Posted in: Spirituality by bill-o on June 07, 2009

The great monastery complex at Mount Athos of Greece is really a series of self-governing monasteries, as well as sketes and hermitages. Called simply the Holy Mountain in English, Mount Athos is accessible only by sea even though it is a peninsula and not an island. Mount Athos is the second holiest site in Orthodox Christianity. Only men 18 years or older may enter Mount Athos and preference is always given to Orthodox Christians. (Only about 10 non-Orthodox visitors are allowed to visit each day.)

To get to Mount Athos, visitors must obtain a special pass called a diamoneterion. Stamped with the date according to the Julian Calendar, the diamoneterion allows for the enforcement of the strict entrance requirements to Mount Athos. You can see the diamoneterion at:

The Greek word diamoneterion has three parts:

1.  The prefix dia, which means across or through;
2.  mone, which means dwelling place or place to stay; and
3.  The suffix terion, which means “place where”.

Putting the three together, diamoneterion means “across to the place where there are dwelling places”.


The Greek word mone is used only twice in the New Testament, both times in the Gospel of John. The first is where Jesus, on the night before his execution, told his disciples that there were many mone (dwelling places) in his father’s house and that he was going to prepare a place for each of them there. This statement by Jesus is well-known to his followers today. It is a statement of anticipation of the heavenly journey at the end of this life (although it should be noted that heaven is not specifically mentioned in this part of the Gospel of John).

The second use of the word mone comes from Jesus on that same night but is less recognized by today’s Christ-followers. Here, Jesus told his followers that if someone loves him and obeys his teaching, his father and him would come and make their mone (dwelling place) inside of him or her. This second and only other use of mone in the NT complements the earlier statement by Jesus. It describes how God wants to work through his followers on earth: By dwelling inside of them and living through them on a daily basis in their day-to-day lives. Rather than allowing the world around us to be blinded by the very brightness of the unveiled light of God, the father lets the world see the “enfleshed shadow” of God living in those who follow after him in his love and in the love of his son. It’s in this way that the world might gently comprehend his goodness.


Also, please see the recent Reuters article about Mount Athos:

Denver Post article:

A few days ago, Michael Spencer, a.k.a. “The Internet Monk“, wrote a thought-provoking opinion article about Evangelicalism for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper entitled “The Coming Evangelical Collapse”:

Mr. Spencer, a long-time blogger and commentator about issues related to the Evangelical Church, is also the blogger behind the Jesus Shaped Spirituality site.

The article is divided into four parts: an introduction, an explanation about why, in the author’s view, Evangelicalism is going to collapse, a summary of what will be left in the wake of the Evangelical Church, and, finally, a discussion of whether this upcoming collapse will be good or bad.

The introduction explains the thesis of this commentary article. Evangelicalism will not die but will shrink to half of its current size in two generations. More aggressively secular societies will lead to more hostile public policies towards Evangelical Christianity. In the face of public pressure, many evangelical churches and para-church ministries will either fade away or grow increasingly secular themselves.

The collapse of Evangelicalism will occur because of financial difficulties, too close of an alignment with conservative politics, ignorance about history and theology, and consumerism, among other things. In Mr. Spencer’s view, megachurches will never completely vanish, but they will become increasingly weakened as they emphasize “relevance” over doctrine.

Many evangelicals will go to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Others will go into the growing house church movement. Mr. Spencer also predicts that “emerging” churches will fade away by blending back into Mainline Protestantism. He also sees the rise of Pentacostal/Charismatic churches becoming the dominant part of what remains of the Evangelical Church.

Perhaps in a tip of the hat to Shane Claiborne and other new monastics, Mr. Spencer observes that the church will need to return to being countercultural and “empire subvers[ive]” instead of relying on a sense of entitlement and privilege.

I found Mr. Spencer’s critiques of the “pragmatism and shallowness” of evangelicalism to be his strongest. The failure of Evangelicalism to build across the generations through personal discipleship is perhaps its greatest weakness.

Mr. Spencer provides more detailed information about the coming Evangelical collapse at:

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Has Died

Posted in: Uncategorized by bill-o on December 06, 2008

Shadows and Symbols would like to express our condolences to our friends in the Russian Orthodox community on the occassion of the death of Patriarch Alexei II. Spritual leader to about 100 million people, Alexei II died at his Moscow home on Friday, December 5, at the age of 79.

Alexei II was elected patriarch in June 1990, and presided over the Russian Orthodox Church during many imortant events in the history of Russia: the aborted coup of the Soviet Union in the summer 1991 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of that year, the turbulent years of Boris Yeltsin, and the rise of Vladimir Putin to the presidency of the Russian Federation in January 2000.

The patriarch’s legacy upon the Russian Orthodox Church is profound. For example, there were only 18 Russian Orthodox monasteries in Russia and Ukraine at the time of his election. Today, there are 700. Alexei II will also be remembered for playing a key role in reuniting the Russian Orthodox Church inside of Russia with the Russian Orthodox Church in exile (the Church Abroad) in 2007.

Please see the story at Religion News for more details: