Sunday, August 05, 2007

Books I've Read(or am reading)-Three

There is a book I read not long ago, The Mountain of Silence, that I really enjoyed but which in a minor way disturbed me. The author, Kyriacos Markides, comes into the events, as he lays out in the book, in a fashion he did not anticipate or in a sense choose. He is suddenly confronted with the Faith he grew up in at a time in his life where materialism no longer delivered the goods it promised and he began searching for spirituality. Kyriacos is not convinced by the exclusiveness of the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ or His Church, but is nonetheless fascinated by Father "Maximos"(an alias for the main character of the book, Fr. Athanasius) and understandably so.
I just read a blog entry that gave flesh to my disturbance here. Please follow this link and read the review. I too would still recommend the book, even with its shortcomings, but with more discretion as to whom I'm recommending it to.
I read this entry while reading The Ochlophobist's last post here.


Anonymous said...

Soph I understand your concern withthe authors journey, though for a person who has not much experience in the realm of Orthodoxy this approach can be usefull. Even his mentor gets frustrated with his needling questions. I found myself wondering why tghe author was so full of doubt. Overall I enjoyed the way he looked at things and questioned even to the point of being annoying

Sophocles said...


Glad to see you're back(sort of?)

I'm with you. I actually loved this book and still do. I also have enjoyed hearing several interviews with the books author. However, that said, the article I referenced as a link at this post made some points I really agreed with.

I guess in one sense, as we begin to gain an awareness of the gravity of our predicament as creatures and sinners, we hunger more for purer things and we begin to detect flaws that at the outset of our journeys were not apparent to us.

This book has value.

To me, I love it especially for those that know nothing about Christianiy as being "mystical" and have run to other eastern religions in search "experience", believing Christianity to be "only of the head. Of course, in such a case as the book given for a read to one who knows nothing of Christianity in general, or has rejected what he thought was Christianity, it would be far more preferable that some adept spiritual guide grounded in the Faith was availble for this person to draw on.

Anonymous said...

We must remember that the Orthodox Church has not defined any dogma regarding the in-between state.

So, (1) the irreversible particular-judgment theory is commonly taught (and has the virtue of motivating present conversion of the heart but the weakness of failing to offer a coherent, REAL difference between preliminary and final judgment); (2) the toll-house theory is less often taught -- an is not absurd as some folks thinks; and (3) Fr. Maixmos (or at least his popularizer understood him to endorse) teaches that, in the in-between state -- the Church expectant -- one MAY be moved from a bad portion of that state to the "Bossom of Abraham," or "Paradise," neither of which are final, Kingdom Come, by a belated metania or change and that the prayers of the living can help (perhaps by way motivation and encouragement or example) those in "hell" (not the final Hell of Ghenna, but "hades," the "in-between state," the "expectant state" or even "purgatory" properly understood). Of course, SOME people would be beyond hope as Christ Jesus indicated in the parable of Lazarus and Dives.

Personally, I try to live as if theory (1) is true, so I don't risk put off getting right with God until the after life only to find myself with the rich man Lazarus' fate; but I believe in theory (3), perhaps out of love more than strict logic -- yet I realize that none of these theories can be held dogmatically as an Article of Christian Faith. God has not clearly revealed these things to us.

Sophocles said...

Death Bredon,

The Toll House Belief is something that really became "conscious" to me just the other day for some reason. It made sense, I know not why exactly, but seemed to stem from my battling a besetting sin I deal with. I must admit I have not delved into what the after-life may bring with any depth but the knowledge and certainty of death, I believe as the Holy Fathers would have us bring to remembrance, has in some small undeveloped way made itself known in me.
It has come usually as an "impression" that someday I will not be.
With the imagination I have seen my last hour, dying and all, in different scenarios, but this is I believe completely of the flesh where the prior experience may more approximate an Orthodox forming of the mind.