Top positive review
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The Orthodox Church
on 1 October 2011
I agree with the person who reviewed the Kindle version of the book. Although I do not have a Kindle, the footnotes to the book are important and not just ancillary or scholarly. You need to read them and if the Kindle version is not good, then you have a problem with this book.
The book itself is an excellent introduction to Orthodox Christianity. When I received it, I devoured it. In some respects it surpasses the Kallistos Ware book on Orthodoxy not because it is better in overall content but, because it is very full and directed towards the ordinary Christian reader in, perhaps, a more straightforward way. It suffers at time from a certain bad-temperedness when Fr. McGuckin feels strongly about something. Kallistos Ware's introduction is rather more temperate, and frankly more English in its evenness of tone, but this is more a matter of taste than anything else.
The one problem, however, facing most apologists of Orthodox Christianity is to explain why Orthodox Christianity is supposed to be better than Western Christianity, especially in the aftermath of the Enlightenment in the West. Most Orthodox apologists say that Orthodoxy is less polluted, so the speak, by the Enlightenment and, therefore, is an more original version of Christianity. This is undoubtedly true viewed from an historical and theological point of view but it does not explain why Orthodoxy is a more convincing version of Christianity. One is left with the suspicion that Orthodoxy has, not, in fact, dealt with the challenges of the Enlightenment. One hates to say it but this may give rise to suspicions that Orthodoxy is just native to parts of Europe that have not been affected so much by modern thinking (Eastern Europe, Russia etc.) and, therefore, despite its impressive antiquity and faithfulness to tradition, it is, let us say, just a tad behind the times but I don't want to be a snobbish old Western thinker. Neither McGuckin or Ware really tackle this problem head on and until they and fellow apologists of Orthodoxy do, Orthodoxy will continue to be fascinating but merely esoteric to outsiders.