"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).

Monday, April 8, 2019

Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Orthodox Blurbers

It was really in the summer of 2001, which I spent teaching in Ukraine, that I realized, I suppose, the theme of all my subsequent academic work--which I then decided to begin the following year by enrolling in the doctoral program at the Sheptytsky Institute, which was then in Ottawa. That theme--dare I call it a vocation?--was the promise and problem of papal authority in the eyes of the Orthodox East.

Those who read my dissertation, which was finished in 2008 and published in 2011 as Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy, will know how much time I spent looking at structures of authority in the East and deriving therefrom important lessons for the Western Church, reforms to which I then proposed in light of Orthodox concerns about the modern papacy (which I date largely from Pius IX).

Those who pick up my new book, Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed: Ridding the Church of Abuses of Sex and Power, will see a similar approach, albeit much more focused at the local and regional levels rather than the universal level which occupied most of my first book. To the extent the pope features here, it is not the structures of his office that I focus on, but the pathological personality cult surrounding him which I challenge sharply. (For some further thoughts on this, see here.)

In both books, there is an especial focus on the Armenian Apostolic Church, a singular body from which Catholics have a very great deal to learn. But other Orthodox Churches--the OCA, the Greek, and the Antiochian among them--also feature in the book. It is, then, very gratifying that senior and internationally respected and prominent Orthodox scholars have said such kind things about the new book. (For somewhat of an overview of the book's approach and rationale, see here; for some thoughts on Anglican 'blurbers' see here.)

Given the focus on the Armenian Church, I was very glad when Vigen Guroian, whom I have been reading and learning from for twenty years now, agreed to read the book and write a blurb for it, saying:
Adam DeVille begins his book with the jolting pronouncement that ‘everything hidden must be revealed’ regarding the present sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. But this is only the first step. Writing with exceptional passion, he turns next, in an unexpected (but welcome) way, to a serious consideration of Orthodox ecclesiology and existing Orthodox ecclesiastical arrangements in order to identify a path that might allow Roman Catholics to move past ‘the current papal-centric structure’ and toward a Church in which authority and decision-making power is more jointly shared by laity, clergy, and bishops. Orthodox may benefit from DeVille’s studied perspective on their own churches, which well illustrates how renewal and reform might be accomplished for them as well.” —VIGEN GUROIAN, Armenian Orthodox theologian, author of The Orthodox Reality: Culture, Theology, and Ethics in the Modern World.
The Orthodox Reality is his newest book. But I used one of his very early works--Incarnate Love --in a course on Eastern Christian ethics I designed more than a decade ago now.

More recently, in a course on biomedical ethics and the pastoral care of the dying, I especially appreciated being able to use his very insightful Life's Living toward Dying: A Theological and Medical-Ethical Study.

Guroian has also written some interesting books on gardening, which I praised in a long essay published elsewhere more than a decade ago. I did not expect to like the books as I have long been an avowed indoorsman, but Guroian forced me to reconsider this.

Apart from the Spanish Jesuit psychoanalyst Carlos Dominguez-Morano (discussed here, though I will be returning to him again in coming days), there is one other interlocutor to whom my book is most heavily indebted, a book edited by Michael Plekon, who says this of Everything Hidden:
In this provocative and serious book, Adam DeVille presents radical ways of transforming the Church through a return to synodal and conciliar structures rooted in the traditions of the ancient Church. If there is to be death and resurrection for the Church, a Paschal renewal, then this must be the return of the Church to what it is: the assembly, not just in principle but in practice, of the whole people of God. His is a strong, courageous challenge to an embattled and damaged Church. —THE V. REV. MICHAEL PLEKON, Professor Emeritus, City University of New York.
I have interviewed Plekon many times on here over the past decade. For the most recent such interview, go here and follow the links back to the others.

He has written many wonderful books, but the one I am most indebted to in Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed is the translation Plekon edited of Nicholas Afanasiev's Church of the Holy Spirit. That book is singular and rare in its clarity and boldness of vision, and its refusal to reduce the "laics" to a non-category of "lay" people, that is, people who lack something like ordination or professional standing. It was from Afanasiev (and both Armenian and Anglican experience) that I developed the argument of the necessity for the Catholic church to regard, in her counsels of governance, the laics, clerics, and hierarchs as three equal orders.

Finally I come to what Cyril Hovorun had to say about the book. His was perhaps the most overly generous blurb for the book, making me the most neurotic (but not ungrateful!):
Adam DeVille continues the line of great Catholic theologians who have asked uncomfortable questions and provided unconventional solutions to ecclesiological issues. DeVille takes the baton from the hands Congar, Rahner, Murray, and Küng, in serving the Church with both aggiornamento and ressourcement. But the true source of his inspiration is Eastern Christianity, in its Greek Catholic, Byzantine, and Oriental Orthodox forms, which provide serious challenges to the modern ways of exercising primacy and synodality in the Roman Catholic Church. Without this book, any serious ecumenical discussion between Westerners and Easterners on the church-dividing issues would be incomplete.” —ARCHIMANDRITE CYRIL HOVORUN, director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA.
I interviewed Hovorun here about his Scaffolds of the Church, an invaluable book that belongs on the reading list of every course in ecclesiology--Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant. I drew on it very much as I was writing Everything Hidden Shall Be Revealed. Indeed, parts of Hovorun's book gave me a shot in the arm to argue things more clearly and forcefully than I was once inclined to do. His is a very brave and important book. I also commend to you his newest, Political Orthodoxies, as well as his earlier book Meta-Ecclesiology

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