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Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam [Paperback]

By John Oliver (Author)
Our Price $ 12.71  
Retail Value $ 14.95  
You Save $ 2.24  (15%)  
Item Number 103673  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   188
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.78" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.49"
Weight:   0.58 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 15, 2008
Publisher   Conciliar Press
ISBN  1888212659  
EAN  9781888212655  

Availability  83 units.
Availability accurate as of May 29, 2017 07:49.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
Orders shipping to an address other than a confirmed Credit Card / Paypal Billing address may incur and additional processing delay.

Item Description...
"Deep in a northern Russian forest of jade and brown, far from any hint of civilization, Valaam Monastery sinks into the seasons of the year as it has for a thousand years before. . . ." So begins the story of John Oliver, a young evangelical American on a journey of discovery-a journey that leads him to an ancient Russian monastery, a place of peace and a place of struggle. For on Valaam, he encounters Orthodox Christianity and is reminded that the Christian life is not for the faint of heart. And on Valaam, the treasure of stillness requires a fierce guarding. Foreword by Fr. Jonah Paffhausen, abbot of the Monastery of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, in Northern California. Excerpts from book reviews: Lyrically, eloquently, and with great wisdom, this book speaks to the soul. Part spiritual autobiography, part penetrating description of what Orthodox spirituality can and should be, John Oliver's words evoke in the reader's mind and heart a longing for God, at once fierce and tender. "Great art, great architecture," he says, "always leads us inward and upward." This marvelous book does no less. It leads us inward and upward, until, for a moment at least, we even touch heaven. -Fr. John Breck, Author, professor of biblical interpretation and ethics at St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris Touching Heaven is a lovely book, quiet and contemplative, and full of peaceful revelations. -Frederica Mathewes-Green, Author of Facing East, National Public Radio commentator This is a gripping and finely written account of what drew John Oliver into the deeper waters of Christianity and made him an Orthodox Christian. -Jim Forest, Author of Praying with Icons, lecturer

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Very unfocused and unprofessionally edited  Jan 24, 2006
John Oliver wrote TOUCHING HEAVEN during and after a pilgrimage to the Valaam monastery in Russia, where he and a group of other Orthodox Christians from the US repaired a site badly scarred by the communist years. I thought the book would be interesting, but was ultimately quite disappointed.

Oliver's book consists mainly of personal musings inspired by moments at the monastery. These concern the difficulty of the ascetic life on the island and the unhealthy values of American consumerism back home. While a volume of spiritual reflections can work, as in Thomas Merton's CONJECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER, Oliver's book is wildly unfocused. It also doesn't tell us much about the monastery itself, a major centre for pilgrimage, about which many readers would like to know more. Oliver's prose is very purple and full of trite similes and excessive verbage. The book also lacks professional editing and typesetting, and is yet another book that makes Orthodox presses in the US look amateurish. I regrettably cannot recommend this book.
Good idea for a book, but...  Aug 25, 2004
As a Roman Catholic monk, I was excited initially to see a book on the Russian Orthodox monks--especially since it seemed to be intimately written from experience. The writer, John Oliver, must be commended for his help to the monks. The book, however, lacks personality and intimacy. I wanted to hear more about the lives and stories of the monks! The author, repeating how much the monks have affected him simply does not say to the reader the specific ways he was challenged.

Great concept for a book, but simply lacks good stories.
Too Short!  Mar 22, 2004
I will be reading this one again. Mr. Oliver's poetic and soothing prose lulled me into the story of his wonderful transformation from a "seeker" to an Orthodox Christian. His account of Valaam and Elder Raphael are like an afternoon recollection--as if I can close my eyes and share in his memories.
Touching Heaven  Nov 23, 2003
"Touching Heaven" is astonishing. Read it slowly, with great care and expectation.
Touching Heaven  Nov 14, 2003
With some appreciation for Russian culture at the beginning, John Oliver sets off to help rebuild part of the Valaam Monastery. His life is changed as he becomes a better Orthodox Christian and at the same time grows within as a thinker. The silence and the cooperate work in Northern Russia makes him realize his part in the scheme of life. He does find internal peace and understands why men over the centuries have turned to the monastic life. It is well written and could be re-read time and time again.

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