"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, 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.

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