Sounds of Silence

Ancient monks entered the desert wilds of Egypt and the Holy Land in search of solitude and silence. What they found instead was a rich sonic landscape replete with melody, cacophony, and deep spiritual resonance. 

On this episode, associate editor Griffin Oleynick speaks with Kim Haines-Eitzen, professor of religious studies at Cornell, about her new book, Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught Early Christian Monks—And What It Can Teach Us.

Haines-Eitzen’s project, which includes field recordings made in the deserts of the Middle East and the American Southwest, shows us how the ancient monks’ attentiveness to sound can help us slow down and better connect with ourselves and our communities.

For further reading

“It’s false that deserts are empty—the residue of past inhabitants is all around us.”—Kim Haines-Eitzen

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