Throughout his time as Archbishop, theology professor, pastor and spiritual director, Rowan Williams has referred to St Benedict and his celebrated Rule. Originally drawn up to regulate the life of his monks, who were all laymen, it has been since followed as a rule or set of precepts applicable to many forms of communal living. Even non-religious people have valued the Rule in the quest to lead a more human and humane form of life. The Rule was benevolently patriarchal but also democratic. Written in c. 850 in the Dark Ages this was revolutionary. But Dr Williams shows how there is so much to learn for anyone who lives in any kind of community. The hallmarks of the Rule are stability, obedience, a balance between work and contemplation and how to support the community. There is also useful advice on how to work with difficult tiresome people and the virtues of silence and humility. Benedict was an advocate of calmness and had a great gift for organisation, or what we would now call management. This is the background to Rowan Williams's perceptive and beautifully written book.
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Date of Publication: 02/01/2020