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The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality [Paperback]

Kyriacos C. Markides
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 19 2002
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 Athos’s 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.

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From Amazon

The spiritual traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church are all but unknown to most Christians in the West, who often think of Christianity as split into two camps: Bible-based Protestantism and sacramental Catholicism. Yet in The Mountain of Silence, sociologist Kyriacos Markides suggests that Orthodox spirituality offers rich resources for Western Christians to integrate the head and the heart, and to regain a more expansive view of Christian life. The book combines elements of memoir, travelogue, and history in a single story. Markides journeys to a cluster of monasteries on Mount Athos, an isolated peninsula in northern Greece and one of the holiest sites in the Orthodox tradition. He also visits the troubled island of Cyprus, largely occupied by Turkey since 1974, and makes the acquaintance of a monk named Father Maximos, who has established churches, convents, and monasteries. Markides, a native Cypriot, tells the tale of this journey in a tone that's loose and light, with many excursions on Church history and Greek and Turkish politics. But despite the easygoing tone, the importance of this book is potentially immense. The Mountain of Silence introduces a world that is entirely new to many Western readers, and unveils a Christian tradition that reveres the mystical approach to God as much as the rational, a tradition that Markides says "may have the potential to inject Christianity with the new vitality that it so desperately needs." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I arrived in America in the early sixties for my higher education, I brought with me a naive faith in the Christian religion, the Church, and the God of my forefathers and grandmothers. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful and Inspiring Feb. 20 2003
Format:Paperback
I really enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it. The book provides much insight into Orthodox spirituality in a way that is easily digestible and enjoyable.
I do take exception to some of the charges against Roman Catholicism. Another reviewer cites: "The theme of the book is that Western Christianity, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, is hopelessly entwined in a philosophical, scientific, rational approach to trying to know God." I am tired of hearing these kind of negative half-truths about Roman Catholicism. If we are talking about medieval scholasticism and the legalistic tendencies of the R.C. Church, fine. There is some merit to the accusation. But, let's be balanced. This is also the Church that brought you Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Padre Pio, Francis of Assisi, John Vianney and the list could go on and on. These were mystical saints who had a very real, deep relationship with God. They weren't into a rationalistic, scientific approach to God at all.
I am an Orthodox Christian and I love Orthodox Church but I don't have any sympathy for biased, erroneous, ignorant attitudes towards other churches.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book with your HIGHLIGHTER!!! Aug. 14 2003
Format:Paperback
Rarely have I underlined the text of a book as much as I recently did with "The Mountain of Silence," by Kyriacos C. Markides.
Markides, a sociology professor at the University of Maine, was born on Cyprus into an Eastern Orthodox family, but became secularized while coming of age during the Sixties in the United States. The sociological research for his earliest books brought him into contact with the mystical traditions, shamanism and Occultism of the Orient. A serendipitous experience in 1991 caused him to begin investigating the mystical traditions of the Orthodox Christian faith of his youth, which is covered in his previous book, "Riding with the Lion."
For this book, Markides had intended to spend a sabbatical on Mount Athos, the "Holy Mountain" on a remote peninsula in Greece set aside for over a thousand years as the home to a number of Eastern Orthodox monasteries. Upon learning that his main contact had returned to Cyprus to become the abbot of Panagia Monastery, he changed his plans to spend several months there with Father Maximos and the other monastics under his supervision.
While this book is an amazing travelogue, which also contains some engrossing history lessons about Cyprus, monasticism and the Christian faith, it is primarily a series of personal conversations between Professor Markides and Father Maximos. It was the many enlightening comments by the abbot that I found myself voraciously underlining in my copy of the book.
While "The Mountain of Silence" has appendices for chapter endnotes and a helpful glossary of Greek terms used throughout the book, it unfortunately does not contain an index.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Tradd
Format:Hardcover
This book was sent to me by a friend in December 2002. We had been corresponding for several months about her journey into Orthodoxy. I was dissatisfied with the current state of affairs in the Episcopal Church and was looking for something else. My friend said this book had really helped to correct her misconceptions about what it meant to be Orthodox, and she had bought tons of copies to give out. Two weeks after receiving this book, I visited the Orthodox parish she recommended and become Orthodox just before Christmas 2003.
What is wonderful about this book is that the teaching of Fr. Maximos and his dead elder are interspered with Markides' stories. There is some "deep" stuff here, but it's totally unlike reading dry theology. I heard the author speak on a visit to Chicago last year, and found him as engaging as a speaker as he is in print.
I have bought an extra copy of this book and it is being passed around to inquirers and catechumens at my Antiochian Orthodox parish in Chicago.
This is a great introduction to Orthodoxy for Western readers, especially those who have no knowledge of Orthodoxy, aside from possibly seeing "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Dec 31 2001
By Jeff
Format:Hardcover
Simply a beautiful book which will
open your heart
like a flower
and
reminds us not to equate Christianity with out forms, but to
seek it's living pulse.
reminds us that just as the telescope is the appropriate method for seeing the stars
and
the microscope for seeing the cells of our blood
so is the purified heart the appropriate method for seeing God...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Gil Few
Format:Hardcover
Although the author seems to be somewhat confused about his own orientation (vis a vis religion), the main character of the book, Father Maximos, is not. Maximos, an Orthodox elder,left the sanctuary of Mt. Athos to re-open a monestary in Cyprus. He clearly presents the major ascetic and spiritual teachings of Orthodoxy in such a compelling way, that I almost booked the next flight there.
The book motivated me to pursue more earnestly than ever, my quest to "see" God.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Christianity in the Light of Christ.... Aug. 7 2003
Format:Paperback
What is faith? Does God exist? Is He knowable? Is it truly possible to hear His voice? How do I personally encounter Him? The Mountain of Silence answers these and other questions of the heart.
In a profound yet direct way, Fr. Maximos reveals a time tested method of communing with God, not as a vain theoretician, but as one who regularly communes with God himself. The method he describes is a proven one as demonstrated by the countless Saints it has produced, in ancient and modern times (including the present day). I dare say, Fr. Maximos, a practitioner of the method himself, is on the road to Sainthood, as was his spiritual father (Fr. Paisios) and many of Fr. Maximos' other contemporary practitioners, including Fr. Sophrony and Saint Nikolai Velimirovic (both of blessed memory).
This book is a must read for people who are tired of accumulating head knowledge about God and want to experience Him for themselves. The Mountain of Silence is likely to become a spiritual classic; may it be a blessing to all true seekers who read it.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
Kyriacos Markides has done a wonderful job describing the beauty of experiencing God in this book. The method of Theosis can only be found in Christ and the Church he established... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lynn
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Orthodox Christianity's mysticism
Excellent book to understand the Orthodox Christianity's mysticism and spirituality as practised at Mount Athos, Greece, compared to Eastern religions' mysticism. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2010 by Politissa
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Wisdom
Having read Markides' account of his contact with the monks of Mount Athos, and being quite familiar with the literature on the subject of Eastern Christian mysticism/theology, I... Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2003 by matt
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality
This book effectively covers Orthodox Spirituality and is truly inspirational in the spirit of "The Way of a Pilgrim & The Pilgrim Continues His Way. Read more
Published on July 15 2003 by eric burgess
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Having read Markides' account of his contact with the monks of Mount Athos, and being quite familiar with the literature on the subject of Eastern Christian mysticism/theology, I... Read more
Published on June 27 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Read
To me this is the new definitive book on ancient Eastern Orthodox Christian spirituality written for a lay audience. Read more
Published on April 28 2003 by D. Hipsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Gate to mysticism
I heard about Mount Athos in Beirut, from a lebanese friend who's discerning to be a novice there. This book opened up a tangible mystery, not only of orthodox spirituality, but... Read more
Published on Nov. 22 2002 by laroja
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL!
It touches all the aspects needed in our Spiritual Journey. It enhances our journey from "knowledge of God" to "Icons", "Angels and Demons" and... Read more
Published on Oct. 24 2002 by Marlowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Things Lots of Christians Don�t Know About Christianity
Kyriacos Markides, a Cyprus-born sociology professor at an American university, is a former skeptic who sought spiritual truths in the South and East Asian religions, but then came... Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2002 by C. Ryan
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