Kyriacos C. Markides has taught religion, philosophy, and psychology at the University of Maine since 1972. He is the author of three books on the teachings of two psychic Christian healers on his native island of Cyprus. Riding with the Lion: In Search of Mystical Christianity continues his investigations of diverse spiritual phenomena in our times.
Markides sees himself as a clearinghouse for individuals who have had paranormal experiences. He recounts the story of a Greek physician whose cherished beliefs in a strictly materialistic and scientific universe were brought into question through his terrifying experiences in an Italian church that was rumored to have been cursed. The author examines his encounter with an Indian guru whose disciples were convinced that he could make bodies visible and invisible. These two sections lead Markides into a consideration of how psychic powers can be employed for evil purposes as well as for good.
In the most fascinating chapters, the author visits several Greek Orthodox monasteries in Greece. Markides wonders whether there is anything in the devotional path of the ascetic and celibate monks living there that can be exported to the West. The Mount Athos Christians have consciously cut themselves off from the world in order to obliterate the ego through the spiritual arts of meditation and prayer.
Markides is surprised to learn that within this isolated society of monks, paranormal events such as out-of-the-body travel, clairvoyance, extraordinary healing phenomena, psychokinesis, and even levitation have been reported. Similar accounts, of course, have grown out of the yogi tradition in India, Tibetan Buddhism, and Native American spirituality.
In the last chapter, Markides affirms this outburst of spirituality as one more example of a worldwide interest in the reality of miracles and the belief in the sacred as the center of our personal and collective life. Riding with the Lion is an eye-opener and a soul-shaker, especially for those who have written off Christianity as a one-dimensional nonmystical religion.