An acclaimed expert in Christian mysticism travels to a monastery high in the Trodos Mountains of Cyprus and offers a fascinating look at the Greek Orthodox approach to spirituality that will appeal to readers of Carlos Castaneda.
In an engaging combination of dialogues, reflections, conversations, history, and travel information, Kyriacos C. Markides continues the exploration of a spiritual tradition and practice little known in the West he began in Riding with the Lion. His earlier book took readers to the isolated peninsula of Mount Athos in northern Greece and into the group of ancient monasteries. There, in what might be called a Christian Tibet, two thousand monks and hermits practice the spiritual arts to attain a oneness with God. In his new book, Markides follows Father Maximos, one of Mount Athoss monks, to the troubled island of Cyprus. As Father Maximos establishes churches, convents, and monasteries in this deeply divided land, Markides is awakened anew to the magnificent spirituality of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Images of the land and the people of Cyprus and details of its tragic history enrich the Mountain of Silence. Like the writings of Castaneda, the book brilliantly evokes the confluence of an inner and outer journey. The depth and richness of its spiritual message echo the thoughts and writings of Saint Francis of Assisi and other great saints of the Church as well. The result is a remarkable work, a moving, profoundly human examination of the role and the power of spirituality in a complex and confusing world.
Kyriacos C. Markides
Kyriacos C. Markides is an internationally respected authority on mystic Christianity. He has written several books on Christian spirituality, including The Mountain of Silence, Riding with the Lion, and Gifts of the Desert. Dr. Markides is a professor of sociology at the University of Maine, where he lives with his wife, Emily.
Markides, a Maine sociologist who was raised in the Greek Orthodox faith and later drifted into agnosticism, continues his spiritual journey homeward in this collection of captivating conversations with the monk Father Maximos. The book is set on the island of Cyprus, where the author and his monastic mentor spent extended periods of time together due to unexpected circumstances that moved Father Maximos from the "Holy Mountain" of Mount Athos. Markides (Riding with the Lion), his interest piqued by an earlier pilgrimage to Mount Athos, used a sabbatical from the University of Maine to further explore the body of Christian mysticism that Mount Athoss monks have preserved since the ninth century. Here, Markides and others pepper the charismatic Maximos with questions on a wide range of topics from angels, saints and demons to the role of icons in worship and the place of hell in Christian belief. Markides is a skillful and skeptical inquisitor whose queries surely must have tried the patience of his mentor. But Maximos rises to the occasion, providing gentle, thoughtful answers that by necessity often transcend the Western minds reliance on logic in spiritual matters. Markidess work is an excellent resource for spiritual seekers of all levels, answering questions about Christianity in general and Eastern monasticism in particular. It will be of special interest to those who may be unaware of Christianitys deep roots in mysticism. (
- Publishers Weekly
In a familiar, conversational style, Markides (sociology, Univ. of Maine) continues the spiritual discourse with Greek priest and monk Father Maximos begun in his earlier work, Riding with the Lion (LJ 1/95). In passages reminiscent of Bill Moyerss now famous interviews with religionist Joseph Campbell (published as The Power of Myth, Doubleday, 1988), Markides questions the monk, using his long, discursive responses to deepen his focus on Orthodox spirituality and practice, defend the monasticism of Mt. Athos (where Father Maximos resides), and explore topics like saints, the long Orthodox liturgies, faith healing, miracles, and many other mainstays of traditional Orthodoxy. Often blurring the distinction between participant and observer, Markides serves more as the spiritual seekers muse than as a true guide to Orthodox faith and practice: he very much believes that "the mystical and miracle tradition of the holy elders" stands as the true Christian antidote to the scientific rationalism of Western Christianity. Readers without a background in Orthodoxy will be helped somewhat by the glossary but will find this hard going. Recommended only for collections already strong in Orthodox materials.
- Library Journal