The other weekend I attended a Middle Eastern Festival at a local Orthodox Christian Church. Of course, being the religion nerd I am, I went to the shopping stalls ran by the church. I found a couple Our Lady of Perpetual Help medals that’ll look good on my rosaries. I got a St. Barbara icon because, heck, St. Barbara is my confirmation saint and she’s so rare, when you find anything with her on it, you buy it. I picked up this book and the author mentioned the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae on the first page I turned to. I had to buy this book then, even though it was 20 bucks for a 130 page thesis.
Other than the price, this book did not disappoint. It’s utterly fascinating to see all of the ways in which the Orthodox and the Catholic understandings of marriage compare and contrast. I found some excellent quotes about the importance of the Eucharist in marriage that I will be sharing later.
He did not dispute Humanae Vitae, he made a good point for why Orthodox Christians should not ignore a papal document simply because it comes from the Pope. He did, however, make it abundantly clear that the Orthodox Church does not have a ban against birth control. He brings up an excellent series of questions about Catholic teachings on birth control. While the questions were very good, they did make me wonder if he actually read the encyclical. Many of his questions are addressed in the encyclical. Maybe they just weren’t answered to his satisfaction.
It is very much a heady, doctoral thesis style book. Although I don’t think it’s above your average reader’s head, it certainly isn’t light bedtime reading. Regardless of your denomination, I think it could give any mainline Christian a new appreciation of marriage and the primacy of our Lord in the Sacrament. It can also answer some of your more controversial questions about Orthodox Christianity like married priests and gay marriage.
Don’t pay $20 for it, though. See if you have a religious nerd friend you can share the price and the book with. I don’t have book buyers remorse, however. At least my purchase helped support the local church.