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The Mountain of Silence


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About the Author

KYRIACOS C. MARKIDES has written several books about Christian mysticism, including The Magnus of Strovolos, Riding with the Lion, and Fire in the Heart. A professor of sociology at the University of Maine, he lives in Bangor, Maine.


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 Moyers's 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 seeker's 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. Sandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., Pittsburgh Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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 Athos's 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 mind's reliance on logic in spiritual matters. Markides's 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 Christianity's deep roots in mysticism. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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