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Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  356 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
"He was an Episcopal priest, but he was standing in an Orthodox church on this Saturday night and thinking about the Truth. At the altar a gold-robed priest strode back and forth swinging incense,...a small choir was singing in haunting harmony, voices twining in a capella simplicity...the ancient words of this vesperal service had been chanted for more than a millennium. ...more
Published January 2nd 1997 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 1997)
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Feb 29, 2008 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: catechumens, converts, Orthodox Christians
Read this about a year before I converted to Orthodox Christianity. Frederica is basically a former hippie who, with her husband, converted to Episcopalianism; her husband became an Episcopal priest, and they eventually converted to Orthodoxy after they became disenchanted with the direction of the Episcopal Church.

The Mathewes-Greens were part of an interesting phenomenon which began in the mid- to late 1980s, where Protestant ministers, their families, and sometimes their entire congregations
Aug 12, 2012 Patrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book seeking explanations about Orthodox beliefs, music, fasting rules, iconography, and views on other Christian traditions. However, this book is a continuous flow of Frederica's disjointed thoughts and feelings rather than a commentary on what real Orthodox do and why they do it. I wanted more substance, but Frederica only offers shallow personal vignettes that were surprisingly flippant. Overall, this is a disappointing book written by someone who regards herself much too highly.
Sep 30, 2011 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern-orthodox
Yes, this is an NPR commentator’s memoir of the “personal journey” sort, but there’s nothing typical in Frederica’s approach–-no awkward exhibitionism, no sense that life is being filtered and processed, turned into a cultural commodity. In fact, the book reads like a wagon-train tale of a couple packing up their children and their future and driving off into an untamed frontier. And that frontier just happens to be–-to American eyes, at least–-the most mysterious and most radically traditional ...more

Facing East recounts a year in the life of a small Orthodox mission, one created by six families that include a newly-minted priest, Mathews-Green's husband. The M-Gs, as the author refers to her family later on, are both converts to the faith, and throughout this piece she reflects on the way her experience has changed in the last three years, as she and her husband begin to soak in the liturgy and live the Orthodox life more deeply. While this is not a formal introduction to Orthodoxy, or even
I think I have read too many of Frederica's books in too short a time, because it is getting blurry what she wrote where. I read somewhere a comparison of Frederica Mathewes-Green with Kathleen Norris, who started writing about her Christian faith and her times of retreat in a monastery in Minnesota. I think that the comparison falls flat, Norris is a better writer, and is not so formulaic.

This book is based on the same formula as her other book, "At the Corner of East and Now". She writes in th
Elesa Labanz
This book contains one of my favorite quotes of all times. I can't recall the exact setup of the quote, so forgive me, but I sure can relate to the sentiment.

"But, oh, how sweet is anger. When I'm angry, I'm not in the wrong. Somebody else is in the wrong, and for once I have peace. A delicious peace that gnaws over the wrong like a lion with a ragged bone. It is delicious and compelling enough that it urges me to accumulate other wrongs and hold them greedily close. I love to be wronged; only t
Joseph Rice
Mar 17, 2011 Joseph Rice rated it really liked it
Shelves: orthodoxy
i've read this several times, and the fact that the author de-mystified much of Orthodoxy for me helped in my conversion. perhaps this is why many people i've encountered aren't that fond of the book (its folksy manner), but it allowed me to see that Orthodoxy wasn't just something for Greeks and Russians, etc, but for anyone searching for the Original Church. even us Southerners.
Aug 09, 2007 Christopher rated it liked it
In 1992 the husband of Frederica Mathewes-Green decided to leave the Episcopal Church for the fullness of Orthodoxy, a move which she approached with nervousness but ultimately embraced. Mrs Mathewes-Green has since become one of the foremost writers on Orthodoxy in America. FACING EAST introduces Orthodoxy by following the activities of her small parish Holy Cross Orthodox Mission in Maryland.

I enjoy the small pieces that often appear from Mrs Mathewes-Green, but I find that her style becomes r
Mar 08, 2010 Kacie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book about Orthodoxy from the perspective of someone coming in from Protestantism. Frederica Mathewes-Green and her husband were "born again" into the charismatic church from agnosticism, and after following a longing for history and liturgy, he became a priest in the Episcopalian church. After struggling with the Episcopalian church's increasing doctrinal slide away from conservatism, they moved into Eastern Orthodoxy.

After this rather striking journey is detailed in Green's p
Robyn Christian
This book was great. There are many books I am interested in reading about Orthodoxy, but I am glad I read this one first. Being a woman who is coming into the Orthodox world as an adult, wife, and mother myself, being able to follow Frederica threw her journey was familiar as I started my own journey one year ago and also comforting to know it's ok to not get it all at once. Seeing the transformation in herself and her family as I have started to see in my own was great. I think this book would ...more
Dave Peticolas

I found this book lying on the floor in the hallway of my apartment building. It is Mathewes-Green's account of a year in a newly-formed Orthodox Christian church in the US, shortly after her conversion from Protestantism.

Parts of the book are quite engaging and I certainly learned much I didn't know about the Orthodox church, which was basically nothing. Many sections, on the other hand, read like a rather tedious blog on her daily life. I'm afraid I skimmed through quite a bit and it felt much

Brittany Hunter
Mar 17, 2010 Brittany Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over a period of 3 months, every morning as I walked from my car to my office and back again. (It's about 1/2 mile.)

Definitely more memoir than authoritative theological tome (which is exactly what the book claims to be), the author's honest and personal tone were comforting to me and her prose is very enthralling and enjoyable to read. The struggles and feeling she expressed are universal to the Christian walk and could happen in any small church, not just Orthodox -- making it
One of the first books I began reading on Orthodoxy back in '99-2000. This could easily be subtitled "Diary of an Orthodox Priest's Wife and their Mission Parish". Khouria Frederica takes the reader through the liturgical year in their new mission parish soon after her Episcopalian priest husband converted to Orthodoxy. Its a nice look into the life of a priest's family and their new parish as it struggles to get its bearings.
Mar 16, 2013 Chrissy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is Mathewes-Green's memoir of a year in the early stages of their Orthodox parish. She has a fantastic voice -- she strikes me as the type of person you'd want to sip tea with in your living room while having a rich conversation. I took my time with this one because I found Mathewes-Green a helpful resource in refining my understanding of many Orthodox practices. Ordered her next one to continue that journey.
Rebekah Leland
Sep 30, 2013 Rebekah Leland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the best book I've read as an introduction to eastern orthodoxy. This is the one I plan to give to my friends to read. It's extremely well-written (Matthews-Green is a professional writer and has worked for NPR), beautiful (we wept as we read), and it's done as a sort of memoir (my favorite). I can't speak highly enough about this book or this author. Please, read it, even if you care nothing about orthodoxy.
Apr 30, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful tale of a Orthodox Priests wife as they journey through a year in the Church. She and her husband are converts, so she is able to tell the story from new eyes with humor and inspirtation. It was a wonderful book that I know I will read again, and I will look for her other book as well. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Allison Rockwell
Lovely glimpses into Orthodox life at different times of the church year, but I think it's better read in small chunks than in one go, perhaps by reading the sections written for each part of the church calendar during that part of the year. Doesn't make it very good for checking out of the library.
May 30, 2012 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
This is one of my favorite books, and I pulled it out to loan to a friend, thought I'd read "just a bit" and re-read it yet again yesterday. A wonderful look into a year in the life of a Mission Parish through the eyes of their priest's wife.
Frpaul Stoll
Jan 18, 2013 Frpaul Stoll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book for converts to the Orthodox faith. Khouria Frederica writes well and has wonderful insights into the faith. I recommend it as a great read along with the Orthodox Church by Met. Kallistos (Timothy Ware).
Apr 17, 2009 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable reflection on the author's conversion to Orthodoxy and its traditions. Her tone was perfect; she gently and cheerfully explained how and why she treasures the Eastern Orthodox tradition. A helpful perspective.
Aug 07, 2011 Penelope rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the fourth year running, will begin my Lent 'fast' from novels with this thought provoking and moving account of moving to the Orthodox church and of celebrating Lent and Easter from that perspective.
May 19, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
An excellent anecdotal picture of Eastern Orthodoxy in the United States. Also, a great companion read to Ware's The Orthodox Church. Highly recommend it!
Mar 15, 2010 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've really enjoyed every book that she has written that I have read. This is not the most theologically deep of those, but I always learn from her.
Connie Backus-yoder
Dec 08, 2014 Connie Backus-yoder rated it really liked it
Interesting read, but I still do not wish to convert even if according to them I am a member of the apostate Episcopal church.
Oct 15, 2010 Misty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a more folksy than cerebral account of conversion. A nice, superficial introduction to Orthodoxy, and an easy read.
Mike Simmons
Aug 24, 2013 Mike Simmons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for those interested in the Orthodox Church. Fredrica takes you through her families first year in the Church.
Henrietta H
Jan 03, 2012 Henrietta H rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially those interested in the Eastern Orthodox religion.
Shelves: finished
As always, Frederica Matthews-Green explains Eastern Orthodoxy with detail and love. It was a really good read!
It was okay. It was more about her life while converting than the faith itself. It was still a good read though.
Maureen E
Oct 04, 2011 Maureen E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this look at the Orthodox year. It was just what I needed to read at the end of Lent. [March 2010]
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