Sunday, May 2, 2010

Facing East: a Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy, Frederica Matthewes-Green

Every time I find myself daydreaming of going back to school to study something expensive, time consuming, dilettantish, that is completely unrelated to my career leading to no secure alternate career I always try to slap myself in the face with some advice I read once:

"I just think it would be fun to spend a few years in grad school."
"Remember...If you have a burning passion for Victorian poetry, you can probably satisfy this passion by yourself. Force yourself to read a few dozen academic books before deciding to dedicate your life to a subject. That is what one does in graduate school anyway. Most learning is unsupervised, independent, and onerous. Why pay or work according to an institutional timetable unless one needs an academic credential?"
-Thomas H. Benton, "So You Want to Go to Grad School?", Chronicle of Higher Education

So in the spirit of attempting to not become a grad student doing something like this (cause I'm sure they're looking to fill their quota of Mormon girls) I have a stack of books to make myself read starting with this one. I'm also going to read Lewis's Reflections of the Psalms, Joan Chittister's The Liturgical Year, and the Oxford History of Christian Worship.... we'll see how that goes in reality.

I really enjoyed Facing East. I want to get my own copy. It is definitely something I would like to reread and refer to. I was familiar with Frederica Matthewes-Green's writing in various articles I had come across and I enjoy her style. It was also fun to read this account of a new congregation being created while having the luxury of googling them to find out how things have turned out for them in the past 15 years or so since she was writing this.


"The first generation is lit with a flame, but its task is to box that flame. The second generation is the curator of the museum-exhibit of its parents' passion. The third generation wonders where the fire went and longs for revival. So it goes, inevitably I suppose, and I don't see any way to prevent it. We have to box the flame; we have to build a church." p.42

"We are bowing before an image. In Protestant eyes, this is dangerous stuff."
look up Shusaku Endo's The Silence p.47

"Help, help, someone is trying to bring beans into the house..." p.54

"In Orthodoxy I'm always singing, 'I've got my Vespers in the morning and my Matins at night." p.58

"READER: What caused thee, O Judas, to betray the Savior? Did he set thee aside from the disciples?
PEOPLE: Did he deny thee the gift of healing?
READER: Did he take supper with the others and send thee away from the table?
PEOPLE: Did he wash the feet of the rest and pass thee by?
READER: Of how much goodness hast thou become forgetful?" p.63
I love that last line. It reminds me of "here's my heart, o take and seal it"

"In this drama we are moving from darkness to light very gradually; in a few moments we will be mourning again. It is a distinct departure from my experience as a Protestant...." I like the entire paragraph that follow this. p.71

I want to look up so many of the hymns mentioned, including this one:
"Let all mortal flesh keep silence, and with fear and trembling stand,
Ponder nothing earthly-minded, for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand" p.75

"It's an odd gap between that small vignette of fear and retreat and all that came next: the Apostles' relentless courage unto death, unascribable to mere fond memories of a really nice dead guy; the preaching of the Gospel across the Mediterranean bowl, the persecutions and martyrdom, the establishment and rise of the Church, and finally the disintegration of Christendom in these times, perhaps a prelude to full-circle persecution and martyrdom. But at one mesmerizing  moment, the news of Christ's resurrection was held by a handful of women who were too scared to tell anyone. But tell they did, and the story went on unreeling, and now we are standing outside in the windy dawn, on a shabby street in a little town, half a world away and two thousand years later." p.84

Another hymn to look up:
"Before dawn the myrrh bearing women..." p.86

Look up: Howard Finster p.95, Hikari Oe p.137, bread for Artoklasia p.163, St. Euphrosynus, Romanian Christmas carol mentioning apple trees at the gates of heaven p.174

"I didn't know how much I didn't know; I didn't realize that most of what I needed to learn wouldn't be found already lodged inside my smug little heart." p.115

"To think that there were people who actually died for this faith I hold so comfortably, and I barely know their names." p. 169

And after all that typing I am only half way through all my little flagged sections. Needless to say this book gave me a lot to think about as well as several different "rabbit trails" to head down. I'll add more when I am in another typing sort of mood.

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