Book Review: Spirituality for Everyday Living by Brian C. Taylor

Like nearly everyone else I've known who has been raised as an Evangelical Christian in America, for most of my life I've known almost nothing about St. Benedict, and many of us may feel like there's not much reason to invest any of our highly valued time in changing that. Thanks to [amazon_link id="0814617573" target="_blank" ]Spirituality for Everyday Living[/amazon_link] by Brian C. Taylor, both aspects of that can change.

Much of our unfamiliarity with Benedict is due to the fact that he wrote his Rule for 6th century monks, and I have yet to go to church with many people whose lives resemble those of 6th century monks in any significant ways. So it's very helpful to have the ancient Rule of St. Benedict interpreted and adapted for us by Taylor, an Episcopal priest of our own day. He does a good job of showing how Benedict's guidance, which has proven reliable to so many for so long, can be followed by people who desire to arrange their lives around a dedicated pursuit of God yet who live in the context of family and work responsibilities.

Taylor does a remarkably effective job of communicating this in only 70 pages (including the Preface, Introduction, and Appendix!). The three short chapters of the book are arranged around different characteristics of the monastic life prescribed by Benedict: Chapter 1 describes the monk's "commitment to life": stability, conversatio (repentance), and obedience; Chapter 2 is the monk's "life in balance": prayer, study and work; Chapter 3 is the monk's "self in relationship": with God, others, and things.

Each chapter contains Taylor's summary and interpretation of the applicable sections of Benedict's Rule, as well as his own personal examples and suggestions on how people today can apply Benedict's guidance in life outside of the monastery.

I believe that one of the greatest need for Christians today is to have teachers who are effective at reconnecting us with the riches of the voices and guidance available to us from the past. St. Benedict is someone whom we will benefit from knowing and having as a teacher, and Taylor's book is a valuable resource for introducing him to today's Christians.


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