"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Shut Up Already!

I've talked with my students several times this semester about the difficulty of keeping silence (for meditation, prayer, or even reading) and of "fasting" from the constant electronic stimulation that crowds our lives. It is not easy, but it is essential. 

Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of the smartly written, often entertaining, and highly regarded  Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, a book that pays good attention to the Christian East and sensibly so, has a new book coming out in September: Silence: A Christian History (Viking Adult, 2013), 272pp.

About this book the publisher tells us that it will be:

a provocative history of the role of silence in Christianity by the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author.
In this essential work of religious history, the New York Times bestselling author of Christianity explores the vital role of silence in the Christian story.

How should one speak to God? Are our prayers more likely to be heard if we offer them quietly at home or loudly in church? How can we really know if God is listening? From the earliest days, Christians have struggled with these questions. Their varied answers have defined the boundaries of Christian faith and established the language of our most intimate appeals for guidance or forgiveness.

MacCulloch shows how Jesus chose to emphasize silence as an essential part of his message and how silence shaped the great medieval monastic communities of Europe. He also examines the darker forms of religious silence, from the church’s embrace of slavery and its muted reaction to the Holocaust to the cover-up by Catholic authorities of devastating sexual scandals.

A groundbreaking work that will change our understanding of the most fundamental wish to be heard by God, Silence gives voice to the greatest mysteries of faith.

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