Learning From the Past

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Put this under the fwiw category, but we just finished using Esther DeWaal's Seeking God. It's a fine introduction to the Rule of Benedict. And why Benedict? Toynbee calls the Rule the "mustard seed of western civilization," and it's not hard to see why.

Benedict creates a model of living together in discipleship that honors our work, our minds, and our spiritual growth. This integration of the whole person is quite a bit different than the sort of approach where one leaves behind creational connections in order to grow to God (apophatic spirituality). And of no small import, Benedict formalizes the practice of listening to Scripture as a key to our growth (he introduces a systematic reading of Psalms and Scripture).

Also of interest in DeWaal's treatment is psychological realism of Benedict. Disciples are to be present in their lives — all of their lives. Much will sound very familiar, though here the author keeps directing our attention away from our self to the need of encountering and being transformed by God.

Key chapters cover our Listening to God (and the role of obedience), our need to commit to a "place" (Stability), and our need to be open to Change (conversatio). Other topics include the handling of material goods, relationships, and dealing with authority.

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