Last walk home from work

The view from work is spectacular. I took to walking downhill, winding through various streets and checking out inter-street walking paths, of which the Berkeley hills have many. I’ll miss the walk!

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A new review of Fr Alexios Trader, Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy

Fr Alexios has brought to my notice a new review of his book, Ancient Christian Wisdom and Aaron Beck’s Cognitive Therapy (Peter Lang Publishing, 2011), appearing as a post on the blog of Eighth Day Books. I wasn’t aware of that blog, so his message was multiply informative. Eighth Day Books is a fine purveyor of all the kinds of books that have held my attention for the last decade and more. They are worthy of your patronage!

The big news is, as Fr Alexios also mentions, that the print run is almost exhausted, with only forty copies left to find homes. Selling out the print run will greatly increase the chances for the publication of a less expensive paperback edition. Eighth Day Books conveniently offers the book for sale for the lowest price that I’ve yet seen (just under $100). As it’s been a difficult volume to obtain, whether due to expense or to limited availability through the larger vendors, this is another good thing.

The best way to study

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At Jupiter, in the Panini section, taking notes on assigned reading (Schmemann’s For the Life of the World) for seminary. The beer is my favorite, Moonlight Brewing’s Lunatic Lager.

The Schmemann book is more interesting in concept than execution. The concept is a theological commentary on the mysteries (often inappropriately termed “sacraments”, a term imported from the Roman Catholic vocabulary) of the Orthodox Church. I find Schmemann’s style of writing here to be too diffuse, and to insufficiently address the complexities of the subject matter in a depth appropriate for use by a theology student. This is an artifact of its origin with this particular author, of the time in which it was written (1963), and the purpose for which it was written. The latter is described by Schmemann thusly, p. 7:

This little book was written ten years ago as a “study guide” to the Quadrennial Conference of the National Student Christian Federation held in Athens, Ohio, in December 1963. It was not meant to be and it is certainly not a systematic theological treatise of the Orthodox liturgical tradition. My only purpose in writing it was to outline—to students preparing themselves for a discussion of Christian mission—the Christian “world view,” i.e., the approach to the world and to man’s life in it that stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church.

Such a context as the heady days of the height of the mid-twentieth century’s overambitious and idealistic ecumenical movement effectively make this “little book” one addressed not to Orthodox students, but to students belonging to other Christian faiths, a book in which a depth of treatment beneficial to the Orthodox student has been attenuated by the necessity of making the material comprehendible to those of other traditions. Such is the norm for ecumenical endeavors, of course, though the trend has certainly been bucked, not least by Fr Georges Florovsky, whom, it might be recalled, Schmemann had had fired from St Vladimir’s Seminary in 1955. I think a book concept such as this, in that time, would have been better realized from the pen (or, equally archaically, from the typewriter) of Fr Florovsky. In any case, despite the somewhat rambling styl, and its superficiality of treatment, the book is certainly not devoid of value. Schmemann occasionally waxes lyrical, a bit out of his ability to control the language at times (English was, of course, at least his third language), but it is with those moments of return to the personal, synergistic expression of Orthodoxy, an expression of the results of a soul’s transformation in cooperation with God through His overabundant grace, that I am most pleased.

It would be good for Orthodox students to have someone realize the concept of a theological commentary on the mysteries of the Orthodox Church from the Patristic and hesychastic monadtic tradition, intended specificalky for Orthodox rather than others. I know of two such commentaries on the Divine Liturgy: one by Hieromonk Gregorios of the Athonite Koutloumousiou Monastery (), and another, very well-designed for use in parish classes, is Fr Emmanuel Hatzidakis’s The heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy. These cover the Divine Liturgy in depth. Such a treatment of the other Orthodox mysteries would be useful.

Well, in any case, it’s a beautiful day to be reading outdoors in Berkeley, one of my last few days here, so I’m enjoying it!

Rejoice with me!

This morning I became a nounó, a godfather, for the servant of God Elias! He is Turkish, and will be going back to Turkey in September to do his military service. Of your charity, pray for him in this critical time, when the forces inimical to the Light are outraged at being deprived of a soul to ruin at their whim.

Glory to God for all things!