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The Illumined Heart: Capture the Vibrant Faith of Ancient Christians
Paraclete Press / 2007 / Paperback
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Why are modern Christians so indistinguishable from everyone else? How could the first Christians fast valiantly, but we feel deprived without dessert? How did New Testament believers pray without ceasing? How could the early Christian martyrs actually forgive their torturers? What did the Christians of the first centuries know that we don't? In short, what did it really mean to "live in Christ" in the years directly following Jesus' resurrection?
This is the central question with which Mathewes-Green struggles in this deceptively small book. Building on the wisdom of our earliest mothers and fathers in the faith, the author lays out principles and practices that have been long-forgotten. Read, and be transformed.
Frederica Mathewes-Green received her B.A. in English from the University of South Carolina and her M.A. in Theological Studies from Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary. A sought-after speaker, editor, and commentator, she has worked with The Odyssey Television Network, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," World magazine, Religion News Service, and Christianity Today, among others.
Why are modern Christians so indistinguishable from everyone else?
How come Christians who lived in times of bloody persecution were so heroic, while we who live in safety are not?
How could the first Christians fast valiantly, but we feel deprived without dessert?
How did New Testament believers pray without ceasing?
How could the early Christian martyrs actually forgive their torturers?
What did the Christians of the first centuries know that we don't?
That's what this book is about.
From the author:
When I look back at the process of writing The Illumined Heart, I'm amazed all over again at how God directed it. I wrote the whole thing in a week, the week before Christmas, in fact, which is so typically congested with last-minute errands, unpredicatable weather, aches and sniffles. For Orthodox Christians, it's also a week that we fast from meat and dairy, adding another ball to the juggling act. Yet somehow I started writing the book on Monday morning and completed it Sunday night, just fourteen minutes after the Christmas Eve service began. (I kept wondering where in the week I'd dawdled and lost that fourteen minutes.)
It's no wonder that I look at The Illumined Heart as the one out of all of my books that felt the most God-directed. Mostly, he told me when to shut up. For a cup-runneth-over writer like me, starting a book is like moving into mid-pregnancy and putting on those stretch-front trousers for the first time; they're like a license to eat. And knowing that I have room to write on and on, whatever comes to mind, makes for abundant, wandering prose. Yet The Illumined Heart is quiet, proportional, just-enough; it's like a jewel. It's no wonder that this is a personal favorite among my own books, and the one I must urge people to read. I'm pleased by the amount of good work it's done so far, and hope that it will continue to do much more.
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