Synopses & Reviews
As Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I is the symbol of unity for the self-governing national and ethnic Orthodox Christian churches throughout the world. He is well known for his commitment to protecting the environment, and for opening communications with other Christians (especially the Roman Catholic Church) as well as with Muslims and other religious groups.
Written with personal warmth and great erudition, ENCOUNTERING THE MYSTERY illuminates the rich culture and soul of Orthodox Christianity. Bartholomew I traces the roots of Orthodox Christianity to its founding 2000 years ago, explores its spirituality and doctrine, and explains its liturgy and art. More especially, in a unique and unprecedented way, he relates Orthodox Christianity to contemporary issues, such as freedom and human rights, social justice and globalization, as well as nationalism and war.
With a recent rebirth of Orthodox Christian churches (particularly in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe), there has been great interest in understanding this important branch of Christianity with its close ties to the traditions of the early Church. As USA TODAY recently reported, Orthodox Christian churches throughout the country are drawing converts attracted by the beauty of its liturgy and inspired by its enduring theology and teachings. But for the general seeker, whatever their background, ENCOUNTERING THE MYSTERY is a rich spiritual source that draws upon the wisdom of millennia.
"Although the 16-year reign of the patriarch of the Orthodox Christian communion has largely gone unnoticed in America, this new book should serve to raise his profile considerably. Like some of his Western counterparts, the popes of Rome, Bartholomew has used his position to speak out against the ravages of the global economy and has been an eloquent advocate for environmentalism. In his new book, he mines the mystical theology of Orthodoxy, which relies heavily on saints like Gregory of Nyssa and the New Testament, to paint a picture of a world transformed and renewed by Christianity. The chief principles that underlie this world are prayerfulness, asceticism and humility. Bartholomew understands the cultivation of virtue as having both personal and global dimensions, as when he writes, '[L]et us treat everything with proper love and utmost care. Only in this way shall we secure a physical environment where life for the coming generations of humankind will be healthy and happy.' As a citizen of Turkey, Bartholomew has also been committed to Christian-Jewish-Muslim dialogue and is believable when he says, '[I]t is not religious differences that create conflict between human beings.' More than anything else, this book shows that all who are committed to social justice have a friend in the Orthodox patriarch." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader for the worlds over 200 million Orthodox Christians. He is dedicated to advancing reconciliation among Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities, and is an active proponent of environmental causes.