Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy turns one!

On Saturday, May 12, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Exploring Belief Systems Through the Lens of the Ancient Christian Faith turned one year old!

It’s honestly a little hard to believe. This little path has now been winding about for more than three years.

O&H was originally done as a series of lectures offered at St. George Orthodox Cathedral in Charleston, West Virginia, beginning in November of 2008. At the time, I conceived of it as something of an exercise in encyclopedia-making, an attempt to catalogue nearly every religious movement in the world (especially Christian) and offer a brief summary of its similarities and differences with the Orthodox Church. I had no expectation that hardly anyone would actually attend the lectures, since I figured that relatively few folks would have an interest in such questions. The folks at the cathedral proved me very much wrong.

When I came to St. Paul Orthodox Church in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, in July of 2009, I wanted to offer some adult education classes that Fall, and since there were already so many other things happening connected with newly taking up the pastorate at a parish that made any major writing projects almost impossible, I figured I would pull O&H out of my files, give each talk some revision, and then deliver them again.

Before I actually delivered the talks, I ran into John Maddex, CEO of Conciliar Media (which includes both Conciliar Press and Ancient Faith Radio) at the Missions and Evangelism Conference at the Antiochian Village in September of 2009. I grew up as the son of radio missionaries, and with his extensive background in Christian radio, we found we had some things in common. He was even aware of who my father is, and it turned out that he had helped run a local Christian radio station in northern Ohio that I listened to as a kid.

In the course of our conversations, I mentioned my plans to deliver O&H here in Emmaus, and he and his wife Tonya both agreed that they would be interested in recordings of the lectures for Ancient Faith Radio. Not long after that, I received in the mail a box containing a microphone / mp3 recorder, something of a step of faith on their part, since they had never heard me speak or even read what I’d written!

That Fall, I recorded O&H in Emmaus. Turnout at those lectures was also quite good, filling our parish hall nearly to capacity. Soon after the recordings began, O&H started airing on AFR as a podcast. I also started getting a lot of email from listeners—some highly critical and even hostile, but mostly exceptionally kind and positive.

In late February of 2010, I got an email from the acquisitions editor at Conciliar Press, saying that John had asked her to contact me to see if I would be interested in making O&H into a book, that the podcasts had been so popular that they were convinced it would also do well in print. In all honesty, I was exceptionally surprised.

I had in my younger days imagined myself being a published writer, but eventually I put away that childish vanity and settled on the idea that blogging was pretty much going to be my only real publication. So when CP approached me with the proposal, it hardly seemed real. Nevertheless, within about 45 minutes of receiving the initial email from CP, I responded positively. How could I not?

I then entered the process of getting hierarchical approval for the publication and, once that was secured, began working on a complete overhaul of the original manuscripts. I reordered the chapters, did some renaming, corrected errors, nuanced some things that had been phrased too absolutely, and added some new material. I started out with lectures totaling about 60,000 words and ended with a book that was roughly 72,000 words. Along the way, CP did a lot of work to refine the editing and also produced the cover featured above. It went to press the following Spring, in 2011, and went on sale in May. The following November, it was made available as an e-book.

I have been honored and humbled by this whole process, and I am most especially immensely grateful to my wife who is a good check on my temptation to vanity. I’m grateful to John Maddex who put the resources of Conciliar Media behind this material twice and also to all the listeners to the podcasts and to the readers of the book.

If you haven’t yet bought a copy of the book, here are some places you can do so: Conciliar Press, Amazon.com, Amazon Kindle, and B&N NOOK.

You may already be aware that I also have another, ongoing podcast with other lectures (and recently, sermons) entitled Roads From Emmaus, and I’ve also signed a contract with CP for another book tentatively entitled An Introduction to God: Encountering the Divine in Orthodox Christianity which is in the revision process. We’ve also lately been discussing the possibility of a book of essays, as well.

Again, thank you for your prayers and support in all of these projects. I love doing them, and I hope they’re useful to you.

7 comments:

  1. Fr. Andrew, I just want to thank you for your blog and your podcast. I check your blog daily for new posts and listen to your podcasts at AFR fairly regularly; they have both been great resources for me to learn more about Orthodoxy.

    I was a catechumen at a local Orthodox mission until a couple months ago when I stepped away for the sake of my wife who was a bit too freaked out by Orthodoxy’s striking differences from the Evangelicalism she’s used to. I’m willing to wait for her to come to Orthodoxy in her own time but it is hard being separated from the mission, the people and our awesome mission priest who was such a blessing. Since then your blog and podcast have been important ways for me to feel connected to, and continue learning about, Orthodoxy.

    So thank you again, and I’ll eagerly await the release of your new book.

    1. Dear Fr. Andrew,

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here and for continuing your podcast series on AFR. Your topics are really thoughtful, and you always present your observations and questions considerately and eloquently. Since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed reading and learning about different faiths and religious traditions, and so it was a joy to listen to your AFR podcast series on “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy”.

      Your series is really informative, and a really great introduction for any Orthodox who might have little familiarity with other faiths, especially Islam, Judaism, and the “Eastern traditions”. Often what we have in common with other faiths is as interesting – and surprising- as the varying degrees to which they differ from us.

      As I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church but found my way, by the grace of God into Orthodoxy, your podcast on our differences with Rome were especially interesting to me. Having absorbed a ton of often inaccurate material as well as academic arguments between Orthodox and Catholic apologists, your podcast was edifying because you emphasized areas of shared belief and commonalities with the Roman Church while also pointing out the many differences in doctrine and attitude which have developed since the period of schisms. Particularly informative for me were your sections on the non-Trinitarian and ‘believer’s baptism’ splinter Protestant groups which evolved out of the Radical Reformation and then the First and Second Great Awakenings. When I return to the U.S. next month I definitely want to buy your book!

      Your “Aren’t You Supposed to Hate Me” podcast and blog entry helped me start a friendly conversation with some of my gay friends and politically progressive friends who, similar to what you encountered with some of your friends, assumed I would have supported NC’s Amendment One and that such a vote would make me “un-Christian”. My views are similar to what you expressed, and I think, slowly, more people are coming to see that we as Orthodox Christians can have our beliefs about not wanting to condone sinful activities symptomatic of a fallen humanity, while loving our friends irrespective of their orientation or nature. Thanks again, and I look forward to reading and seeing more of your work!

      -Ryan

  2. Thank you Father for all your work on this blog, AFR, and this book. I am looking forward to reading your next book. I have to ask, what is your opinion of the Assyrian Church of the East and Oriental Orthodox?

    1. The ACoE is still Nestorian. As for the OO, I deliberately left them out of O&H because of the ongoing talks between them and the Chalcedonian Orthodox, which have largely concluded that we have essentially the same ecclesiology.

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