Staff Book Pick | Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas: Remembering the Future

Staff Book Pick | Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas: Remembering the Future

Recommended by Jacob Sparks

By: John D. Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon This long-awaited, posthumous book by Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, with an insightful and heartfelt prologue by Pope Francis, is a comprehensive exploration of eschatology and its profound implications for theology and ontology. It is divided into five chapters, each addressing a specific aspect of eschatology and its relationship with various theological themes. Through rigorous analysis and theological insight, the book explores how eschatology shapes our understanding of existence, purpose, and ultimate destiny. This scholarly work offers a deep dive into the theological and philosophical aspects of the Eschaton, providing readers with valuable insights into the Christian understanding of the future and its implications for the present. With meticulous attention to detail and a rich array of topics, this book is invaluable for theologians and scholars seeking a deeper grasp of eschatological thought. It is written for those who have accepted the fact of the Resurrection of Christ and are interested in the “logical” consequences that follow the acceptance of this fact: “credo ut intelligam”.

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Staff Book Pick | Devotions: Mary Oliver

Staff Book Pick | Devotions: Mary Oliver

Recommended by Christina Andresen, Director of Ministries

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades of her esteemed literary career.

Throughout her celebrated career, Mary Oliver has touched countless readers with her brilliantly crafted verse, expounding on her love for the physical world and the powerful bonds between all living things. Identified as “far and away, this country’s best selling poet” by Dwight Garner, she now returns with a stunning and definitive collection of her writing from the last fifty years.

Carefully curated, these 200 plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published in 1963 at the age of 28, through her most recent collection, Felicity, published in 2015. This timeless volume, arranged by Oliver herself, showcases the beloved poet at her edifying best. Within these pages, she provides us with an extraordinary and invaluable collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much-treasured observations of the natural world.

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Staff Book Pick | Harp of Glory: Enzira Sebhat

Staff Book Pick | Harp of Glory: Enzira Sebhat

Recommended by Ivy Gabriella Tesfay, Ministry Intern

Harp of Glory is a major hymn sounding the praises of the Theotokos, from the heart of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in its Golden Age. It is a text hardly known in Eastern Orthodox or Western churches, even though it is truly a religious and literary treasure of world significance. It approaches closely to the character and genius of the Byzantine Akathist to the Mother of God (which it seems to know in part) but is so profoundly rooted in a different indigenous experience that it surely deserves the title of “An African Akathist.”

This beautiful lyrical poem will be of interest to all who follow the rise of biblical exegesis in the ancient church, and forms of the great devotion to the Mother of God that is characteristic of the eastern churches. It is also an exquisitely crafted love song to the Virgin (troubadour style), from a monk scholar-musician wandering the highlands of Ethiopia.

Staff Book Pick | The Illumined Heart: Capture the Vibrant Faith of Ancient Christians

Staff Book Pick | The Illumined Heart: Capture the Vibrant Faith of Ancient Christians

Recommended by Ivy Gabriella Tesfay, Ministry Intern

From the author, Frederica Mathewes-Green:
When I look back at the process of writing 
The Illumined Heart, I’m amazed all over again at how God directed it. I wrote the whole thing in a week, the week before Christmas, in fact, which is so typically congested with last-minute errands, unpredicatable weather, aches and sniffles. For Orthodox Christians, it’s also a week that we fast from meat and dairy, adding another ball to the juggling act. Yet somehow I started writing the book on Monday morning and completed it Sunday night, just fourteen minutes after the Christmas Eve service began. (I kept wondering where in the week I’d dawdled and lost that fourteen minutes.)
It’s no wonder that I look at 
The Illumined Heart as the one out of all of my books that felt the most God-directed. Mostly, he told me when to shut up. For a cup-runneth-over writer like me, starting a book is like moving into mid-pregnancy and putting on those stretch-front trousers for the first time; they’re like a license to eat. And knowing that I have room to write on and on, whatever comes to mind, makes for abundant, wandering prose. Yet The Illumined Heart is quiet, proportional, just-enough; it’s like a jewel. It’s no wonder that this is a personal favorite among my own books, and the one I must urge people to read. I’m pleased by the amount of good work it’s done so far, and hope that it will continue to do much more.

Staff Book Pick | The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death

Staff Book Pick | The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death

Recommended by Peter Mansour, Ministry Coordinator

By returning to the practice and methodology of the early Church, Fr John Behr, a renowned patristics scholar, invites readers to approach the mystery of Jesus Christ in the same way that the first disciples learned their theology. His vision of Christian theology, written in a systematic manner, offers a way out of the problems that have beset theology and scriptural study in recent centuries.

Staff Pick : “Everyday Saints and Other Stories”

Staff Pick : “Everyday Saints and Other Stories”

Recommended by Ivy Gabriella Tesfay,
Ministry Intern

In Communist Russia in 1984, five youths from non-religious backgrounds joined a monastery. This is the story of what they experienced and some of the “everyday saints” they met. The author says, “In this book I want to tell you about this beautiful new world of mine, where we live by laws completely different from those in ‘normal’ worldly life—a world of light and love, full of wondrous discoveries, hope, happiness, trials and triumphs, where even our defeats acquire profound significance: a world in which, above all, we can always sense powerful manifestations of divine strength and comfort.”

 

Staff Book Pick : The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

Staff Book Pick : The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

Recommended by Christina Andresen, Director of Ministries

John Mark Comer tackles the problem of hurry in our lives by helping diagnose the problem and introducing (or reintroducing) us to the spiritual practices of silence and solitude, Sabbath, simplicity, and slowing. This book is a great introduction for beginners to the rich ascetic tradition of the Christian life. It would make an excellent Lenten read, especially in conjunction with a monastic writing on the same topic from someone such as the Desert Fathers, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. Gregory of Sinai, or St. Maximos the Confessor.

Staff Pick: “The Mountain of Silence”

Staff Pick: “The Mountain of Silence”

Recommended by Alexandros Pandazais, Campus Missionary

An acclaimed expert in Christian mysticism travels to a monastery high in the Trodos Mountains of Cyprus and offers a fascinating look at the Greek Orthodox approach to spirituality that will appeal to readers of Carlos Castaneda.

In an engaging combination of dialogues, reflections, conversations, history, and travel information, Kyriacos C. Markides continues the exploration of a spiritual tradition and practice little known in the West he began in Riding with the Lion. His earlier book took readers to the isolated peninsula of Mount Athos in northern Greece and into the group of ancient monasteries. There, in what might be called a “Christian Tibet,” two thousand monks and hermits practice the spiritual arts to attain a oneness with God. In his new book, Markides follows Father Maximos, one of Mount Athos’s monks, to the troubled island of Cyprus. As Father Maximos establishes churches, convents, and monasteries in this deeply divided land, Markides is awakened anew to the magnificent spirituality of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Images of the land and the people of Cyprus and details of its tragic history enrich the Mountain of Silence. Like the writings of Castaneda, the book brilliantly evokes the confluence of an inner and outer journey. The depth and richness of its spiritual message echo the thoughts and writings of Saint Francis of Assisi and other great saints of the Church as well. The result is a remarkable work–a moving, profoundly human examination of the role and the power of spirituality in a complex and confusing world.

Staff Pick: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Staff Pick: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Recommended by Dn. Marek Simon, Executive Director

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity–principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

Staff Pick: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Staff Pick: The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Recommended by Alexandros Pandazis, Campus Missionary

When Christians first began living as monks in the Egyptian desert at the beginning of the fourth century, they had few books and almost no learning. As they gained experience, they concentrated that experience in the form of an oral tradition of tales and sayings (apophthegmata). Apart from the Scriptures (also learned by heart) this was the only training manual they had. Consequently, when the onslaught of barbarians drove many monks out of Egypt early in the following century, they found it better to preserve their oral tradition in writing.

Thus, towards the end of the fifth century there eventually emerged a codification of this monastic lore. It was in two parts: one in which the items were arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the monk who either authored the saying or was characterized in the tale; the other in which all the remaining “anonymous” material was arranged under various heads. The present volume is an attempt to provide the reader with an effective translation of the first of those parts.

Staff Pick: Resident Aliens

Staff Pick: Resident Aliens

Recommended by Joseph Bray, Communications Manager

“In the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, all human history must be reviewed. The coming of Christ has cosmic implications. He has changed the course of things. So the theological (and I’d add, the ecclesial) task is not merely the interpretive matter of translating Jesus into modern categories but rather to translate the world to him. The theologian’s job (and I’d add, the pastor’s, too) is not to make the gospel credible to the modern world, but to make the world credible to the gospel.”

Do you find yourself frequently getting wrapped up in political arguments? In “Resident Aliens” Hauerwas and Willimon challenge Christians to nurture life and community rather than reform secular culture. They argue that Christians shouldn’t let contemporary politics dictate the terms of Christian social thought. Only when Christians are rooted in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ do they have any stand against eroding societal moral values.

Staff Pick: The Life of Repentance and Purity by Pope Shenouda III

Staff Pick: The Life of Repentance and Purity by Pope Shenouda III

Recommended by Demiana Saleeb,
Ministry Intern

Need better habits? Want an easy read? “The Life of Repentance & Purity” by Pope Shenouda III might be the perfect book for you! OCF Ministry Intern, Demiana, read this book during the last Lenten season and now recommends it to you. The Life of Repentance and Purity provides readers with a comprehensive overview of the practice of repentance and purity, essential aspects of Christian life. Pope Shenouda III draws on Scripture, the Church Fathers, his own experience of desert monasticism, and his experience as a shepherd to millions of Christians to provide a practical understanding of how to live a life of continually turning to God.
Staff Pick : The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Staff Pick : The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Recommended by Fr. Panagiotis Boznos,
Spiritual Advisor to the Student Leadership Board

Imagine getting your hands on the other team’s playbook. That is what The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is like. This book is a satirical collection of letters from a senior demon to a junior demon about how best to pull humans away from God. Every page is filled with devilish advice and brings to light all the tactics used against us. Once you know the other side’s plays, and spoiler: they are not that complicated, it becomes easier to defend against them.