July 11, 2008

Thought for 07.11.08 S Benedict

On this feast of St Benedict, and as a thought stemming from the former one on the fate of stringent versus more tolerant movements, it is helpful to remember that Benedict's Rule prevailed over and against the earlier Rule of the Master in part because that rule micro-managed everything, while Benedict put things in broad and charitable terms. The Rule of the Master, for example, regulated nose-picking and passing gas in choir, and provided a recipe for leftovers. Benedict trusted his priors and abbots to be able to handle such things without spelling everything out for them.

The Anglican Communion, which owes its existence in part to Benedict and his follower Gregory the Great, can learn from this wise and gracious approach.

Tobias Haller BSG


June Butler said...

Amen. The Anglican Communion can learn from the wise and gracious approach of Benedict.

The Rule of the Master, for example, regulated nose-picking and passing gas in choir, and provided a recipe for leftovers.

My word! Say it isn't so. Monks wouldn't do that. Or, would they?

Erika Baker said...

I should have read this before commenting on the previous thread!

I agree that tolerant movements fare better... until the intolerant try to take them over.

But it also strikes me that there is a natural pattern to these things.
Movements all start out with a certain level of tolerance and broadness, followers of subsequent generations then try to capture the essence of the movement and cast it in stone, initially to protect it from corruption. Eventually, the core ideas of the movement become codified and the surrounding laws more and more rigid and more focused on obedience to the rules rather than on obedience to the spirit of the movement.

Judaism suffered from this, Christianity does, but also secular movements like Communism, Socialism and other rigid forms of political organisation that are based on one big idea.

Those movements that can adapt and occasionally break free from existing constraints survive... until the next time a particular group tries to turn them into rigid law and a new power struggle begins.

Anonymous said...

Someone (de Vogue or Leclerc or maybe someone else altogether) has theorized that the Rule of the Master was actually written by a younger and more hard-assed Benedict.
As for passing gas in choir, another compelling reason for the frequent use of incense.

Country Parson said...

I am tempted to weigh in here but everything I start to write turns into a Garrison Keillor routine so I'll just go back to my crossword puzzle.

Unknown said...

NOW we know why some of Benedict's early followers tried to poison him! It was a secret conspiracy of right-wing nose-pickers and cheese-cutters. ;-)

Nathan J.A. Humphrey said...

Thanks for this reflection on one of the most influential saints in my life. Did you see my meditation over at Episcopal Cafe? It dovetails nicely with your comments here, I think.