Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Ladder of Orthodox Convert Ascent


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39 comments:

keith nystrom said...

Is Jesus high-fiving?

Tim said...

This is priceless. I LOL'd soooo much.

margaret said...

The BEST yet!

I love the wee guy sitting on vol.4 of the Philokalia.

Cameron said...

I got about a third of the way up this ladder and decided to look for an escalator instead.

Abe said...

I liked the Tollhouses author. That was a good one, Steve. :)

Matushka Anna said...

LOL, I started out (completely by accident, I assure you) with The Way of a Pilgrim. I turned out ok (I think) anyway. I like the guy sitting on the Philokalia too.

s-p said...

Matushka, Yes, the books are generic titles, everyone's mileage varies on what they begin with and what they stumble over and what exhausts them as the final hurdle. My first book was actually Lossky's "Mystical Theology of the Orthodox Church" I found in my Episcopal Church's library that had never been checked out.

Fr. Ernesto said...

ROFL,I will have to tell Fr. Peter that he is now the official first step to Orthodoxy. He is currently living in Indiana next to his son Fr. Peter Jon.

matthewmoore said...

Steve - I was going to say the same thing. I read Mystical Theology first at the direction of one of the priests here on campus. I'm glad to know that I pretty much jumped to the top rung!

Anonymous God-blogger said...

I think that for me the Fr. Arseny book was one of the earliest and most influential.

My priest doesn't want me to read the Fr. Seraphim Rose stuff about life after death--he knows I'm too neurotic to handle it!

nothinghypothetical.com said...

s-p,

It's a bit strange that I join the "Lossky first" brigade. Something is wrong with all of us.

Never bothered to read Gillquist, wish I wouldn't have read Gallatin.

My second book was St Nikolai's Prayers by the Lake. It might still be my favorite.

Athanasia said...

Started off with "Way of the Pilgrim". Never read Gillquist. Wish I hadn't read Clark Carlton. LOVED Gallatin. Can't even pronounce Lossekey or spell it apparently.

I'm emailing this to my priest. He'll love it!

Huw Raphael said...

I LOVE this. Thanks! We certainly do have a lot of head-odox converts (he says, looking at his bending bookshelves).

To add my art critic voice, I'd think most converts get pulled off about where they read "The Rudder" and "The Ladder" on their own.

Anonymous said...

Started with Yannaras, Elements of Faith. That really got me interested.

Soon read Gillquist, and let's just say it's a good thing there are better books out there for inquirers. I don't get the appeal of Gallatin. That book really irritated me. Let's not discuss Carlton. Oh dear; my inner Curmudgeophan is acting up and dissing the books I wish I could un-read.

I think For the Life of the World made me realize I'd reached the point of no turning back. It took a while to settle in, but I think that's where I was hooked.

J.D. said...

I also read most of these in pretty much that order. I guess it was a decent approach after osmosis failed and I never got that lightning bolt born "again and again" feeling from heaven as I drove my friendly Orthodox church with windows down trying to get high on the wafting incense.

Apophatically Speaking said...

S-P,

Hey, it really looks like Jesus did a back-handed slap on the guy, knocking him out. Waz wit dat?

Donna said...

This is great. LOL

Ingemar said...

I would have had a few being led away by devils carrying a copy of "Contra Errores Graecorum."

J.D. said...

P.S. I left out the "kidnap a priest and threaten to beat him up if he didn't offer to come clean with the desired information" approach.

BJohnD said...

Metropolitan +Jonah has said the Lossky's book was the one that hooked him.

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

This has got to be the very best one yet !!

VSO said...

LOVE it! My first was "Pilgrim" and only read Gillquist because I was told to. If anyone hasn't already don't bother with Gillquist's stories of St. Phillip of Englewood.

Chrys said...

This is classic! And very well done!
I, too, started out with Lossky. Read most of the books noted. It was the works of Fr. John Meyendorff, though, that spoke to me in the manner I needed.
Loved John Zizioulas (though more than a bit challenging). Thoroughly enjoyed Hierotheos Vlachos (even if the Greek style is a bit effusive for my taste). Appreciated Schmemann and Rose, though neither addressed my concerns like the authors above did. I suspect it was just where I was at the time.

As I have gotten older, though, I seem to have lost my taste for the more conceptual stuff. Maybe it's age. (Insert suitable "whippersnapper" comment here.)
I have found the Desert Fathers, St. Dorotheos of Gaza, St. Isaac of Syria, as well as modern Fathers like George Karslidis, Father Porphyrios, Elder Paisios seem to be what the Doctor ordered these days.
I can't say that these are "an elevator," though, since they have made it pretty clear that I haven't made it to the parking lot outside of the Church in which the first rung of the Ladder may be found.

practicinghuman said...

This. is. fantastic!

Thanks!

John said...

This is the best yet. I actually started with Franky Schaeffer--and I'm still here to tell it.

s-p said...

John, I almost put "Dancing Alone" as the "being yanked off by demons book". :) Huw, when I was a new convert copies of "The Rudder" were rare as sane converts and going for 400.00 on the internet, you had to stumble by confessing to a priest who had his dog-eared copy at the confession stand to reference for your penance.

All in all, there were so many books I could have used for steps and so few megapixels to draw with so I had to go kinda "generic" with the titles.

High five or backhand by Jesus? You be the judge. Icons are a very personal experience. :)

Tim said...

"High five or backhand by Jesus? You be the judge. Icons are a very personal experience. :)"

I'm loving it! LOL

bob said...

Of course "Not Of This World" is the only work of fiction, as several people mentioned in the book have asserted! Why Lossky so high up? He's not exactly easy, but he's not a flake and awfully solid and time tested. Some of the earlier *steps* have been described frequently as *stumbling blocks* in other places. However, one might ascend by stumbling. It'll remain to be seen how many of my trips & falls have resulted in ANY ascent. Happily I do not see "Against False Union" anyplace.

ikonographics said...

Can't see the picture :-(

oruaseht said...

This is hilarious! I actually started with Lossky's Mystical Theology as well. It was the first Orthodox book I read while in Lutheran Seminary. hehheeeheh...... great Orthograph!

Anonymous said...

First book I read was Frederica's book "Facing East," when I was still a nominal Episcopalian. The book got me to attend Liturgy at the Antiochian parish in town, and by the little entrance I was hooked. The reading came later; as one friend told me: "Getting through all five volumes of the Philokalia will not make you Orthodox."

-- The Pilgrim

Apophatically Speaking said...

Then again, attending Liturgy may not either.... What does make one Orthodox then?

Anonymous said...

If I knew the answer to that, I would write a book...

--The Pilgrim

Apophatically Speaking said...

No need to write another book, Pilgrim.

The saints know how one becomes a Christian, and they wrote about it, then some of their works were compiled into the Philokalia......

Anonymous said...

With all respect to the desert fathers, reading the Philokalia will not make me a Christian, anymore than reading The biography of Willy Mays will make me a ball player. I have to grab a bat and glove and go out onto the field with other people who are playing the game better than I am, and do what they do; while listening to and following my coach.

It's by going to Liturgy, immersing myself in my parish community and listening to my parish priest and following what he says that gets me there, and that's what works for me.

No, I would not write a book, but I do say to a lot of curious people, "come and see."

--The Pilgrim

Apophatically Speaking said...

Of course, and right you are.

But let me be more succinct my dear Pilgrim: the path to Life does not exclude reading and studying the written word, the Scriptures, the lives and works of the saints (yes this includes the Philokalia) and so forth. I object, in other words, to an either/or position (which you seem to advocate, but apparently not really as you acknowledge the need to listen to instruction). Salvation encompasses our entire existence, our body, mind and spirit. It is all too easy to get unbalanced, I do agree, but I contend this is not restricted to reading or studying alone: an imbalance of praxis is equally a real danger and a pitfall.

Best wishes my fellow pilgrim.

Anonymous said...

Hello A S...
Well, I agree with a balanced approach. Being however, a visually oriented person (photographer) I tend to lead with the liturgy for newcomers, and then talk and discuss what went on afterwards. When my fiance - now wife - started going, she read along in the service book, eyes down, and had a hard time understanding what was going on. After the third frustating liturgy, I took the book from her hands and said, "just watch, sing, and let it happen." Now she gets it, and is studying "On The Incarnation" for her Lenten reading.
Have a blessed Lent.
-The Pilgrim

Matt said...

I got sucked in by reading Phillip Schaff's series "The Ante-Nicene Fathers" which I found in my fundamentalist church's Library.

Hira Animfefte said...

I think I read _Way of a Pilgrim_ first, then Kallistos Ware's _The Orthodox Church_. I read, but didn't really get, _The Orthodox Way_. (It makes a lot more sense now.) By the time I'd made it to Gillquist my mind was already pretty much made up.

I don't think Frederica Mathewes-Green had started writing yet. Nor Carleton. This was 16, 17 years ago.

Somebody gave me a book by Franky Schaeffer but I never read it.

Oh, and I never did read that rainbow series...I know it keeps floating around, but I've never read it...

I attempted to read Lossky, but gave up. I also attempted to read _The Ladder of Divine Ascent_, also gave up.

Eventually I made it to seminary where I read the patristic texts I'd been dying to tackle but had scared me since _The Ladder_. Do not let any of your convert friends start with _The Ladder_. Give them Miletus of Sardis or something. Or Athanasius' _On the Incarnation_.

Give them books by Fr John Behr, too.