Red Egg Review

While this blog has been dead for a period of time due to the birth of my daughter Elisabeth and school – I have managed to get on board with a new project. The Red Egg Review. Here is our introductory essay:

Here it is: another anglophone Orthodox publication – on the Internet, no less! You may think you know what you’re in for here. Orthodoxy as Austrian economics, continuing Anglicanism, or the Lost Cause. Beard-measuring contests. Beauty as kitsch. You might think that – but you’d be wrong.

What you’ll find, we hope, is something else: a living faith, secure enough in its traditions to be constantly engaged with the world around it. The Orthodox tradition, as we see it, is deep and rich, and by its nature resists our attempts to impose programs, whether aesthetic or ideological. This resistance doesn’t free us from the demands of understanding and obedience, but does require that we remain humble as we attempt to understand both our faith and our world. In the face of a world beyond our ability to ever comprehend, we can never claim completion.

If we can’t programmatize, then, if we can’t ever hope to entirely comprehend, what can we do to be nourished by the Church? How should we approach its theological heritage, its liturgical life, and its long history of human experience? Too often, in the face of their bewildering richness, we flee. Instead of the difficult work of understanding, we take refuge in nostalgic visions. Often, though, these visions turn out to be fantasies alien to the experience of the Church.

The Red Egg Review stands against anything that reduces the Orthodox Church to a belligerent in cultural battles. We oppose the use of the Church as a cultural or liturgical nature preserve. The Church has no glorious past to recover, no more innocent or holy time to which we might return, because the Church is, as Fr. Georges Florovsky once said, ‘the continual manifestation of the beginning and the end.’ The Church, like the Magdalene’s red egg, will inevitably destabilize the established social, political, economic, and intellectual systems of the moment through its eschatological presence and witness.

If the Orthodox Christian faith – still in its infancy in America – is to mature into adulthood, we as Orthodox Christians need to be attentive to what our faith requires us to be as citizens and as neighbors. We should look forward, as well as backward; outward, as well as inward. We should engage the world around us fully, listening patiently to what it has to tell us: to late-night television, to dance music, to those who disagree with us. We are a hospital, and hospitals do not fight wars.

It is our hope that The Red Egg Review will move forward the discussion about the relationship between the Church and the world. We seek to stimulate conversation in universities, seminaries, parishes, homes, and workplaces. We will discuss the art, ideas, and challenges of everyday American culture, the Fathers and Mothers of the Church, and modern Orthodox voices. Our perspective is and will continue to be rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, and in the tradition of His Church. Like our Fathers and Mothers, we remain open to the insights and experiences of other Christian traditions and of all human beings.

We invite you to join us, to read, to write, and to converse.

Neal Watson
Samuel Noble
Daniel Greeson
A.S. Parsons

Sunday of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, 2013

You can find my particular contribution in the form of a book review of Aristotle Papanikolaou’s recent book, The Mystical as Political.

Please read and join in!

Recent Publications from Holy Cross Press

I am a bit surprised that I am beating the two blogs that seem to keep the blogosphere up to date with recent Orthodox publications. I want to draw your attention to some of the recent activity of Holy Cross Press.

Like a Pelican in the Wilderness by Stelios Ramfos

This was originally published in english in 2000, but has (in my recent memory) not been in print for awhile now. I have been bugging them for the past two years about its reprinting, after I was told via email about plans for reprinting. In my time spent with it during stints in the library I have found it worth the time and an insightful read. Not breaking new ground per se, but doing a good interpretive job with the phenomenon of the sayings of the Desert Fathers and their import for us today.

The Holy Trinity: In the Beginning there was Love, Dumitru Staniloae

“The dogma of the Holy Trinity has always been at the center of Orthodox theology, which is why it was an endless subjection of reflection for Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, may he rest in peace. The special place that the Trinity occupies in his teaching on the Church makes Fr. Staniloae the theologian par excellence of the Holy Trinity in the contemporary world. In fact, his entire corpus is a mammoth effort to place the unspeakable mystery of the Holy Trinity at the center of all recent Christian life and thought. As with St. Maximus the Confessor, whose work he has translated and commentated on in Romanian, this dogma does not represent an isolated theme for Fr. Staniloae. His exegesis of the Trinity glimmer throughout every chapter of his dogmatic theology. While identifying both a united absolute essence and distinct absolute hypostases at the heart of the Holy Trinity, in the most Orthodox spirit Fr. Staniloae always aimed to bring the living, dynamic personalism of Orthodox Christian theology into the light. Speaking as no one else in contemporary theology has about the infinite value of the person, about its unfathomable depths, and seeing “the undying face of God” in man, Fr. Staniloae can also speak about the perfect love whose only source is the Holy Trinity.” – From the foreword by His Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church”

I have always enjoyed any of the time I have spent with Fr. Staniloae. For those of an academic bent I will always quickly suggest his book, Orthodox Spirituality. Recent work on Staniloae by Fr. Radu Bordeianu (which I have not been able to consult yet (waiting for the library to get this one) seems to bring about some of the best aspects of Staniloae, one which presents an important contribution to ecumenical work (to be paired with the work of Metropolitan Zizioulas). I have ordered this new book by Staniloae and hope to do a book review when I have adequately read and processed it.

There has also been an upsurge recently from Holy Cross Press in the translation projects of Christos Yannaras’s work. A new book on “The Enigma of Evil” looks promising.

From the back cover :

“Nature’s logic makes no qualitative judgements: earthquakes, disease, fire, and flood destroy human beings just as they also destroy irrational animals – without distinction. Decay, pain, panic, and death constitute the same conditions of existence for both Aristotle and his dog. Why? How is this irrationality compatible – how does it coexist – with the wonderful rationality (the wisdom and beauty) of nature? Why is the only consciousness in the universe, the creative uniqueness of each human being, a provocatively negligible given in nature’s mechanistic functionality? And why do hatred, blind cupidity, sadism, and criminality spring from nature – why do they have roots in humanity’s biostructure? Can we perhaps bring some logical order, some principles of understanding, to questions concerning the nature of evil? This book attempts to respond to the challenge.”

I applaud the work of translation and publication of important contemporary theologians and thinkers from the Orthodox milieu. It seems to me that there is not enough “advertising” of Holy Cross’s work and thought that it would be worth my time and yours to direct your attention to these new publications.

…perhaps Holy Cross should put me on their list for reviewing to be able to provide a more permanent format of directing others to their work!