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When Hearts Become Flame: An Eastern Orthodox Approach to the Dia-Logos of Pastoral Counseling Paperback – January 1, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"I was totally taken with your work--this is the first truly pastoral counseling  that I have ever come across. Thank you. Magnificent work." --Rev. Eugene H. Peterson

I recommend Muse's book to all who love God and want personal knowledge and experience of God in Jesus Christ. There is a third presence in pastoral counseling that transforms both pastor and person. Pastoral theology is the articulation of this insight and Muse has shown himself to be a mature pastoral theologian. Journal of Pastoral Theology 

This book is arguably one of the best on pastoral counseling to have been published in the past twenty years. Make this a text to share among your friends. Give a copy to your favorite priest --InCommunion

The strength of the author's observations and insights lies not simply in his attempts to draw from the profound Orthodox understanding of human nature...but also in his very personal portrayal of human psychological and spiritual restoration. He leads one to a vision of the wholeness of the individual, at which true counseling is aimed, in such a way as to reveal the communion of spirit that underlies a process that touches the heart of counselor and client alike, bringing them into mutual dependence, in Christian love, on Christ--Orthodox Tradition

From the Author

When Hearts Become Flame is about the mystery of love revealed in those "Emmaus Road" experiences where God's presence suddenly kindles fire in the heart. The act of listening and speaking from the heart involves not just flesh and blood but faith in the Uncreated Source of life invisibly present in our midst. To refuse the other is to refuse Christ. To meet the other is to welcome Him. To care for the other is to be cared for by God. Compassion is a reciprocal encounter. All healing and growth come to us through through dialogue with the "other," in silence and in words, for it is God who meets us in between.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Orthodox Research Institute (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933275480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933275482
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
I am a pastoral counselor (Army Chaplain) and this book has been extremely helpful in providing practical direction for counseling sessions as well as guiding my own personal reflection on the work I do. I work with a number of trauma cases; sessions can light up all kinds of issues for myself. Dr Muse addresses the spiritual self care of the counselor. The Clergy Burnout Cycle in the Clergy in Crisis chapter is totally worth the price of the book. He presents factors of burnout and protective values. He explains how the counselor's childhood scripts get activated in adulthood and how to deal with these so that they no longer control the adult.

In the chapter, Finding the Fit, Dr Muse asks "What Makes Counseling Pastoral?" Dr Muse dialogues with the reader in an exploration of the spiritual healing factors in counseling. In the six months that I've had the book, I've read and re-read these sections again and again, each time finding something personally refreshing and professionally useful.

For me, the heart of the book is the chapter, Heart of Faith: An Epistemology of Personal Encounter. In this chapter, the trialogue of meeting with our client in the presence of Christ is "explained" and the counselor-reader is challenged to examine just how much he really encounters or avoids his clients (as well as his own issues).

For those who may be wondering about a book subtitled "An Eastern Orthodox Approach to the dia-logos of Pastoral Counseling," I am not Eastern Orthodox, but I found the passages where Dr Muse elaborates on his own personal spiritual journey/struggles delightfully insightful, inspirational and intriguing.
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Format: Hardcover
The existential question that each person faces, who am I, can only be answered in relationship to others, if one chooses to begin the process of self-knowledge and discovery. In his recent book, When Hearts Become Flame, Dr. Stephan Muse explores the edict "know thyself" as an Orthodox Pastoral Counselor drawing upon years of study as a psychotherapist and as a Christian who has steeped himself in the ascetical tradition and mystical life of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In a very fluid and seamless way, Dr. Muse beautifully integrates the theology and Orthodox spiritual life and psychology all within the milieu of his personal experiences as a man in search of self and as one reaching out to help others. Utilizing his own personal journey and a variety of clinical case illustrations, Dr. Muse adds flesh to the bones of what it means to be in relation to both God and man. It is Through the Word, the subtitle of the book, which brings these relationships to life and a person to the point of healing. In Trinitarian fashion, emphasis is placed on the trialogue within a person in relation to God, that of mind, body and feeling, and trialogue within the therapeutic process, that between therapist, the one coming for healing, and God. The presence of the therapist must reflect the presence of Christ and not conform to the things of this world, to some construct or ideology, so that both therapist and the one coming for healing may be transformed. In his own words, "both counselor and client are co-pilgrims in the presence of the deep mystery of the unseen God. The therapist is not attending simply to the other, but also to the experiencing-self who is attending to the other and to God, whose presence changes both". Rev. Fr. Timothy Pavlatos, M.Div. M.S.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Discovery of When Hearts Become Flame by Dr. Stephen Muse marked the opening of a new and pivotal chapter in my life on many levels. My professional development as an individual, marriage, and family therapist was infused with new "fire" as Dr. Muse provided spiritual direction, assisting me to reflect on the many transformational moments in my counseling ministry over the years, and providing direction in specific therapeutic challenges of the present. I now realize that I experience "Emmaus Walk" miracles nearly daily ~ and am newly able to identify, name, receive, and stand in awe of them as mutually transformational ~ counselor and counselee alike.

Even more stunning to me, however, is the impact of an ongoing conversation with Dr. Muse, much of it based on When Hearts Become Flame. As a lifelong Protestant/Lutheran Christ-follower (not yet Orthodox, but moving in that direction) I'm grappling with a new appreciation of the historic faith, especially as it undergirds and unifies all of life. Professional, personal, spiritual, physical, relational, emotional, and intellectual newness emerges and unifies as the Spirit breathes life. Dr. Muse's many gifts of insight, encouragement, and Spirit-breathed wisdom ~ spiced with a gentle sense of humor ~ have provided rich mentoring, long prayed-for.

"We will leave behind willfulness and reductionism, and enter into that vast ocean of Divine Eros that bids us come walk on water." Such are the beckoning, resonating gifts of Dr. Stephen Muse to us, his fellow Pilgrims.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Stephen Muse has offered a text that no pastoral counselor or psychotherapist can afford to ignore. Much has been written from a Western Christian perspective on the art of pastoral care and counseling, and I personally have benefited from those works in years past. However, there exist other, balancing, points of view that, heretofore, have not been given full voice. Dr. Muse's text gives full voice to the Eastern Orthodox Christian perspective, and it is a must-read. Not because it is Orthodox, but because it is personal, thorough, up-to-date, and a brilliant and accessible witness to the ancient Orthodox Christian vision that speaks in the now. This text is not a reproduction of patristic material: it is a masterful engagement with ancient patristic sources in terms useful to the present-day therapist, counselor, and/or pastor. Muse's work integrates a vast array of sources in a work that speaks to the current pastor/therapist. To Orthodox Christian priests and therapists who work anywhere along the spectrum of healing (from sacramental confession to pastoral care to marriage and family therapy to professional psychotherapy), you must read this book. To our Protestant and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, I would plead with you to balance your reading and your approach with this book and its insights: you will not be sorry that you read it even if there are points along the way that do not directly line up with your approach. To those from other denominations or none at all, Muse's book represents the best that Orthodox Christianity has to say about the spirituality of psychotherapy and the healing of the inner person, with all his/her mystery and complexity; please add this book to your program of stretching yourself and your practice even further, widening your perspective.Read more ›
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