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For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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About the Author
Father Alexander Schmemann (+1983) was a prolific writer, brilliant lecturer, and dedicated pastor. Former dean and professor of liturgical theology at St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, his insight into contemporary culture and liturgical celebration left an indelible mark on the Christian community worldwide.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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One, the text works well for laity who have little academic training, but want a truly deeply provoking book on the sacramental and liturgictal life of the Church. Secondly, it is written well enough for academics to read and pondure insightful scholarship on doctrines such as the Eucharist and its revelance when looking at the creation, man's present condition, and the Kingdom of God. Further, it gives a perspective not often read about in Western Protestant circles and brings historical tecahings into a mystical, yet, understandable (though not completely comprehendable) way. This may appeal to Western Christians who want mystery, but are afraid of leaviing there mind at the door.
This book is a must read. Edifying for all, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.
I am not sure how even to begin describing this incredible book. Ultimately it is about living all of life liturgically and understanding the world as sacrament. We come to know the world through the lived liturgy of the Church.
In this book, Schmemann rejects the false dichotomies between secular and religious, nature and grace, supernatural and natural. He orients the reader to living life liturgically.
I feel as if I am just jumping around trying to find a good way to describe this book and I realize that I cannot do it justice. Perhaps a few quotations will help to explain the profound nature of this book:
"If the Church is truly the 'newness of life' -- the world and nature as restored in Christ -- it is not, or rather ought not be, a purely religious institution in which to be 'pious,' to be a member in 'good standing,' means leaving one's own personality at the entrance -- in the 'check room' -- and replacing it with a worn-out, impersonal, neutral 'good Christian' type personality. Piety in fact may be a very dangerous thing, a real opposition to the Holy Spirit who is the Giver of Life -- of joy, movement and creativity -- and not of the 'good conscience' which looks at everything with suspicion, fear and moral indignation."
"[T]he tragedy of a certain theology (and piety) was that in its search for precise definitions, it artificially isolated the sacraments from the liturgy in which they were performed."
"The Church is the entrance into the risen life of Christ; it is communion in life eternal, 'joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.'"
"A marriage which does not constantly crucify its own selfishness and self-sufficiency, which does not 'die to itself' that it may point beyond itself, is not a Christian marriage. The real sin of marriage today is not adultery or lack of 'adjustment' or 'mental cruelty.' It is the idolization of the family itself, the refusal to understand marriage as directed toward the Kingdom of God."
"Feast means joy. Yet, if there is something that we -- the serious, adult and frustrated Christians of the twentieth century -- look at with suspicion, it is certainly joy."
"[T]he term 'sacramental means that for the world to be means of worship and means of grace is not accidental, but the revelation of its meaning, the restoration of its essence, the fulfillment of its destiny. It is the 'natural sacramentality' of the world that find its expression in worship . . . Being the epiphany of God, worship is thus the epiphany of the world; being communion with God, it is the only true communion with the world; being knowledge of God, it is the ultimate fulfillment of all human knowledge."
"Thus the very notion of worship is based on an intuition and experience of the world as an 'epiphany' of God, thus the world -- in worship -- is revealed in its true nature and vocation as 'sacrament.'"
I hope those quotations give a flavor of this book. It really is incredible. I don't know if there was one page on which I did not underline or star a passage. Do yourself a favor, buy and savor this book.
This book is comforting, challenging, and stimulating... and has refined my perspective on life, the world, worship, and the sacraments. A blessing to read that I plan to gift to close friends.