I like small independent bookstores, especially warm, quiet, unpretentious bookstores that double as coffee shops. Big corporately-owned businesses have a lot more books, but a good independent bookshop ideally possesses fewer books of superior quality.
Any spirituality/theology/religion section is incomplete without books on the Orthodox Christian Church, the Church founded by Jesus Christ in the East almost two thousand years ago, and its ancient way of life that has endured from generation to generation since the first century. Orthodox Christianity is closer to the source of ancient Christianity, Christ and his Apostles, than any other path. The Orthodox Church is the ancient Church, still thriving in contemporary times. Although the Orthodox Faith has continued in the East since the time of the Apostles, secular Americans and those who are influenced by later Western forms of Christianity that have developed over the centuries still remain largely ignorant about the Orthodox Christian Faith.
Until I moved to the mountains a few weeks ago, I helped operate an Orthodox bookstore dedicated to connecting people with books that would help them along their spiritual journeys. Some of our customers were curious about Orthodoxy, some were more interested than curious, some were already on the path toward Orthodoxy, and others were Orthodoxy Christians on the way.
When I find that a bookstore, especially a locally-owned one, doesn't have any books on Orthodox Christianity, I sense that something is missing. At least one book on Orthodoxy should be present. What books, then, should be resting on the shelf? I have composed a very brief list of books that I would recommend for discriminating independent bookstore owners to consider including in their inventories. These books may serve as fine introductions to the Orthodox Christian way, or at least some aspects of it, for those who might consider themselves "spiritual, but not religious," yet open to the ancient Eastern Orthodox way of life.
Three titles on my list of recommended books include the following:
1. The Orthodox Church (Second Edition) by Timothy Ware (aka Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia), published by Penguin Press. ISBN 0-14-014656-3. More information about the author is available at Orthodwiki.com.
2. The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides. Published by Image/Doubleday/Random House. ISBN 0-385-50092-0.
3. The Orthodox Way (Revised Edition) by Bishop Kallistos Ware. Published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. ISBN 0-913836-58-3.
I have limited the list here to only three titles, although I can think of several other books capable of serving as valuable additions to a bookstore's inventory.
Note: These books belong in the spirituality section.
Copyright © 2006 by Dana S. Kees. Photo by Dana S. Kees.
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