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. (Mar. 18)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Todayby Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
As Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew 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 as well as with Muslims and other religious groups. His efforts for raising environmental awareness globally have earned him the title "Green Patriarch."
Written with personal warmth and great erudition, Encountering the Mystery illuminates the rich culture and soul of Orthodox Christianity. Bartholomew traces the roots of Orthodox Christianity to its founding two thousand 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. But for the general seeker, whatever their background, Encountering the Mystery is a rich spiritual source that draws upon the wisdom of millennia.
The growth of Orthodox Christianity in the United States, like that of Islam, is one of the most important phenomena in religious life today and also one of the phenomena about which most readers are least informed. Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, has stepped up to try to remedy our ignorance with this relatively brief and quite accessible book. Not so much a systematic account of Orthdox theology-and also not intended to persuade or convert-it can hardly be bettered as a reader's first guide to what those new neighbors in the Christian cul-de-sac might be thinking. For most collections.
Graham Christian Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
"Orthodoxy is neither just a theological system nor just a set of liturgical disciplines; it is in the most serious and full sense wisdom – a perspective of Spirit-led insight that transforms both vision and action. In this exceptional book, Patriarch Bartholomew inducts his readers into this wisdom and demonstrates with authority how it bears upon a range of global issues. There is nothing archaic here, though plenty that is traditional; nothing merely fashionable, though plenty that is sharply contemporary. It is a treasury of sane and generous theology, from one of the truly great figures in the Christian world today."
—Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
“The Ecumenical Patriarch is renowned as a bridge-builder. Encountering the Mystery is a bridge in book form, and a majestic structure it is. The text first introduces readers to the tenets and values of the Orthodox Church, then prompts us to think deeply about the nature of the world in which we live, then summons us to act on behalf of all creation. The volume is nothing less than a work of art, informed by faith, and infused with wisdom and love.”
—Madeleine K. Albright
“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 . . . 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 . . . to paint a picture of a world transformed and renewed by Christianity. 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)
“This is an extraordinary book, for Patriarch Bartholomew is a quite exceptional human being. He has a deep understanding of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and works tirelessly to bridge their worlds. He is concerned for the future of unborn generations, linking poverty, the dark side of globalization, and the unsustainable lifestyles of the elite with environmental degradation. He is an extraordinarily wise global leader, using the gift of his life to make this a better world for all, knowing God in all, and urging us to do the same.”
—Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN Messenger of Peace www.janegoodall.org www.rootsandshoots.org
- The Crown Publishing Group
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Meet the Author
BARTHOLOMEW, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch, is spiritual leader for the world’s 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.
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