Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Journals of Father Alexander Schmemann, 1973-1983

I must be the last kid on the block to read Fr. Schmemann's Journal. Once started, I could not put it down--a treasure of a book, by a remarkable man. What strikes one is his brutal honesty and tender humanity. Schmemann was a man of many interests, and his journal entries are wide-ranging. Along the way, he expressed great appreciaton for some of my personal favorites--the writings of Flannery O'Connor and Julian Green, as well as, of all things...."Fawlty Towers."

His frustrations are well-documented--clericalism, academic pettiness, the artificial "busyness" that can pass for church life, the dimunition of joy in the Liturgy, the baseness of Western society and what he refers to as "Byzantinism." But the journal is far from a chronicle of complaint. Schmemann always came back to the simple joy of life in Christ, for as he said, "there is undoubtedly only one joy: to know Him and share Him with each other." His last entry before his death was "What happiness it has all been!"

For some of the best ruminations on Schememann, review Scrivener's 13-part series, here.


EYTYXOΣ said...

I bought Schmemann's JOURNALS based on David Bryan's constant recommendation, and enjoy it tremendously. I've read about half of it, and it's now on loan to a friend. Who do you think is a good audience for this book, besides Orthodox Christians? I suspect it might be something to recommend to theologically-inclined Evangelical Protestants.

John said...

I agree--EPs could benefit from this book. And Schmemann's scope is so broad that I believe it would even appeal to those who may not be theologically-inclined at all, but still keenly observant of the continuing fallenness of our world. Also, his candor is a pleasant antidote to the Orthodox triumphalism one sometimes encounters.

Mimi said...

I've not read them yet, but I hear wonderful things.