"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Canon Law: the Dark Side of the Good News?

I well remember being taken aback in reading various books on Italian culture and its relationship to the law (including Luigi Barzini's The Italians, Beppe Severgnini's La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind and then, for a more focused study on law and Catholicism, John Allen's All the Pope's Men: The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks; for a longer historical overview of some of these issues, John Pollard's book, splendid in so many other ways, is valuable here, too: Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy: Financing the Vatican, 1850-1950). There is, it seems, a pronounced contrast between Italian ideas of law and those, broadly speaking, in the Anglo-American world. In the former, law would seem to be a nice ideal, but strict conformity to it cannot be realistically expected of fallen human beings always and everywhere, and thus behind the scenes, a certain toleration of non-conformity may be expected. This--since I'm hazarding generalizations here--would seem to be a more Catholic approach. But in the largely Protestant Anglo-Saxon world, especially in the United States, there is an almost puritanical and highly (indeed disturbingly) authoritarian approach to law-breakers as witnessed, e.g., in the fact that the US incarcerates more people than any other comparable country (and attempts to execute some of them also), and was the origin of the absurd "war on drugs," which should be abolished forthwith.

If I was taken aback by seeing these cultural differences, I was all the more so in seeing ecclesial differences in the approach to canon law. The West, above all the Latin Church, seems to have a much more vigorous approach to canon law, and it always strikes me that when Latins refer to "law" they do so solemnly, clearly understanding it to be non-optional and having binding force: the law says X and therefore we do X; the law forbids Y, and therefore we do not commit Y. The East, however, seems to hear the words "canon law" and think "possible suggestions we may or may not heed depending on whose ox is being gored--ours or the other guy's." Thus, if the law forbids X, we will likely heed it only if it's to our advantage. If the law refers to Y, and Y is some totally absurd, anachronistic thing that nobody today thinks about, we will likely ignore it. But don't you dare suggest we should change or update those canons! Say what you want about the Latins, but you have to give them credit: twice in one century, they cleaned up their codes of canon law and tried to weed out stupid things like not going to Jewish doctors, or forbidding the Eucharist to menstruating women. The East would seem to prefer to hang on to outdated texts, perhaps because there is no one centralized mechanism for making changes across the board. (Whether the "great and holy synod" even meets in 2016, let alone addresses canonical issues, remains to be seen.)

It has often been said that in any comparable area, Eastern Christian studies are decades behind comparable Western studies--whether liturgical history, biblical studies, or canon law. Until recently, the people working, at least in English, on canonical issues could be counted on one hand, and the leader among them is of course Patrick Viscuso: see, e.g., his Orthodox Canon Law: A Casebook for Study: Second Edition. But see also his fascinating earlier study, which I reviewed in Studia Canonica, A Quest For Reform of the Orthodox Church: The 1923 Pan-Orthodox Congress, An Analysis and Translation of Its Acts and Decisions.This latter book should surely be required reading for anyone contemplating the 2016 "great and holy synod" to have some idea of the problems that cropped up the last time a reforming council of Orthodoxy was convoked.

Other recent works in this genre must surely include works by prominent Greek Orthodox scholars, including An Overview of Orthodox Canon Law and Spiritual Dimensions of the Holy Canons. But now, happily, we are seeing additional works from Orthodox canonists and scholars. Published in May of this year by Holy Cross Press was Vasile Mihai, Orthodox Canon Law Reference Book (2014, 467pp.).

About this book the publisher tells us:
In one manageable volume, Orthodox Canon Law Reference Book makes the canons of the Orthodox Church, which were written and complied over centuries, searchable and accessible to current inquirers. In his preface, Fr. Mihai explains the place of canons in relation to revealed faith and the personal experience of God s presence. A most valuable introduction distinguishes between Canon Law and secular law, and not only discusses how to interpret canons, but also offers several examples demonstrating the interpretive process of analysis and application. Alphabetized topics organize the pertinent canons, which are then listed chronologically under each topic. Numerous footnotes offer explanations for terms and understandings from historical contexts. Three appendices discuss the meaning of the word canon, the priest-penitent relationship, and Byzantine legislation on homosexuality.
Finally, early next year, we can look forward to a forthcoming book from a Canadian legal scholar: David Wagschal, Law and Legality in the Greek East: The Byzantine Canonical Tradition, 381-883 (Oxford UP, 2015), 368pp.

About this book we are told:
Byzantine church law remains terra incognita to most scholars in the western academy. In this work, David Wagschal provides a fresh examination of this neglected but fascinating world. Confronting the traditional narratives of decline and primitivism that have long discouraged study of the subject, Wagschal argues that a close reading of the central monuments of Byzantine canon law c. 381-883 reveals a much more sophisticated and coherent legal culture than is generally assumed. Engaging in innovative examinations of the physical shape and growth of the canonical corpus, the content of the canonical prologues, the discursive strategies of the canons, and the nature of the earliest forays into systematization, Wagschal invites his readers to reassess their own legal-cultural assumptions as he advances an innovative methodology for understanding this ancient law. Law and Legality in the Greek East explores topics such as compilation, jurisprudence, professionalization, definitions of law, the language of the canons, and the relationship between the civil and ecclesiastical laws. It challenges conventional assumptions about Byzantine law while suggesting many new avenues of research in both late antique and early medieval law, secular and ecclesiastical.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Plekons, Nooks, and Kindles

The University of Notre Dame Press e-mailed me the other day to say that many of their books are now available in Nook and Kindle formats, including at least two of interest to readers of this blog. So for those of you who prefer to do your reading on a tablet rather than in paper form, here's your chance. The first is authored by Michael Plekon, the second edited by him: Saints As They Really Are: Voices of Holiness in Our Time (UND Press, 2012).

For those of you who missed the book the first time round, the publisher sums it up for us thus:
In his new book, Saints As They Really Are, priest and scholar Michael Plekon traces the spiritual journeys of several American Christians, using their memoirs and other writings. These “saints-in-the-making” show all their doubts and imperfections as they reflect on their search for God and their efforts to lead holy lives. They are gifted yet ordinary women and men trying to follow Christ within their flawed and broken humanity—“saints as they really are,” as Dorothy Day put it.
Saints As They Really Are is the third book in Plekon’s critically acclaimed series on saints and holiness in our time. He draws on the autobiographical work of Dorothy Day, Peter Berger, Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, and Barbara Brown Taylor, among others, as well as from his own experiences as a Carmelite seminarian and brother. Plekon shares the power of these individuals’ stories as they unfold. The book offers a strong argument that our failings and weaknesses are not disqualifications to holiness. Plekon further confronts the institutional church and its relationship to individuals seeking God, focusing on some of the challenges to this search—the destructive potential of religion and religious institutions, as well as our personal tendencies to extremism, overwork, pious obsessions, and legalism. But he also underscores the healing qualities of faith and the spiritual life. Plekon's insights will help readers better understand their own spiritual pilgrimages as they learn how others have dealt with the trials and joys of their path to everyday holiness.
I interviewed Plekon two years ago about this splendid and delightful book, and you may read that here.

The second book now available in electronic form is from the famed Orthodox canonist and ecclesiologist Nicholas Afanasiev, who was enormously influential at Vatican II. This book appeared in English translation in 2007, and I read it as I was finishing my own dissertation (which you still must read in paper form as UND has no nooks for me!), which became Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity. You will see Afanasiev's influence on my book especially in the conclusion. It remains an indispensable work in modern ecclesiology: The Church of the Holy Spirit. 

About this book the publisher reminds us:
The Church of the Holy Spirit, written by Russian priest and scholar Nicholas Afanasiev (1893–1966), is one of the most important works of twentieth-century Orthodox theology. Afanasiev was a member of the “Paris School” of émigré intellectuals who gathered in Paris after the Russian revolution, where he became a member of the faculty of St. Sergius Orthodox Seminary. The Church of the Holy Spirit, which offers a rediscovery of the eucharistic and communal nature of the church in the first several centuries, was written over a number of years beginning in the 1940s and continuously revised until its posthumous publication in French in 1971. Vitaly Permiakov's lucid translation and Michael Plekon's careful editing and substantive introduction make this important work available for the first time to an English-speaking audience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Can We Still Speak of "Holy War"?

Much confusion has existed since at least the 2003 Iraq war over the conditions of what constitutes a "just war," a notion with a long and venerable intellectual pedigree in the West. Now with conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, inter alia, and the rise of the rebarbative ISIS, fresh talk is emerging about how to handle these groups, and what justification, if any, countries such as the US and UK have for doing so militarily. These debates are not new, of course, and a book set for publication in paperback in early 2015 reminds us that the debates go back hundreds of years: Patrick Provost-Smith, Holy War, Just War: Early Modern Christianity, Religious Ethics and the Rhetoric of Empire (I.B. Tauris, 2015), 256pp.

About this book we are told:
The catastrophe of Iraq has forced us to revisit the validity of what constitutes a supposedly 'just war'. In such critical circumstances, a sustained re-examination of the basis for contemporary just war theory is desperately urgent and required. This is what precisely Patrick Provost-Smith offers in this powerful and original re-evaluation of the topic. The author recognises that a coherent account of the ethics of modern warfare can only begin with history. He therefore explores the great sixteenth century debates about the nature of conflict, focusing on the Spanish conquistadors and their evangelisation of Mexico and Peru.He then shows how these debates were later appropriated by Spanish missionaries in the Philippines with a view to the conquest of China. In assessing previous discussions over 'just wars', and the shifting sands of the various logics that were applied to such conflicts, Provost-Smith puts a wholly new complexion on how current moral theory about war might be understood.
This is history in the best sense: the book makes a decisive contribution to current affairs through a profound grasp of how past ideas and rhetorics about conquest have shaped ongoing notions of western Christian superiority. It will be essential reading for all serious students of religious ethics, the history of ideas, and the history of politics and empire.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Armenian Christianity Today

In this centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War, I'm giving a lecture on Remembrance Day in November on massacres of Eastern Christians during that war, beginning with the best known, viz., the Armenian Genocide, but covering also the attacks on Assyrian and Greek Christians, inter alia--to say nothing of what transpired in Russia thanks to the war and the Bolshevik revolution.

From last century to this, much has changed in Armenia and in her national church. A forthcoming book brings us up to date: Alexander Agadjanian, Armenian Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practice (Ashgate, 2014), 240pp.

About this book we are told: 
Armenian Christianity Today examines contemporary religious life and the social, political, and cultural functions of religion in the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora worldwide. Scholars from a range of countries and disciplines explore current trends and everyday religiosity, particularly within the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), and amongst Armenian Catholics, Protestants and vernacular religions. Themes examined include: Armenian grass-roots religiosity; the changing forms of regular worship and devotion; various types of congregational life; and the dynamics of social composition of both the clergy and lay believers. Exploring through the lens of Armenia, this book considers wider implications of "postsecular" trends in the role of global religion.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Portraits and Icons

With students in my iconography class this semester, I'm finishing up Leslie Brubaker's useful and accessible Inventing Byzantine Iconoclasm and she concludes in there by noting that we can finally understand the defeat of Byzantine iconoclasm by returning once more to a theology of the Incarnation, but also to attending carefully to Byzantine understandings of representation, and the "middle place" they occupied. A recent study picks up on this central notion of representation: Katherine Marsengill, Portraits and Icons: Between Reality and Spirituality in Byzantine Art (Brepols, 2013), 463pp.

About this book we are told: 
This book examines the phenomena of portraits and icons from late antiquity until the end of the Byzantine period, and the cultural and theological perceptions that guided its reception. This book examines the phenomena of portraits and icons, and spans from late antiquity through the end of the Byzantine period. Engaging a wide range of material, it addresses persistent themes in the creation of a distinctly Christianized portraiture while analyzing the cultural and theological perceptions that guided its reception. Christian Rome inherited from antiquity its traditions and beliefs regarding portraits. Though altered for its new Christian context, these perceptions did not disappear. This study proves that within Christian portraiture, the icon is not reserved for saints alone. Instead, one must imagine the Byzantine world as one where sacred and secular art intermingled, and portraits of Christ and the saints, emperors, bishops, and holy men existed side by side in visual messages of hierarchal authority. Indeed, in the portrayal of power and holiness, there existed a range of images that can be classified as icons. Certain individuals of high-ranking status, though not saints, were portrayed in ways that recall images of saints because their spiritual or divine authority ranked them closer to God. Their positions further up the hierarchy enabled them to help others in their spiritual ascent and daily needs. Viewers in turn understood these elevated members of their community to be efficacious intercessors and their portraits to be worthy of veneration.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

In Honour of Benedicta Ward, Mother of the Deserts of Today and Yesterday

You cannot have read in patristic literature in English today, especially monastic literature of the desert, without having come across the seemingly indefatigable translation work of Benedicta Ward. Author or editor of such collections as  The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection and
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks, she also authored the strikingly titled Harlots of the Desert: A Study of Repentance in Early Monastic Sources, all of which treat prominent figures in the Christian East. Moreover, she has cooperated with such prominent Orthodox scholars as Kallistos Ware and John Chryssavgis on books such as In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers;
with the late Russian Orthodox Archbishop Anthony Bloom on The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers; and with the brilliant translator of theological Greek, Norman Russell, on The Lives of the Desert Fathers: Historia Monachorum in Aegypto. She is, in sum, by any reckoning one of the leading scholars, editors, and translators of our time on this vast corpus of desert literature.

But Ward is a genuinely "catholic" scholar who also turned her attention to prominent medieval Western figures and periods, including a study of Bede and the Psalter as well as a monograph on The Synod of Whitby 664 AD, which synod I've seen tendentiously and anachronistically used and abused by both Anglican and Orthodox apologists in their fantastic myth-making about a supposedly (take your pick) pure "Anglican" or pure "Orthodox" practice of faith among the Angles and Celts before those big bad (take your pick) Franks/Romans/Latins came along and hijacked it after Whitby, leading to darkness and damnation that culminated, of course, in the grossly, almost violently misunderstood Anselm of Canterbury - His Life and Legacy, whom Orthodox apologists invariably, tediously, tiresomely caricature in the most lurid, fact-free ways. Ward has, doubtless, forgotten more about Anselm in this book and in her other study, Anslem of Canterbury Monastic Scholar, than any Orthodox blogger has ever bestirred him/herself to read, let alone understand (I read Anselm in the Latin original more than 20 years ago, and wouldn't dare claim to be an expert on him).

All this is just an introduction (which by no means exhausts her lengthy lists of publications) to a new Festschrift published for her. Such publications, alas, are often not best-sellers, and so publishers feel the need to recoup costs with large sticker prices, but that detracts nothing from the larger "worth" of this collection: Santha Bhattacharji and Dominic Mattos, eds., Prayer and Thought in Monastic Tradition: Essays in Honour of Benedicta Ward (Bloomsbury, 2014), 368pp.

About this book we are told:
Prayer and Thought in Monastic Tradition presents a chronological picture of the development of monastic thought and prayer from the early English Church (Bede, Adomnan) through to the 17th Century and William Law's religious community at King's Cliffe. Essays interactwith different facets of monastic life, assessing the development and contribution of figures such as Boniface, the Venerable Bede, Anselm of Canterbury and Bernard of Clairvaux. The varying modes and outputs of the monastic life of prayer are considered, with focus on the use of different literary techniques in the creation of monastic documents, the interaction between monksand the laity, the creation of prayers and the purpose and structure of prayer in different contexts. The volume also discusses the nature of translation of classic monastic works, and the difficulties the translator faces. The highly distinguished contributors include; G.R. Evans, Sarah Foot, Henry Mayr-Harting, Brian McGuire, Henry Wansbrough and Rowan Williams.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Religious Transformations in Egypt

The American University of Cairo Press just sent me their latest catalogue, and in between books about Ottoman cats and Egyptian earthquakes, there are two of interest to Eastern Christian studies. The first was released in the spring of this year, and is from a familiar author, Maged S.A. Mikhail, From Byzantine to Islamic Egypt: Religion, Identity and Politics after the Arab Conquest (IB Tauris, 2014).
About this book we are told:
The conquest of Egypt by Islamic armies under the command of Amr ibn al-As in the seventh century transformed medieval Egyptian society. Seeking to uncover the broader cultural changes of the period by drawing on a wide array of literary and documentary sources, Maged Mikhail stresses the cultural and institutional developments that punctuated the histories of Christians and Muslims in the province under early Islamic rule. From Christian to Islamic Egypt traces how the largely agrarian Egyptian society responded to the influx of Arabic and Islam, the means by which the Coptic Church constructed its sectarian identity, the Islamisation of the administrative classes and how these factors converged to create a new medieval society. The result is a fascinating and essential study for scholars of Byzantine and early Islamic Egypt.

The second will be released in the spring of next year: Gawdat Gabra and Hany Takla, eds., Christianity and Monasticism in Middle Egypt (AUC Press, 2015), 352pp. 

About this book we are told:
Christianity and monasticism have long flourished along the Nile in Middle Egypt, the region stretching from al-Bahnasa (Oxyrhynchus) to Dayr al-Ganadla. The contributors to this volume, international specialists in Coptology from around the world, examine various aspects of Coptic civilization in Middle Egypt over the past two millennia. The studies explore Coptic art and archaeology, architecture, language and literature. The artistic heritage of monastic sites in the region is highlighted, attesting to their important legacies in the region.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Iconoclasms Past and Present, Christian and Otherwise

We are living in a time, as I've noted on here several times, when more and more scholarly attention is being paid to the phenomenon of iconoclasm in both its historico-Byzantine expressions, and also in other expressions, including the non-theological and non-Christian. Just last week in my class on iconography, we began reading about iconoclasm, using Leslie Brubaker's very accessible book, which I discussed here. The further we get into this burgeoning field, the more we realize that iconoclasm seems an almost universal phenomenon under the right conditions, and nobody is every totally exempt from the urge to destroy images for a variety of reasons--only a few of them properly theological. A recent collection helps us see the breadth of iconoclastic urges and outbreaks in pre-Byzantine imperial Rome, among the Lutherans, the French, the Waldensians, and the Carolingians, inter alia: Kristine Kolrud and Marina Prusac, eds., Iconoclasm from Antiquity to Modernity (Ashgate, 2014), 231pp.

About this book we are told:
The phenomenon of iconoclasm, expressed through hostile actions towards images, has occurred in many different cultures throughout history. The destruction and mutilation of images is often motivated by a blend of political and religious ideas and beliefs, and the distinction between various kinds of 'iconoclasms' is not absolute. In order to explore further the long and varied history of iconoclasm the contributors to this volume consider iconoclastic reactions to various types of objects, both in the very recent and distant past. The majority focus on historical periods but also on history as a backdrop for image troubles of our own day. Development over time is a central question in the volume, and cross-cultural influences are also taken into consideration. This broad approach provides a useful comparative perspective both on earlier controversies over images and relevant issues today. In the multimedia era increased awareness of the possible consequences of the use of images is of utmost importance. 'Iconoclasm from Antiquity to Modernity' approaches some of the problems related to the display of particular kinds of images in conflicted societies and the power to decide on the use of visual means of expression. It provides a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of the phenomenon of iconoclasm.Of interest to a wide group of scholars the contributors draw upon various sources and disciplines, including art history, cultural history, religion and archaeology, as well as making use of recent research from within social and political sciences and contemporary events. Whilst the texts are addressed primarily to those researching the Western world, the volume contains material which will also be of interest to students of the Middle East.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Liturgies East and West

Liturgical scholars will tell you that it has become a commonplace--especially for those influenced by the Baumstark-Mateos-Taft school of liturgical history--that liturgy today can only be studied comparatively. A recent academic symposium did just that, and was recently published: Hans Jurgen Feulner, ed. Liturgies in East and West. Ecumenical Relevance of Early Liturgical Development: Acts of the International Symposium Vindobonense I (Lit Verlag, 2013), 352pp.

This book contains many articles of interest to Eastern Christians, including one from the Greek Orthodox scholar Stefanos Alexopolous (author of the definitive work on the pre-sanctified liturgy), “Accepting Adult Converts in the Orthodox Church: Theory and Practice.”

About this book the publisher further tells us:
The celebration of the liturgy is central to the life of faith and also for the self-understanding of the various churches in the East and West. An amazing convergence of Christian denominations has taken place in the area of liturgy and liturgical studies since the Second Vatican Council, entering also into the practice of liturgical celebration. In this collection - with contributions from a symposium held in Vienna in November 2007 - internationally recognized scholars from various Christian denominations present the ecumenical contributions and the Jewish roots of the Christian liturgy. [PLEASE NOTE: The individual essays in this volume are written in various languages. The book contains ten essays in English, eight in German, and two in French.] (Series: Austrian Studies of Liturgy and Sacramental Theology / Osterreichische Studien zur Liturgiewissenschaft und Sakramententheologie - Vol. 6)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Islamic Jerusalem's Christians

The monstrous barbarity of ISIS, especially its persecution and slaughter of Christians in Syria and Iraq today, has only confirmed for many the violent, intolerant side of Islam. But it was not always and everywhere so. At times, in places, for a variety of reasons and with a variety of expressions, Muslims were prepared, after a fashion, to tolerate Jews and Christians--in ways which, sometimes, were rather enlightened in their context but which many if not most of us today would find unacceptable. Still, considering the alternatives, this was the best non-Muslim monotheists could hope for. A book recently reprinted last year reminds us of one slice of this history of tolerance--of dhimmitude:Maher Abu-Munshar, Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions (I.B. Tauris, 2013), 264pp.

About this study we are told by the publisher:
Islamic Jerusalem has a special place in the hearts of the three monotheistic religions. Throughout its history it has been the site of tolerance and tensions. Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians presents a critical look at historical events during the time of two key figures in the history of Islam: firstly Caliph 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, who played a critically important role in the birth and spread of Islam. Secondly Sultan Salah al-Din, the legendary 'Saladdin' of Western Crusader lore, whose peace negotiations with Richard the Lion-Heart, King of England Abu Munshar brings to life here. This pioneering study uses extensive original research to explore Muslim treatment of non-Muslims in the 7th Century and in the Middle Ages. A valuable source of reference for all interested in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, Religion and Medieval History, Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians establishes and develops new evidence for academic debate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Praying to Christ through the Psalms

The Psalter, of course, has long been the backbone of hymnody in the Church, even if there was a certain Byzantine tendency to replace psalmody with later poetry in some of the Divine Office, Matins especially: edifying, beautiful poetry to be sure, but a displacement nonetheless if Baumstark's laws of liturgical development are to be believed, and I see no reason to doubt them.

A book released this summer takes a scholarly examination of the use of the Psalter in Eastern monastic practice: James F. Wellington, Christe Eleison!: The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c. 350-450 (Peter Lang, 2014), 241pp.

About this book we are told:
For centuries the Jesus Prayer has been leading Orthodox Christians beyond the language of liturgy and the representations of iconography into the wordless, imageless stillness of the mystery of God. In more recent years it has been helping a growing number of Western Christians to find a deeper relationship with God through the continual rhythmic repetition of a short prayer which, by general agreement, first emerged from the desert spirituality of early monasticism. In this study James Wellington explores the understanding and practice of the psalmody which underpinned this spirituality. By means of an investigation of the importance of psalmody in desert monasticism, an exploration of the influence of Evagrius of Pontus and a thorough examination of selected psalm-commentaries in circulation in the East at this time, he reveals a monastic culture which was particularly conducive to the emergence of a Christ-centred invocatory prayer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Christians and Middle East Conflict

It's hard to know where to focus one's concerns today given so many conflicts involving putative Christians and ostensibly Christian powers. The Russia-Ukraine conflict of course ranks high, but the Middle East, especially in Syria and Iraq, are conflicts at least as important and at least as deadly for the Christians involved. A new book helps situate these conflicts in wider context: Paul Rowe et al, eds., Christians and the Middle East Conflict (Routledge 2014), 200pp.

About this book we are told:
Christians and the Middle East Conflict deals with the relationship of Christians and Christian theology to the various conflicts in the Middle East, a topic that is often sensationalized but still insufficiently understood. Political developments over the last two decades, however, have prompted observers to rediscover and examine the central role religious motivations play in shaping public discourses.
This book proceeds on the assumption that neither a focus on the eschatological nor a narrow understanding of the plight of Christians in the Middle East is sufficient. Instead, it is necessary to understand Christians in context and to explore the ways that Christian theology applies through the actions of Christians who have lived and continue to live through conflict in the region either as native inhabitants or interested foreign observers. This volume addresses issues of concern to Christians from a theological perspective, from the perspective of Christian responses to conflict throughout history, and in reflection on the contemporary realities of Christians in the Middle East.
The essays in this volume combine contextual political and theological reflections written by both scholars and Christian activists and will be of interest to students and scholars of Politics, Religion and Middle East Studies.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Resurrecting Russian Orthodoxy

There has, of course, been enormous attention focused on Russia this year, chiefly for its machinations in Ukraine. But scholars have been paying greater and more critical attention to the Russian Orthodox Church's relationship to the state over the last century, and wondering, in part, whether current relations do not in fact reflect old patterns. A book set for October release will continue this important critical analysis: Daniela Kalkandjieva, The Russian Orthodox Church, 1917-1948: From Decline to Resurrection (Routledge, 2014), 384pp.

About this book we are told:
This book tells the remarkable story of the decline and revival of the Russian Orthodox Church in the first half of the twentieth century and the astonishing U-turn in the attitude of the Soviet Union’s leaders towards the church. In the years after 1917 the Bolsheviks’ anti-religious policies, the loss of the former western territories of the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union’s isolation from the rest of the world and the consequent separation of Russian emigrés from the church were disastrous for the church, which declined very significantly in the 1920s and 1930s. However, when Poland was partitioned in 1939 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Stalin allowed the Patriarch of Moscow, Sergei, jurisdiction over orthodox congregations in the conquered territories and went on, later, to encourage the church to promote patriotic activities as part of the resistance to the Nazi invasion. He agreed a Concordat with the church in 1943, and continued to encourage the church, especially its claims to jurisdiction over émigré Russian orthodox churches, in the immediate postwar period. Based on extensive original research, the book puts forward a great deal of new information and overturns established thinking on many key points.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Problem of Bishops

It has been well known among scholars since at least 1970 that the office Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and some Lutheran Christians call "bishop" is a relatively late development, that is, the idea that there is one figure with exclusive "jurisdiction" (to use a notoriously slippery term) over a discrete and delimited territory is probably a late second-century development, if not later. Such a phenomenon--the so-called monepiscopate--is, as far as we can see, something that predates our more customary understanding of the episcopacy--one man to one city. But a new book, released this summer, looks like it will challenge some of these understandings: Alistair C. Stewart, Original Bishops, The: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities (Baker Academic, 2014), 416pp. 

About this book we are told:
A leading authority on early Christianity provides a new starting point for studying the origins of church offices, offering careful readings of the ancient evidence. This work provides a new starting point for studying the origins of church offices. Alistair Stewart, a leading authority on early Christianity and a meticulous scholar, provides essential groundwork for historical and theological discussions. Stewart refutes a long-held consensus that church offices emerged from collective leadership at the end of the first century. He argues that governance by elders was unknown in the first centuries and that bishops emerged at the beginning of the church; however, they were nothing like bishops of a later period. The church offices as presently known emerged in the late second century. Stewart debunks widespread assumptions and misunderstandings, offers carefully nuanced readings of the ancient evidence, and fully interacts with pertinent secondary scholarship.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Experiencing Byzantium

Interest in all things "Byzantine" has remained high, and shows no sign of abating, as I have so often mentioned on here over the years. A recently released academic collection continues to fuel that interest: Clair Nesbitt and Mark Jackson, eds., Experiencing Byzantium: Papers from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Newcastle and Durham, April 2011 (Ashgate, 2013), 390pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
From the reception of imperial ekphraseis in Hagia Sophia to the sounds and smells of the back streets of Constantinople, the sensory perception of Byzantium is an area that lends itself perfectly to an investigation into the experience of the Byzantine world. The theme of experience embraces all aspects of Byzantine studies and the Experiencing Byzantium symposium brought together archaeologists, architects, art historians, historians, musicians and theologians in a common quest to step across the line that divides how we understand and experience the Byzantine world and how the Byzantines themselves perceived the sensual aspects of their empire and also their faith, spirituality, identity and the nature of 'being' in Byzantium.The papers in this volume derive from the 44th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, held for the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies by the University of Newcastle and University of Durham, at Newcastle upon Tyne in April 2011. They are written by a group of international scholars who have crossed disciplinary boundaries to approach an understanding of experience in the Byzantine world.Experiencing Byzantium is volume 18 in the series published by Ashgate on behalf of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Fall of the Ottoman Empire

As I have noted repeatedly already, this year marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and all the associated and consequent catastrophes--from the Armenian genocide and Russian revolution to the collapse of various empires. Next year one of the most consequential of those collapses, with far-reaching consequences for Eastern Christians, will be reviewed anew in Eugene Rogan's forthcoming book, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East (Basic, 2015), 448pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
In The Fall of the Ottomans, Eugene Rogan weaves a captivating account of the First World War in the Middle East. Supplied by Germany with guns and military advisors, the Ottoman Empire entered the war with gusto, taking on the Russians in the Caucasus and the French and British in North Africa and South Asia. Caught off guard by the Ottomans’ innovative tactics and surprisingly effective forces, the Entente armies rapidly lost ground.

As Rogan shows, it was only by exploiting divisions within the Arab world that the Entente powers were able to break the Ottomans and turn the tide of the war. The ensuing treaties laid the groundwork for the modern Middle East: the Ottomans’ Arab holdings were distributed among the French and British victors, whose control over Palestine and Northern Iraq would have disastrous and lasting consequences. A sweeping narrative of battles and political intrigue from Gallipoli to Damascus, The Fall of the Ottomans shows how a European conflict became a global conflagration.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Muslim Views of the Crusades

As I have had too-frequent occasion to lament on here, the Crusades today remain arguably the most deliberately and often maliciously misunderstood of any of the myriad conflicts of the later Middle Ages and early modern period. We are still struggling to correct wild misunderstandings about the Christian participation in them, but only recently have we started to see scholarship on how Islamic sources viewed the Crusades. A new book from Routledge will aid in this task: Niall Christie, Muslims and Crusaders: Christianity's Wars in the Middle East, 1095-1382, from the Islamic Sources (Routledge, 2014), 224pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Muslims and Crusaders supplements and counterbalances the numerous books that tell the story of the crusading period from the European point of view, enabling readers to achieve a broader and more complete perspective on the period. It presents the Crusades from the perspective of those against whom they were waged, the Muslim peoples of the Levant. The book introduces the reader to the most significant issues that affected their responses to the European crusaders, and their descendants who would go on to live in the Latin Christian states that were created in the region.
This book combines chronological narrative, discussion of important areas of scholarly enquiry and evidence from primary sources to give a well-rounded survey of the period. It considers not only the military meetings between Muslims and the Crusaders, but also the personal, political, diplomatic and trade interactions that took place between Muslims and Franks away from the battlefield. Through the use of a wide range of translated primary source documents, including chronicles, dynastic histories, religious and legal texts and poetry, the people of the time are able to speak to us in their own voices.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nicholas Denysenko on Chrismation and Catholics

My friend Nicholas Denysenko is a prolific fellow. I interviewed him in late 2012 about his first book, The Blessing of Waters and Epiphany: The Eastern Liturgical Tradition. Now his second book in as many years has recently been published: Chrismation: A Primer for Catholics (Liturgical Press, 2014), xxxvii+209pp. I am looking forward to teaching my graduate class on liturgy next year precisely so that I can have the students read this book, for with my students few topics incite as much heated though inconclusive debate as the topic of the ordering of the sacraments of initiation in the Latin Church.

This new book is at once deeply immersed in the history and theology of the East, particularly (but not exclusively) Byzantine practice, but also written, as the sub-title clearly suggests, for Catholics navigating these issues in their own contexts. It is not in any way a polemical work in which an Orthodox apologist attempts to, well, pontificate about how the Latin Church should structure her life. It is, on the contrary, irenical and helpful scholarship at its best. To use a phrase I used in my own book on the papacy, a phrase that the late Pope John Paul II and the late Margaret O'Gara both popularized, Nick's book is an "ecumenical gift-exchange" of the best sort: it looks at some of the contemporary struggles around sacramental practice in the Latin Church and says, with genuine solicitude and without any triumphalism, "Have you considered some possible alternative practices used in the East?" The history and theology of those practices is then displayed here along with some suggestions as to possible ways forward. It is not smugly prescriptive but it is, to reclaim the verb I just used in its typical pejorative sense, a pontification of the best sort: the word, of course, comes from the Latin pontifex and is usually translated as bridge-builder. Nick builds bridges between, if you will, old and new Rome, offering the former some of the wisdom that comes from the practices of the latter in case they may be of use. In short, this is ecumenical scholarship of the best possible kind.

I asked Nick for an interview about this book, and here are his thoughts.

AD: Tell us what led you from a book on Theophany and water blessings to a book on Chrismation

ND: In writing the book on the blessing of waters, I engaged numerous historical monographs on the history of the rites of initiation. These studies opened my eyes to the labyrinthian history of Confirmation in the West and contributed to my interest in the question of anointing with Chrism. To be honest, I was inspired largely by my classroom experience. Students were shocked and perplexed by my historical presentations of Confirmation, and I noted a dissonance between the liturgical theology of the sacrament and its popular perception among the laity. It became a research project at a meeting of the North American Academy of Liturgy when several Episcopalian and Catholic colleagues remarked that the Orthodox are the only ones who have really retained tradition. I wondered to myself, "have we? Do we really understand the anointing with Chrism, or do we just define it through Western lenses?" These are the events and conversations that inspired me to look into the question.

AD: Your preface notes that much of the inspiration for writing came from participating in real baptisms and chrismations with real people. Following something Robert Taft said a few years ago about liturgical studies moving from a focus on texts to the experiences of people in the pews, do you see your book as much more "experiential" in nature? Is that what you mean by using the word "primer" in your sub-title?

Real life experience is central. I have provided diaconal service or chanting at dozens of Chrismations, and no two pastoral explanations are alike. Two aspects of the rite of Chrismation struck me profoundly: first, when infants are anointed, Chrismation is really a continuation of the rite of Baptism. There is no particular moment where the assembly pauses with the deacon announcing, "we have now transitioned from Baptism to Chrismation and N. is receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit." The memory of Chrismation as belonging to a complete process of initiation remained with me when I began to research this topic in earnest. Also, when converts are received into the Church, they tend to describe it as a strong liturgical moment marking belonging. I really wanted to explore these aspects of anointing I had observed from ritual and I believe that my book was strengthened by including this dimension. My use of "primer" is a short way of saying, "here's an immersion into the real meaning of Chrismation."

AD: What was your purpose, as an Orthodox deacon and professor of theology, in addressing your book to Catholics? Was that focus born out of your experience at LMU and your Catholic students there?

This book is for everyone; Orthodox, too. But I primarily addressed Catholics because the tension in academic and pastoral discourse on Chrismation often leaves representatives of all sides referring to Orthodox Chrismation as supporting a particular point. My hope in this book was to bring the two liturgical traditions into dialogue, not so that one tradition would be absorbed by the other, but to promote healthy mutual understanding. Let me add this: ecumenical dialogue is a precious asset for promoting self-understanding, too.

AD: My own Catholic graduate students, most of whom work in parochial schools or parishes as catechists or RCIA directors, regularly get into lengthy and inconclusive debates with each other and with me about the proper ordering of the sacraments of initiation. They are often sympathetic to the historical arguments about the order Baptism-Chrismation-Communion, but worry that restoring that order would drain Catholic programs, parishes, and parochial schools of many kids who attend only long enough to get confirmed at or after eighth grade. They thus view the historical ordering as a real risk today not simply to the viability of schools but also to the opportunity for longer formation and catechesis. I admit I never have any good counter-arguments here. What are your thoughts?

I think that Catholics would really benefit from initiating their children into the complete life of the kingdom by allowing them to participate in the Eucharist. The current sequence of sacraments results in Eucharistic communities stratified by age groups. I really sympathize with ministers and catechists who are committed to retention of youth, but I am utterly unconvinced that Confirmation as adolescent initiation is an effective approach. Initiating all our children into the fullness of the life of the Kingdom and permitting them to partake of the banquet is essential for faith communities that promote and exalt the dignity of human life. All Christians should be concerned with retaining youth and encouraging them to exercise their divine citizenship. Too often, we hijack sacraments in attempts to fulfill a particular objective, but in so doing, we do not honor the fullness of Christ's body. In an ideal world, I'd love to contribute to a thinking group that works on creating mystagogical programs that encourage our youth to live in a Spirit of thanksgiving and connect their Eucharistic participation with daily life. To do so, isn't delaying initiation into the Eucharistic assembly setting them back?

AD: Unlike some other sacramental and liturgical actions you review, you note that Chrismation or Confirmation, whether in the East or West, is too often for most people "a cloaked mystery" (xx) whose meaning it is not easy to extract. Tell us briefly why you think that is.

Despite the twentieth-century linkage of liturgy to ecclesiology, in practice, many sacraments are still private family matters. If we think about unrepeatable sacraments like Baptism and Chrismation, they often occur as quick and necessary pastoral tasks without much community engagement. Obviously, the reinvigoration of the RCIA has contributed to a paradigm shift on this matter, but in general, Baptism and Chrismation are often faded memories and we gain a glimpse of these sacraments when we have to participate as godparents or friends of families "invited" to the event. Given the theological and soteriological weight invested in initiation, the gap between "faded memory" and "capacity to shape daily life" needs to be filled. I'm hoping that this book might prove to be an asset in filling that gap.

AD: You note that despite some similarities as a post-baptismal rite conferring the gift of the Holy Spirit, nonetheless Orthodox ideas of Chrismation and Catholic ideas of Confirmation "have many differences" (xxv), and one of these is the number and timing of anointings. It seems to me that in some respects contemporary (post-conciliar) RC practice tends to "fudge" the difference or blur the boundaries between Baptism and Confirmation by conferring at baptism "the first of two different anointings with Chrism" (xxvii) on children (but not adolescents or adults) before their first Confession and Communion, both of which occur before their Confirmation. Is that your read of the situation?

I discuss this history in the book. Catholic infants are indeed chrismated after Baptism, whereas those who participate in the RCIA do not receive the post-baptismal anointing. The separation becomes problematic when we also separate theologies and make Confirmation THE sacrament of the Spirit, as if Baptism is not pneumatological. If Confirmation continues and completes Baptism, then it would be best to restore its order so that it literally completes baptism in sequence. This requires a pastoral adjustment permitting presbyters to confirm, because the retention of episcopal presidency at Confirmation - which is a historically venerable tradition - simply cannot be sustained in our time without significantly impacting the meaning of Confirmation.

AD: Part of your emphasis through the book, you signal in your introduction, will be on the "crisis of belonging" experienced by people today, especially when it comes to the "institutional" church. When you talk about that crisis, what do you have in mind? Is it just that people don't come to liturgy on Sunday as often as they should, or is there more to it than that?

Almost all churches in America are experiencing attrition, no matter how much we try to bolster our numbers. For the Orthodox Churches, a good introduction to the topic of belonging is provided by Amy Slagle in her recent study on converts, The Eastern Church in the Spiritual Marketplace: American Conversions to Orthodox Christianity. We are on the tail end of a painful paradigm shift. In the past, one used to attend the parish or congregation of one's village. In urban areas, people attended church in their neighborhood, often by foot. Now, one might drive 25 or more miles to church. Church is a significant commitment and people attend for all kinds of reasons that ultimately begin with a sense of belonging. In the paradigm shift, the criterion for choosing a church - and yes, it is a matter of voluntary selection - is whether or not one can identify with the pastoral leadership and the people to say with confidence, "we belong." Sacramental theology is all about "belonging," and in this study, I have attempted to demonstrate how the anointing with Chrism happens to be a rite that communicates a rich sense of belonging to the community of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I compared the language of the liturgy and its expression of belonging to the responses of people who experienced anointing in an attempt to parse out how Chrismation communicates belonging. When we talk about the sacraments or mysteries of the Church, it's essential to illuminate that initiation is not fleeting: one does not merely belong to a congregation with plenty of single people where one can enjoy a happy social life with like-minded folks. Rather, one might have joined a culturally and politically pluralistic community where difference prevails with one exception: everyone participating can refer to a common citizenship in God's kingdom, the most powerful foundation for meaningful daily life. Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist deliver an eschatological reality: we belong to God's family. What we need is to find creative ways to communicate why this beautiful reality of belonging to God - forever - can be life-giving and life-changing today, in this life. In my opinion, this is an urgent pastoral matter.

AD: Your second chapter reviews the diversity of practices governing the reception of converts. If you could suddenly vault yourself to a position of omnipotence over all Orthodoxy, would you retain that diversity or try to institute one universal practice, and in either case why? 
In principle, I find liturgical diversity healthy, and I'll be writing about this in the next manuscript I need to finish. In contemporary Orthodoxy, we need an adjustment that brings more uniformity to the rites of receiving converts. In our time, conversion is really equivalent to changing denominations (the unchurched are baptized, and not received by anointing). Pastors need to exercise discretion when they require candidates to renounce particular teachings because the received tradition espouses a theology of exclusion that does not conform to progress in the ecumenical movement. If I had the power you describe here, I would require Orthodox seminarians to learn much more about the historical and theological traditions of the West to understand why certain positions were assumed. Too often, we repeat polemical statements we inherited for no good reason. I think one can cause irreparable damage by accentuating theological deficiencies in Catholic and Reformed traditions, and requiring renunciations only perpetuates this problem. Asking people to renounce ideas also denotes some renunciation of the communities who hold some variants of those theological ideas. In real life, this can isolate people and create unnecessary friction, especially if the person who has become Orthodox through anointing with Chrism belongs to a non-Orthodox family. Instead of renouncing, why not affirm with enthusiasm what the Orthodox Church confesses and teaches while helping our own faithful understand other Christians without insulting them?

AD: Your fourth chapter repeats the oft-heard line about Confirmation being a sacrament in search of a theology. Why is that? How did it come to seem theologically adrift?

Bp. Kevin Rhoades, Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend
Confirmation's detachment from Baptism became permanent around the thirteenth century because of the Roman reservation of episcopal presidency at the sacrament. The Church's geographical diffusion did not permit bishops to visit parishes frequently which resulted in delayed Confirmation. With children receiving Confirmation at an older age, a new theology emerged in conjunction with this ritual evolution that explained the delay. Confirmation was construed as a sacrament of strength and maturity demonstrating one's attainment of sufficient development to live as faithful Christians. This explanation is somewhat incoherent with the liturgical theology of Confirmation, which reveals the sacrament as imparting the Christic offices of priest, prophet, and king to participants and granting them the manifold gift of the Holy Spirit. We learn an important lesson of liturgical history from Confirmation: pastoral explanations of sacramental meaning evolve in response to the historical circumstances that dictate the sacrament's evolution. The existence of multiple theologies of Confirmation reveal it as a sacrament in search of a theology.

AD: You note that the Pauline reforms after Vatican II attempted to more clearly restore a connection between Baptism and Confirmation. Do you think that intent been undermined by the diversity of practice across even just American dioceses, where some retain a clearer connection while others interpose one or both of Confession and Communion (and not always in that order)?

The renewal of baptismal vows and confessions of faith at Confirmation refer to Baptism. The most important Pauline reform was the illumination of Confirmation as the sacrament imparting the gift of the Holy Spirit, mostly through the adoption of the Byzantine formula, "the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit." The diversity of ritual practices in the Roman Church manifests the competing theologies of Confirmation. I think a stronger rehabilitation of the Eucharist as the repeatable and repeated sacrament of initiation is the key to promoting a sound understanding of how the sacraments of initiation establish a pattern of God giving the gift of the Spirit to the assembly: in baptism, anointing, and Eucharist, over and over again.

AD: You note (p.146) that Paul VI's adaptation of Byzantine emphasis in the revised rite of Confirmation went largely unnoticed by the lay faithful. But what about Orthodox liturgists and theologians, then and since? Have they remarked on this at all or seen it as significant?

The Orthodox theologians tend to view Catholic sacramental theology and liturgical reform as a reference point for comparison. To be honest, most Orthodox theologian haven't attended to revisions in Catholic liturgy and tend to contribute to the fissure between perception and reality. Has anyone heard of an Orthodox theologian discussing the composition of three new Eucharistic prayers and their addition to the Roman Missal? Paul Meyendorff's contributions to the Faith and Order Commission's work on the sacraments of (the World Council of Churches) exemplifies Orthodox attention to the realities of liturgical and sacramental life in global Christianity. Typically, Orthodox theologians are asked to explain their own tradition, so it is most convenient to refer to other Christian traditions by referring to their differences. I hope that my work might inspire Orthodox theologians to read the Catholic liturgical tradition more carefully, to note similarities in ritual structure, euchology, and especially the theological foundations underpinning liturgical structures. Perhaps a more careful reading might help the Orthodox realize how much we actually have in common with other Christians. I have more to say about this, but I'll save it for my next book on liturgical reform.  

AD: You note that "the Vatican II reform of confirmation was incomplete" (p.153).  If Francis dies tomorrow, and Catholics elected you as pope, what would you do to complete the reforms?

Well, as a faithful son of the Orthodox Church, I'd have to respectfully decline, despite my fondness for Papal vesture. All kidding aside, the most urgent task would be a restoration of Confirmation to infants, followed by granting infants access to holy communion. If the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Kingdom, the Church needs to ritualize it and allow children to partake of the table since they too participate in the offering. Such a ritual reform would be faithful to Roman Catholic tradition and Catholic theologians would certainly capture the opportunity to expound theologically on the reform.
AD: Having finished Chrismation: A Primer for Catholics, what are you working on now?

I just finished a book on contemporary Orthodox architecture, which is currently under review by a major university press. Now I am in the process of completing a book on liturgical reform in the Orthodox Church. In this book, I'll assess Orthodox participation in the liturgical movement and compare instances of liturgical reform with ample attention to Father Alexander Schmemann and New Skete Monastery. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Next Year in Jerusalem!

Early this year, Our Sunday Visitor, the largest Catholic newspaper in the United States, commissioned me to write a long essay on Orthodox-Catholic relations on the eve of the papal and patriarchal visit to Jerusalem. Francis and Bartholomew were both going to the holy city in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of their predecessors, Paul VI and Athenagoras, meeting there in 1964. In my essay I reviewed centuries of Orthodox-Catholic relations and then looked at where we are today, what outstanding issues remain to be resolved, and what prospects for the future look like.

Several short essays, covering much the same territory, were published this spring around the time of my essay in a very small little book by Fordham University Press: John Chryssavgis, ed., Dialogue of Love: Breaking the Silence of Centuries (Fordham UP, 2014), xv+75pp.

This wee book, which I read in a couple of hours yesterday, contains a preface by Chryssavgis (an archdeacon of the Ecumenical Throne and well-known Orthodox theologian) and is published in Fordham University Press's welcome Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Thought imprint. The very brief introduction is written by the metropolitan of Pergamon and very well-known Greek theologian John Zizioulas who uses a phrase of his mentor Georges Florovsky to describe the East and West as two conjoined sisters who actually cannot be separated from one another without very serious damage.

After these short preliminaries, Chryssavgis gives us a very helpful chronology of the events and personalities leading up to the 1964 meeting, and details of that meeting also. This essay is nicely done, with just enough detail to set the scene without overwhelming the reader with the tedious trivia ("and then, at 10:17am, the pope went to the bathroom and had to ask the patriarch the way...") one sometimes finds in accounts like this.

The second chapter is by the Jesuit patrologist and historical theologian Brian Daley of Notre Dame. It is a first-rate survey of what has happened since 1964--the so-called dialogue of love. Daley begins by noting that the groundwork for much of this was laid by Yves Congar in his hugely important and influential 1954 book After Nine Hundred Years: The Background of the Schism Between the Eastern and Western Churches.

Daley deftly reviews the details of the development of the international dialogue, but also, justly, spends a good bit of time on its coterminous North American counterpart, of which he has been a member since 1981 and, more recently, the executive secretary for the Catholic side. As he notes, the North American dialogue "has been at times, if only by default, the world's main forum for constructive Orthodox-Catholic conversation" (31). He reveals one detail of which I was not aware: the very first Catholic members proposed for the North American dialogue in March 1965 included "three Eastern-rite Catholic priests (two of them Jesuits from Fordham)" (33) and this caused no small alarm on the Orthodox side. Thus one sees that the "Uniate" issue was neuralgic long before the international dialogue tried to address it in the infamous Balamand statement of 1993.

I met the members of the North American dialogue in the autumn of 2002 when they met in Ottawa at Saint Paul University, where I was a doctoral student. (Several of us grad students volunteered to serve wine and various amuse-bouches to the dialogue at a reception--a way not only for free food and wine but, to my mind, the even more important access to long and profitable conversations with the Orthodox and Catholic hierarchs and theologians there assembled.) It was very clear to me then that they got along well and worked profitably in large part, as Daley confirms here, because of the shared cultural background of the participants as well as the fact that many people have been involved for more than a quarter-century and over that time have come to "deeply cherish each other's friendship" (44).

Daley ends with a few commonplace suggestions on changes needed in Catholicism--a decentralized papacy and greater level of synodal governance (where have we heard that before? Oh, right: Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity)--and in Orthodoxy: mechanisms to overcome fractious ethnic divides and speak with one mind on important issue.

The final chapter consists of an introduction by Matthew Baker, a newly ordained Greek Orthodox priest and outstanding doctoral student at Fordham who is already a very accomplished young scholar from whom we can expect further important work. Baker very intelligently introduces us to an essay by Georges Florovsky that he unearthed, one that was published in Paris in 1964 but never translated or given wider dissemination which, Baker rightly notes, is odd given the huge influence Florovsky had in twentieth-century Orthodoxy and given, moreover, his widespread involvement in the ecumenical movement. Baker translates the essay here from the Russian original and annotates it with a few useful footnotes.  There is nothing terribly new here, but we would do well to continue to adhere to Florovsky's counsel to always seek out "sober historical memory [as] the indispensable guarantee of responsible action" (61), something with which the impudent sectarians frothing at the mouth about the "pan-heresy of ecumenism" and the "errors of the Latins" seem to have so little intimate congress, then as now.

In sum, Dialogue of Love: Breaking the Silence of Centuries is indeed, as we say in French, a souvenir. That verb is a reflexive one in French: Je me souviens (Quebec's official motto, as it happens), usually "I remember" but equally "I remind myself." And we all need to remind ourselves gratefully of the courage and foresight of our forbears fifty years ago to seek each other out and to begin the dialogue and work for unity, which has not ended. We need, indeed, to remember, as I said elsewhere about the 2014 Jerusalem visit, that the search for unity is not an optional extra but a dominical imperative: the Lord expects us to be one. Please God we will not have to wait another fifty years for that to happen.
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