Throwback Thursday: July 2011

Throwback Thursday


Revisiting what I posted 10 years ago,
following the idea I found at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog
(click on this link or the logo to see where the idea started from,
and to post the link to your own post).

On the first Thursday of the month available on my site,
I’m planning to post about the previous month, 10 years before.

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Today, I’ll be revisiting July 2011.

I published 23 posts, 8 of these were reviews (actually I reviewed two books from the same author in one post – see below).
A lot of the other posts are about the challenges I managed to finish by July, and every week, I used to do a post about book recommendations for your weekend.

Here are the reviews which received most views:

Being As Communion

I’m  surprised that of all the posts published that month, an Orthodox theology book would be the one receiving most views!
Let me rephrase this: I just went to reread my review, and I realize it’s actually not bad at all, and gives a really good idea of this essential book. If you are interested in deepening your Christian faith, whether you are Orthodox or not, you might find some good things for you there.

    Bel CantoState of Wonder

I ended up at the same time listening to Bel Canto, and reading State of Wonder, two books by the same author. I’m not sure I have done this again. It actually worked out nicely to write a combined review.
I just added an important note to my review, as Bel Canto was made into an opera a few years later.

These three books are still my favorite of that month.
Since then, I have tried another book by Patchett, which left me very disappointed, so I haven’t dared tried another one. Though I admire her for opening a bookshop in Nashville!

    Click on the covers to know more

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Next post will be on September 2



My Dewey Decimal Challenge 2011

Hosted by

Master level: 4 – This is the highest level,
so I have already completed several times…


1. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, by D. Grann
2. Introducing Benedict’s Rule, by Michael Casey and David Tomlins
3. Light From the Christian East, by James R. Payon, Jr
4. The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux
5. In Constant Prayer, by Robert Benson
6. The Band That Played On: The Extraordinary Story of the 8 Musicians Who Went Down with the Titanic, by Steve Turner
7. Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors, by E. M. Collingham
8. I And Thou, by Martin Buber
9. The Planet In A Pebble, by Jan Zalasiewicz
10. A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century, by Barbara W. Tuchman
11. Metamorphosis: The Transfiguration in Byzantine Theology and Iconography, by Andreas Andreopoulos
12. The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan
13. Atlantic, by Simon Winchester
14. The Lost Cyclist, by David Herlihy
15. Johann Sebastian Bach, by Rick Marschall
16. The Greater Journey, by David McCullough
17. Cien Sonetos de Amor, by Pablo Neruda
18. The Pun Also Rises, by John Pollack
19. Being As Communion, by John Zizioulas
20. Settled in the Wild: Notes from the End of Town, by Susan Hand Shetterly
21. Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout, by Philip Connors
22. Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, by Elder Thaddeus
23. Tolstoy and The Purple Chair, by Nina Sankovitch
23. The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
24. Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War, by William J. Broad, Stephen Engelberg, Judith McCoy Miller
25. Is That A Fish In Your Ear?: Translation and The Meaning of Everything, by David Bellos


Review #56: Being As Communion

Being as Communion:

Studies in Personhood and the Church



260 pages

Publication: 1985/1997 – St Vladimir’s Seminary Press

This book counts for

My Dewey Decimal Challenge

and for

The 2011 Non-Fiction Challenge


I read this book many years ago in French, when I was Orthodox in heart. Now a few years after my conversion to Orthodoxy, it’s good to read this again, in its English updated version – I believe some passages were not in the French version I read.

This is not an easy read, and it would be helpful for you to know a few Greek words, but the effort is worth it. It is a very refreshing book, still so valid today, though it was written about 30 years. This is the type of book I wish every bishop, priest, and lay Christian would read and ponder on, and then get together to see how they could implement some of it.

What struck me this time is how united his theological vision is. Of course, this should go without saying for an Orthodox theologian, but it is not always that obvious. What I mean by his united vision, is that all is one, and works only as one: theology, Pneumatology, Christology, ecclesiology, patristics,  and sacramental life, among I am sure other things I should mention here.

He is very clear at showing that if current Christian theology based itself on serious Pneumatology and Christology, we would not be in the insane and unchristian situations we find in the Church today.

This communion is necessary not only between “topics”, if I may say, but of course between all persons making up the Body of Christ. And this is where I found Zizioulas’s vision extremely important. If in an ideal world, all Christians had been made aware of the realities he underlines here, would there still be so many pulls at power and competition, at wanting to be what the other is or has, whether it be at the level of ministries, parishes, dioceses?

I am inserting here an excerpt, found on pp.215-216:

Baptism/confirmation considered as an ordination, assigning you your place in the Church, a place indispensable without which the Church would not be complete? Wow, how many feminist theologians have ever thought of this? Probably not that many. It is a shame that such a profound fact would not be widely known.

If you push the idea of communion to its end, you cannot avoid the issue of ecumenism. I’m sad to say that here I may lose lots of my Orthodox readers, as if ecumenism were a heretical view stranger to the Gospel. Suffice here to present another excerpt by Zizioulas, this is actually the very end of his book:

Is a divided Church still a Church? And if the question is relevant inside so many Christian denominations today, isn’t it all the more relevant at the level of the whole Body of Christ?

To end on another note, I realize I had posted an excerpt on Facebook some time ago. So here it is inserted here, a powerful passage on divinization:

“The eternal survival of the person as a unique, unrepeatable and free “hypostasis”, as loving and being loved, constitutes the quintessence of salvation, the bringing of the Gospel to man. In the language of the Fathers this is called “divinization” (theosis), which means participation not in the nature or substance of God, but in His personal existence.” pp.49-50


 The voice of John Zizioulas may turn out to be the fresh voice for which theology and especially ecclesiology have long been waiting. In the context of a complete theology, which includes extended consideration of the major theological topics the Trinity, Christology, eschatology, ministry, and sacrament, but above all, the Eucharist the author propounds a fresh understanding, based on the early Fathers and the Orthodox tradition, of the concept of person, and so of the Church itself. His consideration of the local church as ‘catholic’ in the literal sense, and the need to understand the universal Church not as a superstructure but as the communion of all Churches, provides the program for the ecclesiology of the future. Yves Congar has written that he considers the author to be ‘one of the most original and profound theologians of our epoch’ and that he ‘presents a penetrating and coherent reading of the tradition of the Greek ‘ [Goodreads]


John Zizioulas (Greek: Ιωάννης Ζηζιούλας; born 10 January 1931) is the Eastern Orthodox metropolitan of Pergamon. He is the Chairman of the Academy of Athens and a noted theologian. Metropolitan John’s education began with study at the Universities of Thessalonika and Athens in 1950, and then a year at the ecumenical Institute of Bossey in 1955. Between 1960 and 1964 Zizioulas did doctoral research under the Eastern Orthodox theologian Georges Florovsky (Chair of Eastern Church History at Harvard and a member of the Russian Orthodox Church) and was a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies[3]. He received his doctorate in 1965 from the University of Athens. Zizioulas took up a post at the University of Athens in 1964 as Assistant Professor of Church History, and then six years later, worked as Professor of Patristics at the University of Edinburgh from 1970 until 1973. He moved to the University of Glasgow where he held a personal chair in systematic theology for some fourteen years. In addition, Zizioulas has been a Visiting Professor at the Research Institute in Systematic Theology of King’s College London. In 1986, he was elected titular metropolitan of Pergamon. In the same year, he assumed a full time academic post at Thessaloniki School of Theology as Professor of Dogmatics. To read more about him, click here.[wikipedia]