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Monk Habits for Everyday People
Brazos Press / 2007 / Paperback
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In their eagerness for reform, early Protestants hastily discarded St. Benedict's teachings with the holy water---and subsequently missed out on the many benefits of his scriptural insights and spiritual disciplines. Highlighting vital aspects of devotion, humility, obedience, hospitality, and evangelism, Okholm helps you slow down and dig deeper into God's Word. 144 pages, softcover from Brazos.
In their zeal for reform, early Protestant leaders tended to throw out Saint Benedict with the holy water. That is a mistake, writes Dennis Okholm, in Monk Habits for Everyday People. While on retreat in a Benedictine abbey, the author, a professor who was raised as a Pentecostal and a Baptist, observed how the meditative and ordered life of a monk lifted Jesus' teachings off the printed page and put them into daily practice. Vital aspects of devotion, humility, obedience, hospitality, and evangelism took on new clarity and meaning. Paralleling that experience, Okholm guides the reader on a focused and instructive journey that can revitalize the devotional life of any Christian who wants to slow down and dig deeper.
The last ten years have seen unusual gestures toward rapprochement between traditional adversaries within the Christian traditionnamely, evangelicals and Roman Catholics. More and more conservative Christians concede that they have something to learn from the Popes church; in this brief but striking book, theology professor Okholm (Azusa Pacific Univ.) finds and celebrates the values of humility, hospitality, stability, and balance. Most of all, perhaps, and most instructive for Catholics as well as his primary evangelical audience, he sees the power of monasticism, even now, to transform the world, to function as a caution sign to guide our relationship with todays culture. For most collections.
Readers might not think that poverty, chastity and obedience would be attractive to the common Protestant, but Okholm, a theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, will make them think twice. Although he is a Presbyterian, Okholm is comfortable with Catholicism and realistic about the benefits and burdens of both denominations. He finds in Benedictine monasticism a helpful path to holiness, and he avoids idealizing or romanticizing the monastic life. This is why his work succeeds as a guide for the common Christian. Okholm is wise to point out that St. Benedict's Rule, the text upon which his vision of monastic life is built, is both challenging and down-to-earth. The author invites readers to integrate some monastic practices into their daily lives and stresses that this does not involve cloistering themselvesthese practices are both ordinary and sacred. He also provides an excellent example for Catholics and Protestants alike to dig deeply into the Christian tradition and find how both can spiritually benefit from the other. Okholm provides a "Historical Afterword" to address why Protestants initially rejected the monastic life. This is a fascinating and, considering its brevity, surprisingly detailed overview that readers should not pass up. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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