Readers might not think that poverty, chastity and obedience would be attractive to the common Protestant, but Okholm, a theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, will make them think twice. Although he is a Presbyterian, Okholm is comfortable with Catholicism and realistic about the benefits and burdens of both denominations. He finds in Benedictine monasticism a helpful path to holiness, and he avoids idealizing or romanticizing the monastic life. This is why his work succeeds as a guide for the common Christian. Okholm is wise to point out that St. Benedict's Rule, the text upon which his vision of monastic life is built, is both challenging and down-to-earth. The author invites readers to integrate some monastic practices into their daily lives and stresses that this does not involve cloistering themselves-these practices are both ordinary and sacred. He also provides an excellent example for Catholics and Protestants alike to dig deeply into the Christian tradition and find how both can spiritually benefit from the other. Okholm provides a "Historical Afterword" to address why Protestants initially rejected the monastic life. This is a fascinating and, considering its brevity, surprisingly detailed overview that readers should not pass up. (Dec.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestantsby Dennis L. Okholm
In their zeal for reform, early Protestant leaders tended to throw out Saint Benedict with the holy water. That is a mistake, writes Dennis Okholm, in Monk Habits for Everyday People. While on retreat in a Benedictine abbey, the author, a professor who was raised as a Pentecostal and a Baptist, observed how the meditative and ordered life of a monk lifted Jesus' teachings off the printed page and put them into daily practice. Vital aspects of devotion, humility, obedience, hospitality, and evangelism took on new clarity and meaning. Paralleling that experience, Okholm guides the reader on a focused and instructive journey that can revitalize the devotional life of any Christian who wants to slow down and dig deeper.
The last ten years have seen unusual gestures toward rapprochement between traditional adversaries within the Christian tradition-namely, evangelicals and Roman Catholics. More and more conservative Christians concede that they have something to learn from the Pope's church; in this brief but striking book, theology professor Okholm (Azusa Pacific Univ.) finds and celebrates the values of humility, hospitality, stability, and balance. Most of all, perhaps, and most instructive for Catholics as well as his primary evangelical audience, he sees the power of monasticism, even now, to transform the world, "to function as a 'caution' sign . . . to guide our relationship with today's culture." For most collections.
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Meet the Author
Dennis L. Okholm (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University and the coauthor of A Family of Faith: An Introduction to Evangelical Christianity.
Dennis Okholm (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary), a Benedictine oblate, speaks frequently in church and youth group settings and serves as assistant pastor at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California. He is also professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University and adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Okholm is the author or editor of many books, including Monk Habits for Everyday People.
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Dennis Okholm's book casts a different light on Benedictine Spirituality. Approaching the ideas of the Rule of Benedict from a Protestant point of view, we learn from Okholm that everyone, not just those of the Catholic tradition, can apply the lessons from Benedict's rule in their own life. Okholm encourages and challenges readers to find their own "monastic spark." However, in doing that, the author does not encourage the reader to depart from their daily life; simply, instead, Okholm suggests we find ways within our life to make room for living in a more Benedictine fashion. Balance in life between work and prayer, living humbly, living our life without arrogance, keeping grounded and stable in our environment, and offering the gift of hospitality in our everyday lives are all covered in this text. Okholm is easy to read, easy to understand, and broadens our understanding of Benedictine monastic life and living according to the Rule of St. Benedict.