MEN IN BLACK DRESSES: A Quest for the Future Among Wisdom-Makers in the Middle East

Yvonne Seng, Author
Yvonne Seng, Author . S&S/Paraview Pocket Books $14 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7434-7726-0
Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
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Seng, a historian specializing in the Middle East and Turkey, unabashedly admits that the research and writing of this memoir came from godly inspiration. Her sense of calling began more than 15 years ago with her chance meeting of a charismatic holy man on a train into Upper Egypt. This man in "a black dress" turned out to be the venerable Catholic Bishop of Asyout. Mysteriously, he extracted a promise from Seng, who was then a shattered young woman on a pilgrimage to Egypt's desert oasis. "Promise me you will return one day. Then you will see the future." She was puzzled by his request, but reluctantly agreed. Fifteen years later, she awoke in a cold sweat in her Washington, D.C., home and a vision came to her. She was being summoned to return to the Middle East to find that holy man as well as other "men in black dresses" so she could interview them and share their insights on the future. The result is a story about Seng's mishaps and adventures as she wheedles her way into encounters with the religious visionaries of the Middle East, including the Grand Sheikh of Islam, the Archbishop of St. Catherine's, the Coptic Bishop of Youth and numerous other spiritual celebrities. She portrays a world of holy men aching for peace, planetary stewardship and respect for elders and children. Although this is foremost a highly personal memoir, Seng is also an admirable diplomat for the divine, showing us the possibilities for spiritual globalization. (Nov.)

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