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Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   251
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.84" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 13, 2013
Publisher   Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN  0060850000  
EAN  9780060850005  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A memoir of the author's unexpected pilgrimage to the ancient Eastern Orthodox faith outlines its traditions, sacraments, and recent surge in popularity, and explains why it has survived throughout time. Reprint. 15,000 first printing.

Publishers Description

The Classic Story of a Family's Pilgrimage into the Orthodox Church

Veiled in the smoke of incense, the Eastern Orthodox Church has long been an enigma to the Western world. Yet, as Frederica Mathewes-Green discovered, it is a vital, living faith, rich in ritual beauty and steadfast in integrity. Utilizing the framework of the Orthodox calendar, Mathewes-Green chronicles a year in the life of her small Orthodox mission church, eloquently illustrating the joys and blessings an ancient faith can bring to the worshipers of today.

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More About Frederica Mathewes-Green

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Frederica Mathewes-Green is one of today's most respected voices on Orthodoxy in America. She has been interviewed in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time, among other publications, and is the author of eight books, including The Illumined Heart: Capture the Vibrant Faith of Early Christians, and The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayers. Visit her at

Frederica Mathewes-Green currently resides in Baltimore, in the state of Maryland.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Deeply Personal, Very Human, Very Important  Oct 24, 2006
I think this book is very important to anyone interested in the Orthodox Church. It's not the only book you'll want to read, but it supplements the other great books out there in a unique and important way.

This book is not a treatise on Thology or practice. There are a number of good books available to cover these topics. Instead, it's a personal memoir. It tells the story of a woman, a family, and a congregation as they come into their faith and tradition. There's the feel of conversation over a cup of coffee here as Mrs. Mathewes-Green talks in an engaging and humorous style about the experience of discovering a faith and building a church. It takes something that can be very intimidating - the discovery of an ancient and deep faith and tradition that is very alien to modern American culture - and makes it very human and very accessible.

If you want to get right into Theology, History, Spirituality, and Practice, Read Biship Kallistos Ware's "The Orthodox Way(Spirituality)," "The Orthodox Church (History)," Clark Carlton's "The Faith (Theology)" and some of the other great books available. These are all important. The most important piece of exploring Orthodoxy, however, is to "come and see." Experience the worship and life of the Church. It can be intimidating at first, however. But Mathewes-Green makes it so much more accessible. Give it a try!
Interesting, yet disappointing  Jun 11, 2006
At first glance in the store, this book fueled my interest in the Orthodox Church. Further, the easy style of writing made me feel very comfortable. However, upon purchsing the book and diving-in, I was soon put-off my the author's frequent caustic remarks about the Episcopal Church, my own denomination. Not only did these remarks add nothing to the book, but simply showed that the author still has unresolved issues of her own concerning the denomination she left to join the Orthodox Church. These put-downs simply took away from her work and credability.

While her account of falling in love with the Orthdox liturgy and the "truth" she found in this denomination, nothing is said about ortho-praxis, or the "right-practice" of the faith. I hear about a lovely liturgy with an actient tradition behind it, but nothing about what her church is doing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned. In other words, I was left with the sense that the Orthodox church was a lovely museum piece with little active engagement of the Gospel in the broken world in which we live. "Faith without works is dead," and I'm left with an impression that the Orthodox church is lovely and old, but dead. While it is my hope that this is not the case, one would not know it from simply reading this book.

Further, while the author uses a very reader-friendly style, there are times you think she wishes she had the talent of Anne Lamott to convey her faith at a no-bones heart-level. The author can't quite pull that off.

While an enjoyable read about a woman's story of coming to the Orthodox church, it has a few serious flaws which detracts from the picture she would like to paint.

Wordy but Worthwhile  Mar 5, 2006
This books shares a year in the life of an Orthodox mission church from a first-person perspective. It is certainly not a weighty theological treatise, and though a bit "chatty" at times (especially the first half of the book), it provides the reader a good look at an Orthodox congregation in action. If you want to know about the doctrines and apologetics of Orthodoxy, this is not the book for you.
A Refreshing Voice   Mar 2, 2006
After reading the many this site reviews of "Facing East", I too feel compelled to share my thoughts on what has been for me a simple yet life changing reading experience. Like some of the others who have reviewed this book, I am a "cradle Orthodox" as opposed to being a convert from a different expression of Christianity. The thoughts and experiences shared by Mathewes-Green have opened my eyes to how very beautiful, daunting, and challenging life in the Orthodox Church is and can be for us all. This is something that I had forgotten or, perhaps, never knew as I took my spiritual heritage for granted. As Khouria Frederica recently expressed in the second epilogue of the second edition of Facing East, she wrote this book ten years ago is a newly chrismated Orthodox Christian. As so, she was able to share and describe her incredible journey "east" as only a newcomer could. Although she expressed great surprise that any "cradle-O" would find much use or interest in this work, this is exactly why it was and still is so appealing to me. I can only experience this first love through the author's eyes. I agree that this is a very simple, rudimentary introduction to the Orthodox faith and that it lacks in deep theological discourse and instruction. The fact is that it never intends to do this. Mathewes-Green offers here an intimate and personal invitation into her life, mind, parish, family, and soul. Still, I don't believe that anyone can label this work fluff. To the contrary, it is a humble and unintimidating invitation to merely come and see, while at the same time addresses some very basic yet integral theological concepts in a friendly, accessible, and undaunting manner.

Basically, Facing East is written over the course of an entire liturgical year in the Orthodox Church in the style of a journal. Khouria Frederica describes her first reluctant encounters with Orthodoxy after she and her husband, a former Episcopalian priest, flee their denomination due to its emerging liberalism and subsequent moral laxity. With their family and a small band of committed (and often colorful) parishioners they embark upon establishing Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Mission and begin their journey in Orthodoxy. I found their experiences and struggles to be quite inspiring, especially since their collective convert zeal shines in ways rarely seen in more established parishes. Of the numerous accounts and vignettes included in the work, many are very warm, personal, and even amusing. Still, Mathewes-Green also examines in them many theological questions and concerns common to converts from Protestantism, such as the meaning of the Divine Liturgy, the liturgical cycle, the role of the Mother of God and the saints, fasting, and prayer in a fresh way that only a beginner can. Basically, I want to be a better Christian everytime I encounter this group through print. Of course this work cannot stand alone as a comprehensive catechism or introduction to Orthodoxy (yes, there still is a welcome and very necessary need for the writings of Bishop Kallistos Ware in this matter), but Facing East fulfills a different role in its very personal essence. I have given copies of this book to seekers of the faith who relished being taken by the hand into the Church and who view Khouria Frederica as a virtual friend and confidante through their shared experiences as Orthodox newbies. And lifelong Orthodox, like myself, have found rejuvenation in her words. I will always hold that having encountered Frederica Mathewes-Green's humble, down to earth, and sincere faith has proven to be one of the greatest blessings in my life so far and I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to bless her ministry with more conversions of the heart like these.
Facing East  Sep 3, 2005
This book is beautifully written and gives you a front row seat in the early life of an Orthodox mission parish! Mrs. Matthewes-Green takes time to explain all the nuances of Orthodox worship that mystify former Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. It is like getting letters from a friend!

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