Orthodox Commentary on Theology, Ethics, and Culture
Friday, November 29, 2013
New Book Makes Eastern Othodoxy More Understandable
Contributed Photo McMurry University professor Philip LeMasters’ book, The Forgotten Faith: Ancient Insights for Contemporary Believers from Eastern Christianity,” was published recently by Cascade Books.
A glance at the table of contents tips readers off that what they are about to read isn’t a stuffy book on the history of Eastern Orthodoxy.
McMurry University religion professor Philip LeMasters, who also is a local Orthodox priest, set out to write a popular book about his religion that would be appealing to those with little or no background in the faith.
With chapter headings such as, “Salvation, Sex, and Food,” and “Football, Liturgical Worship, and Real Life,” he no doubt accomplished his goal.
LeMasters’ book is titled, “The Forgotten Faith: Ancient Insights for Contemporary Believers from Eastern Christianity.” It recently was published by Cascade Books, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers.
During the academic year, LeMasters takes art and religion majors from McMurry, Hardin-Simmons and Abilene Christian universities on tours of his church, St. Luke’s Orthodox, explaining the faith as he goes.
He points out the icons, incense and other features that may be foreign to students at United Methodist, Baptist, and Church of Christ universities.
“The book grows from those talks,” LeMasters said.
But the book isn’t just a transcription of those talks. It contains a section on how LeMasters came into the Orthodox faith after growing up Baptist and attending an Episcopal church. And, LeMasters’ academic background comes through in tracing the faith’s roots and practices. A foreword by Everett Ferguson, a retired professor of church history at ACU, says it best.
“He writes with the fervor of a convert and the balance of a scholar,” Ferguson wrote.
LeMasters said the point of his talks to students and the book is not to make converts but to explain the ancient faith and its practices that may seem odd to outsiders.
LeMasters wears several hats at McMurry. He is a professor or religion and dean of the School of Social Sciences and Religion. He also directs the university’s Honors Program.
Even with all those opportunities, LeMasters said he will resist the temptation to require students to buy his book as a textbook supplement. He didn’t rule out colleagues doing that, however.
“If some of my friends at ACU and Hardin-Simmons want to use it,” he joked, “that would be great.”