Somewhere recently I ran across mention of Road to Emmaus: A Journal of Orthodox Faith and Culture. I was so impressed with the online archive that I promptly ordered a subscription. The first issue to arrive was a special issue devoted to the life story of Fr David Kirk (who reposed only a few hours after the magazine’s interview with him), a man with a lengthy career of civil rights and caring for the poor in Harlem. All of the articles dealt with him and various aspects of his lifetime’s evolving ministry, beginning as a Roman Catholic and ending as an Eastern Orthodox priest. The latest issue (Vol IX, No 3; Summer 2008; #34) is delightfully devoted to Alexandros Papdiamandis, including an interview with Professor Anestis Keselopoulos, author of Greece’s Dostoevsky: The Theological Vision of Alexandros Papadiamandis (soon to be released in English), as well as a “A Village Easter: Memories of Childhood,” one of Papadiamandis’ short stories, and numerous old photographs of the Skiathos and Athens of Papadiamandis’ day. (I recently mentioned The Boundless Garden, a recently published thoroughly enjoyable first volume of a collection of translated works of Papadiamandis.) In addition, this issue of Road to Emmaus includes an interview with Fr Artemy Vladimirov in Moscow titled “Mature Fruit and Bright Faith: Spiritual Direction in Contemporary Orthodoxy,” and a lovely article, “The Hidden Pearl: Rome’s Catacombs and the Earliest-Known Image of the Mother of God,” written by Mother Nectaria McLees, referring to a fragmentary fresco image of the early third century in the Catacomb of Priscilla. A full color insert of the image is included (the journal, outside of the cover, is otherwise black and white). This latest edition of the journal is 78 pages plus the cover in one stapled quire (perhaps pushing the limit there, but it’s holding together well). The paper is matte, and the cover is cardstock. I recommend this little journal especially to my Orthodox readers, but to others as well. There is a down-to-earth quality about the writing in the two issues I’ve received of this journal that has impressed me. This down-to-earthiness is one of the things that I love the most about Orthodoxy. Yes, we have celestially soaring hymnography, intellectually stimulating theology, and a reputation for aesthetically astonishing and otherworldly mysticism in our liturgies. All of these things are truly present in Orthodoxy. Yet, getting down to the brass tacks, among the best representatives of Orthodox Tradition there is a no-nonsense approach to life in this familiar vale of tears which is especially impressive when encountered. It’s the kind of clarity that an outsider to an issue can bring to it, a kind of “I have taken not one step back from this, but several dozen, and I can thus tell you that this is what you need to do…” kind of clarity. One cannot help but be impressed when both interviewer and interviewee are as knowledgable and well-grounded in Orthodoxy as those connected with this magazine appear to be. It makes for a very edifying reading experience.
Further on matters Papadiamandis: Denise Harvey, the publisher of The Boundless Garden, recently established a website including a list of books currently available. There are numerous interesting volumes available in English (some bilingual), not just by or about Papadiamandis, but many (or most) on subjects involving the intersection of Greek life and Orthodoxy, all with a particularly literary slant, which is quite welcome to this reader. I’ll enjoy picking up more volumes from this publisher.