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Finding SanctuaryBeing a monk

This book came out of the British TV series The Monastery, which documented the 40-day stay in an English monastery of five 'secular' men. It is Finding Sanctuary: Monastic Steps for Everyday Life by Abbott Christopher Jamison (Phoenix, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7538-2149-7).

I found it to be more a manual of the 'self-help, healthy living' type than a truly Christian book. It offers sound advice on opting out of the rat-race, for example, and learning to appreciate quietness and solitude, but while the author himself writes from within the Roman Catholic tradition, the best closing advice he can offer is to 'freely choose to place yourself in the context of the Church or of some other classic religion' (my italics).

You are a free person and you can choose how busy you want to be. Freely choosing to resist the urge to busyness is the frame of mind you need before you can take any steps towards finding sanctuary. (p17)

Monastic life aims to remind us constantly that God is in our midst and sets up a virtuous circle of awareness to help us do this: pray constantly, in order to have a pure heart, in order to see God everywhere, in order to pray constantly. (p55)

When people claim to be obeying rules but break them, we call this hypocrisy, a charge frequency levelled at religious people. When people claim to be free but are in fact obeying unstated rules, we don't have a word for it. (p74)

In so far as our lives are dedicated to pleasing ourselves, then they are doomed to frustration. People who contrive constantly to get their own way are neither popular nor happy. (p101)

In the modern view, true spirituality is psychological well-being combined with the moral golden rule. Doctrine, ritual and community life are optional extras. (p143)

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