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BOOK REVIEW – WINDOWS TO ORTHODOXY

 Windows to Orthodoxy

Title: Windows to Orthodoxy

Author: Dr Guy Freeland

Publisher: St Andrew’s Orthodox Press (Sydney)

Year of Publication: 2013

ISBN: 9780977597475

For quite a number of years, Dr Guy Freeland has been dedicated to the promotion of Orthodox theological discourse and learning within Australia, specifically in areas of liturgics and liturgical expression. And as part of this vocation of love, he has served for many years as lecturer at St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College in Sydney, and as editor or contributor to many of the college’s or archdiocesan publications such as Phronema.

As a graduate of St Andrew’s, I still recall how I always looked forward to reading each new article instalment that Dr Freeland would make in the various Church and College publications. They were always insightful and pithy articles that inspired deep thought or helped lighten the tone of a trying and mundane day. Yet amongst these various writings, I recall that the articles that provided much interesting reading, were a series of articles that were published under the section entitled “Windows to Orthodoxy” that were in virtually every edition of the Vema’s English section.

The primary focus of Freeland’s article contributions within the Windows to Orthodoxy series, looked at events within the Orthodox liturgical year and mystagogies (sacraments), along with their corresponding popular customs and expressions. In many of these articles Dr Freeland would relate about personal journeys around the world to places such Ireland, Turkey and beyond. He would speak about prominent and obscure Christian figures, and their role within the historical and liturgical witness of Christianity. Such articles included St Brendan the Navigator, who discovered America as a result of searching for his place of resurrection, which was an old Celtic monastic practice of seeking out a place to conduct ascetical struggle; or the use of the labyrinth in Christendom as a prayer mandala; or warning of the excesses that one can fall into when preaching to a congregation. This and many more delightful insights and yarns, Dr Freeland brought to his readership in these wonderful articles published in the “Windows to Orthodoxy” section.

When St Andrew’s Theological College established St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, in order to meet its need for a formalised publishing arm, it began discussing with Dr Freeland about the possibility of publishing many of these articles that had been written for the English edition of the Greek-Ausralian Vema. And so it was decided that Dr Freeland and the editing team, would begin work in selecting, developing and refining many of the published articles that Dr Freeland had contributed to “Windows to Orthodoxy”. Subsequently, the book which has come out of this endeavour, is appropriately entitled “Windows to Orthodoxy”, and is a credit to Dr Freeland’s erudition and a testimony to the hard work of St Andrew’s Press, particularly to Mr Dimitri Kepreotes who is the chief force behind the Press’ endeavours.

Much like the articles to which I and other theological students and graduates found inspiring, this wonderful book continues that unique style of narrative to which Dr Freeland has become renowned for. It is not an exaggeration, because the book does not bombard the reader with heavy doctrinal theology; but presents a series of 33 easy to read chapter articles, that are set out in a chronological order, according to the Orthodox liturgical year, which are written as a narrative of anecdotes and yarns that seek to entertain and inspire contemplation within the reader. Some points may initially seem controversial as Dr Freeland seeks to capture our attention and cause us to question, before dispelling the controversy. The use of photos (some of which are from Dr Freeland’s own travels) and diagrams, help illustrate and illumine many of the points Dr Freeland wishes to bring our attention to. In any case, many more things can be said, but it is best left to the reader to explore for themselves this unique work that is a Window to Orthodoxy.

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