Christian Monks in a Desert Full of Sound

Published: June 11, 2024, 6:30 a.m.


Most of us think of early Christian monks moving into the desert to escape the chaos and noise of civilization to lead the quiet contemplative life.

In a fascinating study by Kim Haines-Eitzen we learn that in fact the desert was and is unexpectedly filled with sound. Based on her high-tech own recordings in some of the major deserts of the world, Haines-Eitzen, professor of Early Christianity at Cornell, considers the importance of sound and the possibilities of silence, not just for the ancients but for those of us seeking quiet in our own lives.

Here she explains to Bart her findings, based on her new book (which includes access to her stunning recordings), The Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught Early Christian Monks -- and What It Can Teach Us.