One of the seminal works in English for those who seek a greater understanding of Orthodoxy is The Orthodox Church by His Grace, the Right Reverend Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia. He was born in Bath, England in 1934 and is also known by his lay name, Timothy Ware. He is an auxiliary bishop of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Great Britain. From 1966-2001, he was Spalding Lecturer of Eastern Orthodox Studies at Oxford University. Bishop Kallistos was educated at Westminster School (to which he had won a scholarship) and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took a Double First in Classics as well as reading Theology. In 1958, at the age of 24, he embraced the Orthodox Christian faith (having been raised Anglican), traveling subsequently throughout Greece, spending a great deal of time at the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Patmos. He also frequented other major centers of Orthodoxy such as Jerusalem and Mount Athos. In 1966, he was ordained to the priesthood and was tonsured as a monk, receiving the name Kallistos.
In many countries, an increasing number of people are being drawn to Orthodoxy. Some find Orthodoxy through a spiritual search that draws them to the truth of the Apostolic faith, others because they perceive that their Churches have abandoned the teachings they grew up with. Most converts embraced the Orthodox Church at great personal cost. Many are despised by their relatives (even by parents and siblings) for having abandoned the family faith. Many lost friendships and relationships. Most converts have had to rebuild their personal lives and reestablish emotional connections in a Church that is culturally foreign to their previous experiences and lifestyle. Despite all of these obstacles they find their way to Orthodoxy and each journey is unique.
Bishop Kallistos has written an insightful essay here on his conversion and it should be required reading for all Orthodox Christians. Hat Tip to Athan for providing the link.
Excerpts from The Orthodox Church Part I: History and Part II: Faith and Worship are available on-line here and here
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