"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).

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lossky on the Roads of France

Until the recent explosion of new publications in Eastern Christianity, Vladimir Lossky's The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, published during World War II, was often one of the few, indeed only, books in English to which people interested in Orthodoxy repaired. It remains in print, which is a testimony to certain enduring ideas, though it is certainly not a text one could rely on with completely uncritical faith today. More recent scholarship has rightly corrected some of Lossky's ideas, not least his sui generis (to put it gently) ideas about the filioque.

Other works to which Lossky contributed have aged better, including The Meaning of Icons, co-authored with Leonid Ouspensky. In addition, his work of theological anthropology, In the Image and Likeness of God also stands up well.

Now St. Vladimir's Seminary Press has brought out a new book that gives us further insights into France during the dark days of occupation by what the Resistance called the "grey lice"of the Nazis in the 1940s:

About this book the publisher tells us:
This book follows Vladimir Lossky's attempt to enlist in the French army after the Nazi invasion of France in 1940. It records his reflections on suffering; the true nature of Christian or Western civilization; the rightness or otherwise of war; the problematic relationship between Church and State; what we mean by a "nation"; and secularization. Such issues are mulled over, not as arid abstractions, by someone who, as he walks across an increasingly war-torn landscape, quite literally has his feet on the ground. A revelation to those who know only Lossky's more scholarly works - here one discovers his rounded personality, his warm humanity, and his love not only of Christian France but of the West in general. Vladimir Lossky was one of the most influential Orthodox thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. Michael Donley is a writer and translator, and an expert in French literature.

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