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The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,045 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 19th 2002 by Image (first published September 18th 2001)
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The title, The Mountain of Silence, by Kyriacos C. Markides is an apt description of where the author wants to take us. And it does need to be considered ‘a search for Orthodox Spirituality’ as his work is sub-titled because Markides went to Cyprus in search of answers to his personal questions about the Orthodox faith. If you can humbly surrender to being along for an intimate introductory tour, you will enjoy this pilgrimage to/through Orthodoxy. If you’re looking for a heady theological cours ...more
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orthodox
Amazing story of one man's series of conversations with a spiritual master from Mt. Athos. Such a rich treasury of Christian truth on how to seek after Christ following the path of saints and martyrs from the time of the apostles until now.

If anyone is interested or has questions about Orthodox spirituality, Fr. Maximos gives a compelling introduction through his conversations with Kyriacos Markides. Easy to read and very interesting.

Makes me want to go to Cyprus and Mt. Athos.

Lots to say about
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Mar 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: spirituality
The author is enchanted, mesmerized, enraptured by his pilgrimage to Mount Athos. Hey everybody, love Mount Athos, pleaaase! In this book, he aims at exploring what Mount Athos, peace be upon him, has to offer the Western World, yes we here in the West who operate out of our brains, today that is not available within mainstream churches, that is, non-Orthodox churches. Yep! You need that "mystical buzz"!

Do I need to say more? Enough said!

O Mount Athos! Thou art exalted in all the Earth!
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Chapter 5

"As a result of long and hard practice the sensibilities of the saints are radically altered. Unlike us, they perceive things around them differently. They see everything and everybody in their true state, permeated by God. Everybody is perceived as being within Providence. Therefore, for a real saint nothing is apprehended as really hostile. That is the reason the saints have absolutely no fears."

"...Whenever you meet someone on your way, in reality you meet God. And as you honor God
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
Love this book for its jewels of wisdom. Here are a few passages from Father Maximos that I loved:

"Each person leads a life in accordance to his or her providentially assigned life's task. A leg cannot tell a hand 'I do not need you', neither can an eye to an ear. When we raise the question 'who is contributing more?' the very nature of the question is problematic. Why? Because we must not evaluate human beings on the basis of their contributions and utility to society, but on the basis of who
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysticism, spiritual
A highly readable narrative of Eastern Orthodox Christian mysticism as practiced in our modern time. The author, himself an Orthodox Christian of Cypriot heritage, gives a knowledgeable and sympathetic portrayal of the subject while also remaining sympathetic to the philosophical and scientific methods of the West. This is an excellent book for those who have hope that the "way of the mind" and the "way of the heart" is not necessarily a choice of "either or."
I never quite understood Eastern Orthodoxy and the Mystical tradition, that is until I read this book. Man, what an amazing insight into this realm of Christianity. Too bad I am female, otherwise I would take a journey to the Mountain of Silence as soon as possible!
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The most spiritually illuminating and edifying book I have ever read. I cannot describe justly in words how much this book has contributed to my life and my knowledge of God. Every Christian should read this. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.
This book is one of my all-time favorites. So many things to learn from it as well as being easy to read. I particularly like the accounts of miracles.
Dan Hansen
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A bit personal memoir and quest, a bit homecoming, a bit travel log, and a clear exposition of Eastern Orthodox asceticism. I knew little of Orthodox theology before Markides introduces the monk Father Maximos but by the end I found myself musing on The Threefold Path of Catharsis (purging the egotistical passions), Fotisis (a state of purification and miracles), and Theosis (union with God).

The central tenet is that life is a form of "askesis" - that sorrow and suffering is an integral aspect o
Geoff Smith
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kyriacos Markides, a professor of sociology, spent several years studying mysticism and shamanistic practices in several monastic type communities. He’s written several books on these topics, this particular book is about his experiences with Father Maximos on Mt. Athos.

This book was recommended to me by O_Vivliothikarios on Twitter.

The Bad

The only bad thing about this book is that the kindle edition has no links to endnote content. This will likely change in an update.

One thing that is only rel
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible book. Written by a University of Maine sociologist who grew up Orthodox in Cyprus but then fell away from his faith, this book is part travelogue (I've heard someone else describe it as that), spiritual journal, and introduction to Orthodox spiritually. It reads beautifully and one can sense the author's deep love for his spiritual guide, Fr. Maximos, and his deep respect for the religious experience. He writes of miracles with great credulity and in a way that makes them c ...more
Patrick Williams
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Highly recommended! I read this while a Protestant to learn about the Orthodox Church. The Mountain of Silence is about a Cyprian-American who goes back to his homeland of Cyprus and learns about the Orthodox Faith in discussion with a Bishop whom he calls "Maximos". This is all related in a narrative/story style with dialog in various setting occuring between the author and Maximos so it makes it interesting to read - it is like sitting next to them and listening to their conversation. In the c ...more
Franklin Tait
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eastern-orthodox
Read Mountain of Silence. This is a wonderful book, dare I say, a classic read in Eastern Christian Spirituality. It is very genuine and Markides isn't afraid to voice his doubts and to push back in his discussions with Fr Maximos. What he finds, though, is the world opening up in mystery and wonder before him, causing his scientific sociological and materialist worldview to vanish like mist before the rising sun. Listening to Fr Maximos, one discovers what it means to purify the heart that one ...more
Aug 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, religion
I didn't mind the text that focused on Father Maximos' dialogue--in the very least it was educational and interesting to hear someone who believes very deeply in his faith try to rationalize it, communicate it to other believers and skeptics, and use it as the framework for viewing every other aspect of life. Lots of interesting detail about monasticism, Christian mysticism, and the political situation in Cyprus. Markides does a good job of keeping the topics germane to the layperson and his sty ...more
Eric Ryniker
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
There is a small and compact genre of Western Christians and/or skeptics exploring Eastern Christian spirituality of which this is a part. The strengths of Markides' work is his personal connection to Cyprus and his willingness to handle fewer subjects, but to delve deeply into them. If he had tried to write an apology for the entire Eastern Christian spiritual tradition or even just that of Mt. Athos, he would certainly have failed; however, because this was focused on the microcosm of one mona ...more
κίρστεν (Kirsten)
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Review is HOPEFULLY forthcoming.

But so far I'm absolutely loving this book. It's a very peaceful late-night read, and it makes me think in a quiet, unassuming way. It's a true testimony to the gentle guidance of the Orthodox faith.

Definitely a keeper! If my brother ever asks for his copy back, I'm buying myself one. ^^
Jul 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This was a wonderful book. It was so good, I'm going to read it again....but even more slowly next time so I can digest it even more. I absolutely loved the conversations the author has with Father Maximos! His thoughts on prayer, icons, marriage, and growing towards communion with God are so uplifiting and encouraging. It defintily left me with a different perspective on many things.
Lauri Baird
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An absolute must read for all seeking to understand the Orthodox Faith
Adam Durnford
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating introduction to the ancient hesychastic tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church. A good look at the mystic nature of Orthodoxy.
Geoff Smith
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Kyriacos Markides, a professor of sociology, spent several years studying mysticism and shamanistic practices in several monastic type communities. He’s written several books on these topics, this particular book is about his experiences with Father Maximos on Mt. Athos.

This book was recommended to me by O_Vivliothikarios on Twitter.

The Bad

The only bad thing about this book is that the kindle edition has no links to endnote content. This will likely change in an update.

One thing that is only rel
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of the most easily accessible books on Orthodox theology that I've read. It contains a series of conversations between the author, various acquaintances and friends of his, and an elder in the church concerning different aspects of Eastern Christian thought. I can't even begin to pick out my favorite parts or quotes because there are too many to count. It addresses every question that I've ever had about the church's teachings. Seriously, every one. So yeah, if you're interested in l ...more
Greg Reed
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: orthodoxy
This was an incredible book that has made me do an introspective look at my spiritual walk. I am planning to write a series of essays on the spiritual lessons taught to Dr. Markides by Fr. Maximos to further help me and potentially others to further enhance my spiritual walk.
Carrie Kester
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great fodder for pondering and soul searching. A lot of new concepts for me so not sure what I think yet. I'm still mulling this book over.....
Tim Tuttle
Very interesting and entertaining look into the perspective of eastern orthodox Christian tradition, theology and history. Good read!
Apr 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
David Gwartney
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is not often that I read a book where every chapter inspired me and captivated my thoughts for the rest of the day. A brief synopsis: the author, Kyriacos Markides, is a professor of sociology at the University of Maine and originally hails from Cyprus. Through his studies, he began to explore ancient mysticism, despite being himself an agnostic. His research lead him to a monastic community on Mount Athos in Greece and a meeting with a young monk named Father Maximos. This Athonite community ...more
Jun 26, 2011 added it
Shelves: religion
Well, this was interesting and informative, but I do have some gripes. I think quite often the form the author chose detracted from the otherwise interesting material. He chose a sort of dramatic Socratic dialog, ostensibly because that's how he learned the ideas he wished to present. Unfortunately this results in a rather stilted, often unrealistic and ultimately distracting narration of people chiming in with stories and ideas in a surprisingly organized fashion. I do think the style was as a ...more
Evan Hays
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, devotional
This book is definitely worth a read. It is not written as smoothly as some books I have read, and it is definitely written more as an information book by a scholar than a heartfelt explanation of Orthodoxy by a writer (which I am hoping is what A Short Trip to the Edge will be). That said, the information that you gain from reading this book makes it worth it.

Essentially the book is a series of conversation between the author, a trained sociologist who teaches in Maine but whose roots are Orth
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are three ways of knowing, according to Kyriacos Markides: scientific, logical, and mystical. He argues that western society has concentrated on both logical and scientific in the past, but in recent history has disallowed the value of logical knowledge in favor of scientific only. Markides introduces the reader to the concept that there is great value in mystical knowledge. He discusses several examples that show the worldly wisdom of monks who have removed themselves from the world and h ...more
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“There are spiritual laws at work that most people know nothing about. So when others hurt us, our tendency is to strike back because we assume that we must defend ourselves, defend our name, our honor, our career, and so on. In reality we strike back at ourselves. ... What we consider as justifiable defense of our rights may in reality plunge us into a vicious cycle that can undermine our very spiritual foundation. By reacting to aggression with aggression we lose the opportunity to spiritually benefit from the experience. this law also explains why saints, when hit, often would literally turn the other cheek. (Fr. Maximos)” 7 likes
“The saints repeated this truth time and again over the centuries; that the natural state of a human being is the continuous contemplation and memory of God. I do not mean by that a cerebral memory of God but a memory that works from within the heart.” 5 likes
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