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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ad Astera!, May 17, 2006
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This review is from: Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works (Paperback)
It's extremely difficult to find words that adequately categorize Father Seraphim Rose (born Eugene Rose, in California, in 1934), but I suspect that he will be recognized one day as a leading American-born spiritual teacher of the twentieth century. This biography, written by a member of the Orthodox Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska which Seraphim co-founded, is an excellent introduction to his life and thought. Over 1,000 pages in length and illustrated with dozens of photographs, the book both helps the reader follow the directions in which Seraphim's life journey took him, and also provides invaluable and detailed discussions of his printed and unprinted works. The reader gets to know Seraphim the man and Seraphim the thinker. Moreover, Hieromonk Damascene, the biography's author, has a fluid and compelling style that never ceases to keep the reader's attention.

Seraphim's journey from bohemian nihilism to Taoism to, eventually, Orthodox Christianity, ordination as a hieromonk (or monk-priest), co-founder of a religious brotherhood, spiritual staretz, author, and apologist is fascinating and inspiring. In many ways, he seems everyman/woman, searching for meaning in a culture that seems increasingly absurd, violent, and heartless. But what separates Seraphim from many of us is his absolutely dedicated search for Truth, his willingness to give himself soul and body to it, and the deep holiness he acquired as a consequence.

One of the more inspiring patterns in Seraphim's life is his gradual progression from a rather dogmatic, unforgiving attitude to non-Orthodox Christians--not unusual in zealous converts--to a much more encompassing, loving attitude towards the end of his short life (he "reposed," as the Orthodox put it, in 1982). Although always convinced that Orthodoxy was the most authentic expression of Christianity, and hence the one, true Church, Seraphim grew so saint-like in his last years that he clearly transcended sectarian zealotry. Near the end of his life, he confessed regret at the occasionally judgmental dogmatism of his youth.

Reading Seraphim and serious meditation on his life leads those of us who claim to be Christian to the clear and pressing demand to make a choice: profit by his example and dedicate ourselves to God without any playacting or self-serving, or continue in what may be a comfortable, no-risk piety. It is a mark of his authenticity that no reader can walk away from him with indifference. To read him and learn about his life is to be changed.

I have no doubt that Seraphim will one day soon be officially canonized.
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Kerry Walters
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Location: Lewisburg, PA USA

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