Recommended Reading – October IC 62

Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: “Ut Unum Sint” and the Prospects of East-West Unity Adam A.J. DeVille University of Notre Dame Press, 2011, $38.00 Reviewed by Fr. Ionnis Freeman

Adam A.J. DeVille, a recent graduate of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at St. Paul University, Ottawa (Canada)—a crossroads of Byzantine/Roman Catholic and Orthodox studies—sets a goal to identify a common river of Patriarchal ecclesiology that flowed through both eastern and western Church(-es). This common river has remained intact despite points of confusion and confluence with varied understandings of the Roman papacy by East and West during the second Christian millennium.

However, a shared river of ecclesiology had already divided into respective East/West tributaries even prior to the Great Schism in 1054. Historical tributaries is a fact that receives adequate discussion in this text so that standard objections from “radical conservatives” (5) among Roman papacy defenders, and “radical rejectionists” (5-6) among Orthodox anti-ecumenists get a run for their money.

The author’s task in this book is to recover both an ancient shared understanding of the Patriarchal institution in the East and West as well as explore divergences from the same. Of course, divergences increased and became magnified after the Great Schism.

In fact, DeVille admits in the book’s Introduction that the Vatican’s 2006 Annuario Pontificio officially deleted the title of “Patriarch of the West” from papal titular honors. Yet the title and accrued entitlements of the official Roman papacy after the Great Schism bear inferior if not also an inverse relationship to the western Patriarchal institution. As the Patriarchal title declined in ecclesial importance for Rome, the Papal title became inflated and exaggerated, resulting in a principal excuse to widen the rift of schism.DeVille’s response to the 2006 deletion of “Patriarch of the West” appears in Chapter 3 by way of a defense—a defense of the title based upon a line of reasoning that none other than Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) had advanced several decades prior to his election to the papal See. In fact, readers should consider DeVille’s “apologia” for “Patriarch of the West” a linchpin to understanding and critiquing overall aims in this book. Without a “renewed Roman Patriarchate” (47-77), the project would fold not only according to the two identified groups of “radicals,” but also moderate critics.To wit, “Rome cannot demand from the East regarding the primacy issue more than what has been expressed and applied during the first millennium” (54), according to Ratzinger in a 1968/70 article. DeVille also quotes Yves Congar as having observed, “the notion of patriarch has been neither understood nor honored by Rome” (55).

Nevertheless, despite incisive and authoritative Roman Catholic authors as Ratzinger and Congar, it is Michael Magee’s monumental work, The Patriarchal Institution in the Church: Ecclesiological Perspectives in the Light of the Second Vatican Council (Magee 2006) that provides a convincing argument for reinstating the title “Patriarch of the West.” DeVille acknowledges Magee’s historical contribution to salvaging the title, but doubts that it is sufficient to deal with the fact that the title is seldom encountered and virtually unknown in the West. Titles so crucial to East-West relations and ecclesiology do not disappear out of disuse.

If Magee is correct in his historical analysis of the title, then DeVille is right that Rome’s 2006 omission of the Partriarchal title cannot be attributed to obsolescence as a rationale. Therefore, the remainder of Chapter 3 presents observations about the Vatican’s 1990 revision of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO is the Latin acronym), which contains a Vatican-acknowledged temporary understanding of how the Pope and Eastern (uniate) Patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops ought to “honor,” “obey,” and “love one another.” Definitions for honor, obedience, and Christian charity among bishops might be temporary in the 1990 CCEO, but these definitions favor a “subordinate relationship to the Roman Pontiff” (75).Thus the rationale for deletion of the title “Patriarch of the West” might be temporary, just as relationships of Eastern (uniate) Patriarchs to the Roman Pontiff in the CCEO have been acknowledged to be temporary. However, it is the very same period of time in which the title disappeared in 2006 that the Eastern Orthodox-Roman Catholic Dialogue commission convened in Ravenna the following year to discuss papal primacy.

This review has been long on the linchpin issue of the book and short on the sterling recommendations that DeVille makes. If DeVille, Magee, Ratzinger, and Congar—among others—succeed in reviving an ancient collegiality among bishops, East and West, then DeVille’s suggestions will prove reasonable options. For example his ideas about creating six continental patriarchates in the Latin Church along with a permanent synod of these patriarchates and a full ecumenical synod “under papal presidency” (150-55) might be achievable.

For the Peace from Above: An Orthodox Resouce Book on War, Peace, and NationalismEdited by Fr. Hildo Bos and Jim ForestOrthodox Research Institure, 2011, $24.95 Reviewed by Pieter Dykhorst

The topics of nationalism and patriotism, individual and group identity, ethnicity and race, loyalty and faithfulness, peace and conflict, duty and refusal, freedom and obligation are all bound up together and simultaneously set against each other in today’s world and are not easy to sort out. Reading For the Peace from Above, one may be reminded of certain aphorisms like “drink deeply or not at all” or “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” But, as careful as one must be here, For the Peace from Above offers both milk and meat—milk to the one who seeks some basic understanding and meat for the serious scholar. Indeed, the hallmark of the book is that it does not attempt to really explicate anything but rather offers abundant source material. One can learn simple working definitions of terms like nation and state (they aren’t as clear as you might think, particularly if you are from the US where they are understood to be nearly the same thing!) and then turn to the Essays section to read an argument by Fr. John McGuckin that the deeply held notion of a rather uniformly pacifistic and separate early Church being precipitously co-opted and militarized post-Constantine is likely wrong. Within its pages you will find represented views like those of Fr. Alexander Webster, one of the few Orthodox scholars who would go on record arguing for an Orthodox notion of virtuous war, while you have also those who claim that war is always in all cases either sinful or the consequence of sin with no virtue in it possible.

This new edition of For the Peace from Above is beefier by over double the page count—460—than the original in 1999. While the essential outline of the book and chapter headings remain the same, most chapters now contain more material, and some material has been moved to other sections for a more logical grouping of texts. The addition of case studies provides examples of the struggle to work out the proper relation of Christians to the world, in particular to the world’s violent conflicts. These are simultaneously hopeful and problematic. In one example, a young 3rd century Christian, Maximilian, is resolutely prepared to have his life taken by the sword for refusing to serve in the Roman army on the basis of his faith in Christ; yet when he is confronted with the reality that other Christians serve in the army, he can only answer “They know what is best for them.” The struggle, ever immediate, for Christians seeking to answer the questions of if, when, and how violence is permitted is often resolved like that, as today, many sincere Christians risk their lives in shooting wars while others opt to pay the price for refusal. In another Case Study, we have the council in Constantinople in 1872 condemning ethnophyletism (the con-flation of church and state as a result of the creation of an exclusive national identity from the fusion of ethnic and religious components) at a time when Balkan ethno-religious nationalisms were in full bloom, only to fast forward over a century to a statement by the Ecumenical Patriarch condemning religious national-ism as a still present trouble of the modern Church.

What is needed today more than ever is broad, sustained, and deeply vigorous investigation into the complex subjects addressed in For the Peace from Above. Not only is this book a primer and an advanced sourcebook together but essentially also an annotated biblio-graphy. It does not contain easy answers. We find contradictions, ambiguities, solutions that worked in times past which do no comprehend many of the complexities of today’s world, and modern authors’ attempts to unravel the tight knots that bind our understanding of what it means to be peacemakers. Still, this should be considered an essential sourcebook and found on the shelf of every Orthodox Christian who grapples with its subjects. The Church and the world wait for those who would do the work necessary to make relevant the ethic and theology of peace contained in the Gospel from which today’s world has moved so far. What worked in the past in this kingdom or that empire, for this Saint or that soldier, when the work of war was often watched from a hilltop by the local citizenry and violent changes of imperial regimes may not even have made a difference at the village level, no longer suffices. The Gospel doesn’t change but its applications to a changing world must. This book serves as a vital tool for those who take on the burden and challenge of building a coherent Christian ethic of peace for today’s world from the disparate efforts of two millennia of reflection, thought, prayer, and conviction brought together in its pages.

Singing in a Strange Land: The Ancient Future of Orthodox PluralismRev. Dr. Elias BouboutsisHoly Cross Orthodox Press, 223 pp., $24.95Reviewed by Fr. Ionnis Freeman

This book explores what the author considers “the ancient future of Orthodox pluralism.” Bouboutsis draws an Orthodox Christian theological map of fresh but ancient territory by employing a reference to Psalms 135/136 before the title’s coda. This book is not alone in having borrowed the phrase. Three recent texts have stitched the phrase into titles by linking the Psalmist’s lament over residing in a “strange land” to 1) praying with the poor (Lindsey 1991), 2) the Black Church in transforming the voice of African Americans (Salvatore 2006), and 3) Jewish-American poetics (Shreiber 2007). What delights is the book’s deft portrayal of ancient Christian witnesses about the Holy Trinity and eternal Church as anticipating 20th century developments in semiotics and interdisciplinary culture studies. In short, this book entertains divine plurality as integrating all people with their myriad of differences and similarities, along with all things and Creation as a whole. As above, so below reflects an Orthodox harmony that this book illustrates in liturgical texts, Patristic and secular sources.
Far more treasures await readers in this book. The first three chapters present a polemical base of reasoning for the project, which are critical for how Fr. Elias steers the narrows of that separate eastern and western Christian sources. Moreover, he addresses Palamite teachings that pertain to Christian anthropology as well as post-colonial and post-structuralism theories about pluralism in sufficient depth for well-versed critics without sacrificing clarity. Thus, both critics and general readers will appreciate the book’s rich content and clear presentation.Where should general readers begin reading the book? I recommend they start by reading the book’s Introduction and then turn to chapters four and five. The book shifts voice from polemics to conversation in these chapters by speaking in an Orthodox ethos that explores popular literature, holy icons, other sacred art, sacred chant and secular music, and Orthodox liturgies. It will please general readers that these chapters paint a colorful canvas of global Orthodoxy, which includes hues from existing inter-Orthodox divisions and still avoids pedantic objections by readers over textual examples as being “too Greek,” “too Slavic,” and the like. For example, “In the words of Byzantium’s preeminent…translator, Cyril the ‘Apostle to the Slavs,’…this means a new cultural production, a new rendering for a different, non-Mediterranean world” (125). One might consider chapters four and five as reflecting a rich palette of primary and secondary colors by which—as content, tools, and form—the book presents an organizing vision of the Church’s eternal creative potential. Indeed, the pluralism of this book illustrates Beauty, as construct, by embracing the whole of Creation in the Church.

Concluding the text in an Appendix is a “fresh translation of Basil’s the Great eclectic method” (185-8). The translation is arguably the best in print bar none. Because this text is foundational to the book’s thesis and themes, it anchors the book in a genuine Orthodox pluralism, long anticipated among the Fathers and Mothers of the Church. This ancient but fresh view encourages Christians to sample non-Christian studies, such as philosophy, poetry, and even semiotics or intercultural studies, in the manner of the honeybee that “…derives that which is needful from the flower [and]…leaves the rest behind” (187).

All Is Grace: A Biography of Dorothy DayJim Forest Orbis Books, 352 pages, $27.00 Reviewed by Martha Hennessy (From the copyright page of the book: This is a substantially revised and enlarged edition of Love Is the Measure: A Biography of Dorothy Day, originally published by Paulist Press, 1986, revised edition published by Orbis Books, 1994.)

It is a pleasure to hold and read Jim Forest’s revised and expanded biography of Dorothy Day. She was a writer, Roman Catholic convert, co-founder of the Catholic Worker in 1933, and editor of a newspaper that served as the organ of this renowned movement for social justice.

Dorothy’s compelling story, set in the 1920s through the 1970s, is told through an array of lovely photographs and with her own writings woven into Jim Forest’s insightful reflections and careful documentation of people, places, and events. The book is a rich resource of American history formed from an insurgent perspective, an outcome of this woman’s unswerving journey of faith and her practice of Christian anarchism. But on a personal level, which was her gift to so many of us, this story is inspirational and a call to action concerning the very fate of humanity and creation. In her words, “we are urging revolutionary change,” we are made to think about how we live together and how we treat each other in today’s world.

Dorothy’s life and work show with clarity that she possessed an incredible sensitivity to and delight in the presence of God. Jim Forest brings this out beautifully. We see her celebrate the ordinary in life as wondrous; we sense her intense love of those around her, from early lovers, to friends, co-workers, and family.

Also shared are her profound experiences of grief over the human errors and tragedies of this world. All is Grace includes material from Dorothy’s journals and letters, compiled and edited recently by Robert Ellsberg in The Duty of Delight and All The Way To Heaven. Her writings over many years describe in detail her family life, the challenges of living in community, and the joys and sorrows of meeting the needs of the poor through the works of mercy. Her correspondence and interactions with both people of significance and those of humble stations reveals a person of great kindness and humility herself. Dorothy consistently set an example for overcoming our class system and the myriad forms of oppression and exclusion by seeing others as miracles or even as the face of Christ. This is indeed a radical message set in the center of a culture of discrimination, wars, and materialism. Yet Dorothy’s mode of indoctrination is always intertwined in great stories of her extensive travels, time in prison, and adventures through retreats and speaking tours. The book captures many of these stories, conveying to the reader the joys, humor, and grim realities of Dorothy’s visits across the United States and to the far reaches of Russia, India, and Africa.

For me, the most poignant selection is the chapter titled “Pregnancy, Faith, and Baptism.” As a woman and mother, Dorothy brings to us her intrinsic human experience of a conversion precipitated through the act of giving birth. “No human creature could receive or contain so vast a flood of love and joy as I often felt after the birth of my child. With this came the need to worship, to adore.” Such words, expressed in her exquisite writing style, are captivating.

The chronological arrangement of All Is Grace provides an easy, in-depth study of Dorothy’s varied life and the history of the Catholic Worker movement. She had a great interest and ability in reaching out to people and connecting with them on a personal level. This comprehensive book, which should bring enthusiasm and hope to our youth, is a fine tribute to Dorothy’s efforts to build community around the world.Martha is a peace activist who lives at the Maryhouse Catholic Worker in New York City. She is the grand-daughter of Dorothy Day.

❖ IN COMMUNION / issue 62 / October 2011