As Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I is the symbol of unity for the self-governing national and ethnic Orthodox Christian churches throughout the world. He is well known for his commitment to protecting the environment, and for opening communications with other Christians (especially the Roman Catholic Church) as well as with Muslims and other religious groups.
Written with personal warmth and great erudition, encountering the mystery, illuminates the rich culture and soul of Orthodox Christianity. Bartholomew I traces the roots of Orthodox Christianity to its founding 2000 years ago, explores its spirituality and doctrine, and explains its liturgy and art. More especially, in a unique and unprecedented way, he relates Orthodox Christianity to contemporary issues, such as freedom and human rights, social justice and globalization, as well as nationalism and war.
With a recent rebirth of Orthodox Christian churches (particularly in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe), there has been great interest in understanding this important branch of Christianity with its close ties to the traditions of the early Church. As USA TODAY recently reported, Orthodox Christian churches throughout the country are drawing converts attracted by the beauty of its liturgy and inspired by its enduring theology and teachings. But for the general seeker, whatever their background, encountering the mystery is a rich spiritual source that draws upon the wisdom of millennia.
Bartholomew Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople
Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader for the world’s over 200 million Orthodox Christians. He is dedicated to advancing reconciliation among Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities, and is an active proponent of environmental causes.
Orthodoxy is neither just a theological system nor just a set of liturgical disciplines; it is in the most serious and full sense wisdom – a perspective of Spirit-led insight that transforms both vision and action. In this exceptional book, Patriarch Bartholomew inducts his readers into this wisdom and demonstrates with authority how it bears upon a range of global issues. There is nothing archaic here, though plenty that is traditional; nothing merely fashionable, though plenty that is sharply contemporary. It is a treasury of sane and generous theology, from one of the truly great figures in the Christian world today.
- Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Ecumenical Patriarch is renowned as a bridge-builder. Encountering the Mystery is a bridge in book form, and a majestic structure it is. The text first introduces readers to the tenets and values of the Orthodox Church, then prompts us to think deeply about the nature of the world in which we live, then summons us to act on behalf of all creation. The volume is nothing less than a work of art, informed by faith, and infused with wisdom and love.
- Madeleine K. Albright
Although the 16-year reign of the Patriarch of the Orthodox Christian communion has largely gone unnoticed in America, this new book should serve to raise his profile considerably . . . Bartholomew has used his position to speak out against the ravages of the global economy and has been an eloquent advocate for environmentalism. In his new book, he mines the mystical theology of Orthodoxy . . . to paint a picture of a world transformed and renewed by Christianity. More than anything else, this book shows that all who are committed to social justice have a friend in the Orthodox Patriarch.
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This is an extraordinary book, for Patriarch Bartholomew is a quite exceptional human being. He has a deep understanding of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and works tirelessly to bridge their worlds. He is concerned for the future of unborn generations, linking poverty, the dark side of globalization, and the unsustainable lifestyles of the elite with environmental degradation. He is an extraordinarily wise global leader, using the gift of his life to make this a better world for all, knowing God in all, and urging us to do the same.
- Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN Messenger of Peace www.janegoodall.org www.rootsandshoots.org