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.