& speaking of heaven, I just finished Wm. Dalrymple's travel book, From the Holy Mountain (Owl Bks, 1997). He retraces the steps of 6th century peripatetic Byzantine monk named John Moschos, who kept a journal of his own (The Spiritual Meadow). Dalrymple's book is a remarkably vivid 1st-hand report on the fading (or maybe surviving - some of these hermit monks are amazingly resilient) remnants of various strands of ancient eastern Christianity still hanging on in monasteries scattered through Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel & Egypt. A unique lens on the Middle East.

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