Frederica Mathewes-Green, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, is a regular commentator for National Public Radio's Morning Edition and other media outlets, a columnist for Beliefnet, and a regular contributor to Christianity Today, which she formerly served as a columnist. Last October, Dick Staub interviewed her about her spiritual journey and her book The Illumined Heart: The Ancient Christian Path of Transformation. Now she's back to talk about a kind of sequel to that volume: The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer (Paraclete Press).
We've heard the story of your journey to Christianity, and then Eastern Orthodoxy, before. But could you quickly summarize it for those who haven't?
I was raised in a nominal Roman Catholic home, but without any really strong faith there. As a teenager and a student, I totally cast away the Christian faith. I just believed it was stupid and only stupid people could believe it. I actually became an anti-Christian, and very antagonistic.
After I graduated from college, while traveling around Europe, hitchhiking, doing the tourist thing, I went into a church in Dublin. At that point I was calling myself a Hindu, but even if you're a Hindu, you've got to look into churches when you're in Europe. And I was looking at a statue of Jesus. I can't explain it. I just was looking at the statue, and the next minute I knew I was kneeling down.
And I could hear an interior voice, not with my ears, but I could like hear a voice inside speaking to me and saying, "I am your life. I am the foundation of everything in your life." And it was a big surprise. I thought I had the whole world figured out. I thought all religions were equal, and it's just this delightful garden of spiritual flowers ...1