Saturday, October 13, 2007

Books I've Read(or am reading)-Nine: Gifts of the Desert

I just completed this book and as with its predecessor, I have many mixed feelings, perhaps more with this book.

"Listen to the monk and not the author" is a saying I picked up on another blog about Mountain of Silence and here I would count this sound advice as well.

Kyriaco seems to approach the issue of spirituality from a world view that puts all religious beliefs on the same level, the only difference(I'm generalizing here) being the culture within which one finds himself in and the epoch.

In other words, I don't gather from the author's writings that to him there is an exclusivity about the Christian Faith and more specifically the Orthodox faith. He also states himself on several occasions that those who hold such beliefs are "fundamentalists" and this word to him is not used in a benign manner.

In all fairness, the author does not malign "fundamentalists" but approaches such people almost from pity, as if they are unenlightened, drawing from outdated traditions which do not match the author's held presuppositions regarding "Ultimate reality" being evolutionary in nature.

The Orthodox Faith, as held by the Athonite monks and elders has much value for the author but only in the sense of helping modern man in his rejection of the spiritual world in deference to the materialist world view adopted by Modern Man. Much could be learned by the moderns, Kyriacos implies, but in his[the author's] mind this Tradition would show forth itself best integrated into the the totality of the world's total spiritual experience.

The possibility that the Tradition held by Father "Maximos" may very well be The truth the entire world hungers for yet knows it not is apparently not even an option.

The last chapter especially delivers the author's final thoughts. For myself, I was unhappy with Kyriacos' conclusions. Truly God is mysterious in His Providence in that the author, having opportunity to so closely handle such wonderful information, receiving the insights he did and yet not seeing the exclusivity(necessarily so) of the Orthodox Faith as the balm for modern, fallen man, does not arrive here, at this critical conclusion.

But again, the author displays a humility in that he writes not but what he believes. The Lord did not use him by accident in collecting these hours of recordings and notes. The anecdotes of Mount Athos, Bishop Kallistos Ware, Father "Maximos" are presented in a setting which gives them life. I highly enjoyed this book for these reasons.


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