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A Good Life : The Wisdom of St. Benedict for the 21st Century - Robert Benson

A Good Life

The Wisdom of St. Benedict for the 21st Century

Paperback

Published: 1st April 2004
Ships: 7 to 10 business days
7 to 10 business days
RRP $29.99
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"There is no shortage of good days," writes Annie Dillard. "It is good lives that are hard to come by." Reflecting on what makes a "good life," Robert Benson offers a warmhearted, humorous guide to enriching our lives with the wisdom of Benedict, a 6th century monk. Each chapter is shaped around a Benedictine principle: prayer, rest, community, and work, and reveals the brilliant and infinitely practical ways that Benedictine spirituality can shape our lives today. Benson is honest and wise, sharing his own failings and the constant tension that he feels between the demands of the temporal and the spiritual. For anyone who feels caught in a web of conflicting priorities, or who finds the pace of modern life more draining than fulfilling, A Good Life will come as a welcome treat for the soul.

He calls us to remember that what we each do on this Sabbath day is "not even for us, it is for the Living God." Lois Sibley Episcopal Life November 24, 2002 Robert Benson shares insights on how Christians can more meaningfully prepare for the Eucharist. Ecumenism June 24, 2002 This is an unpretentious book, simply written, truly felt.... It reminds us of things we have half forgotten. It opens our eyes to things we have only half seen." Frederick Buechner Author, Speak What We Feel January 24, 2002 Selected as one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2004 by Spirituality Health." . . .a fine primer on everyday spirituality bolstered by practice." Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat Spritituality & Health June 24, 2005 You know, I don't get paid to write these reviews. I receive a copy of the book (for which I'm grateful), but my personal test of whether I really like the book or not, is if I'm willing to spend money for it. I have already started planning who will be getting A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy for a birthday or graduation or Christmas. It is a lovely and fresh articulation of the most essential of Benedict's truths, concerning itself not with the "what we do" of monastic life, but instead the "why we do it" and the implications that "it" has. The book is comprised of six short reflections dealing with key themes: longing, prayer, rest, community, work and living. The author also includes brief notes at the end on the life of Benedict and other books he finds helpful. Each reflection begins with a collection of quotes from the Rule which sets the tone (some collections more effectively than others) for the thoughts that follow. Allusions to a wide array of famous and lesser known spiritual writers are used well throughout. Benson makes it clear at a number of points that his purpose is not to act as if he or his readers are monastic, ("If you do not have a uniform, so to speak, you cannot be on the team.") but rather, to suggest how people can use monastic values to write the "Rule" they live by in the context of their own lives. What is best about A Good Life is how it does not pretend to be anything other than what it is. It makes no claims for doing exegesis of the Rule or monastic history or ecumenical dialogue (the author is Episcopalian) about what Benedictines have to offer the world. Having said that, however, I want to note that there is sound liturgical history in the section on prayer, and intriguing anecdotes in several sections about how the author uses the Rule in the retreats he facilitates. The text is written from an authentic and personal perspective which, as we all know, can yield the most universal insights. The author's language is graceful and his ideas, graced. At just about the halfway point of the book, he writes: "Some of the things that regulate our lives are things we can choose or change. Some are not. What is important is that we look at them from time to time and recognize which things are which, and which things can or should or might be adjusted in ways that help us to balance our lives." Simply stated ideas like that might seem obvious, but a genuine examination of one's life reveals that Benson's advice might be just what we, non-monastic and monastic alike, need to hear. My only quibble about the book concerns the gathering of Rule quotes at the beginning of the sections. Benson culls the most quotable quotes and weaves them together without citing what chapter each comes from individually. In one of the end-notes, he talks about the translation he uses and the fact that, in places, he paraphrases. The overall effect, though, is something of a distortion, albeit a potentially flattering one, of the Rule of Saint Benedict. A reader unfamiliar with the Rule, who picks it up after A Good Life, will be unpleasantly surprised, I suspect, by its detail, pickiness, and sometimes harsh tone. A scholarly text this is not. But it is a delightful one, I want to give it to friends who are new oblates, relatives who wonder at this seemingly arcane lifestyle of mine, and students who seem to be discovering their own Benedictine hearts. At a meeting a couple of weeks ago, I even floated the author as a possible retreat director for my community. At any rate, the ninety minutes it will take to read this book would be a worthwhile investment in the questions it will prompt about one's own longing, prayer, rest, community, work and living. Susan Quaintance, O.S.B., St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago, IL American Benedictine Review September 1, 2006 You know, I don't get paid to write these reviews. I receive a copy of the book (for which I'm grateful), but my personal test of whether I really like the book or not, is if I'm willing to spend money for it. I have already started planning who will be getting A Good Life: Benedict's Guide to Everyday Joy for a birthday or graduation or Christmas. It is a lovely and fresh articulation of the most essential of Benedict's truths, concerning itself not with the "what we do" of monastic life, but instead the "why we do it" and the implications that "it" has. The book is comprised of six short reflections dealing with key themes: longing, prayer, rest, community, work and living. The author also includes brief notes at the end on the life of Benedict and other books he finds helpful. Each reflection begins with a collection of quotes from the Rule which sets the tone (some collections more effectively than others) for the thoughts that follow. Allusions to a wide array of famous and lesser known spiritual writers are used well throughout. Benson makes it clear at a number of points that his purpose is not to act as if he or his readers are monastic, ("If you do not have a uniform, so to speak, you cannot be on the team.") but rather, to suggest how people can use monastic values to write the "Rule" they live by in the context of their own lives. What is best about A Good Life is how it does not pretend to be anything other than what it is. It makes no claims for doing exegesis of the Rule or monastic history or ecumenical dialogue (the author is Episcopalian) about what Benedictines have to offer the world. Having said that, however, I want to note that there is sound liturgical history in the section on prayer, and intriguing anecdotes in several sections about how the author uses the Rule in the retreats he facilitates. The text is written from an authentic and personal perspective which, as we all know, can yield the most universal insights. The author's language is graceful and his ideas, graced. At just about the halfway point of the book, he writes: "Some of the things that regulate our lives are things we can choose or change. Some are not. What is important is that we look at them from time to time and recognize which things are which, and which things can or should or might be adjusted in ways that help us to balance our lives." Simply stated ideas like that might seem obvious, but a genuine examination of one's life reveals that Benson's advice might be just what we, non-monastic and monastic alike, need to hear. My only quibble about the book concerns the gathering of Rule quotes at the beginning of the sections. Benson culls the most quotable quotes and weaves them together without citing what chapter each comes from individually. In one of the end-notes, he talks about the translation he uses and the fact that, in places, he paraphrases. The overall effect, though, is something of a distortion, albeit a potentially flattering one, of the Rule of Saint Benedict. A reader unfamiliar with the Rule, who picks it up after A Good Life, will be unpleasantly surprised, I suspect, by its detail, pickiness, and sometimes harsh tone. A scholarly text this is not. But it is a delightful one, I want to give it to friends who are new oblates, relatives who wonder at this seemingly arcane lifestyle of mine, and students who seem to be discovering their own Benedictine hearts. At a meeting a couple of weeks ago, I even floated the author as a possible retreat director for my community. At any rate, the ninety minutes it will take to read this book would be a worthwhile investment in the questions it will prompt about one's own longing, prayer, rest, community, work and living. Susan Quaintance, O.S.B., St. Scholastica Monastery, Chicago, IL American Benedictine Review September 1, 2006

Longingp. 1
Prayerp. 15
Restp. 31
Communityp. 45
Workp. 59
Livingp. 71
Author's Notesp. 81
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781557253569
ISBN-10: 1557253560
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 85
Published: 1st April 2004
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 13.5  x 0.6
Weight (kg): 0.12