Archives For St. Benedict

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”
– Frederick Buechner
born on this day in 1926

Poem of the Day:
“On the Rule of St. Benedict”
by Peter Menkin
(Today is the feast of St, Benedict)
Kindle Ebook of the Day: 
The Longing for Home: Reflections at Mid-Life
by Frederick Buechner – Only $0.99!!!
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The Wake Up Call – July 11, 2014


Chris SmithIn 2013, we are encouraging our readers to mix up their reading habits, and read (or re-read) classics in addition to new books, such as the ones we review here in the ERB.

Broadly speaking, a classic is any book that is not a new book, or in other words that is worth reading five, ten or even one hundred years after its initial publication. ERB Editor Chris Smith has an article on The Huffington Post website arguing for reading a mix of classics and new books in 2013.

We’ve asked a number of noted writers to pick the classics that they often return to, and we will be running these lists as a weekly feature on our website through 2013.

This week’s post in the series is by ERB Editor, Chris Smith.

Writers on the Classics:
[ #1 – Shane Claiborne ] [ #5 (Last Week) – Ragan Sutterfield ]

Chris Smith is the author of five books, including The Virtue of Dialogue: Conversation as a Hopeful Practice of Church Communities (Patheos Press 2012) . He is currently finalizing the manuscript for a book entitled Slow Church, co-written with John Pattison (forthcoming IVP Books, Late 2013).  John and Chris blog about this new book project on Patheos.

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Francis Kline - Lovers of the PlaceThe Staircase to Richer, Fuller Living

A Feature Review of

Lovers of the Place: Monasticism Loose in the Church

Francis Kline

Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2012
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by David Nash

When I received Lovers of Place, I opened the book with eager anticipation.  I was intrigued with the subtitle “Monasticism Loose in the Church” and looked forward to reading the book. Then I was disappointed to find out that the book was first published in 1997, and was republished in 2012 without revision.  “Why?” I wondered.  As I read through the book I found that my hopes were not high enough!  Indeed, Lovers of the Place, though only a few years in print, holds the promise of becoming a spiritual classic.

The opening chapter presents an extended allegory of the life of the church, an allegory that rings true with my experience as a parish pastor, and sets the agenda for the rest of the book.  The second chapter opens up the allegory as the author explains the transition from “personal pre-occupation to wonderment at the larger world of the church paradoxically inside the building.” (18)

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“Back-Stories and St. Benedict

A Review of
Unlearning Protestantism:
Sustaining Christian Community in An Unstable Age.
By Gerald W. Schlabach.

Reviewed by
Gregory A. Clark.

Unlearning Protestantism:
Sustaining Christian Community in An Unstable Age.
Gerald W. Schlabach.
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2010.
Buy now: [ ]

UNLEARNING  PROTESTANTISM - Gerald SchlabachThe back-story is everything.

Alasdair MacIntyre’s  After Virtue laid down a broad and devastating critique of modernity, and his call for another, “very different” St. Benedict makes sense only against that critique.  Gerald Schlabach’s Unlearning Protestantism follows MacIntyre’s narrative with two differences:  first, the critique of modernity is tied to an analysis and critique of Protestantism, and second, the St. Benedict we need isn’t so different from the first.

The first two chapters of Unlearning Protestantism show that Protestantism has been one important force in the development of modernity.  Protestantism came to be through narration of the context called for deep and thorough reform, and we properly consider as virtues the qualities of character that enabled the reformers to act as they did.  But soon that drive for reform detached itself from the context and set itself up as a principle valid on its own merits.  Schlabach articulates “the protestant principle” in the language of Paul Tillich: “because all human institutions fall short of God’s standard, they are always subject to ‘prophetic’ critique and reform” (24).  Making the principle the basis for community life leads to “the Protestant dilemma”: all institutions, including Protestant churches, are always subject to critique, to being rejected, overthrown, or dismissed as superfluous.  Protestantism is the principle of instability.  The Enlightenment has seen itself as completing the Protestant Reformation ever since.  Schlabach’s second chapter, “The Matter of Continuity,” shows how the drive for perpetual reform played itself out in Mennonite “tradition of dissent” in the 20th century.

Continue Reading…


An excerpt from the recent book

A Blessed Life:
Benedictine Guidelines for Those Who Long for Good Days
Wil Derkse.
Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ A
mazon ]


In our continuing effort to fund the publication and free distribution of The Englewood Review, we are going to be collaborating more intentionally with Christian Book Distributors. Primarily, we will be offering you the opportunity to buy bargain books from CBD that we think of are interest. Buying books this way is a win / win / win proposition. You get great books for a great price, CBD gets the sale and we get an excellent referral fee from CBD.

This week’s bargain books (Click to learn more/purchase)
Four Books on Christian Community:

457966: The Rule of St. Benedict The Rule of St. Benedict

By St. Benedict / Dover Publications


Modestly described by its author as “a little rule for beginners,” this masterpiece of spiritual wisdom dates from the sixth century. It was originally intended as a manaual for aspiring monks, a diverse group composed of serfs, scholars, shepherds, and sons of the nobility. Benedict’s teachings have guided readers from every walk of life, encouraging with advice regarding the dignity of labor, the challenge of responsibility, and the proper use of resources

22200X: The Spirit of Adoption: At Home in God"s Family The Spirit of Adoption: At Home in God’s Family

By Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner / Westminster John Knox Press

$2.99 – Save 90%!!!

This is front-line work on an urgent topic, that practical kind of “how to” book on one level, and the “why to” theology work we have needed, on another. It is hard to think of any Christian who will have to read it who will not have acquired new perspectives on adoption and on God as Adopter, perspectives that we solely need and will surely welcome.

221750: The Social Visions of the Hebrew Bible The Social Visions of the Hebrew Bible

By John David Pleins / Westminster John Knox Press

$4.99 – Save 88%!!!

A full-scale study of the social vision of the Hebrew Bible. Adopting a sociological and historical approach, the book analyzes biblical statements about social ethics within a framework provided by Israel’s social institutions, the social locations of its actors, and the historical struggles for power and survival.

430371: Why Church Matters: Worship, Ministry, and Mission in Practice Why Church Matters: Worship, Ministry, and Mission in Practice

By Jonathan R. Wilson / Baker Books

$2.99 – Save 85%

What exactly is it we’re called to do when we meet as God’s people? Wilson offers compelling insights on “gathered worship” as work, witness, and warfare. He examines practices of baptism, communion, and foot-washing; and shows how glorifying God together grounds us in truth and the language of faith. Invaluable reflections for leaders and laypeople. 240 pages, softcover from Brazos.


A Brief Review of
The Life of St. Benedict By Gregory the Great
Translation and Commentary by Terrence Kardong.

Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $14 ]  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

Pope Gregory the Great’s work The Life of St. Benedict is at the same time “one of the most beloved texts of the whole Benedictine family” and also, as a work of hagiography, one of the most confusing.  However, the new translation and commentary by noted Benedictine scholar Terrence Kardong, aimed at popular audiences, seeks to make sense of this classic work.  Kardong’s translation into contemporary English is easy to read and understand.  Noting that many of the stories of Benedict recorded in Gregory’s work lack “a social or historical context” (25), Kardong in his commentary offers a reconstruction of enough of the context that we might understand its meaning.  In particular, Kardong seeks to sort out the hagiographical elements in Gregory’s narrative, as is seen especially in the chapter on the “Four Miracles at Subiaco.”  Kardong observes how each of these miracles reflects certain biblical and patristic stories on which they are based.  However, Kardong is cautious not to keep caught up in academic questions here about historicity. Of the four miracles, he says: “Can Benedict really have been this extraordinary? Of course, there is no possibility of getting back to the historical reality here.  And perhaps it is not necessary if we can let the myths carry the story of this holy man” (39). I was especially intrigued by the Kardong’s framing of the story of Benedict and his sister Scholastica, which appears toward the end of the book.  Kardong observes that even though Benedict is the hero of Gregory’s work here, he is comically humanized here and “comes out second best” to his sister.  If you want to read one of the Benedictine classics, or a perspective of Benedict from one of his contemporaries, or if you have already read Gregory’s biography and seek to understand it better, this book, with its crystal clear prose and keen insights is well-worth your time!


OK… so once again, we’re a day behind on getting this podcast out…

This time we’re going to try splitting the podcast into two segments.  The first segment will be a news alamanac and the second will feature an excerpt from the audio archives of Doulos Christou Books.

Overview of Segment #1 – News Almanac

  • St. Patrick’s Breastplate
  • Two weeks of the Church’s History
  • New Books to Watch for
  • Upcoming Events (Including a very special announcement!)


Books Featured:

Other books mentioned: