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The Way of St Benedict by Rowan Williams

How can we build the kind of stable communities which allow individuals to flourish? How can these communities contribute to meeting the significant global challenges we face?

In The Way of St Benedict, Rowan Williams seeks to offer considered and constructive reflections to some of these big questions, thinking through how we can live well in an age of significant uncertainty. In focusing on the Rule of St Benedict, Williams draws on a rich theological resource which offers helpful insights into the kinds of habits, practices and virtues which have sustained Christian communities for centuries.

As a Pastorate team we’ve been reading this book together over the Michaelmas term, seeking to understand what it says to the academic community we seek to serve. Mostly we’ve understood that the answers to big challenges lie in the small, difficult, everyday tasks of faithfulness to each other and to God. We’ve also seen that a communal life focused on worship and joy can be a significant missional witness both to immediate neighbours and to wider society. Williams suggests that in learning to live well together, we can model the kind of political virtues which ultimately enable us to build economic, political and social structures which humanise, rather than dehumanise. Structures which ‘set human beings free to advance towards the joy for which they were made.’(Williams, 81)

Over the next few weeks we’ll offer some brief summaries of each chapter together with some questions for reflection. We hope this will encourage you to both read the book and engage with its practical applications. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how we might build the kind of intellectual communities which pursue the joy of the Lord, the common good and fullness of life for each and every person.

If you’d like to begin reading over the Christmas period, find a resource for Chapter 1 below.

Chapter 1: Study Questions
Chapter 2: Study Questions to follow
Chapter 3: Study Questions to follow