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Customer Review

on 3 November 2000
Prayer...the light that leads us down the narrow path into the quiet place where we come into the presence of the Holy One. Prayer...descending with the mind into the heart and listening for that still, soft voice. Prayer...the language that we must use in developing our love relationship with the Savior. Jim Forest's book, Praying With Icons, talks a lot about icons and the art of iconography, but it is mostly about prayer...
I am in many ways ignorant of the traditions of the Orthodox Church. One of the great things about this book is Mr. Forest's ability to put Orthodox concepts and traditions into very understandable terms. He begins the book with a short history of icons. He then briefly outlines the qualities of icons, what it takes to be an iconographer, and ends Part I with a very brief but fascinating discussion of the use of color in iconography. The section on color really intrigued me. Each color represents some spiritual quality-for instance: "Blues are associated with heaven, mystery, and the mystical life", while "Red, the color of blood, suggests life, vitality, and beauty".
In Part II Forest discusses prayer. He starts with a discussion of how human beings were created with a need to pray. This need expresses itself in a multitude of ways depending on the person, what they believe, or what kind of culture they live in. Forest argues that in spite of all these differences, the need to pray in some form-even if the person does not believe in prayer-is universal. He then goes on to explain the traditional Orthodox way of prayer. This section is most useful for those interested in the many faceted jewel of prayer. Forest speaks eloquently of what some call stillness. As I read more and more on prayer, and as I begin to experience more and more of prayer, I am struck by what an awesome privilege it is to enter into the quiet of God's rest. Forest is succinct and lucid (as only one with experience of this kind of prayer can be) while discussing this kind of prayer.
Parts III and IV focus on explaining different types of icons and their spiritual significance. This part was not only very interesting, but it changed my view on icons and iconography as a whole. Prior to reading this book I was unimpressed with icons. I thought of them as primitive pieces of art that bordered on idolatry. How wrong I was! I now see the silent beauty of these masterpieces. They are truly prayers in a visual medium.
Part V is a listing of prayers that are commonly prayed in Orthodox services. This part is also very useful for understanding the Eastern Church.
This book is fully worthwhile. I cannot recommend it enough.
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