AT THE CORNER OF EAST AND NOW by Frederica Mathewes-Green


A Modern Life in Ancient Christian Orthodoxy
Email this review


A convert from Episcopalianism to Orthodoxy, popular NPR commentator Mathewes-Green has emerged as America’s most trusted voice on matters Orthodox. In a delightful follow-up to her unforgettable memoir Facing East (1997), Mathewes-Green walks the uninitiated through the Orthodox liturgy. She takes on daunting theological questions with her characteristic honesty and brio, addressing theodicy (“It’s the big stupid prize question of all spiritual life—how can bad things happen to good people—and no matter how many words are poured over it the problem remains, mocking us: good people still get clobbered by bad things”), exorcism, authority. But most rewarding are the glimpses into the author’s own religious journey. Reminiscent of Anne Lamott, Mathewes-Green shows how hours spent in pursuits that appear to be as secular as the nightly news report are, in fact, steeped with spiritual meaning: a Christmastime trip to a thrift shop, a family repast at a Mexican restaurant. Throughout, Mathewes-Green slips in painless doses of Orthodox history, although her convert’s zeal sometimes renders her more cheerleader than critic: be skeptical when she describes Orthodoxy as characterized by “bottom-up church leadership” and claims that “since there is no locus of power where the faith may be tailored to fit current fashion it doesn’t change in any significant way . . . . The faith of the first century is the faith of the Orthodox today.” Ranks with Lamott’s Traveling Mercies and Elizabeth Erlich’s Miriam’s Kitchen as essential reading in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 1999
ISBN: 0-87477-987-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: TarcherPerigee
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999