Kardong has the rare gift of being able to distill the results of a vast amount of complicated scholarship, often written in languages other than English, in a way that is highly readable, informative, and enjoyable. His style is clear and simple; his prose is wry and witty; and his discussions are peppered with insights gleaned from over fifty years of living as a cenobitic monk himself. He has produced a gem of a book.
Cistercian Studies Quarterly
Kardong’s achievement is remarkable. The reader finds Kardong to be a sure guide to the world of pre-Benedictine monastic life, providing him or her with the latest research. As always with Kardong, his own comments are as elucidating (and entertaining) as the subject he is writing about. Reading him is like sitting down over a cup of coffee with a sage who has the ability to make the ancient current, the recondite clear, and the potentially boring, exciting.
American Benedictine Review
For contemporary cenobitic communities, it offers strong conversation starters on the current challenges to living wisely.
This very interesting and important book is based on over twenty-five years of scholarly research spanning almost every aspect of cenobitic monasticism plus fifty years of lived monastic experience. As a scholar Terrence Kardong is famous for addressing significant topics and issues that other scholars tend to ignore. He always seeks to ask the better question and never settles for the easy answer no matter where the result leads. Pillars of Community is vintage Kardong making accessible in a creative and fresh way the very foundations of cenobitic monasticism. This book fills a gap in monastic history that has gone largely unnoticed for years.
Eugene Hensell, OSB
Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Indiana
In Pillars of Community, Terrence Kardong serves as a knowledgeable friend who walks with us through the lives and rules of those who were the first pillars of the cenobitic way of life. Thanks to his deft comments that don’t shy away from appreciating ancient texts in the light of modern situations, the curious customs, strong personalities, and situations of common life that we meet are recognizable, even across the centuries.
Kardong wants us to read the sources squarely in context, sometimes of contention, e.g. Basil against the hyper-ascetic Eustathians. Especially appealing is his recounting of the life of Pachomius and the rules he formulated for his koinonia. As far-removed as Egyptians of the 4th century are from us of the 21st, one is startled at how familiar much of the legislation sounds. Both they and we have to contend with members who are tardy, surly, immature, and careless, and with situations that are tedious, unexpected, tricky, or irreme