Monday, February 14, 2005

An answer to a comment or books, books, books

I would also be interested in learning what books you have read, and are reading in this 'team.' Especially those books that have helped you (or others on the committee) to better understand or clarify the Faith for you. Also, if you feel that some books have been more helpful than others will you please note those. –Herman-Layne

Please forgive me for being so long away from this blog. Real life gets in the way of everything else, sometimes, doesn’t it?

Herman-layne asked for a listing of books we have read as part of the Great Commission Team. When we started out, Fr. T. had us read a bunch of books to get into the spirit of missions and evangelism and to learn more about our faith. These are the books:

The Precious Pearl: The Lives of Sts. Barlaam and Joasaph by St. John Damascene
This is a wonderful book, not one (at least for me) to be read quickly. St. Barlaam answers St. Joasaph’s questions regarding Orthodoxy (when he was a catechumen). Very good. And the sections are fairly short so I was able to read one question and one answer at a time in order to (attempt) absorb it better. I am definitely a lives of the saints kind of gal v. deep theology.

Orthodox Alaska: A Theology of Mission by Fr. Michael Oleksa
From the beginning, we knew (as a group) that our focus would be on Orthodoxy in America. So you will notice that we read some lives of saints and this book. Now, I actually did not read this book, my dh, Paul, read it and took notes and gave them to me. But I did read all the other books! And I know that this should be an excellent book because Fr. Oleksa is an excellent speaker. This is on my list to read…

Missionaries, Monks, and Martyrs: Making Disciples of all Nations by Fr. Luke Veronis
I (and dh) read this book a long time ago when we were working for Project Mexico (it was required reading to do long term work with PM). This is a wonderful, short book that goes through the missionary lives of nine saints and one Archbishop (who is still alive). Very easy to read and a good introduction to these ten people/saints.

St. Innocent: Apostle to America by Paul Garrett
Also Project Mexico required reading. We felt it was important to read about the life of our very own “apostle to America” in the context of missions and evangelism. This is an excellent book. I would highly recommend it.

From Earth to Heaven: The Apostolic Adventures of St. Innocent of Alaska by Monk Andrew Wermuth
This is a beautifully illustrated book. It’s just another, shorter, and easier to understand, telling of St. Innocent’s life. I believe it is designed for younger readers but it is still very nice.

Apostle to Zaire: The Life and Legacy of Blessed Father Cosmas by Demetrios Aslanidis and Monk Damascene Grigoriatis
This is the life of a monk from Mt. Athos who goes to Africa as a missionary. His zeal for the faith and his love for God are amazing. He reposed in 1989 so he is a recent example of missionizing/evangelizing.

Modern Orthodox Saints: St. Cosmas Aitolos by Constantine Cavarnos
A missionary martyr in Greece under the Ottoman Empire. St. Cosmas was an Athonite monk who evangelized to the Greek people in order to help them remember their faith. This book has some good teaching of St. Cosmas regarding our faith. St. Cosmas is one of my personal favorite saints.

Little Russian Philokalia Vol. III: St. Herman by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood
Like our reasoning behind reading St. Innocent’s life, we wanted to read about another “missionary” to America, St. Herman. And we wanted to compare the lives of St. Innocent and St. Herman. Two very different approaches to evangelizing the native people, but both very successful.

From these books, we were trying to do three things… learn more about our faith, come up with a definition of a missionary/evangelizer (an Orthodox definition) and examine the different types of evangelizing within the history of the Orthodox Church. Now we do know that there are plenty of saints that we missed. St. Paul, the great evangelizer of the Christian faith, for example (although he is briefly covered in Missionaries, Monks, and Martyrs) was not on our list.

For answering questions regarding our faith, The Precious Pearl is the best book. The rest of the books are more examples of living our faith.

If you have books regarding missions/evangelism within the Orthodox Church or books about our faith, please do list them in the comment section. Thanks for reading