Tuesday, December 4, 2007

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: William C. Mills

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 history...one 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 www.wcmills.com.

1 comment:

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