"In the moment after Communion, I press my lips against the chalice, a kiss of surrender, veneration, and gratitude. It is the one true centering moment of my oblivious cycling days and weeks," writes Frederica Mathewes-Green, a commentator for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and a columnist for Christianity Today. In this intricately structured tribute to Eastern Orthodoxy, the author uses the celebration of the liturgy as the backbone for her meditations upon icons, saints, fasting, repentance, prayer, and theological truth.
As Mathewes-Green points out, Orthodoxy not only means "right teaching," it also refers to "right praise." The 3.5 million members of this church in the United States aim at "theosis." The spiritual disciplines "are tools to help us get self-will out of the way so that we can gradually become totally filled with the light of God."
The worship described on these pages is filled with zest and creativity. Members stand and move about freely. In the Baltimore congregation where Mathewes-Green's husband is pastor, there are no instruments just a cappella singing and chanting. Also lots of kissing. Or as the author puts it: "We kiss icons, crosses, the Gospel book, the aer, and each other." One spiritual practice comes through loud and clear at the heart of this kind of worship: "Beauty is that which opens our eyes to the majesty of God and moves us to desire him." At the Corner of East and Now provides a colorful, insightful, and invigorating overview of Eastern Orthodoxy in one American congregation.