The brief survey of the life of St Seraphim of Sarov that makes up chapter two of Living Icons bears with it no real surprises, although we are told that "St Seraphim is a key to the more open and creative understanding of the path of the gospel, the life of communion in God. We are also told that he was one who was "breaking the molds, transcending the boundaries." I am not, however, convinced that this is indeed the case. Certainly he had his own unique characteristics as monk, priest, and saint – but none of this, I'm fairly sure, was meant in any way to be a challenge to the institutional Church. His presence in this book still baffles me. I'd also have to object to the statement that St Seraphim "lived in one of the worst periods of church life in Russia." Certainly the Synodal period was bleak in certain canonical and political regards, but every commentator on the period is quick to note that it was also full of saints. Altogether, a rather odd beginning to the book.