If you make a quick search for “Orthodox Church” or something similar, you will find hundred of thousands of website, article and books out there. This presents the reader with two problems:
- How to separate the fake (90%+) from the real thing (under 10%)?
- How to find the time and energy to plow through such a wealth of information?
The bad new is this: original Christianity, which today still exists under the general designation “traditional Orthodoxy” is a very complex religion, especially for those raised in our modern times and who have been exposed to the pseudo-Christianity which is so prevalent out there. The fact is that if you want to get a grasp of what traditional, original, Christianity was, and still is, like you need to do a lot of studying, nobody can do that for you and complex and subtle topic cannot be squeezed into a few pious slogans.
Finally, no amount of reading can replace the actual experience of participating in a church service or, even better, visiting an Orthodox monastery. But these are options which are not always accessible, especially considering the relatively small size of the true Orthodox parishes and monasteries (especially compared with the “official”, i.e. state supported) jurisdictions.
The good news: there are some very good sources easily available online.
Today all I want to do is give you a few sources you can consult to get some general information about true Orthodox Christianity. Again, they are not “perfect” and neither can they be compared with truly authoritative sources such as the Church Fathers. But as a first step into the discover of true Christianity, they can be very helpful.
First, a series of books on Orthodox ecclesiology (what/where is the Church?) which are available online:
- Saint Cyprian of Cartage “On the Unity of the Church”
- Saint Metropolitan Philaret “Will the Heterodox Be Saved?“
- Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili “And Who Is My Neighbor?“
- Alexei Khomiakov “The Church is One”
- Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) “Christianity or the Church”
- Right Reverend Photios, Bishop of Triaditza, “Orthodox Unity Today”
- Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky “On the Church”
- St. Justin (Popovich) “The Attributes of the Church”
- Dr. Alexander Kalomiros “Orthodox Ecclesiology”
- Saint John Chrysostom “The Character and Temptations of a Bishop”
- Archpriest Georges Florovsky “The Catholicty of the Church”
- Archpriest Georges Florovsky “The Limits of the Church”
- Archpriest Georges Florovsky “On Church and Tradition”
- Hieromonk Seraphim Rose “The Royal Path: True Orthodoxy in an Age of Apostasy“
- Bishop Artemije of Raška and Prizren “Deification as the End and Fulfillment of Salvation According to St. Maximos the Confessor“
Most of the articles/books listed above discuss the question of “what is the Church” and this is an absolutely crucial topic since neither the Latins nor the Protestants have kept the original understanding of what the Church really is.
The following documents are also very helpful:
Next, I would like to point you to the many excellent articles/talks of Father Steven Allen which you can find here:
While I don’t always agree with everything Father Steven says, I am absolutely amazed at the wealth of precious information he presents and I highly recommend all his sites and lectures (and, if you can, please consider supporting his work with a donation).
Next, there is the website by Father Alexander (later bishop): https://www.fatheralexander.org/ which offers excellent information in FOUR languages (English, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish).
There there is also this website: http://orthodoxinfo.com/ which also contains a wealth of good article, however I must mention one caveat: the author is this website originally was part of the Traditionalist Orthodox Church, but left it for personal reasons and then purged his site of most of the information which it contained originally about traditional Orthodoxy.
On our (very slowly progressing) site “History of the Orthodox People” we posted to crucial books which I also highly recommend:
I hope that the above list will be helpful to at least some of the readers. At the very least, now you have options from online audio lectures, to full books, to short(er) articles, etc. Any of them could be helpful to you, it all depends on your own preferences and availability.
In my next vignette, I will try to explain why there is not quick and easy way to gain the kind of minimal knowledge to begin to understand the real nature of the original Christian Church. Please consider the above as a suggested reading list as a background for future vignettes.
PS: we now have 98 registered members, and you still can sign up (here) if you want!
I, Andrei Raevsky, aka The Saker, have absolutely no authority whatsoever to teach anything to anyone. None. Zero. Ziltch. Nada! The “Christian Vignettes” are NOT a catechism, or a course in dogmatics or anything else formal. These vignettes are only one guy’s strictly personal musings on various topics. Nothing more.
This may be slightly off topic but last night I found a movie on YouTube called “The Island” and watched it. Here is the vignette about the movie…
“The Island” is a 2006 Russian biographical film about a 20th century Eastern Orthodox monk. Pyotr Mamonov, who plays the lead character, formerly a rock musician in the USSR, converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in the 1990s and lives now in an isolated village. Film director Pavel Lungin said about him that “to a large extent, he played himself.” Mamonov was first very hesitant to play in the film, but then was urged by his confessor to play the character. After the filming, one of the movie crew staff decided to stay on the island and live there as a hermit.
And here is the link to the YouTube version of the movie.
It ties in with what I am learning from these vignettes about Orthodoxy. A moving movie for me and maybe for some others here.
I have to tell you that I have MAJOR reservations about this movie or its representation of Orthodox monasticism.
Generally, movies are not a helpful source of information about Christianity, not in the West and not in Russia.
Also Mamonov and Lungin are not what I would call “credible representatives of the Orthodox ethos/spirit”…
Please help me take down this comment before it affects others. I will be more careful in the future.
no worries dear Bill, maybe those who will watch it will perceive the difference between that movie and traditional Orthodoxy. In a way, that is one of the main purposes of these vignettes :-)
If you insist, I will remove that comment, but I recommend leaving it.
Let’s leave it…. Bill
Great lists! I will print them off for future reference and start reading, even though I have been in the Orthodox Church my whole life.
you are very welcome!
Thank you for the links. I shall use them. I have refrained from commenting on some items because I have so little real knowledge about the Orthodox Church. I am looking forward to doing some reading and research. I have been very suspicious about some of the things that I have read on the internet about some of the subjects. Pooc
I have refrained from commenting on some items because I have so little real knowledge about the Orthodox Church
Well, remember that you can also ask any question here :-)
I want to add my thanks for all these links to these useful Orthodox resources. I am especially enjoying the series by Father Steven Allen’s adaption of Fr Seraphim Roses’ Survival Course. Here is that direct link…
Father Steven is really very good, and I think that his “survival course” series are a true gem!
Thanks for the sources, I will try to take a look, but as they are all new for me, do you think it is more appropriate to start from the Church Fathers or the other more recent authors?
Then a couple of question:
i) Do you know Rod Dreher? As far as I remember, he has converted from Latin to Orthodoxy (though I don’t know which denomination) and he is quite famous here in Europe for his book “Benedict Option”. His blog often reports about the drift of the Western wokeism.
ii) About monasteries, do you have in mind some locations in Europe? I only know about the Russian Golden Ring and Mount Athos, but (correct me if I am wrong) the former are under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and the latter of Constantinople.
1) do you think it is more appropriate to start from the Church Fathers or the other more recent authors?
please see here:
http://thesaker.is/christian-vignette-1-who-what-are-theologians/ and here
2) Do you know Rod Dreher?
No, I am sorry, I don’t
3) I only know about the Russian Golden Ring and Mount Athos, but (correct me if I am wrong) the former are under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate and the latter of Constantinople.
Correct on both. Except that on Mount Athos were one monastery (Esphigmenou) is in communion with the traditionalist Orthodox.
In Greece there is the monastery in Fili (also spelled Phyle) near Athens which I HIGHLY recommend to anybody. Here is their website: http://www.agioskyprianos.org/en/index_en.shtml
And there are others also, depends on where you are and how far you are willing to travel.
this 20 min vid from http://www.agioskyprianos.org/en/index_en.shtml is revealing and i found it very interesting.
◆ Sunday of Orthodoxy 1995
OK, thanks, Greece is quite close, although now countries not recognizing the Sputnik are as far as the Moon, so going in Russia would be easier. But hopefully one day this madness will end and free travels will be resumed.
Next question, hoping that I am not drifting off-topic, but I haven’t understood why the Moscow Patriarchate is not considered traditional Orthodoxy. I understand that it is too much politically involved with the Russian state, but is this implying that the doctrine has been modified?
bookmarked for future use👍