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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile for the first chapter alone, July 27, 2009
By 
Owen Hatteras "h_sapiens" (Austin, Texas. An oasis in a desert of imbecility.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God and Man (Paperback)
This reviewer is a religious skeptic, but it is a testament to this book's character that it is a rewarding and thoughtful read, for believers and skeptics alike. When leafing through the book, the author's inviting and intelligent tone made it attractive, and so I purchased it.

The late Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh (who died in 2003) was head of the Russian Orthodox Patriarchal Church in Great Britain and Ireland, where he was considerably better known to the public than in the United States. This is to the loss of Christian churches in the United States, for when Metropolitan Anthony explains the concepts of religious faith, it is with plausibility and grace almost wholly lacking in the literature explaining and defending the Christian faith that is lately on tap in the U.S. His essays are entirely free of the usual threats, remonstrations, and blandishments; and he makes it a point to describe his faith in a intelligent way addressed to Orthodox and non-Orthodox (and non-believers) alike.

As alluded to before, the first chapter, "The Atheist and the Archbishop", a transcript of two discussions televised by the BBC in July 1970, is a model of clarity, intelligence, and civility by both discussants. If only current public dust-ups between Christians and atheists were half so fine! Here, the then-Archbishop (he attained the office of Metropolitan later) discusses religious faith with the late Marghanita Laski, a then-prominent British journalist and novelist (who died in 1988).

The Metropolitan explains that his faith is not mere credulity, but is based on a transforming experience of God--in this case, one he experienced in his teens. In response to remarks by Marghanita Laski, he freely allows that not everyone has been so fortunate (as he sees it) as to undergo such an experience. The Metropolitan also explains his mystical experience in terms of knowledge, not simply sensation or emotion. To use the phrase employed by my old philosophy professor, it is 'veridical' and not illusory in nature.

Laski makes the important point that such experiences by their nature cannot be completely understood by those who have not undergone them, and that if they cannot necessarily be considered illusory, nor can they be considered significant or persuasive to anyone other than the person experiencing them. The Archbishop readily acknowledges this.

Although there is no final resolution to the discussion, the two participants evince both respect and understanding for each other's views while not necessarily accepting them. This mark of an intellectualy and mentally mature human being seems more common in Britain than in the U.S., especially these days.

Subsequent chapters consist mostly of talks given by the Metropolitan at Birmingham University in 1970. The topics covered are "Doubt and the Christian Life" (more fruitful reading for Christians and non-Christians), "Man and God", "Holiness and Prayer" (a talk given at Louvain in Belgium in 1969, and the longest chapter at about eighty-five pages), and "John the Baptist".

While skeptics and infidels may not find themselves bowled over by the book (which is manifestly not Metropolitan Anthony's intention), they and others will find a discussion of religion that is intelligent but not abtruse, and passionate without being overenthusiastic. Reviewing Mohandas K. Gandhi's "Autobiography" generations ago now, George Orwell noted that the book left him with a good impression of the author (something he did not have before), and concluded his review with: "How clean a smell he managed to leave behind him!" Both of these things can be said of this book and its author.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful collection of Essays, March 1, 2007
By 
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This review is from: God and Man (Paperback)
I almost gave this book four stars, but that wouldn't really do justice to the breathtaking insights it contains, nor the beautiful illustrations Metropolitan Anthony (Of Blessed Memory) uses to convey otherwise tedious and heavy theological concepts. There are places where some readers will find the discussion a little philosophically heavy (especially in the title essay), but not overwhelmingly so. Also, since this was written 40 years ago, one notices that the issues discussed may at first seem a little dated. And yet, everytime I started to feel this way, up would pop another beautiful insight that was absolutely timeless. This man of God, whose intellect and gentle grace touched many, does a fabulous job here of making hard-to-comprehend theological concepts meaninful - even life-transforming - to his readers. Strongly recommended to Orthodox Christian and non-Orthodox readers alike.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic and enlighting, October 11, 2007
By 
This review is from: God and Man (Paperback)
This book is an example of fantastic compilation of discussions and articles explaining Christian faith simple and clear. The fact that those words come from one of the most interesting people in Russian orthodoxy, who was born abroad and lived most of his life in Europe, make these words even more important for the western reader. Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) found his faith being an educated medical doctor. Therefore his words target modern educated people who are looking for the answers that can not be found anywhere but in a thousand years old tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
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God and Man
God and Man by Anthony Bloom (Paperback - Mar. 1997)
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