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The Singing Heart: A Study Guide for Individuals and Groups
Every writer worries about how he will be read. Will his readers understand him? Will they see what he wanted to show them? Will they feel that which his heart has loved? Who will his readers be? So much depends on this… Most importantly, will they experience that desired spiritual meeting with themes distant yet near, for which the author secretly wrote his book?” So begins Ivan Ilyin’s Foreword to The Singing Heart, a work that rewards the reader not only with an understanding of what the author means by a heart that sings, but with a taste of that reality in her or his own heart. But how can one be the careful reader that Ilyin desires for his work, one who grasps the spiritual insights that he shares and avoids what he describes as “mechanics without soul” and “entertainment without responsibility” (p 13). Although offering instruction in proper readership lies well beyond the scope and intention of the Orthodox Christian Translation Society, we are pleased to offer this study guide as a gateway to a closer, more systematic reading of this enlightening text. Written by a thoughtful Orthodox layperson, the questions in the study guide allow readers, individually or within a group setting, to not only consider details of the text itself but also invite them to interact with Ilyin’s words and thoughts. By pondering these questions, readers may engage Ilyin’s essays more slowly and deliberately, affording themselves a chance to have the “spiritual meeting” with the book’s themes that the author so desired they have.
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