Books and more books…
It has been awhile since I’ve posted any book reviews. I’ve got some catching up to do as it pertains to my actual reviewing, but my reading has been in full swing. In fact, I’ve got several reading projects going on at the moment. One of my present study interests is Benedictine Spirituality. For the past couple-three months I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and meditating on this subject. I’ve savored over several awesome books and have about another half dozen lined up to continue my studies. All of the titles I’ve read up to this point have been very, very good and I have good cause to believe the next few I have lined up will be just as good.
First up, The Rule of St. Benedict by St. Benedict – edited by Timothy Fry, this edition is the actual Rule translated in English with an excellent preface by Thomas Moore. While the rule is written with a specific purpose and audience in mind, there is ample wisdom that can be applied equally to our lives outside the monastic community. Life is, in fact, about relationships and community… St. Benedict has much to teach us on this subject. I found having an actual translation of the Rule handy for reference a very helpful resource as I was reading “about the rule” and its application to those of us living outside the monastery very, very helpful.
Two more books, both by Robert Benson, A Good Neighbor: Benedict’s Guide to Community and A Good Life: Benedict’s Guide to Everyday Joy were also exceptional reads on practical application for the “everyday Joe” Christian. Both of these books focus on living and practicing the presence of God right where you are in whatever circumstance of life you are found. The Rule is utilized as it can be paralleled with life outside of the monastery… submission, obedience, humility, subservience, meekness, and more all are applications that exist in whatever form of community we are found; whether that community is family, neighborhood, occupation, local church, etc… the rule applies in some form and some fashion. I found the books by Robert Benson delightful in their insight and pragmatic approach to this deeper walk.
Next was a very small and very short, but very down-to-earth approach to the Rule of St. Benedict. This work titled, Always We Begin Again: The Benedictine Way of Living by John McQuiston II. McQuiston took a very different approach to his translation and application to Benedict’s Rule making the attempt to be universal in its reach and stretching across any and all religious chasms and/or barriers. While seemingly unorthodox, I appreciated his efforts and thought much of his application and illustration very profound. I appreciated very much the quotes and sources cited in this work. I was spurred on to seek out additional titles from McQuiston’s references for my future studies. I really enjoyed this little book.
The final volume mentioned in this post is from Esther de Waal; Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict. This is a most excellent work. Once more I have to mention the excellent resource list and bibliography provided in this work. This is another small book consisting of only ten chapters. At the conclusion of each chapter are prayers and devotional thoughts to help in additional reflection upon the material presented. I have really appreciated the thoughtful presentation of the greater aspects and over-arching theme of the Rule from Esther de Waal. I have spent the most time reflecting and meditating on this particular book and to a slightly lesser degree, McQuiston’s Always We Begin Again.
I don’t want to make a single recommendation… I think the books present their greatest benefit as a sum of the whole. On their individual rights, I’m sure they are great; however, read together they are exponentially greater. I look forward to adding to this list in the coming days. You can find the next reviews by searching Benedictine Spirituality or Books.