Covering a period of nearly 20 years in the author’s life, Karakostas’ writing details his visits to various sites important to Greek Orthodox followers, including Hagia Sophia in modern-day Istanbul and the island of Patmos.
History can inform one’s faith in unexpected ways, although those ways may be more academic than spiritual, according to this slim collection of essays that often succeeds with the historical aspects more than the personal. Karakostas records his personal impressions of the sites covered and provides clear, succinct background on their importance to the Greek Orthodox faith and on how modern events have affected these sites. Using citations, photographs and his own perspective as an American who came to understand his faith later in life, Karakostas also discusses how politics and Western values have combined at times to put the people of Greece at a disadvantage, and he outlines certain nationalistic viewpoints as he perceives them. Although Karakostas doesn’t claim objectivity—his disdain for Turkey, primarily due to its long-standing enmity toward Greece, is thoroughly described—his academic tone does much to lower the temperature on his statements. In blending his personal experiences with thorough historical research, Karakostas reveals his fervor for his ancestry, his faith and the untold millions who came before him who shared his viewpoints and religious beliefs. While the holiness of these sites may not get as much emphasis as Karakostas’ stated thesis forecasts, these short essays capably contextualize their places in history.
Lucid writing and a strong grasp of Byzantine history, with an emphasis on the historical rather than spiritual.