The Voice in the Stone
The novel The Voice in the Stone in not about animal rights. It is about the Dominican Priest, Meister Eckhart, who lived from 1260-1328. Meister Eckhart is and should be, nevertheless, an important figure for the cause of animal rights. That is because he is one of the few religious leaders who have ever believed that God's essence was contained in all living creatures. As he put it,"God gives to everything alike." Today, Meister Eckhart is regarded by many scholars, theologians, and devotees as one of the great Christian medieval mystics and one of the most brilliant and important of all Christian thinkers. That was not the case for centuries, however, even though Meister Eckhart was famous in his own lifetime as a preacher and spiritual leader.
Mesiter Eckhart preached and taught in Germany and France and was popular with the Beguines, a religious organization of primarily widowed women, many of whom were attracted to mysticism. One of his highest priorities was to teach the ignorant and uneducated so that they could learn the art of living and dying. In this pursuit he gave his sermons in the common dialect which aroused considerable anger from the clergy to whom Latin was the only appropriate language for giving sermons and who saw no reason for trying to lift the peasants out of their rut of poverty.
In the year 1326 Meister Eckhart was charged with heresy by the Archbishop of Cologne, essentially on the grounds that he taught matters that could easily lead people astray. Meister Eckhart died during his trial. A year later, Pope John XXII condemned several of the Meister’s writings as heretical whereupon they were removed from the church canon. The Meister was not alive to protest and his writings and good name were thereafter disgraced. Only in recent years has the church agreed with critics that Meister Eckhart was a good and orthodox theologian, though it has not lifted the official ban on his work.
The Voice in the Stone tells the story of Meister Eckhart’s life and describes his central spiritual message of oneness with God and his methodology for achieving that union. Because so few personal facts about Meister Eckhart have survived, the author recounts his story through interactions with different characters as they engage in a series of adventures and brushes with the law in a society obsessed with the fear of heresy.
The author uses Meister Eckhart's own writings for much of his spoken dialogue and for conveying his spiritual message.
The Voice in the Stone includes a short factual biography of Meister Eckhart's life and of the 700 year effort to keep his work alive after his death.