Thursday, January 13, 2011

Monk Habits for Everyday People

Last week I completed reading my first book this year. I didn't buy it but picked it up from Public Library. When I saw the title i.e. - Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm, I was curious. I started reading it and I can tell you that after a long time I found a book which was so interesting to me that I finished reading it in a few days. I am not a bibliophile or bookworm. I can't read all books and can see it to completion only if its awakens my interest.

I just thought of writing few things about it here. Firstly, if you are a person who gets scared or maybe you feel old fashioned with the word "Monk" then this book is definitely for you! The book is very good in making a person understand what Benedictine Spirituality is and other things which is practiced in monasteries. You will get a very good idea about why monks do certain things. The intent and the reason behind many things can be understood easily.

Evangelical theologian and educator Dennis Okholm offers this spiritual memoir of his pilgrimage into monastic culture in an era when a chorus of evangelical voices are crying out for changes in their branch of the church. Various evangelical writers are arguing: The movement's become stale. It's been hijacked by political operatives. It's turned Christianity into an easy-bake recipe for prosperity. And, where many of these writers wind up trying to take us is back into centuries-old Christian traditions that once were considered exclusively "Catholic." And, when evangelicals said that word in the past, they often sneered.

Don't mistake Okholm's book for one of those angry evangelical books trying to shake up the movement from its foundations, but not offering much of a pathway through the resulting rubble. No, this is a thoughtful, careful, mature memoir. He admits that, at that time, he suspected monastic life was a tired old "relic of the Middle Ages."

He suggests how Benedictine spirituality can overcome the star-power trend he sees in many Protestant churches. He suggests that if more pastors held obedience, balance, and listening at the heart of their ministries, the dissent that strikes many congregations could be kept at bay, and the Gospel of Christ better served in our mission fields.

He has chapters on listening, poverty, obedience, humility, hospitality, stability, and balance; he gives Protestant readers a perspective on the values of Catholic spirituality. I especially liked and appreciate a final chapter on why the Protestant reformers, made a break from monasticism, as it can help to set Protestant perspectives on monasticism in historical perspective.

Who was Benedict? Born around 480 C.E, he was first a hermit (A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society) who later gathered a community of followers. He apparently didn’t intend to establish a community but when he did, he developed his Rule.

If you ask me if I learned anything from it then YES! It helped me to evaluate my life with many teachings of the Bible and if I am it following in the right sense.

If you are a person who comes from a protestant or evangelical or Pentecostal background then you should read it. I don't think it will encourage you to become a monk but it will definitely help you to evaluate and understand many things in your own lives which you are supposed to do but don’t. It will help you in looking at your own life if you don't read it from a critical view.

As humans we can always learn from different people and culture. Monk habits have lot of things for a Christian to learn from. You may think I am impressed by Monk habits. Yes I am by the intention behind many things they do as they correspond to what Jesus taught us. I don't want to mention more here. I want to conclude this post by saying that if you get a copy of this book or get a Chance to read it then go for it. You will learn a lot.

After writing about it I found this link which has a presentation about this book. If you don't read the book then at least read this Monk Habit Presentation .

God Bless You!

1 comment:

Jan said...

I find your thoughtful and respectful coverage of Catholic monks to be a wonderful breath of fresh air. It touched my heart because I entered a monastery as a girl of 17 and spent eight blessed years there. Had I to live my life over, I would enter that life all over again. Although I ultimately left during the upheaval of the 60's, what I learned there has lit up my entire life and helped me to come through some of the horrific events that befell me later. Ah, yes, my life has been unusual, and now, as I approach the end of life I have published a memoir entitled Graffiti On My Soul (under the pen name Johanna) as my legacy, a story of God-with-us: how God writes His eternal Love Story in the grit of our lives. If you want to read more about monastic life, a first person experience, I invite you to look it up on Amazon. It is lyrical, funny, raw and mystical, a profound journey of hope and forgiveness.
God bless you for your honesty and openness to His Spirit!

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