It’s going to take a while before I do anything really serious with any of these, apart from dipping into them and scanning through them, but here are some books that have arrived in the post recently.

Father Boris Bobrinskoy’s The Mystery of the Church: A Course in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology has recently appeared in English and, although I actually have the French original and have dipped into it, I know that I will be more likely to read it properly in English. And there are others who I hope will also want to read it. And, to be perfectly honest, anything by Father Boris is simply a “must have.” (For those who don’t know his work, I summarised his The Compassion of the Father, which he himself described as his best book, here).

While ordering that I also ordered the Popular Patristics Series edition of Saint Basil’s On the Holy Spirit which I have been wanting to get for a few years. (Well, there are lots of the PPS that I would like to get, and I keep wishing that a kind donor will buy the lot for Life-Giving Spring, but that is another story). It really does make a difference reading the Fathers in good contemporary translations rather than nineteenth century English! And while looking on the St Vladimir’s site I also decided to order Debora Belonick’s  Feminism in Christianity: An Orthodox Christian Response. This  is not the top of my priorities at present, but the whole feminist theological project is something that I was once quite deeply involved in, and it has become something of a new orthodoxy, at least around here. I don’t know if I will ever write anything about my own disillusionment with such theological circles, which had quite  a bit to do with my conversion to Orthodoxy, but I was nevertheless interested to see this short book that appeared in the early eighties and having skimmed through it am pretty sympathetic with most of what she says. (On a related note, I see that St Vlad’s are advertising a soon to be released book, Feminism and Tradition, by Father Lawrence Farley, but that will have to wait as I have other priorities).

A book that I have only dipped into but am quite exited about is Sr Nonna Verna Harrison’s God’s Many-Splendored Image: Theological Anthropology for Christian Formation. Sr Nonna is a patristics scholar and a few years ago I read some serious academic articles of hers on the Cappadocian Fathers. But this book is in a different category and is written in a really accessible way for non-specialists. It is the sort of work that I think could be profitably used for a study group of non-specialists if we ever get something like that going. (I would also like to do something like that with Fr Boris’ book on the Church, but that is, admittedly, a bit more heavy going).

Together with this book I also ordered Nil Sorsky: The Complete Writings , as I have been wanting to read more of and about St Nil for a while now.  I have only dipped into it so far, but the more I learn of him, the more sympathy I have for him and he has become one of the patrons of Life-Giving Spring. (The list admittedly keeps growing).

Something that I was really delighted to receive recently was the the Readers’ Service Book of the Hours of the Orthodox Church published by Holy Myrrhbearers’ Monastery. I had ordered this in January and when it didn’t arrive after a few months had feared that it had got lost in the post and had pretty much resigned myself to having to wait until I could afford to order another copy and hope that it would get here. And then it arrived out of the blue. It has some interesting features which resonate quite well with me but which I’ll discuss again. I won’t be able to pray it in any regular and sustained way until I’m in Robertson permanently, but I am very pleased to have it.

Finally, the most recent arrival was the wonderful gift of of four volumes of the The Synaxarion. The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, by Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra and published by Ormylia, which a very kind donor had offered to buy us and had gone to quite a bit of trouble trying to find (the other volumes are still coming from a different distributor). They also took a while to arrive and so I was very pleased to get them on Saturday.

Oh, and as a final addendum, I have also been very pleased to find some books at a local charity shop, notably Archimandrite Lazarus Moore’s translation of The Ladder of Divine Ascent. But my most precious find of all, W.K.L. Clarke’s The Ascetic Works of Saint Basil, both for a rather small fraction of what one would pay online.

That’s enough for now. One of the things that we want to do at Life-Giving Spring is to build up a good library, and once things are more settled we need to look at how we can raise funds for this. But, apart from a couple of more basic catechetical things that are in the post, I’m having a moratorium on book buying for a while until my bank balance recovers and I have also managed to buy some bookbinding equipment!

An interesting snippet of information from a email from Jim Forest: During Thomas Merton’s famous trip to Asia in 1968 on which he died, he carried with him relics of the following saints:

  • St. Bede
  • St. Thomas of Canterbury
  • St. Teresa of Jesus
  • St. Peter Damian
  • St. Bruno
  • St. Romuald
  • St. Nicholas of Flue
  • St. Charbel

    So much for Merton ending his days as a relativistic, synchetistic, New Age, quasi-Buddhist who’d lost his faith, which both the “left” and the “right” would somehow seem to have us believe. The truth, of course, is far more complex.