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Open Door

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  58 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Views the icons that would be found in a typical contemporary Orthodox church, explains their history and theology, and shows how icons can be used as a natural part of a worshiper's devotional life.
Hardcover, 166 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Paraclete Press (MA) (first published August 2003)
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This book walks the reader through a set of icons that are commonly used in Orthodox Churches. For someone not "in the know" about icons, this was a helpful book. It is interesting to me that icons, which have similarities to stain glass windows, were originally "written" because Christians at that time were not always literate. They provided Bible stories in visual form, and a way to focus devotional prayer time if you didn't have a Bible available to read for yourself. Yet now this book provid ...more
Stephen Case
Icons are strange. To an outsider, they are certainly among the most foreign aspects of Orthodox spirituality and praxis. The strangeness is only magnified by their centrality: these aren’t simply decorations or “devotional aids.” They get at something central to Orthodoxy: the intersection of the physical with the divine. The Orthodox Church devotes an entire feast to their celebration, and every other feastday, indeed every Sunday, they figure prominently. Understanding icons and why they play ...more
Matthews-Green gives a brief introduction--from the perspective on someone who has never been in a Eastern Christian church before--to twelve different classic icons. She takes the reader on a journey throughout the feasts of the Eastern church year, and gives those who are perhaps immersed in a western pattern of thought a perspective on just how deep and rich the Eastern Christian tradition of prayer with icons has been and has become. Frederica Matthews-Green offers readers a warm and rich in ...more
Rebekah Leland
Another book by Mathewes-Green. The chapter on the icon of The Virgin of Vladimir is worth reading the whole book for.

"It's been said that all icons are ultimately icons of Christ. When we look at Mary or a saint we see the power of the One who saved and transformed them, who works in history, who turns ordinary humans into saints. And Mary is an ordinary human. Ordinary, that is, in the sense that she had normal human DNA, was born the same way we were, and like us ate and drank and slept. She'
I am pretty sure that I have read this book before, but it was good to revisit what Mathewes-Green has to say. Thanks to her, I think I am becoming more comfortable with these beautiful works of art. They are, of course, more than just art, they are aids to prayer. The perspectives and style are just odd to my eyes.

Mathewes-Green was not born to Orthodoxy, but apparently converted as an adult. She understands the Western view of icons and can bridge the gap between our understanding and the East
This book was a wonderful down-to-earth, easy-to-read little introduction to the world of Orthodox icons, Orthodox worship, and Orthodox ways of thinking. Frederica has such a warm, conversational writing style that makes one feel as if they are having a one to one conversation with a friend. In this book, as she gives us a little tour of the most universal icons, she brings us into the Orthodox temple throughout the year and lets us glimpse the worship life of the people. I, for one, was rivete ...more
This is a survey of the major icons in the Orthodox faith. There's a heavy emphasis on the physical artwork (she frequently analyzes the use of perspective, color, and medium). I liked the imagery that Mathewes-Green used as she explains what the inside of a church might look like at the times of year that these icons would be heavily emphasized. The book includes color or B&W images of each icon surveyed, which is helpful to the reader unfamiliar with them. In hindsight, I think I flipped b ...more
Kim Bollen
I loved this little book, as always Frederica Mathews-Green gives me much to meditate upon. "We don't have a religion that teaches a separation between Holy Stuff and the rest of life; everything belongs to Him and is filled with His presence - even something as basic, simple, and ordinary as water." The book also increased my desire to visit St. Catherine's monastery on Mt. Sinai, maybe one of these days...
David Frye
This was an approachable and touching introduction to the place of icons in the life of faith of the people in the Orthodox tradition of Christianity. The author was wise to present icons through the device of accompanying worshipers through a church year. The color and black and white plates in the book are a great aid to appreciating the peaceful and transcendent beauty of icons.
Sep 01, 2008 Debbi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Patricia, Phil
I read this several years ago as I was preparing to enter the Orthodox Church. I also read it to my children to help them understand the place icons hold in the Eastern Church.

The Open Door is an excellent resource for Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. The author takes a gentle, "this is what we do in an Orthodox church..", approach to teaching about icons.
A good and enjoyable first icon book, very inspirational. Gives some of the basic Icon stories and manages to interest folks into reading more.
Excellent introduction to the major feasts and icons of the Orthodox Church year.
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