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Lessons From a Greek Island: From the "Saint of Greek Letters," Alexandros Papadiamandis Paperback – August 29, 2011
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About the Author
Anestis Keselopoulos is Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology at the Theological School of Aristotle University of Thessalonica.
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- an accurate and refreshing translation
- detailed and quality publication
- insightful images that enrich and engage
- overall "approachability"
- many valuable take-home lessons
- a foreword of paramount insight by Athonite Priest-monk Alexis (see third quote below)
- this book's wisdom helping to remedy personal Orthodox "convert confusion"
- being introduced to the important life and work of Alexandros Papadiamandis
With numerous corners folded and endless lines highlighted, here are a few lines from sections I found particularly helpful:
- "...many Christians of that era preferred going to church in small chapels rather than in the large and luxurious churches." p.170
- "While Papadiamindis insists that the Church must remain far from politics, he does not believe that it should remain far from the world." p.91
- "Papadiamandis's characters demonstrate that the beginning of humility is honesty with themselves, by admitting that they are sinners 'and the chief of them,' and honesty with God. Their refreshing simplicity and forthrightness springs from their unified life in the Church..." p.22
This book is not just for folks already familiar with Papadiamandis -- it is for all who seek to embrace "The Good." The lessons transcend their immediate literary and historical contexts and are incredibly relevant in struggling to "fight the good fight" within today's modern world.
As a recovering book-purchasing addict, I now only recommend books that offer true value. This is one of those books. In fact, I couldn't more highly recommend it. Buy it, read it, reference it, and -- most importantly -- soak-up and apply its infinite wisdom.
This book identifies Papadiamantis as a novelist whose work and vision is thoroughly liturgical. Like Dostoevski, religious themes are ubiquitous in Papadiamantis's stories. Similarly, he laments Westernization, as well as hypocritical clerics. Kesolopoulos explores the influence of the Kollybades movement and monasticism on Papadiamantis's writings, particularly highlighting the roles played by the clergy and laity in Papadiamantis's stories.
In examining these themes, the book is a wonderful catechical introduction to Orthodoxy, its Typikon (service book), theology, and ecclesiology. Herman Middleton provides helpful footnotes throughout the text to explain terms that are foreign to non-Greek and non-Orthodox readers, and his introduction to the book does an excellent job explaining 'why this book now?' The recent revival of traditional books on monasticism and Orthodoxy has not given enough attention to the ways that Christian art can enter into the popular imaginary. If Kesolopoulos's contextualization of Papadiamantis helps the reader understand critical aspects of Papadiamantis works, Middleton's translation, concisely, performs the same, very necessary service.
Finally, two Papadiamantis short stories (referred to repeatedly in the text) are included so that readers can experience Papadmiantis's texts first-hand.
This book is highly recommended to all who want to know more about authentic Christianity, especially from the Greek Orthodox Tradition. Study groups could easily be formed around it, and those who read it carefully will be richly rewarded.
You can find excerpts from the original edition of this book, as well as other articles and excerpts about and by Alexandros Papadiamandis, on the Orthodox Christian Information Center Web site.