Sunday, December 16, 2007

NEW BOOK: Song of the Talanton by Claire Brandenburg

From Conciliar Press


Ben Lomond, CA – Conciliar Press is pleased to announce the release of a captivating new picture book by Claire Brandenburg, author and illustrator of the popular Christian children’s picture book The Monk Who Grew Prayer and several other children’s titles. Song of the Talanton, a soft cover picture book with an accompanying audio CD, takes a unique look at Eastern Orthodox monasticism, focusing on prayer, silence and watchfulness. At the moment of sunrise, a pilgrim visiting a women’s monastery senses Christ’s mystical presence in the rhythmic call of the talanton. Song of the Talanton teaches children to listen and to be ready for God's presence.

Brandenburg was inspired to write Song of the Talanton upon visiting a monastery and “feeling God's loving and powerful presence in the sound of birds singing, the light of the rising sun and the sound of the talanton,” she said. She was also inspired by the desert itself, where sound “carries in a remarkable way, settling on branches, along the tops of peaks like dust blown by a heavenly wind.”

A story that focuses on such a unique sound would be incomplete without an audio component. Song of the Talanton includes an audio CD featuring:

• The tonk, tonk, tonk of a talanton’s call to prayer
• The story Song of the Talanton, read by Claire Brandenburg
• A recording of a large Romanian toaca
• A description of how to make a simple talanton
• Music by Eikona (Shine, Shine, New Jerusalem; Psalm 142; Litany of Fervent Intercession)

Claire Brandenburg received a BFA in art and education from the University of New Mexico. Working in a variety of different art forms for over thirty years, she has shown her work in galleries and museums and has received numerous awards. To learn more about Claire Brandenburg and her books, go to

Monday, December 10, 2007

PUBLISHER NEWS: Chrysostom Press releases new book

Chrysostom Press has recently released The Explanation of the Gospel of John by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria. This completes the four volume set of Theophylact's classic Gospel commentaries, written about the year 1100 A.D. and now available for the first time in English. Work is underway to complete the translation (from the original Greek) of Blessed Theophylact's commentary on the New Testament.

Dr. Mary Ford, Professor of New Testament at St. Tikhon’s Seminary in New Canaan, PA, writes: “The long awaited translation of Bl. Theophylact's Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to of the same high quality as the others in the series. The very fluid, readable translation, enhanced by judiciously placed explanatory footnotes...should be greatly appreciated by serious students of Scripture - certainly the seminarians in my class on the Gospel of John have benefited very much from reading it. Yet it is accessible for anyone who is looking for an edifying and informative commentary on St. John's Gospel.”

The blog The Ochlophobist said of The Explanation of the Gospel of John:“Bl. Theophylact's teaching of Scripture is the teaching of the cadence of graceful steps. He holds the hands of his spiritual children, and teaches them how to get the feel of the legs underneath them. His commentaries are meant to be bathed in, their genius is their wholeness, the consistent movement of grace whether ordinary or life-shattering; this is Baptism by immersion, and not by sprinkling.” Read the full review.

Chrysostom Press also publishes the twelve-volume set The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, compiled St. Demetrius, Bishop of Rostov, a renowned Russian church leader and writer of the seventeenth century. One of the most comprehensive collections of lives of saints to be published in English, The Great Collection covers the saints of the first millennium, as well as Russian saints of the first half of the second millennium (Note: only in heaven is there a record of the life of every saint!). The first six volumes already available contain the lives of saints who are celebrated from September through February. The seventh volume (for the month of March) will be published in February, 2008.

Fr. Christopher Stade, the founder of Chrysostom Press and translator of Blessed Theophylact’s Explanation of the Gospels, is the rector of St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church (ROCOR), located in House Springs, Missouri, 45 minutes southwest of St. Louis in the foothills of the Ozarks. A small group of dedicated parishioners assist him in producing the books, advertising, and order fulfillment.
Fr. Thomas Marretta in upstate New York (Cortland) has been working with Chrysostom Press since 1993 to translate The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints from the original Church Slavonic text of St. Demetrius of Rostov. When he completes the final draft of each volume, he sends it Chrysostom Press in House Springs for layout and production.

Plans for future publications (in addition to completing the two ongoing series) include booklets of individual Lives of the Saints from The Great Collection; CDs of recorded Lives of the Saints by a gifted storyteller recounting and explaining them for young children; and a collection of essays on Orthodoxy in America by an eloquent contemporary writer (name of author to be announced).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Freedom to Believe by Archbishop Lazar (Synaxis Press)

Review by Ron Dart

Freedom To Believe: Personhood and Freedom in Orthodox Christian Ontology
by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo
Synaxis Press, Second Edition, 2007

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo has ventured, faithfully and steadfastly, into intellectual and political terrain that few Orthodox theologians in North America have dared enter. The journey into such deep and demanding places has done much to reveal the splendour and motherlode of the Orthodox Tradition.

The publication of For a Culture of Co-Suffering Love: The Theology of Archbishop Lazar Puhalo (2004) did much to highlight the visionary role Archbishop Lazar has played in Orthodox theology in North American and beyond. There is a mystical depth and political breadth, a philosophic fullness and social passion that cannot be missed in Archbishop Lazar's unearthing and application of the Orthodox way. For a Culture of Co-Suffering Love articulates, in an incisive way, how and why this is the case.

The re-publication of Freedom to Believe: Personhood and Freedom in Orthodox Christian Ontology (2007) makes it abundantly clear, yet once again, why Archbishop Lazar is on the cutting edge of Orthodox theology.

Many Orthodox theologians have been rather shy about addressing the existential tradition of philosophy. Existentialism, for some, has a bad name, and should be shunned and avoided at all costs. But, should it? What is it about the insights of existentialism that need to be heard? And, more to the point, is Orthodox theology, at core and centre, existential? These are some of the questions Archbishop has taken the time to ponder in Freedom to Believe.

Freedom to Believe is divided into seven sections and an appendix by way of conclusion: 1) A Definition and Discussion of the Essential Aspects of Existentialism, 2) An Orthodox Christian Concept of Existentialism, 3) Existentialism and Free Will, 4) Freedom and Choosing Values, 5) Existentialism and Models of Reality, 6) The Existential Nature of Orthodox Theology, 7) The Existential Nature of Orthodox Christian Systematic Prayer, and Appendix 1, Platonistic Essentialism.

Freedom to Believe ponders, carefully and judiciously, how and why existentialism has been knocked, and yet, true to thoughtful form, why the existential tradition has much truth to it that should not be avoided nor missed. In fact, Freedom to Believe makes it more than obvious that the Orthodox Tradition, in both thought and deed, is the true fount and foundation of existentialism. There is an Anglican adage that 'abuse should not prohibit use', and if the existential vision has been abused by some, it should not be tossed out; its real use and insights need to be recovered. This is the task and real work of Freedom to Believe.

There is little doubt that freedom is a sacred word for the Western tradition, but the meaning of freedom often lacks meaningful content. It is often used as a justification for all sorts of behaviour. The rights of the individual are, also, front and centre for most in the midst of the culture wars of our time.

Freedom to Believe walks the extra mile to clarify the differences between 'personhood' and 'individualism', and how freedom can be distorted and abused if the language of individualism dominates the day, but, if the notion of 'personhood' is properly understood, the deeper meaning of freedom will emerge like a bird to the sky. There is even more to Freedom to Believe than these crucial distinctions and many others.

The intellectual meaning and significance of existentialism, freedom and personhood must be a lived reality in both the inner and outer, the mystical and public life. "The Existential Nature of Orthodox Theology" and "The Existential Nature of Orthodox Christian Systematic Prayer" wed the world of inner thought and transformative prayer and healing. Ideas must take legs and flesh, and such is the integrated existential conclusion in this gem and jewel of a book.

Appendix 1 in Freedom to Believe is rather thin and meagre (2 pages). I found the appendix a rather weak link in the book. "Platonistic Essentialism" tends to dim, distort and diminish the full orbed thinking of Plato. Plato was a foundational thinker to the early Christians and the Fathers for the simple reason that there is much depth and integrated thought in his approach to thought and life. George Grant has been called 'Canada's greatest political philosopher', and he held Plato high. Just as existentialism can be caricatured and distorted, so can reads and interpretations of Plato. Perhaps, in the future, Archbishop Lazar will be as fair to Plato as he has been so generous and insightful with existentialism.

Freedom to Believe takes arrow from quiver, places it well in bow, pulls taut, releases and hits the bull's eye of insight and wisdom. Do read this keeper of a book. You will understand why Orthodoxy and Existentialism are in a great round dance and cannot be separated.

Freedom to Believe can be ordered via the web site of Archbishop Lazar's monastery:

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Fr. William C. Mills is an Orthodox author and rector of Nativity of the Holy Virgin Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC (OCA). He lives in Mooresville, NC, where in addition to his priestly duties he is professor of religion at Queens University.

OCB: You've been a busy man this last year. Can you tell us a little bit about your new books?

WCM: I have several book projects forthcoming:

1. Let Us Attend: Reflections on the Gospel of Mark for the Lenten Season (NY: iUniverse, 2008), the fifth in a series on basic scriptural commentaries based on the Orthodox liturgical lectionary. This volume deals with the readings on Mark for Lent.

2. Church, World, Kingdom: The Sacramental Foundation of Alexander Schmemann's Pastoral Theology (Mundelein, IL: Liturgical Training Publications/Hillenbrand Press, 2008), a revision of my doctoral dissertation for a Ph.D. in Pastoral Theology. This book highlights Schmemann's vision of pastoral ministry which is based on the sacramental life of the Church, especially the Eucharist. Topics also include the perennial problem of clericalism and the abuse of authority, as well as the teaching and preaching role of the priest and the ministry of the laity.

3. Called to Serve: Readings on Ministry From the Eastern Church (South Bend, IN: The University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), an anthology of writings from some of the greatest Orthodox theologians of the 20th century. Essays by Bishop Kallistos Ware, Elizabeth Behr Sigel, Nicolas Berdiev, Anton Kartashev, and Archmandrite Kyprian Kern are a few of the many who are represented. Kern's essays on the vocation to the priesthood and on ministry are original essays that are appearing in English for the first time. This volume is a welcome addition to the scholarly discussion on ministry and on ecumenism.

4. Walking With God: 30 Days Towards Spiritual Renewal (manuscript in preparation). This book includes thirty meditations on key scriptural passages that focus on forgiveness, vocation, discipleship, prayer, and love. Each chapter also includes a section called "Food For Thought" which further assists in reflecting and thinking about the spiritual journey. This book is marketed towards a general readership. It is also free from "academic" and "theological" jargon.

OCB: Can you give us a short history of your work as an writer and how you ended up authoring books through the different publishers with whom you've worked/are working?

WCM: Well, I never saw myself as a writer when I first started the process a few years ago! I guess it all started during my graduate work while preparing for my doctorate in Pastoral Theology. There was a tremendous amount of writing involved, not only academic research type papers but also contextual and reflective essays as well. When I shared my dissertation with a friend of mine, Fr. Stephen J. Hrycyniak (a priest in the OCA), he said that it just had to get published. After several phone calls to editors, Hillenbrand Press, a rather new press based in Chicago quickly picked it up. Currently the dissertation is being revised for publication. I know it sounds like a cliche, but the rest is project led to another and here we are. Honestly, I never saw myself writing books or articles. The books really flowed from one another. My work on Schmemann led me to the anthology on ministry. After reading several of the essays I was intrigued at their vision of the Church and their emphasis on freedom in Christ and openness, something which we don't see too often in the Church these days, which is quite sad.

OCB: What inspired you to write the piece on Schmemann?

WCM: Well, it was quite practical. During my graduate research I was trying very hard to find a topic of study that would sustain and inspire me enough to write a doctoral dissertation on it! One of my professors, Andrew Purves, a wonderful theologian and mentor, suggested that I try something from the Orthodox point of view. After looking at my bookshelves I thought I would look at Schmemann. While reading his work I noticed a small thread, a theme really which was woven in almost all of his books and articles. This thread was his thoughts on ministry, the role of the priesthood and the laity in the Church. The more I read the more intrigued I became. After a while I had a dissertation and now a book.

OCB: Do you have any unannounced projects in the works?

WCM: Actually, I have several projects and ideas that I am working on. Currently I am researching an academic book on Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Women Theologians, persons such as Dorothee Soelle, Dorothy Day, Elizabeth Behr Sigel, and Sophie Koulumzin to name a few. I am also working on a project dealing with both liturgy and ecumnism called Orientale Lumen: A Theological, Historical, and Liturgical Commentary. The late Pope John Paul II published an ecumenical statement in 1995 called Orientale Lumen (Light From the East). I would like to offer an Orthodox response to this document, it is wonderful really. I also would like to write a book on key women of the Bible, I think the women are often overlooked, but some of their stories like Hannah, Sarah, Rachel, and Mary Magdalene are wonderful.

OCB: Where do you stand in the "e-books v. print" debate?

WCM: I think e-books are great even though I think that the printed word will always be wtih us. People love to touch, smell, and carry a book. I know I do. I have no interest in the e-book, but it is good for people who travel I guess or who are more "technologically advanced" than I am.

OCB: Any final thoughts?

WCM: I encourage all writers out there in cyberspace to keep writing. We need good, wholesome, and sound writing on a variety of topics, but especialy ones that deal with Christianity and culture, ecumenism, ethics, and modern theology. Orthodox authors tend to stick with patrisics, hagiography, and liturgy, which have their place within theology but really we need to have greater dialogue with the world around us; for the contemporary society in which we live.

Also, it would be great to have an Orthodox or even Eastern Christian Writers Conference which would include not only Orthodox but anyone who enjoys or is invovled in Eastern Christian theology or thought.

Learn more about author William C. Mills at

Friday, November 30, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Questioning God: A Look at Genesis 1-3 by Fr. Ted Bobosh (Light & Life Publishing)

Review by Fr. Meletios Webber for In Communion Journal
Winter Issue, 2008

Rarely have I seen an author take on such a difficult and (some might say) controversial subject and produce a book which is as spiritually satisfying as this one.

Deftly moving from subject to subject, Fr. Bobosh brings to the reader a full degree of awareness of the first three chapters of the Holy Scriptures, of Biblical comments upon that text, together with the views of patristic authors and of modern scientific opinion.

The author remarks that these chapters of Genesis deserve to be read theologically, and should be treated neither as a history textbook nor yet as a scientific treatise. Fr Ted actually makes such a theological understanding of these important words available to the reader in a way which is straightforward, without either glossing over the difficult points or sounding in any way preachy or condescending. There are points to ponder throughout the text; in particular, I was very interested in the author's comments about Satan, about the Orthodox way of fasting, and the emergence of a surprising number of aspects of human existence … which we generally regard as good and wholesome … only after the apple had been eaten.

My only negative comment, if one is needed, is that the visual impact of the book is not very conducive to the sort of meditative attention which the writing so richly deserves.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dn. Michael Hyatt on E-Books

Here are some interesting blog posts on e-books and "Kindle,"'s new wireless reading device, written by Thomas Nelson Publishers' President and CEO and Orthodox Deacon Michael Hyatt:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BOOK NEWS ROUND-UP -- November & December 2007

ANAPHORA PRESS, a brand new orthodox publishing company, will be launched around November 15. Anaphora, founded by Macrina and Christopher Lewis, will hold a pre-release sale for their CD Cherubika and their first book, a collection of poetry called Mysteries of Silence, once the site is active. Although not quite live yet, Anaphora's website will be The site will feature the sale of liturgical sheet music and space for the work of contemporary Orthodox fiction writers and poets. "We are seeking works that are polished, well-crafted, and convey a deep sense of meaning which in some way reflects on our Orthodox presence in this life," Macrina Lewis said. For more information about submitting work to Anaphora Press, e-mail Macrina at macrina440(at)

CONCILIAR PRESS recently released Fr. Meletios Webber's Bread & Water, Wine & Oil. At the end of October, they released their first prayer book for teens, author Annalisa Boyd's Hear Me!. Coming soon from Conciliar: children's author Claire Brandenburg's Song of the Talanton and a book on pastoral epistles by Fr. Lawrence Farley.

ORBIS BOOKS will be re-releasing an updated version of Jim Forest's classic work Praying With Icons in the spring of 2008.

PARACLETE PRESS just released an illustrated hardcover book with Orthodox appeal for the Nativity 2007 season. God With Us: Rediscovering the meaning of Christmas includes the reflections on the meaning of Christmas from contributors including Scott Cairns, Emilie Griffin, Richard John Neuhaus, Kathleen Norris, Eugene Peterson, and Luci Shaw.God With Us was edited by Gregory Wolfe, founder and editor of Image Journal and Greg Pennoyer, Project Director for Incarnation: A Recovery of Meaning, an international art exhibition. God With Us was also released in email subscription form; the link to the subscription is on the bottom of the God With Us hardcover page.

Paraclete released Scott Cairn's book Love's Immensity last May.

ST. NECTARIOS PRESS just published a new children's book called Holy Week and Pascha by Euphemia Briere. According to the publisher's description, Holy Week and Pascha "takes us through the period in the life of Christ from the raising of Lazarus to the Resurrection, as reflected in the Divine Services of the Holy Orthodox Church." The book includes full-color icons and iconographic illustrations. Also out is the newly re-issued title The Life and Suffering of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr, previously out of print for two years. Translated from the Greek of the Great Synaxaristes by Leonidas J. Papadopoulos and Georgia Lizardos, The Life and Suffering of St. Catherine is a revised edition of the life of the popular Great Martyr of early 4th Century Alexandria. The new edition includes a Supplicatory Canon (Parkaklesis) in English, metered to Greek Chant.

St. Nectarios publishes about two to three new books a year. Coming in early 2008 is the middle grade book The Life of St. Martin of Tours. First published in 1966 and written by Verena Smith, the new version includes colored wood cut illustrations by Emile Probst. St. Nectarios also plans to release a volume of lives of saints from Cyprus translated by Leo Papadopoulos by the early summer of 2008.

UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME PRESS just released a new translation of Nicholas Afanasiev's The Church of the Holy Spirit, translated by Vitaly Permiakov edited with an introduction by Michael Plekon, foreword by Rowan Williams. The book is now available.

Plekon is currently editing the translation of Antoine Arjakovsky's study of the great Paris emigre thinkers, including Berdiaev, Bulgakov, Florovsky and Lossky. He's also translating the new Olga Lossky bio of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel and is finishing up a sequel-of-sorts to his book Living Icons called Hidden Holiness which, Plekon says, is "a look at ordinary, diverse patterns of sanctity in our time."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Book Review: Silent as a Stone by Jim Forest

An user review by Fr. Michael Plekon

This children's book takes the reader into a terrible time, one in which whole families were swept up, put into horrendous conditions of imprisonment in concentration camps, the result for most being disease and death. In the midst of such darkness we encounter the light and hope and goodness of a woman honored after her own death as "Rigtheous among the Gentiles." This is the new saint, Mother Maria Skobtsova, a fascinating, unusual example of holiness in our time. Jim Forest weaves his lovely, spare text with Dasha Pacheshnaya's extraordinary color drawings, most based on historical photos fo Mother Maria, Fr. Dmitri Klepinine, the hostel at Rue de Lourmel in the 15th arrondisment of Paris and the cycling stadium, Vel d'Hiver, where the French Jews were held. The story though turned into a narrative is based on first hand accounts of what Mother Maria was able to do in her visits to the stadium in th sweltering June days of 1942, as those rounded up awaited transport to the camps. Not only children but all of us need images of goodness in the face of great despair and evil. This wonderful story provides just that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Book review: Bread and Water, Wine and Oil by Fr. Meletios Webber

Review by Jim Forest

A key passage at the beginning of Bread and Water, Wine and Oil focuses on the on the Orthodox use of the word "mystery":

"One of the most noticeable features of Eastern Christianity is that it is this word, 'mystery,' rather than the word 'sacrament,' which describes those actions of God which have a specific, decisive and eternal significance in the lives of those who take part in them. Everyday substances -- oil, water, bread, wine -- together with simple actions -- offering, blessing, washing, anointing -- become the means by which God intervenes in our lives. These interventions -- in which God does all the work, and our only contribution is to be prepared and present -- color and shape our lives beyond the extent that would be possible through any human encounter. However, unlike most human interactions, they do not take us from a place of ignorance to a place of knowledge. Rather, the Mysteries lead us deeper and deeper into the Mystery -- the Mystery which is the presence of God Himself."

Mystery, in the Orthodox sense, has nothing to do with mystery novels and films. The divine mystery has no solution. As the author writes:

"In the East, on the other hand, a mystery is an area where the human mind cannot go, and where the heart alone makes sense, not by 'knowing,' but by ;being.' The Greek word mysterion leads you into a sense of 'not-knowing' or 'not-understanding' and leaves you there. All a person can do is gaze and wonder; there is nothing to solve."

Father Meletios's book is a profoundly challenging book about the journey from the mind (always struggling to explain, solve and de-mystify, yet always seething with emotions and passions) to the depths of the heart, the center of being rather than of knowing.

"Bread and Water, Wine and Oil" seems likely to become a Christian classic, the sort of book the reader returns to again and again and keeps recommending to friends.

Friday, November 2, 2007

NEW FROM CONCILIAR PRESS: A prayer book for Orthodox teens

From Conciliar Press:

Hear Me: A Prayerbook for Orthodox Teens
Compiled and edited by Annalisa Boyd

Hear Me is a prayer book designed to address the unique challenges Orthodox youth experience in their walk with Christ. This user-friendly manual communicates the importance of both corporate and personal faith. Prayers for school, friendships, and family give teens tools for successful relationships. A topical section offers encouragement as teens face daily challenges. The Q & A section answers practical questions the youth themselves may find challenging. Hear Me gives teens direction in using the tools Christ has given us -- Holy Scripture as the map and the Church and Her Traditions the compass, helping our youth find their own path toward theosis.

About the Author
Annalisa Boyd, home-schooling mother of a few teens and tweens of her own, wrote this book to inspire and challenge Orthodox youth while encouraging personal faith within the community of the Church. Annalisa resides in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains of California with her husband and four children.

Learn more at

Thursday, November 1, 2007

What is to come...

Considering that this is a brand new blog, a proper introduction is in order. The Orthodox Christian Books blog is a clearinghouse of information about Orthodox books, Orthodox authors and the Orthodox Christian publishing industry. In addition to book-related press releases and book reviews, you'll find the following features on this blog:

NEWS ROUND-UPS: Coming soon, monthly round-ups will include news blurbs about orthodox books, authors and publishers;

INTERVIEWS: We'll interview authors and publishing industry insiders on relevant topics and share their responses with you;

"IN THE PIPELINE": What's slated for release at the various Orthodox publishers? This "sidebar feature" will highlight soon-to-be released titles.

SEND US YOUR NEWS! If you know of anything that might be of interest to us, from whispers of book signings to projects in the works and so on, please let us know: e-mail us at orthodoxchristianbooks(at)

Is there something else you'd like to see on this blog? Leave a comment below.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Book review: Road to Emmaus by Jim Forest

To be published in Cistercian Studies Quarterly, a quarterly monastic journal

The Road To Emmaus: Pilgrimage As A Way of Life
By Jim Forest
Orbis Books, 2007

Review by S.T. Georgiou

To read Jim Forest's The Road To Emmaus is to take an inspirational journey of the heart. Like Christ's disciples "whose hearts burned" as they walked with the risen Lord and discussed the fulfillment of Scripture, (Luke 24.32), so readers will be warmed by this highly engaging and illuminating work. Illustrated with many good photos and well arranged chapters, the overall effect is powerfully aesthetic and meditative. Few books recharge the soul in such a down to earth and enlightening manner.

Forest, an award-winning author of numerous spiritual books and founder of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, is certainly no stranger to pilgrimage. Much of his book is highlighted by personal stories, anecdotes, and experiences that intimately tell us what it means to be a pilgrim, to walk daily with Christ.

Forest himself has been graced to walk with many spiritual notables, among them Thomas Merton, Robert Lax, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Dorothy Day (for years Forest had worked with Day in the Catholic Worker Community of New York). An avid world traveler, Forest also has woven into his text transformative events and encounters that took place on his own varied faith treks, be they to Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem, Chartes, Iona, Novgorod, Santiago de Compostela, or to Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam.

But this book does not emphasize how God is best found along traditional roads of pilgrimage or in conversation with spiritual masters. As Forest tells us, we especially find God in our everyday routine. Pilgrimage can simply mean getting up from the living room armchair and walking to the front door to happily greet whoever might be there (as illustrated in the chapter, "Pilgrimage To the Front Door"). Indeed, there are many different kinds of pilgrimage: those in which we leave fear behind, pilgrimages of illness and healing, pilgrimages of intense listening, of wonder and surprise (especially when the love of God is found in the least likely of places), and pilgrimages which may be solely of individual value because they center on holy mysteries known only to the pilgrim himself.

Ultimately, The Road To Emmaus teaches us that in our day-to-day pilgrimages, the preeminent goal is to meet and honor the living presence of Christ. Significantly, this Christ is very readily encountered in what we sadly and all too often dismiss as "the stranger." And yet nobody is really a stranger -- the bottom line is that we are all pilgrims sharing the same road that leads back to our original homeland, the Kingdom of Love. Every attentive pilgrim comes to realize this en route to the City of God.

Jim Forest's book succinctly illustrates how as we engage in our routine activities and travel the paths of the world, we come to see how all of our physical journeying increasingly points to an inner transit -- ours is an interior trek that leads to the gates of the heart, the Eden where Christ quietly waits for us. As a well-known mentor of Jim Forest wrote, "The real journey in life is interior -- it is a matter of growth, deepening, and of an ever greater surrender to the creative love and grace in our hearts" (Thomas Merton, Circular Letter To Friends, 1968).

Repeatedly, and with conviction, Jim Forest reminds us that this inner trek cannot be accomplished without prayer. As Forest makes distinctly clear, "A pilgrimage without prayer is no pilgrimage at all."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Conciliar Press: Fr. Meletios Webber's new book

Bread and Water, Wine and Oil: An Orthodox Christian Experience of God

By Fr. Meletios Webber, author of Steps of Transformation: An Orthodox Priest Examines the Twelve Steps (Conciliar Press, 2003).

Worry, despair, insecurity, fear of death . . . these are our daily companions, and even though we attempt to ignore them or try to crowd them out, they are there, waiting for us in our quieter moments.

It is precisely where we hurt most that the experience of the Orthodox Church has much to offer. The remedy is not a pep talk, or any simple admonitions to fight the good fight, cheer up, or think positively. Rather, the Orthodox method is to change the way we look at the human person (starting with ourselves).

According to two thousand years of experience, Orthodoxy shows us how to "be transformed by the renewing of our mind"—a process that is aided by participation in the traditional ascetic practices and Mysteries of the Church.

In this unique and accessible book, Archimandrite Meletios Webber first explores the role of mystery in the Christian life, then walks the reader through the seven major Mysteries of the Orthodox Church, showing the way to a richer, fuller life in Christ.

About the Author: Archimandrite Meletios Webber is an Orthodox priest who was received into the Orthodox Church by Bishop Kallistos Ware in 1971. He was educated at Dulwich College and Oxford University, and has a doctorate in psychological counseling. Fr. Meletios has served the Orthodox Church in Greece, Great Britain, Montana, and California, and is currently living in the Netherlands.

Order the book now at Also available at