At the Corner of East and Now by Frederica Mathewes-Green.
One day early in our marriage, Steven and I were on one of our used bookstore dates, and I came across this book in the Spirituality section of the store. I read the description on the back and the first couple of pages, and the book had my attention. Written by an atheist hippie turned Protestant turned Eastern Orthodox, this book reflects on the Orthodox Church and contemporary culture. The narrative alternates between describing/reflecting on parts of Orthodox liturgy and all the “stuff” that goes on in real life. You start to realize that in some mysterious way all the kairos-time worship filters into to the chronos-time everyday life.
How did this book change my life? I used to be evangelical Protestant. I grew up in the Nazarene church. Actually it should be Grew Up, with capitals. I was a Nazarene preacher’s kid and missionaries’ kid. I went to a Nazarene college. I was fourth generation Nazarene in my family. And then I became Orthodox. This was the book that introduced me to Orthodoxy. I read this book, then I read Praying With Icons, then I dragged my husband and mom to St. Ignatius (the church we go to now) one Sunday, then Steven bought me an icon of Christ. I was curious, intrigued, interested. But it wasn’t until 3 or 4 years later that we actually started attending the Orthodox church regularly. Now we’ve been there for 7 years.
Anyway, this book is good, but honestly it’s not in my top ten best reads, it’s not some award-winning book or anything. It’s a quiet, thoughtful presence. But it changed my life.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Orthodoxy initially struck me as strange and off-putting: beautiful but rigorous, and focused much more on God than on me.”
“Iconography is not a kind a of art, but a kind of prayer.”
“God is holy, other, incomprehensible, strange, and if we go expecting an affable market-tested nice guy, we won’t be getting the whole picture. We’ll be getting the short God in a straw hat, not the big one beyond all thought.”
“I don’t have to ‘long to worship thee’ anymore; I do worship Him. The longing is satisfied, not by emotional thrills but by something that just feels right, like a key in a lock.”
What book changed your life?
And here’s Karla’s book for today.