Reading List

This reading list is not exhaustive. It represents the best tools I have found for the recovery of a symbolic worldview and a sense of the stories we should know and inhabit.

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Recovering A Symbolic Worldview in The Modern Age

Recovering a Fuller Understanding of Art

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The Bible

Systematic reading of the Bible ideally becomes a regular practice

Focus first on the Story Books of the Pentateuch
  • Genesis
  • Exodus
Then read the Gospels in the New Testament and read them continually as you study the rest of the Bible
  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John

Also read the Epistles, as they offer some of the first and most profound typology connecting the Old and New Testaments.

Go through the secondary story books from the Old Testament
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1-2 Samuel
  • 1-2 Kings
  • 1-2 Chronicles
  • Ezra, Nehemia
  • Esther
  • Jonah
To understand the most immediate patterns and images, look to the Poetic Books
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Job
  • Song of Songs
  • Ecclesiastes
More difficult, but profound patterns are found in the Prophetic Books
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel
  • minor prophets
The most difficult, yet fullest, structure in the OT is in the Law, as it gives a full cosmic vision oriented toward action.
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • In the very end, this is the hardest book to read in the whole Bible, as it recapitulates and encompasses all of the patterns into a single string of images
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Basic Christian Stories & Worldview

Reading Christianity and its stories with hierarchy in mind

One problem that has arisen in our topsy-turvy world is the incapacity to read hierarchically. The fear and outright rejection by fundamentalists of any extra-Biblical material, as well as traditional authority, has caused an impoverished reading of the Bible itself.  Rather than understanding the Bible directly without the "corruption" of extra-Biblical traditions, they instead interpreted the Bible through a rationalist and  scientific lens. This has led to the bankruptcy of Christianity and Western thought in general.

When one reads hierarchically, extra-Biblical material, such as apocryphal or non-canonical writings, does not threaten the purity of Christianity as fundamentalists and  atheists wish to believe. Rather, extra-Biblical traditions and other stories can provide insight that is implicit in the Bible, but that we might need a bit of a nudge to see. So if the Bible says nothing about Christ being born in a cave, the extra-Biblical tradition detailing this fact can help us see some of the implications of the incarnation more clearly.

Ignoring the apocryphal traditions will lead us to misunderstand the implicit relationships and meaning in the Bible. But at the same time, one has to be careful not to see apocryphal stories as being on the same level as the Biblical text or in competition with the basic tenets of Christianity. Like any hierarchy, these extra tidbits should rather act as arrows pointing us always back to what is essential, which is ultimately Christ Himself. Without hierarchy, the apocryphal stories and pseudo-gospels will slowly devour the Bible and Christianity, which is what we have seen in the last few decades.

This pattern also goes for mythology and legends from all over the world, as well as for literature in general. When all these things hold their proper position in a hierarchy of meaning, we can read and enjoy them, and more readily receive their insights into the deeper patterns of reality.

Stories That Portray a Grand Vision of Christian Cosmology

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Orthodox Theology and Apologetics

A Few Readings From the Fathers

(These are just a few tidbits to begin one’s journey through the Church Fathers and the other mystics of the Church. There are infinite resources here to explore.)

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Culture & Post Modernism

A Basic Understanding of the Problems of Culture and Post-Modernism

Gathered here are a few texts that I have found helpful to understand the post-modern worldview and how the fragmentation of quality, centers, meaning, etc., becomes framed in Marxist categories and the thrusts of revolutionary thinking.

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Universal History

Universal History

Here are some basic contemporary writings about history, particularly Christian history, as well as some other recommendations from Richard Rohlin to rediscover a Universal History.

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Stories You Should Basically Know

These are suggestions, and you do not have to be read in the sources, but can be learned from secondary texts such as compilations of myths, podcasts such as the great Myths and Legends podcast and courses such as those offered in the Great Courses program. The importance is to first master the basic elements of the stories.

The Matter of Rome (Ancient World)

The Matter of Britain

The Matter of France

(This is less important but still interesting for a sense of legendary history.)

Pre-Christian Tales from Europe

  • Beowulf
  • Norse Mythology (The Eddas, of course, but Neil Gaiman has written a wonderful book recently called Norse Mythology)
  • Nordic Sagas (One can easily find books retelling the Saga of the Volsungs and the saga of Ragnar Lothbrok, there are also good retellings on the Myths and Legends Podcast.)
  • Celtic Mythology (I don’t know much about Celtic Mythology to be honest, but I am learning still.)

Slavic myths and fairy tales

  • Deacon Nicholas Kotar has a wonderful podcast called In a Certain Kingdom that's a great resource on this topic.

Know your fairy tales!

The unofficial GoodReads 'Symbolism and Christian Symbolism' reading list (includes votes and reviews)