Cover image for At the corner of east and now : a modern life in ancient Christian Orthodoxy
At the corner of east and now : a modern life in ancient Christian Orthodoxy
Mathewes-Green, Frederica.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, [1999]

Physical Description:
279 pages ; 22 cm
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Item Holds
BX382 .M38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A popular commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and a columnist for Christianity Today, Frederica Mathewes-Green is a unique figure in contemporary literature. In a book eagerly awaited by her growing retinue of fans, she brings readers inside the world's oldest Christian faith, illuminating Eastern Orthodoxy in a manner similar to Kathleen Norris's exploration of Benedictine spirituality.An ex-hippie and former social radical, the author often writes humorously about her unusual road from Woodstock to the altar of an Orthodox church where she is the pastor's wife. At the Corner of East and Now juxtaposes the shifting immediacy of everyday life with the changeless grandeur of Orthodox faith. Weaving her narrative with stories, essays, and reflections on the Church's sixteen-hundred-year-old liturgy,Frederica Mathewes-Green critiques contemporary culture through the lens of one who seeks to live by the tenets of an ancient spiritual practice.The author offers an engaging and artistic voice--at turns humorous and hands-on, serious and intellectually stimulating. Her supple and highly original style makes for an unforgettable read.

Author Notes

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a commentator for NPR's All Things Considered and a columnist for Christianity Today

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Eastern Orthodoxy is a religion associated with mystery. Its recognizable images of icons, bearded priests, heavy incense, and long and sumptuous services tend to alienate rather than comfort the puritanical American heart. Mathewes-Green, a commentator heard on NPR's All Things Considered, speaks of her own journey into this mystical faith. Her spiritual travels took her from unchurched hippiedom in the 1960s to mainline Protestantism in the 1970s to her current situation as a pastor's wife in a small Eastern Orthodox parish in Maryland. She is forthright and honest about her conversion to Christianity and eventually to Orthodoxy. Unabashedly sure that Orthodoxy is the right place for her, she sets out to introduce Orthodoxy to the everyday reader. She relates the liturgy to her life experience, and her list at the end of the book, a veritable users guide to Orthodoxy, helps even the most humble neophyte recognize what is going on. Her language is wonderful--not too preachy, not at all evangelical, and never sappy. Her story is touching, often witty, and always fascinating. Mathewes-Green has no other agenda in this book except to tell her tale and to show the common reader that, in her younger son's words, "Orthodoxy rules!" --Michael Spinella

Publisher's Weekly Review

When this book succeeds, it does so beautifully: Mathewes-Green (Facing East) has crafted a stirring tribute to Eastern Orthodoxy, geared for the beginner. She patiently explains Orthodoxy's emphasis on tradition and conciliar decision making, rigid fasting requirements, use of icons and commitment to transcendent liturgy. (The book also closes with a helpful appendix about what to expect in an Orthodox service.) Her discussion of hell is probably the most lucid since C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce. Moreover, she accomplishes this in a well-balanced tone that is personal and often hilarious but never embarrassingly confessional or cheap. Why, then, are parts of this book so disappointing? Mathewes-Green approaches Orthodoxy with a convert's enthusiasm, sometimes making theological comparisons based on negative stereotypes of other religious traditions. She chastises Evangelicalism, which she claims debases authentic faith with its trinkets, trendy bands and weepy teens. Roman Catholicism does not fare much better, with what she deems its overreliance on papal authority and its "helpless... vapid" Virgin Mary. Eastern Christianity is superior, Mathewes-Green contends, because it is strong, rigorous and masculine (her term); Western Christianity is accommodating, consumer-oriented and therefore feminine. Her gender stereotypes go downhill from there: when she finally addresses Orthodoxy's unwillingness to ordain women, she insists it is not a problem because men's special church leadership responsibilities counterbalance women's clear, vital roles as mothers. Mathewes-Green's reliance on this hackneyed and feeble argument is disappointing in a book that, at other times, shows tremendous promise and theological depth. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In the tradition of Kathleen Norris and Esther de Waal, Mathewes-Green (an NPR All Things Considered commentator and the author of Facing East) offers her reflections on life as a believerÄin her case, an Orthodox Christian believer. She and her husband, both formerly Protestants, lead a parish composed mostly of converts. Chapters on the liturgy alternate with chapters on everyday life, and what comes through is both a deep love of Orthodoxy and a sense of wonder and awe. She admits that, being a recent convert, she has to avoid the tendency to gush, and her knowledge of Orthodox history seems a bit superficial. But her writing has an immediacy that brings the reader into the life of Orthodoxy. The descriptions have the same intimate feel as those on NPR. For general readers.ÄAugustine J. Curley, O.S.B., Newark Abbey, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Re-Scandalized At the Corner of Maple and Camp Meade Roadp. 1
1. The Curse of the Law 7:53 AM: Kairon, Vesting Prayers, and Proskomediap. 15
2. Jesus of Santa Rosa At a Mexican Restaurant in Santa Rosap. 33
3. Suffering 8:31 AM: Matinsp. 49
4. Dirty Words At a Radio Station in Baltimorep. 68
5. The Virgin Theotokos 9:36 AM: The Divine Liturgy: Opening Antiphons and Litaniesp. 83
6. Carolyn Writes an Icon At a Townhouse in Arbutusp. 98
7. Holy Texts and Holy Doubt 9:55 AM: The Little Entrance, Trisagion Hymn, Scriptures, Sermonp. 112
8. Sad Santa At a Thrift Shop in Glen Burniep. 127
9. Not Seeker-Friendly 10:12 AM: Prayer for the Catechumensp. 146
10. Twelve-Inch Mohawk At a Campsite in Bushnellp. 156
11. Something Specific 10: 15 AM: Cherubic Hymn, Great Entrance, Kiss of Peace, Creedp. 175
12. My Father In a Place Unknownp. 192
13. Not Like Judas 10:42 AM: The Eucharistic Prayerp. 200
14. Rachel Weeping At a Prison in Coldwaterp. 215
15. "This Is a Hard Saying" 10:54 AM: Receiving Communionp. 238
16. Where Will You Spend Eternity? At a Buffet in Selmap. 250
17. Lasagna 11:11 AM: Concluding Prayers and Dismissalp. 266
Appendix A First Visit to an Orthodox Church--12 Things I Wish I'd Knownp. 269
Appendix B For Further Readingp. 276