From Publishers Weekly
Markides, a sociology professor who has written extensively about healers and mystics, resumes his exploration of Eastern Orthodox Christianity by taking readers on pilgrimages to places as diverse as Sedona, Ariz., and the Greek island of Patmos. As he did in The Mountain of Silence, Markides uses the charismatic Father Maximos to answer questions about the faith. This time, Maximos holds forth on such topics as anger without sin, death and near-death experiences and the “primal passions” of hedonism and narcissism. But before Markides can pose his questions, he must contend with a major change: Maximos has become bishop of the Church of Cyprus and is far less available than when he was a monastery abbot. To gather material for this book, Markides often has to “ambush” the bishop with help from those who know his schedule; the creative ways he manages to connect with the holy man make for good reading. Markides keeps his theme fresh by introducing new places and figures, such as an Orthodox monastery in the Arizona desert and the well-known Kallistos Ware, Greek Orthodox bishop and convert from Anglicanism. Readers who enjoyed Mountain will be most interested in this sequel, but newcomers will find it accessible as well.
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In The Mountain of Silence (2001), Markides introduced Father Maximos, a charismatic Orthodox bishop and former abbot of a secluded monastery on Mount Athos in Greece. This book can be considered a sequel in which Markides continues his conversation with the cleric. But it also sees Markides journeying to a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Arizona desert; to Cyprus for a reunion with Maximos, who has been elected bishop of the Church of Cyprus; on a pilgrimage to holy shrines aboard, of all things, a cruise ship in the Aegean Sea; and back to Mount Athos. Throughout, the wisdom of Maximos follows Markides as he attempts to deepen his understanding of the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition and create bridges between Eastern Christianity and the West. Markides imparts the lessons he learned to his readers, largely in literally two-way conversations between him and Maximos and him and other religious figures–a device that lends the book an appealing and also visceral you-are-there feeling. June Sawyers
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