Being as Communion by John D. Zizioulas, Metropolitan John of Pergamon, a Greek Orthodox theologian in the ecumenical patriarchate of Constantinople and former professor in Glasgow, is the book that has prompted this blog. It is a book that I have wanted to read for a long time but have somehow never got down to. I remember seeing it in the bookshop at the World Council of Churches’ assembly in Harare (1998), almost buying it, but eventually deciding not to as I was a) almost bankrupt and b) about to be entering a monastery and trying to get rid of things rather than finding ways of transporting them to Europe! It was, I might add, a decision that I later regretted.
In the last couple of years I have become aware of Communion and Otherness, and, after a discussion a few months ago with someone who was reading it, decided that I really wanted to read it. But I also knew that I really ought to read Being as Communion first.
These works are important for all sorts of reasons which I hope may emerge in the course of this reading. For now it is worth noting that Zizioulas is the Orthodox chairperson of the official Catholic-Orthodox dialogue commission in which the theme of ecclesiology is obviously of crucial importance. Although this dialogue has had a rather rocky passage, I believe that it is of crucial importance. Not so much because I expect reunion to happen soon, but rather because of its potential to call us back to the witness and the self-understanding of the undivided Church. For the heritage of the Greek Fathers are also our heritage as western Catholics.
For an interview with Metropolitan Zizioulas published in The Tablet in August 2007, see here.