At the Corner of East and Now, which is more or less the follow-up to Facing East. I probably should have read the latter first, but I got my hands on the former before the latter. Not to be confusing or anything.
Anyhow, I finally read Facing East, and I'm glad I did. In it, Mathewes-Green shares with readers the early days of her family's journey to Orthodoxy. It's still, in many ways, very new for them in this book. They're learning about the differences, applying the changes to their lives, and making discoveries that delight them along the way. As in At the Corner of East and Now, they're also finding out what it means to be Orthodox in the real world, if such a thing exists. In other words, theology on the page is one thing; theology practiced in day-to-day life typically requires careful application and thoughtful decisions.
What I liked about Facing East is how new everything still felt for Mathewes-Green and her family. In the later book, there's a little more confidence -- never to be confused with arrogance, I'm happy to say -- about the practice of their faith. In Facing East, they're still in the process of falling in love with Orthodoxy. There's a bit less of the confidence that comes with time and a bit more of the freshness of discovery.
The layout of this book is also a little different than the layout of At the Corner of East and Now. In the later book, Mathewes-Green uses the order of a service and balances this with life experiences. In Facing East, she uses the order of the liturgical year. So each chapter, and each section of each chapter, reflects a specific day in the church calendar. As a result, the flow is significantly more chronological, and it provides a great overview of what a year in the life of a relatively new Orthodox Christian might look like.
For those interested in learning more about Orthodoxy, this is a great read. Bear in mind that it's not a book of theology, even if it contains explanations about Orthodox beliefs. It's more of a personal look at conversion and what it means for an individual within the church. As always with Orthodoxy, it's not just about the individual but about the individual's place within the larger community of Christ's body.
And that's something my intensely solitary self needs to remember.
Year of publication: 2006
Number of pages: 272