Strangers to the City: Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of Saint Benedict

Michael Casey O. C. S. O., Author, Michael Casey, Author . Paraclete $26.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-55725-462-7 ISBN 978-1-55725-460-3

In a disappointing volume, Cistercian monk Casey, author of A Guide to Living in the Truth , describes 13 attributes of the Rule of St. Benedict. This is not feel-good spirituality; Casey courageously calls his readers to hard disciplines like asceticism and self-denial, and much of his vision for the good life is countercultural. He disdains TV, questions the material luxuries that bourgeois Westerners take for granted and gently mocks those who "would prefer to lose a limb than to have any restriction placed on their automobile use." At times, his descriptions of Benedictine virtues—an abandonment of "self-will," for example—sound almost Buddhist. That quality might attract a large, ecumenical readership, were the book not marred by a certain abstractness. It would be more helpful if Casey had clarified how ordinary laypersons could apply Benedictine wisdom to their lives. What might the "community life... shaped by mutual obedience," which Casey finds in monasticism, look like for families or single laypeople? There is also an unfortunate, almost academic, passivity in the prose that distances the reader from the text: "Just as mutuality is not to be equated with equality, so generativity exists in more than one mode." Esther De Waal's Seeking God and Living with Contradiction remain better introductions to Benedictine spirituality. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/13/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 212 pages - 978-1-55725-460-3
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