I was just reacquainted with this article by Christos Yannaras on Perry’s blog, and recommend it to you: The Distinction Between Essence and Energies and its Importance for Theology.
Yannaras was one of three influential authors I read in 02 and 03 as I began my initial exploration into the Orthodox Church. I started with, not surprisingly, Zizioulas’ Being and Communion, continued with Panayiotis Nellas’ Deification in Christ, and rounded out with Yannaras’ The Freedom of Morality. This trifecta gave me the conceptual framework to engage Orthodoxy on its own terms instead of trying to “translate” it into Protestant categories (and thus distort it). Once I was able to investigate Orthodoxy within its own framework, it’s internal coherence became obvious and many things that would otherwise have been “problems” for me just wafted away.
Given my personal context, academic and religious upbringing and experience, I think it was probably necessary that my introduction to Orthodox thought be in an almost exclusively intellectual vein. However, knowing what I now know, if I were to devise a “program” of introduction for myself (this is idiosyncratic and not for everyone), I think I would have focused far more exclusively on the lives of the desert fathers and saints, on practicing various prayers, and only later, perhaps about now, get into the head stuff.
But God’s providence is over all. One can’t go back and undo the past.