It's deceptively simple, this little book. Conversational. The author describes the famous icon of Christ of Sinai: ''Look at the icon of Christ again. You may find his gaze unsettling, as if He is looking back at you, or even through you. My husband, a pastor, once received a phone call from a retired humanities professor. The caller said that he was a lifelong atheist and humanist who was mostly ignorant of religion. But then someone had given him a copy of this icon. 'When I look at it, I have the sensation that He's looking into my soul,' he said. 'Before this, I didn't even think there was such a thing as a soul.''' Immediately you find yourself no longer a detached observer but an engaged subject. Therein lies this book's brilliance. Yes, it also contains plenty of necessary and helpful explanations of icons and their place in Orthodox churches and worship. But its genius is the way it draws you beyond the externals of icons into something deeper -- a sense of their immediate relevance and ability to convey the essence of the festivals or persons they represent. Another unassuming triumph for Mathewes-Green.
An Eighth Day View:
A unique view of icons. Unlike many books of meditations on icons, this book presents a unique opportunity for readers to visit an imaginary church and see icons "in action" throughout the year--to stand alongside worshippers for whom the use of icons is a natural part of their devotional lives. Reproductions of icons on the book jacket and in the inside text allow the reader to view the icons that would be found in a typical contemporary Orthodox church, as Frederica Mathewes-Green explains their history and theology. Stories of saints and texts of the prayers appointed for the day enhance the devotional quality of the book. Anyone interested in understanding and "praying with" icons will benefit from the warmhearted practical guide.