expected. His is perhaps the first “mainstream” book on Orthodox Christianity in the English language I’ve encountered that cites Fr. Seraphim Rose to support an argument, for example (and to my mind, that’s progress).

For me, there is only one truly awkward moment in the book, and I’ll be up front and say it’s probably a personal issue. It is when he invokes the Civil War in discussing the differing concepts of the episcopate between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy:

The vision of Church governance is not merely administrative but involves a theological outlook different from Orthodoxy’s collegial episcopacy. Students of American history will recognize a transition similar to the one in which centralized federal power won out in the Civil War against a looser federation of sovereign states. Just as Americans began thereafter to refer not to “these United Sates” but “the United Sates,” Roman Catholics who refer to the “the Church” most often have in mind the Vatican rather than a sense of the wholeness of the people of God (p35).

I will fully acknowledge that this quibble may well be my problem and my problem alone, but my godfather (himself the author of a book outlining the difference between Orthodox Christianity and Restorationist Christianity that would perhaps be a useful reference for Fr. Andrew in future editions) is a Southerner who refers to the Civil War as “the war of Northern aggression”, and Fr. Andrew is fairly outspoken publicly about his localist political views, so it is difficult for me to not see this carefully-worded paragraph as a moment where politics that are tangential to the topic are seeping through. It’s enough of a minor, subjective, and arguable point that I hesitate to even mention it, but I found myself reacting very strongly while reading it, so there we are.

If I have any suggestions for future editions or printings, consulting my godfather’s book for the chapter dealing with Campbell-Stone folks would be one; another would be to reconsider the subtitle. Last year I wrote a paper that used the word “lens”, much as this book’s subtitle does, to describe perspectives that shaped analysis (not the first time I’ve done so, mind), and the professor circled the word and wrote the comment, “In these troubled times, everybody is resorting to looking at things through lenses. It has become a cliché, so please find another way to phrase it.”

In sum, Fr. Andrew’s Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is an articulate book that takes what could be treacherous subject matter and handles it with a lot of grace, authority, and humility. It strikes me as being a valuable resource for those who might have the responsibility of teaching adult catechism, as well as a worthwhile read for those non-Orthodox who want to get an adult-oriented, non-simplistic, reasonable take on just how much air there might be between Orthodoxy and their denomination. Recommended.


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