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An adult convert from the Church of England, Knox served for a time as chaplain to Catholic students at Oxford, but, beginning in the late 1930s, he was (rather like the poet Rilke) a more-or-less permanent house guest of the gentry - though not an idle guest: he worked prodigiously as a translator (of the whole Bible), biblical commentator, and indefatigable apologist for the Catholic faith. Apart from his translation of the Bible, he is perhaps best known for his book Enthusiasm, a careful study of the religious movements that, in Knox's judgment, put too much emphasis on personal religious experience.

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									                                Religion	Booknotes
                                Lawrence S. Cunningham
                                         Michael Plekon’s 2002 book Living Icons was a won- to those who are interested in solid work
                                                                                                                            have little knowl-
                                           derful survey of saintly men and women—some on spirituality but who East in general or
                                                                                               edge of the Christian
                                           too little known in the Western Church—who Russian thought in particular. The best
                                           exemplified the deep spirituality of the Eastern of this thought roots itself in the deepest
                                                                                                             Christian life
                                           Church. Hidden Holiness, drawing again on Or- soil of the with Scripture through liturgy,
                                                                                               gagement                        and the
                                                                                                                                        an en-

                                          thodox spirituality, but with an ecumenical sweep, while remaining aware of the larger world
                                       discusses the holiness that can be attained by doing around it. Plekon helps the uninitiated
                                                                                                     this thought with generous
                                ordinary things. In seven meaty chapters, including an ecu- into highlight works in English. notes
                                                                                               that
                                menical cast of characters, Plekon searches for the strate-
                                gies and resources that bring people close to God, for, as he Saint	Paul
                                rightly understands, holiness is a fundamental characteristic Pope Benedict XVI
                                of God, and everyone else is holy to the degree that he or she Ignatius Press, $14.95, 131 pp.
                                is drawn closer to God. Plekon is particularly interested in
                                                                                                  During the
                                how this holiness is most frequently hidden, even if he must ended last June,Year of St. Paul, which
                                                                                                                    Pope Benedict XVI gave
                                use sources that are quite well known.                         twenty talks on the apostle Paul at his
                                                                                                                            weekly papal audiences. They have now
                                                                               cially from those great figures associated   been gathered into a slim, highly read-
                                Hidden	Holiness                                with the Russian Saint Sergius Institute     able book, simply titled Saint Paul. Begin-
                                Michael Plekon                                 in Paris, Plekon reinforces the judgment     ning with a talk on the cultural context
                                University of Notre Dame Press, $25, 224 pp.
                                                                               of the past two popes that the church        of Paul’s life as a Jew, Greek speaker, and
                                                                               must breathe “with two lungs.”               Roman citizen, the pope proceeds to
                                   The persons and stories on which he            This book is especially recommended       Paul’s Damascus experience and ends
                                meditates are varied. He writes about
                                the outstanding Orthodox theologians
                                Sergius Bulgakov and Elisabeth Behr-
                                Sigel; about a Dutch victim of the Holo-
                                caust, Etty Hillesum; about the Episcopal
                                servant of the poor Sara Miles in San
                                Francisco; and about the wife of an Inuit
                                Orthodox priest, Olga Arsamquq Mi-
Commonweal . January 15, 2010




                                chael. Of course, the usual suspects, such
                                as Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton,
                                also feature in his pages.
                                   What stands behind Plekon’s approach
                                is his conviction, inspired by the late
                                Orthodox theologian Alexander Schme-
                                mann, that the church exists for the “life
                                of the world.” Schmemann resisted the
                                temptation (hardly peculiar to Orthodox
                                believers) to sectarian inwardness. By
                                framing much of his own analysis in terms
                                                                                                                                                        
								
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