Not So Awesome Orthodox Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Hi! The books in the Reference section and in my Book Reviews can be purchased from Orthodox Bookstores such as:
St. Vladimir's Seminary Bookstore (home of SVS Press): 1-(914)961-2203
Light and Life Publishing Co.: 1-(888)925-3918

A book I do not recommend is Divine Energy by Jon E. Braun, Conciliar Press '91. It appears that the author was still rather young in the faith at the time and was missing much of the fullness of Orthodox spirituality.
I was horrified to see in print that he feels it is perfectly alright to spend a day stabbing frogs with sticks because "they don't have souls". Wrong on both counts. He would never be able to explain to the Holy Elder Isadore why he is torturing the same frogs the saint was singing the Psalms with, as the Pascal Liturgy encourages (Salt of the Earth by St. Paul Florensky, St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood '87).
This book is oversimplified and I feel it talks down to the reader. I believe it has been stated that the author was aiming it at Protestant converts but I think they deserve more credit than this book offers. Although I have heard some very bad things about the state of Protestant publishing in the U.S. since the large conglamorates bought up their publishing houses but that is no excuse. Still..if it brings someone closer to the truth, maybe (with reservations); but please totally disregard the permission to commit cruelty to animals. This is an evil.

I find Beyond the Shattered Image by John Chryssavgis, Light and Life Publ. '99, is disappointing. I expected better from this author, but then this book is not directed to the Orthodox believer. It is directed to the Ecumenical world. This is plainly stated but I find stripping the Saints of their titles of honor and using popular authors such as M. Scott Peck (who is now quite pagan) and Antoine de Saint-Exupery to be a major sell-out. Also, the use of "theology of" language, which is a product of Western Scholasticism, is very uncomfortable since there is really only one Theology. This division and separation results in many little moral categories which can be tossed out when no longer fashionable, instead of truly defining and enhancing the Faith as a whole.
That said, this book is not without value. It introduces the non-Orthodox to the Orthodox view of the world. (Something many Orthodox can use as well.) All humans tend to simply "use" all of creation and it's creatures instead of recognizing God's very real presence in His world and our responsibility to and for His creation. The chapter on The World of the Icon is very beautiful. I do heartily recommend this book to those outside the Orthodox communion.
Light and Life dropped the ball on proofing this book. The sloppy job takes away from the quality of the presentation and the Biblical quote designations should have been checked more thoroughly.
I feel the proceedings of the Inter-Orthodox Conference on Environmental Protection So that God's Creation Might Live: The Orthodox Church Responds to the Ecological Crisis, SYNDESMOS '92, is more thorough and is presented in an Orthodox manner as well. I also recommend the Orthodoxy and Ecology Resource Book, Orthdruk Orthodox Printing House '96 from SYNDESMOS. (Unfortunately, the last time I looked both of these were out of print so you may have to hunt to find them.)

P.S. A good location to find ecological organizations is The Amazing Environmental Organization WebDirectory! This is in their words, not mine, but it is good. I plan to publish an Orthodoxy and the Environment page in the future unless I can find a good one to link to. I'm considering either one in relation to animals (an editorial on hog factories, habitat destruction, etc.) or a simple statement. Don't know yet.
I belong to the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"All things are near to God." - Russian Proverb

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