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An approach to the world and to life that stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. Deals with the issues of "secularism" and Christian culture, viewing them from the perspective of the Church as revealed and communicated in its worship and liturgy. An approach to the world and to life that stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. Deals with the issues of "secularism" and Christian culture, viewing them from the perspective of the Church as revealed and communicated in its worship and liturgy.


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An approach to the world and to life that stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. Deals with the issues of "secularism" and Christian culture, viewing them from the perspective of the Church as revealed and communicated in its worship and liturgy. An approach to the world and to life that stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. Deals with the issues of "secularism" and Christian culture, viewing them from the perspective of the Church as revealed and communicated in its worship and liturgy.

30 review for For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    This is the best book on worldview I have ever read. Hands down. I come from a protestant background but most protestants argue for worldview in gnostic categories. Even the most creational of them merely reduce the Christian faith to the intellectual. This is the oldest heresy the church faced: gnosticism. Fr. Schmemann, on the other hand, demonstrates how the Christian worldview cannot be separated from the more "earthly" elements of the faith: the sacraments. For him, the world is sacramental This is the best book on worldview I have ever read. Hands down. I come from a protestant background but most protestants argue for worldview in gnostic categories. Even the most creational of them merely reduce the Christian faith to the intellectual. This is the oldest heresy the church faced: gnosticism. Fr. Schmemann, on the other hand, demonstrates how the Christian worldview cannot be separated from the more "earthly" elements of the faith: the sacraments. For him, the world is sacramental. The sacraments are life to the world. My favorite part was the discussion on the Eucharist. I almost felt like I had entered the very throne room itself. Behind the pages was a glimpse at how the Christian church may oppose secuarlism in sacramental terms. I apologize for the way I have been doing apologetics. It's all gnostic. From now on, I will never do apologetics apart from the other dimensions of the Christian faith. Fr. Schmemann appeared able to combat secuarlism in a way that the secularist had no rebuttal.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Conor

    Simply put, this is one of the greatest books of any genre I have ever read. 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 Simply put, this is one of the greatest books of any genre I have ever read. 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Brad Davis

    The final sentence says it all..."A Christian is the one who, wherever s/he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy tranforms all his/her human plans and programs, desicisons and actions, making all his/her mission the sacrament of the world's return to Him who is the life of the world." The final sentence says it all..."A Christian is the one who, wherever s/he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy tranforms all his/her human plans and programs, desicisons and actions, making all his/her mission the sacrament of the world's return to Him who is the life of the world."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

    “'But what do I care about heaven,’ says St. John Chrysostom, ‘when I myself have become heaven…?’” This reviewer always found it strange that the most rarefied height of Christian liturgical worship—the profoundest moment of mystical conjunction between the everlasting Christ and His Church—involves an act so seemingly mundane as the eating of bread and drinking of wine. The digestion of food, when considered at all, is typically classified among the basest and most distasteful elements of our h “'But what do I care about heaven,’ says St. John Chrysostom, ‘when I myself have become heaven…?’” This reviewer always found it strange that the most rarefied height of Christian liturgical worship—the profoundest moment of mystical conjunction between the everlasting Christ and His Church—involves an act so seemingly mundane as the eating of bread and drinking of wine. The digestion of food, when considered at all, is typically classified among the basest and most distasteful elements of our hopeless physicality. I recall reading in Diarmaid MacCulloch’s history of the Protestant Reformation that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was typical in Catholic parishes for the priest to receive communion alone on behalf of the congregation, rather than for every prepared parishioner to partake of the eucharist as they do in most churches today. MacCulloch attributed this phenomenon to the surfeit of male facial hair among the laity during the Reformation period: whiskerless priests were simply uncomfortable with the thought of the consecrated body and blood of Christ becoming lodged in some unwitting communicant’s mustache. This amusing anecdote makes salient the juxtaposition of what “religious” and “secular” observers alike would consider to be the antipodal sacred and profane dimensions of human experience in the consummation of the eucharist. The autotelic foundation of all that is, the very generative principle of the cosmos, the life of life itself, is made manifest in a loaf of bread. In our age, daily life is accepted to be fundamentally mundane by believers and atheists alike; their sole point of contention is merely whether some kind of religious “superstructure”—some arbitrarily-conceived deity or extra-physical realm—may be believably superimposed on an already dead and desacralized world. But in fact it is the very concept of secularity, the very distinction modernity draws between the spiritual and material spheres of life, the very notion that our tactile world of matter is irredeemably false and that the object of our pneumatic life is to escape to another, truer world—to go to heaven—that the sacramental life of the Church is intended to erase; or, rather, to reveal as a grave and tragic error. Secularity is the nature of original sin: it connotes a falling away from the sacramental life that is our true purpose and calling as human beings. The Fall of Man was not constituted by a mere act of disobedience, or by a preference of the world to God. It was constituted by the false perception that such a choice between God and the world is necessary, or even coherent, in the first place. To sin is to regard the material world as an end in itself: to act as if the world is self-sufficient in its physicality rather than recognizing that all of creation—every ounce of matter—is manna from heaven: a life-sustaining, utterly unreciprocable food for man to consume, to recognize in its giftedness, and to offer back to God in thanksgiving (eucharist). The nature of sin is secularism, and the consequence of sin is religion. Secular anthropology identifies humanity as homo sapiens, but a Christian anthropology should recognize us more properly as homo adorans. The core of our nature is not gnostic, but liturgical and sacramental; which is to say, worshipful. Man, by nature, is the priest of a cosmic sacrament. He stands at the center of the cosmos, unifying the world by recognizing its creative nature and offering it in thanksgiving back to God. Adam failed to be the priest of the world because he consumed the fruit of the tree of knowledge as if it were an end in itself, and by so doing he estranged himself from the eucharistic light of Eden, cutting off himself and his descendants from the source of life. Our hunger for God as the life of the world was replaced by hopelessly superficial appetites—for food, sex, money, status, etc.—that can never fulfill our human nature because they are separated from their true source and object. Created to be the priest of the world, humanity became its slave. A self-defeating effort to become “free” from the source of being enthralled us to the futility of sin and death. Christ did not inaugurate a new religion, but rather restored the eucharistic life which is man’s natural and appropriate condition. As the incarnate logos, the coeternal Word of God made flesh, the Wisdom that drew the cosmos from the chaos of nonbeing, Christ Himself is the living Eucharist, the life of the world embodied. As the Incarnation of divine love, possessing human and divine natures and reconciling them in Himself, Christ is both the perfect gift of God to man and the perfect offering of man to God. The mundane world, in its myopic self-sufficiency, rejected and condemned its very source and life as a blasphemer. But when the Church comes together in liturgy and “becomes what it is”—the mystical body of Christ—the resurrection life of Christ, and through Him the promised resurrection of those who are joined with His body, is revealed. Christ is the eternal mediator: in and through Him, by way of His eucharistic gift, God and man are reconciled and the Church is made manifest as the Kingdom of God.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Wood

    There are few books that I can point to as paradigm shifters. Perhaps Ridderbos' Paul, Van Til's Christian Apologetics, John Frame's Doctrine of God, and Mouw's He Shines In All That's Fair are the few that exploded my understanding of God's work in the world, both in terms of His work in creation and redemption. Schmemann's "For the Life of the World" has done just that for me. For all of the material available on the subject of the sacraments, to my knowledge Schmemann's work alone analyzes the There are few books that I can point to as paradigm shifters. Perhaps Ridderbos' Paul, Van Til's Christian Apologetics, John Frame's Doctrine of God, and Mouw's He Shines In All That's Fair are the few that exploded my understanding of God's work in the world, both in terms of His work in creation and redemption. Schmemann's "For the Life of the World" has done just that for me. For all of the material available on the subject of the sacraments, to my knowledge Schmemann's work alone analyzes the elements from a teliological perspective. Rather than focusing on the form and function of the sacraments (i.e. what constitutes a sacrament, who may partake of it, and how is it partaken), Schmemann carries the discussion a step further by considering why God, in His wisdom, purposed the sacraments in the first place. Rather than an abbreviated and parenthetical episode in what is other the Christians Spiritual process of salvation throughout life, the sacraments offer both an eschatological perspective as to the original and ultimate purpose of the creation - a temple to bless God and man. Within this rubric, one can see that the sacraments themselves foreshadow the future vision that all of reality will be sacramental. One need only recall Zechariah's vision of the holy cooking utensils (Zech. 14:20) to see that God's plan of redemption involves nothing less than the sanctification of all creation. For that reason, the relationship between spiritual grace and physical blessing are combined into a single, unified whole, a whole that neither swallows the original components but properly distinguishes between both the spiritual and physical without separation. This relationship becomes then the basis upon which all metaphors may be accurately spoken. The form and the object are united yet distinguishable. It is the sum total of these reflections that enable Schmemann to aim his theological pen against the secularism rampant throughout our society. The Kantian, Post-Enlightenment age of the privatization of religion has created a climate that is entirely non-sacramental. Religion and spirituality have little to no place for the physical and, for that matter, churches treat the sacraments as largely sentimentalities removed from the overall work of salvation. Schmemann's work provides a sorely needed discussion of a topic largely missing in evangelical churches today: the role of the creation in the work of redemption, a subject captured most acutely in the sacraments.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    The "main point" of Schmemann's sacramental theology outlined in this book is that the sacraments should not be understood as the objective reality of Christ's continued and physical presence here on earth but rather as a liturgical "ascension" out of this world and into the Kingdom where alone we can confess the body of Christ to exist. "But throughout our study the main point has been that the whole liturgy is sacramental, that is, one transforming act and one ascending movement. And the very g The "main point" of Schmemann's sacramental theology outlined in this book is that the sacraments should not be understood as the objective reality of Christ's continued and physical presence here on earth but rather as a liturgical "ascension" out of this world and into the Kingdom where alone we can confess the body of Christ to exist. "But throughout our study the main point has been that the whole liturgy is sacramental, that is, one transforming act and one ascending movement. And the very goal of this movement of ascension is to take us out of 'this world' and to make us partakers of the world to come. In this world- the one that condemned Christ and by doing so has condemned itself- no bread, no wine can become the body and blood of Christ. Nothing which is a part of it can be 'sacralized.' But the liturgy of the Church is always an anaphora, a lifting up, an ascension. . . . Only in the Kingdom can we confess with St. Basil that 'this bread is in very truth the precious body of our Lord, this wine the precious blood of Christ.'" (Schmemann, 42-43) This contrasts strikingly with traditional Orthodox sacramental theology. Which of the Orthodox Church Fathers or synods affirmed that "In this world... no bread, no wine can become the body and blood of Christ"? Perhaps it was Justin Martyr when he wrote, "...the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 66, retrieved from http://www.stmarkboston.org/sacrament...). Or perhaps Schmemann derives his sacramental theology from St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "Then having sanctified ourselves by these spiritual Hymns, we beseech the merciful God to send forth His Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before Him; that He may make the Bread the Body of Christ, and the Wine the Blood of Christ; for whatsoever the Holy Ghost has touched, is surely sanctified and changed." (Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, XXIII:7, retrieved from https://www.scripturecatholic.com/the...). Or from St. Athanasius: "When the great prayers and holy supplications are sent up, the Word descends on the bread and the cup, and it becomes His body." (Athanasius, Sermon to the Baptized, quoted in Early Christian Doctrine by J.N.D. Kelley, retrieved from https://arizonaorthodox.com/sacrament...) It is interesting that Schmemann strategically fails to quote that portion of the Orthodox Liturgy wherein the priest explicitly prays for the Holy Spirit to "send down" the Holy Spirit, "And make this bread the precious Body of thy Christ; Amen." (http://www.orthodoxyork.org/liturgy.html). Schmemann quotes large blocks of text from the Liturgy on the pages immediately preceding, yet he suddenly fails to reprint that portion of the Liturgy wherein the priest prays for the Holy Spirit to come down and transform the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Perhaps this is because it would be difficult for Schmemann to explain why the priest would pray for the Holy Spirit to "come down", if he was already "in the Kingdom". Schmemann's theology seems distinctly American, having as it does more in common with John Calvin than with John Chrysostom: "But if we are lifted up to heaven with our eyes and minds, to seek Christ there in the glory of his Kingdom, as the symbols invite us to him in his wholeness, so under the symbol of bread we shall be fed by his body, under the symbol of wine we shall separately drink his blood, to enjoy him at last in his wholeness" (John Calvin, Institutes 4.17.18, 1960:1381, retrieved from https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthod...). "The priest standing there in the place of Christ says these words but their power and grace are from God. 'This is My Body,' he says, and these words transform what lies before him." (John Chrysostom, "Homilies on the Treachery of Judas" 1,6, retrieved from http://www.therealpresence.org/euchar...) Mercifully, Fr. Schmemann does not speak with the same authority as Metropolitan Nektarios of Hong Kong and South East Asia, the latter of whom writes: "The Holy Eucharist is a sacrament, or mystery, and sacrifice. It is a sacrament according to which, through the prayer of the priest, the grace of the Holy Spirit descends and changes the natural elements of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ." ("on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist", June 26, 2016, retrieved from https://orthochristian.com/94688.html)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in him. And this joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world's return to him who is the life of the world.This book was literally pressed into my hands by my spiritual director and I read it slowly it over several months. The author was an Eastern Orthodox priest but any Christian can get a great deal of insight and inspiration from this wonderful A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in him. And this joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world's return to him who is the life of the world.This book was literally pressed into my hands by my spiritual director and I read it slowly it over several months. The author was an Eastern Orthodox priest but any Christian can get a great deal of insight and inspiration from this wonderful book. He looks at the connection between daily life and the sacraments and liturgy of the church. As a result, we are repeatedly drawn into fresh realizations about how present God is in everyday life ... and how connected that is with the liturgy. I realize that doesn't make it sound very exciting. But it is. Chalk it up to my inability to properly describe this book which gave me some revelatory moments.Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for Him. To be sure, man is not the only hungry being. All that exists lives by "eating." The whole creation depends on food. But the unique position of man in the universe is that he alone is to bless God for the food and the life he receives from him. He alone is to respond to God's blessing with his blessing. This is one of the most inspirational books I've ever read. I may just begin again at the beginning.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Outside of Scripture, the first 10 or so pages of this book are the most important words I've ever read. I'd join the Orthodox Church, but that would be so Protestant of me that it seems wise to stay put. Outside of Scripture, the first 10 or so pages of this book are the most important words I've ever read. I'd join the Orthodox Church, but that would be so Protestant of me that it seems wise to stay put.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    This book surprised me by how poetic and beautiful it was. I knew it would be important to read; I didn't know it would be so refreshing and moving. It feels like Fr. Schmemann is simply bursting at the seams to help us see Jesus, the light and life of the world - and the Church, the sign of the kingdom of heaven. Such a clear and powerful read. This book surprised me by how poetic and beautiful it was. I knew it would be important to read; I didn't know it would be so refreshing and moving. It feels like Fr. Schmemann is simply bursting at the seams to help us see Jesus, the light and life of the world - and the Church, the sign of the kingdom of heaven. Such a clear and powerful read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    David Goetz

    A few particular points I disagree with, but on the whole this is a beautiful, trustworthy, and life-giving work on Christ as the life of the world and his Church as the sacrament of the Kingdom. "The Christian is the one who, wherever she looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy transforms all her human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all her mission the sacrament of the world's return to Him who is the life of the world" (113). Highly recommended. A few particular points I disagree with, but on the whole this is a beautiful, trustworthy, and life-giving work on Christ as the life of the world and his Church as the sacrament of the Kingdom. "The Christian is the one who, wherever she looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy transforms all her human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all her mission the sacrament of the world's return to Him who is the life of the world" (113). Highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Colvin

    Like Zizioulas and other theologians of the Eastern churches, Alexander Schmemann writes with a philosophical viewpoint, not an exegetical one. Sometimes he says penetrating and acute things, as for instance (p. 27-28) that the Christ whom we preach is, after his resurrection, no longer recognizable to his own disciples until they have had their own consciousness changed by entering into the new reality which is the resurrection. This is both a claim about reality – that the resurrected Christ i Like Zizioulas and other theologians of the Eastern churches, Alexander Schmemann writes with a philosophical viewpoint, not an exegetical one. Sometimes he says penetrating and acute things, as for instance (p. 27-28) that the Christ whom we preach is, after his resurrection, no longer recognizable to his own disciples until they have had their own consciousness changed by entering into the new reality which is the resurrection. This is both a claim about reality – that the resurrected Christ is a replacement for, and alternative to, the ordinary reality of the old creation – and a claim about epistemology – that this new reality can only be known by those who are a part of it. The Eucharist is the crowning act of the larger liturgy by which the Church is constituted as this new creation, and by which she offers both herself and the world to the Father. For Schmemann, the essence of the church's liturgy is its ascension into Heaven itself so that Christians may "return into the world" – by which Schmemann seems to mean the life of Christians when they are not gathered together for liturgical worship – and reflect, like Moses, the "light, joy, and peace" of "that kingdom of which they were truly the witnesses." This theory of liturgy ought, by rights, to involve Schmemann in an attempt to explain many of the utterances of the liturgy. After all, if worship is ascent into heaven, then it is a momentous thing – not at all the sort of thing that men could hope to devise on their own power, any more than they could make a perpetual motion device or a time machine. The builders of Babel tried to ascend to heaven with bricks and clay and failed. Otus and Ephialtes piled Pelion on Ossa and failed. And those who succeeded – Jacob with his ladder, Jack with his beanstalk – succeeded not because they were so very clever or wise, but because of magic far greater than any of their own abilities. Even so, if this sacramental life of the Church is to work, if it is to function, if it is to achieve any ends, it will have to be because God has set it up to work that way. If worship is of human devising, then it cannot take us to heaven. But Schmemann does not claim that the utterances of the liturgy – "blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit both now and unto ages of ages", "Lift up your hearts", etc. – have been dictated or prescribed by God. That, of course, would be one way to justify the belief that they accomplish so lofty a goal as ascent into heaven and participation in the life of the Resurrection in the presence of God. But Schmemann refuses to go that route. Research of that sort, he says, will involve one in the traditional niceties of theology about sacraments: "their number, their 'validity', their institution, etc." Schmemann does not want to approach the question from those well-worn perspectives – and understandably so, since such approaches, from at least the time of the Marburg Disputation, have proven to be limited in their ability to unite Christians and achieve consensus about worship and its workings. Rather, Schmemann believes that the actions which these utterances performatively enact are hard-wired into the nature of Man, the nature of God, and the nature of the whole Creation. His project is to step back and look at the big picture, not focusing on particular liturgical acts or utterances in abstraction from the journey or procession into the presence of God that is the entire liturgy. "In [a certain abstract] approach, what virtually disappeared from the sphere of theological interest and investigation was liturgy itself, and what remained were isolated "moments," "formulas," and "conditions of validity." This is a fruitful approach. It reminds me of Lewis' "An Experiment in Criticism" in the way it flips on its head the usual approach to its subject. And rightly so: if worship is really what the Eastern churches say it is, then we should expect that it will do what Schmemann says it does: bring us into heaven, into God's presence, in order that we may be sent back into the world. My major criticism of Schmemann is that he does not take cognizance of the Jewish background of the Eucharist. His explanation of the sacraments' meaning and working is essentially divorced from the 2nd Temple Judaism that gave birth to them and formed their original context. In my view, the reason the Church has failed to understand its own sacraments accurately is because, by the fourth century, it had lost its Jewish roots, or rather, had amputated them. And Eastern Orthodoxy, which puts the highest premium on the tradition of the very Fathers and Councils that amputated Jewish Christianity, has greater obstacles to the recovery of this understanding. My concern to understand the Bible in 1st century terms puts me in a difficult position as a reader of Schmemann. I love what he says. It is a gem of a book, and beautifully expressed. But I must insist that it will only go so far. It will not succeed as a solution to the sacramental logjam produced by Christendom's warring sects. For even though what he writes is generally true, and not a sectarian Eastern understanding, it will nonetheless be perceived as an Eastern theological statement, and thus will not compel other traditions. And insofar as it ignores the Jewish antecedents of Christian worship and de-paschalizes the Eucharist by removing all connotations of Passover from it, Schmemann’s understanding of worship is removed from the facts that ought to be conditioning our interpretation of Christ’s utterances and the sacraments He instituted.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (AK)

    If you've ever wondered what the big deal is about sacraments, look no further. Slim but impactful. I can't say it's easy reading, but that's less because of the prose and more because Fr. Schmemann's paradigm rejects so many prevailing cultural assumptions. I think part of what makes this such a hard volume to review is that it’s so short to begin with; the main text is only 144 pages long. It’s not a long, drawn-out theological argument, and it was never intended to be. Schmemann originally pub If you've ever wondered what the big deal is about sacraments, look no further. Slim but impactful. I can't say it's easy reading, but that's less because of the prose and more because Fr. Schmemann's paradigm rejects so many prevailing cultural assumptions. I think part of what makes this such a hard volume to review is that it’s so short to begin with; the main text is only 144 pages long. It’s not a long, drawn-out theological argument, and it was never intended to be. Schmemann originally published it as a conference study guide on Christian “world view” in 1963, and its ensuing popularity (including underground publication in the Soviet Union), convinced him to reissue it a decade later. The text is unchanged; the only additions seem to be an explanatory preface and two essays appended to the end. Because it’s so short, I find myself throwing my hands up in the air to the tune of “just go read the darn thing!” But, I owe it (at least to myself, if to no one else) to at least try to articulate my response in words. ...the very purpose of this essay is to answer, if possible, the question: of what life do we speak, what life do we preach, proclaim, and announce when, as Christians, we confess that Christ died for the life of the world? What life is both motivation, and the beginning and the goal of Christian mission?” Regardless of your religious background (or lack thereof), this text will challenge you. It’s not an argument, it’s a statement, and that’s the kind of thing that tends to rile people up. To which I can only say: consider the audience, and try to keep an open mind. The sin was not that man neglected his religious duties. The sin was that he thought of God in terms of religion, i.e. opposing him to life. For Orthodoxy, and especially for Schmemann, the common dichotomies of our culture are false: sacred vs. secular; natural vs. supernatural; symbol vs. reality; etc. Sacrement is not about escaping the world, or about participating in some magic ‘other’ world. Rather, it’s about the unified reality and fulfillment of the world as it is and should be. It’s about recognizing that there is no separation, no distinct ‘upstairs’ vs. ‘downstairs’ realm. It’s about seeing that, apart from what our culture calls The Divine, all is doomed and meaningless. Likewise, to reject creation is to reject the Creator. To be a Christian, to believe in Christ, means and has always meant this: to know in a transrational and yet absolutely certain way called faith, that Christ is the Life of all life, that He is Life itself and, therefore, my life. I could sit here and try for hours and hours to reword this book formal review-wise, but I’m afraid that in the rewording I would not do it justice. So my final word is this: For the Life of the World is slim, but tremendously important reading.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ian Caveny

    Long understood as one of the decisive texts for both late-modern sacramental theology as well as one of the foundational texts for the current antisecular Charles Taylor-inspired theological movement (see, for instance, Hauerwas, Wells, Smith, et al.), Alexander Schmemann's For the Life of the World is a masterful, albeit all-too-brief, monograph thoroughly mapping the contours of both the ontology of the sacraments alongside the history of secularism that result from the Church's misunderstand Long understood as one of the decisive texts for both late-modern sacramental theology as well as one of the foundational texts for the current antisecular Charles Taylor-inspired theological movement (see, for instance, Hauerwas, Wells, Smith, et al.), Alexander Schmemann's For the Life of the World is a masterful, albeit all-too-brief, monograph thoroughly mapping the contours of both the ontology of the sacraments alongside the history of secularism that result from the Church's misunderstandings of them. The work isn't meant to be as much a thorough theology (the thorough work underneath it would require at least twice the given space), but presents enough sound grounding to be taken seriously. By re-reading the Genesis story with the fullness of Christian thought regarding the sacraments, Schmemann advances not a new theology of sacraments but, as he himself notes, a very old one. And the narrative is masterfully accomplished, weaving between Scripture, church history, and respected theologians. St. Thomas Aquinas (of course) gets the short end of the stick (near the end of the book, Schmemann practically accuses him of causing secularism!), but, then again, the Scholastic commitment to the res of the sacraments without any concern for their context (that is, the leitourgia) was long overdue for an elbow in the ribs. Schmemann's fundamental view of the Creation as sacrament is powerful. It opens so many doors of re-thinking and re-engaging with not just sacramental theology, but also soteriology, eschatology, and ecclesiology. It functions as a powerful tie to bring together the whole of Christian theology in a way palpable to the common believer; it returns liturgy to the laity. It counters the Platonism and idealism of Thomism (and of Calvinism, later) and replaces it all with an orthopraxis that re-engages the most basic claims of the Christian faith. Taken alongside James K.A. Smith's Cultural Liturgies series (which is the grandchild of Schmemann and Taylor), one can begin to chart a new (= old) liturgical-sacramental Christianity that actually has the supernatural-natural power to confront the status quo religious system known as secular paganism. At the end of the day, Schmemann's account is far more than esoteric ontological-supernatural considerations; it represents a foundational shift in how we view the gifts of God and His supernatural-natural interactions in the world. Beyond this, Schmemann's conviction that the Christian church at large - both conservative and liberal, Catholic and Protestant, supernatural and natural - has fallen into the beast called secularism is maddeningly convincing. The eschatological answer to this apocalyptic vision, if we follow Schmemann's argument, is already here with us in the gift of the Eucharist.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Becky Pliego

    The parts I loved in this book are simply amazing (it reminded me of R. Farrar Capon's style). But I had a hard time with some sections that pertain more to the Orthodox way of doing life. It is important not to forget that Schmemann's book is like a guided walk through the Orthodox liturgy specifically; meaning that you will encounter things that belong to this particular trail (like marriage being a sacrament, or the view of Mary). I read this book because my children read it in college and sug The parts I loved in this book are simply amazing (it reminded me of R. Farrar Capon's style). But I had a hard time with some sections that pertain more to the Orthodox way of doing life. It is important not to forget that Schmemann's book is like a guided walk through the Orthodox liturgy specifically; meaning that you will encounter things that belong to this particular trail (like marriage being a sacrament, or the view of Mary). I read this book because my children read it in college and suggested that I should read it too. Some of my favorite lines: "Man is what he eats." Feuerbach "Man is a hungry being. But he is hungry for God. Behind all the hunger of our life is God. All desire is finally a desire for Him. To be sure, man is not the only hungry being. All that exists lives by "eating." The whole creation depends on food. But the unique position of man in the universe is that he alone is to bless God for the food and the life he receives from Him. He alone is to respond to God's blessings with his blessings." (p.15) "It is the Christian gospel that God did not leave man in exile." (p.18) "Time is always growth, but only at the end can we discern the direction of that growth and its fruits." (p.60) "We come to church, we who are in the world having lived through many hours filled, as usual, with work and rest, and suffering and joy, hatred and love. Men died and men were born. For some it was the happiest day of their life, a day to be remembered forever. And for some others it brought the end of all their hopes, the destruction of their very soul. And the whole day is now here -unique, irreversible, irreparable. It is gone, but its results, its fruits will shape the next day, for what we have done once remains forever." (p.60) "And the evening and morning...' When we first wake up, the initial sensation is always that of night, not of illumination; we are at our weakest, at our most helpless. It is like a man's first real experience of life in all its absurdity and solitude, at first kept from family warmth. We discover every morning in the amorphous darkness the inertia of life. And thus the first theme of Matins is again the coming of light into darkness...Yet in this very helplessness and despair, there is a hidden expectation, a thirst and hunger. And within this scene the Church declares joy, not only against the grain of natural life, but fulfilling it. The Church announces every morning that God is the Lord, and she begins to organize life around God." (p.63) "There is no new thing under the sun.' Yet every day, every minute resounds now with the victorious affirmation: 'Behold, I make all things new. I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.'" (p.65)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tim

    This is my first contact with Alexander Schmemann. I am quite sure that I'll make some time to explore him further, for I found this little book to be both gloriously illuminating and but also a bit scary. As to the illumination, Schmemann proposes a view of the world that is enormously compelling. He sees the world "sacramentally." I think what he means by that is that the world is God's creation and is both to manifest his presence and also to be fellowship with us. Sin, of course, destroys th This is my first contact with Alexander Schmemann. I am quite sure that I'll make some time to explore him further, for I found this little book to be both gloriously illuminating and but also a bit scary. As to the illumination, Schmemann proposes a view of the world that is enormously compelling. He sees the world "sacramentally." I think what he means by that is that the world is God's creation and is both to manifest his presence and also to be fellowship with us. Sin, of course, destroys the whole sacramental aspect of creation and now leads only to death. The church, however, is the sacrament to the world. It is through the church that God manifests his presence to humanity and has fellowship with creation, thus fulfilling creation. This sacramental church function is wonderfully Christ-centered and is expressed and lived in the Sacraments (do note the capital S) of the church. I found all this to be wonderful and refreshing, especially because I saw significant aspects of Postmillennialism and Van Tillian apologetics woven throughout. Not to mention that Schmemann (with his insightful attack on Secularism) would be death on RADICAL two-kingdoms theology. All this is splendid. But not all is splendid, for the book is also scary. Schmemann did not intend this book as an apologetic for his Eastern Orthodox views of the Sacraments (all seven of them). Rather, it is more a description or an elaboration. Schmemann did not set out to "prove" anything, but rather to set forward or present his ideas. Well, ideas are dangerous things. Just because an idea (or a collection of them) is compelling does not make it correct or true. Holding, as I do, the Bible to be the final word on truth and "leitourgia," I want to be very careful to weigh Schmemann (and everyone else for that matter) in the balance of God's very Word. Where Schmemann has captured and articulated God's truth, let him be our teacher. Where he has not, let God be true and every man a liar. Finally, as I read this book, I saw Peter Leithart on about every page. Many of Pastor Leithart's criticisms in The Baptized Body, for example, are quite clearly traceable to Schmemann's influence (or at least so it seems to me). I mention that only in passing, not to paint Schmemann with a Leithart brush. I am quite sure that the discerning reading will benefit from Schmemann, even in he is opposed to Leithart's thinking. However, it seems to me that if one wants to understand Leithart better, Schmemann would be a good place to start.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Rice

    This is not as much a review of the book as it is my thoughts and what I gained from it: This book expanded my understanding of the meaning of sacrament. The western understanding has been poisoned by a dichotomy between symbol and that which is signified as well as by a removal of the "sacrament itself" from its proper liturgical context. The symbol (i.e. Bread and Wine) do not point to an invisible grace that is not really present. Rather, being a sacrament (mysterion), it is a revelation (epip This is not as much a review of the book as it is my thoughts and what I gained from it: This book expanded my understanding of the meaning of sacrament. The western understanding has been poisoned by a dichotomy between symbol and that which is signified as well as by a removal of the "sacrament itself" from its proper liturgical context. The symbol (i.e. Bread and Wine) do not point to an invisible grace that is not really present. Rather, being a sacrament (mysterion), it is a revelation (epiphany) of God to mankind of the true meaning of food (in the case of the Eucharist) as well as the entire material world. The world and all that is in it is meant to be our means of communion with God. Adam did not fulfill his role as a Priest of creation. He did not offer this world to God and rejected it as his communion with him while loving the creation for its own sake. Whereas Christ in his self-emptying (Php. 2), abandoning his own human will, subjecting it to the will of his Father, restores man's priestly vocation before God by giving thanks and offering himself. Christ being the second Adam restores humanity and that is manifested in the Church. It is in the Church where we partake of the Kingdom to come as it is sacramentally manifested to us in this age, making us once again the priests of creation offering all things to God in eucharist whereby God transfigures it into a New Creation. "... the proper function of the 'leitourgia' has always been to bring together, within, one symbol, the three levels of the Christian faith and life: the Church, the world, and the Kingdom; that the Church herself is thus the sacrament of the "world to come," or that which God has from all eternity prepared for those who love Him, and where all that which is human can be transfigured by grace so that all things may be consummated in God; that finally it is here and only here - in the 'mysterion' of God's presence and action - that the Church always becoms that which she is: the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the unique Symbol "bringing together" - by bringing to God the world for the life of which he gave His Son." - p. 151, For the Life of the World.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Rickel

    Why is the world the way it is? Why does heartache, destruction, and death exist? Is there a remedy? In Western Christianity there is a simplistic answer that is focused on a misreading of Augustinian theology. Catholics and Protestants alike came from the same tree, both embracing the West's scholasticism and, in so doing, spawning the Christian heresy known as secularism. Truthfully, they also both embrace another heresy known as "religion". Yet both have left the teachings of the Apostles, espe Why is the world the way it is? Why does heartache, destruction, and death exist? Is there a remedy? In Western Christianity there is a simplistic answer that is focused on a misreading of Augustinian theology. Catholics and Protestants alike came from the same tree, both embracing the West's scholasticism and, in so doing, spawning the Christian heresy known as secularism. Truthfully, they also both embrace another heresy known as "religion". Yet both have left the teachings of the Apostles, especially as elaborated on by the early Fathers of the Church - indeed, as put forth in the Seven Ecumenical Councils that many in the West acknowledge, but fail to grasp. Alexander Schmemann here paints an engaging image of the world as it was always meant to be, as Eucharist (meaning thanksgiving - it's amazing how almost all in Protestant denominations fail to realize how often the word occurs in the Greek of the NT). Is life inside and outside the confines of "church" supposed to be different? Is church merely a refuge from the world, a place where we wait for the culmination? Or is The Faith supposed to be Sacramental and Eucharistic? Whether you agree with Schmemann's Liturgical, Sacramental, and Eucharistic views, this book is a worthwhile, challenging, and incredible read. I doubt you will come away the same. Many of the concepts are so powerful, yet so lost in the West. Yet let us not forget the Christianity is an Eastern religion formationally. The West has given itself over the scholasticism that formed in the Catholic Church - a scholasticism that became entrenched with the work of Thomas Aquinas. Everything has to be explained. Everything has to be rationalized. And all must fit a tight Augustinian construct (notice that Augustine is about the only of the Church Fathers that the Reformation leaned on - a shame). So be challenged and pick up this book. It's worthwhile and I'd love to have a conversation with you about it, if you're so bold.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Among books that should be required reading for priests entering sacramental ministry, this short book by Fr. Alexander Schmemann should be at the top of the list. To read Schemann is to discover a true sacramental vision of the world and Life in Christ. Seeing as Schmemann sees, one cannot but encounter the effects of secularism and harmful dualisms in one's own vision and thought. In that sense, reading Schmemann is akin to attending the sacrament of confession: to confess one's blindness in t Among books that should be required reading for priests entering sacramental ministry, this short book by Fr. Alexander Schmemann should be at the top of the list. To read Schemann is to discover a true sacramental vision of the world and Life in Christ. Seeing as Schmemann sees, one cannot but encounter the effects of secularism and harmful dualisms in one's own vision and thought. In that sense, reading Schmemann is akin to attending the sacrament of confession: to confess one's blindness in the presence of a priest; to receive the counsel of penance; to walk in newness of life reconciled to Christ and His Kingdom. Thomas Merton recommended that every novice read this book twice and I would add that anyone who reads this work for the first time read slowly and with pencil in hand. There will also be occasions to drop both book and pencil and enter into worship on bended knee. That alone is a sign of a great book--that it is a sign to something greater than itself, its own vision, or words. Attending to Schmemann's thought, one will be inclined to the life of prayer and discover one's hunger and thirst for the Kingdom and its sacraments. Indeed he fulfills the task of John the Baptist--declare the Kingdom and announce the coming of the Lord. The best news is that His coming prompts our ascension in the here and now for the life of world.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fr. Marty

    A brief summary of the “why” of Christianity I can not recommend this book enough. For me, more than any other, this book is life-altering, helping me to see the truth and value in Christianity and specifically the Orthodox tradition of Christianity.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nate Wood

    I actually think the book is 4 stars. I just wanted to give my theological friends a heart attack. I love you, Jackson. I hope you’re having a good vacation.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    An excellent view of sacramental life as being all-encompassing and much to ponder. It was a good morning read and one that I will re-read, I am sure.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Read this with an orthodox book club. This had some real gems in it but this is not an easy read. Glad I had people to discuss it with while reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michael Philliber

    In many ways, this little 151 page paperback is too big to rightly review. In a nutshell Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Eastern Orthodox priest, writer and teacher, was gunning for secularism, which is both a Christian heresy - Christian truths that went mad (111) - and a negation of worship (118). Secularism has birthed a deep polarization, even spawning a disincarnate and dualistic spirituality (7-8). Schmemann has much to say and much to give that will help correct our myopic perspective, from In many ways, this little 151 page paperback is too big to rightly review. In a nutshell Fr. Alexander Schmemann, and Eastern Orthodox priest, writer and teacher, was gunning for secularism, which is both a Christian heresy - Christian truths that went mad (111) - and a negation of worship (118). Secularism has birthed a deep polarization, even spawning a disincarnate and dualistic spirituality (7-8). Schmemann has much to say and much to give that will help correct our myopic perspective, from and Eastern Orthodox position. Though the book was originally written in 1963, and then expanded and revised in 1973, it speaks into our moment with great clarity! Not only does Schmemann gun for secularism, he supplies us with the antidote: Christ has come "for the life of the world," both restoring and transforming nature. Now, those who believe the Gospel "live in the world seeing everything in it as a revelation of God, a sign of His presence, the joy of His coming, the call to communion with Him, the hope for fulfillment in Him" (112). Therefore a "Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world's return to Him who is the life of the world" (113). I loved the deliciously anti-Gnostic tenor that soaked every page of this book! The author also nudges us that to remember and recollect what Christ has done, we will be reoriented to the Christ-redeemed destiny. But if not, we will simply continue to be part of the disease and not the remedy. Or as Schmemann stated it, "Consciously or subconsciously Christians have accepted the whole ethos of our joyless and business-minded culture...But joy was given to the Church for the life of the world -- that the Church might be a witness to it and transform the world by joy" (53 and 55). In the end "For the Life of the World" has deep Gospel roots growing downward that bear lush fruit ascending upward. Though Schmemann might well cringe from his grave as I make this connection, yet I am certain the first answer in the Heidelberg Catechism dances well with his Gospel waltz. "What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, ...." "To be Christian, to believe in Christ, means and has always meant this: to know in a transrational and yet absolutely certain way called faith, that Christ is the Life of all life, that He is Life itself and, therefore, my life" (104). Thank you Alexander Schmemann. May you rest in peace, and rise in glory - body and soul - when our Life himself returns to right all wrongs and defeat our last enemy, death! I highly recommend this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    It is said in every person there is only one book, and in some ways that is very true of Fr. Schmemann's liturgical theology. Who took his idea and then viewed things through that same lens - whether the Church, the Liturgy, the Sacraments, death, the Theotokos. He saw creation as a gift from God to reveal Himself to us, so that we could know God and enter into communion with God. Secularism has it that we can study the world in itself apart from God - the sciences, history, even the arts. Schme It is said in every person there is only one book, and in some ways that is very true of Fr. Schmemann's liturgical theology. Who took his idea and then viewed things through that same lens - whether the Church, the Liturgy, the Sacraments, death, the Theotokos. He saw creation as a gift from God to reveal Himself to us, so that we could know God and enter into communion with God. Secularism has it that we can study the world in itself apart from God - the sciences, history, even the arts. Schmemann argued for us to experience creation as God made it, and in that we learn what it is to be human - in relation to God and to creation. All we do thus becomes priestly and sacramental. A beautiful way to see the world. Religion is not magically making a secular world sacred, but helping us to see creation as God intended it. Sacramentalism is thus a way to see the world, to understand what it is to be human, to relate to God.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Read in 1994, 2012 and now in 2014 amd it just gets better. e.g. Alexandr Schmemann: “The cross of Christ signified an end of all “natural” rejoicing; it made it, indeed, impossible. From this point of view the sad “seriousness” of modern man is certainly of Christian origin even if this has been forgotten by the man himself. Since the gospel was preached in this world, all attempts to go back to a pure “pagan joy”, all “renaissances”, all “healthy optimisms” were bound to fail”…. And it is this Read in 1994, 2012 and now in 2014 amd it just gets better. e.g. Alexandr Schmemann: “The cross of Christ signified an end of all “natural” rejoicing; it made it, indeed, impossible. From this point of view the sad “seriousness” of modern man is certainly of Christian origin even if this has been forgotten by the man himself. Since the gospel was preached in this world, all attempts to go back to a pure “pagan joy”, all “renaissances”, all “healthy optimisms” were bound to fail”…. And it is this sadness that permeates mysteriously the whole life of the world, its frantic and pathetic hunger and thirst for perfection that kills all joy”. (For the Life of the world . p.54)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Lumsdaine

    Honestly, it felt like a good bit of this went over my head. His writing has a very mysterious and far-offish tone that I found hard to stay focused on. There we some interesting ideas, but overall, it was hard to keep everything straight.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Morgan

    You know that feeling when you read a book and you like it but you don't understand it and you know you will have to reread it someday during a different time of your life? yeah You know that feeling when you read a book and you like it but you don't understand it and you know you will have to reread it someday during a different time of your life? yeah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nick Bersin

    Still processing this one and definitely going to reread it. Profound.

  29. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Ramsey

    A stunning, revitalizing read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    This little classic dives deep into what a truly Christian view of the world looks like. A Christian worldview is not a mere rational construction, but instead is a whole way of being in the world. The Christian worldview is a sacramental worldview, that of the church Fathers and the earliest Christians. This book, and Schmemann's formulation speaks powerfully against the rising secularism of the West, and against much of Western Christianity. We have bought into the contradiction between symbol This little classic dives deep into what a truly Christian view of the world looks like. A Christian worldview is not a mere rational construction, but instead is a whole way of being in the world. The Christian worldview is a sacramental worldview, that of the church Fathers and the earliest Christians. This book, and Schmemann's formulation speaks powerfully against the rising secularism of the West, and against much of Western Christianity. We have bought into the contradiction between symbol and reality, and as such have lost a view of the world where our whole beings are made to worship God. Many Christians know that we are called to worship God with our whole beings, but our way of viewing and living in this world makes that impossible. Schmemann makes it clear that it is not only our way of thinking that is wrong, but our way of being. As such, a merely intellectual recovery of the Christian, sacramental, worldview will never suffice. The answer, according to Schmemann, can be found in the liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox church. It has best preserved the sacramental and symbolic truths we need. This is a difficult book to know how to review. It is a bracing read, and one that seems to contain a lot of truth. Indeed, I would love to be able to participate in a sacramental reality like the one he describes. That is where some of the difficulty lies however. Neither I, nor most protestants, participate in a liturgy where the goal is to ascend to be with God. Instead, our services are often filled with a worse version of speeches, music, and community than many secular organizations can offer. What we participate in when we gather together is not communion with God in the way Schmemann describes. So even if what Schmemann says is true, I am unable to participate in the sacramental, liturgical truth he describes. I am also unconvinced, given what I know of Eastern Orthodoxy, and from Schmemann's own comments against it, that Eastern Orthodoxy is capable of living out a life of the faith the way he describes. He may identify both problem and solution, but I'm not sure there are many churches, and none that I can go to, where this vision is attempted to be lived out. That leads to the second difficulty with reading this book. This book made a lot of profound claims about the nature of God, original sin, baptism, liturgy, secularism, symbolism, and the church. It is refreshing to read a book that isn't beholden to the academic rituals of the West, and as such is free from the need to cite all of his sources and show of his erudition. However, the length of this book left me wishing for more. More explanations and less assertions. He did argue quite a bit for his claims, and argue well, but due to space limitations, much was not able to be argued for as well as I would have liked, especially as I am not as familiar with Eastern Orthodoxy as Schmemann's original intended audience would have been. I do not count that against this book however, as this book wasn't trying to give a comprehensive overview of every claim it made. It left me wanting more though, which I count as a good thing. This leads me to my final difficulty with reading this book. And these are difficulties, not criticisms. What Schmemann writes here is very different than a traditional Protestant understanding of the world. It is also different than any Catholic understandings I have been exposed to. Because it is so different, I find myself unable to fully understand all the meanings and implications of what he is saying, or to see where he might have gone astray. If I hadn't been simultaneously reading The Brothers Karamazov, then this book would have been even more strange to me. I am not yet the reader or thinker who can fully comprehend what Schmemann is arguing for in this book. Yet the taste of what I do understand is tantalizing enough for me to want to understand more. Which is really all I can ask for in a book.

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