Nothing Wrong With Thinking

A few days ago, I was surprised to find someone attacking philosophy as an ‘airy-fairy’ discipline and lamenting its effect on contemporary theology. Personally, I would argue that it is precisely the abandonment of philosophy as a necessary discipline that leads to the weakness of much contemporary theology (no names, no pack drill). Woolly thinking does not give glory to God. On the contrary, thinking about God, asking questions about God and  the things of God can only contribute to our love and wonder. I often think of monastic life as doing theology on our knees, but reading, thinking, meditating are an essential part of the process that leads to prayer.

Of course, we are not all philosophers. I’m not one myself; but anyone who is serious about their following of Christ must surely be concerned with discovering more and more about truth, what the early Church believed about Christ, how that belief has developed over the centuries, how we are to understand and apply it nowadays. And we can’t do any of that without ways of thinking, questioning, arguing, using a language that expresses and defines even as it admits its limitations. We seem to be so concerned sometimes to be, on the one hand, ‘doctrinally lite’ or, on the other, ‘ritually exact’ that we miss something important: not only the utter transcendence of God but also his infinite tenderness and compassion. We will never succeed in articulating God, so to say, but surely it is a worthwhile endeavour to try to do what we can.

Tomorrow we shall be celebrating the feast of St Hildegard, Benedictine polymath and Doctor of the Church. Many people know something of her music, but I wonder how many have read her Scivias or engaged with some of her more difficult texts? She is a worthy patron of International Buy a Nun a Book Day (see here for an explanation of BANAB-Day): a reminder that in seeking to know more about God, we are seeking to know God himself.

Note
As I have explained, we ourselves are not publishing a wish-list for books this year. People have been very generous to us, and we would like others to benefit from the idea.

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Buy a Nun a Book Day 2015

International Buy a Nun a Book Day Just thought you’d like a wee reminder that the counterpart to Buy a Priest a Beer Day is Buy a Nun a Book Day on 17 September, the feast of St Hildegard of Bingen. The format is simple:

  • find a nun or Religious Sister
  • ask her what book she’d like
  • give her the book or a book token/money to buy the book with.

The idea behind the day is to encourage people to get to know nuns and Religious Sisters a little better, and in the case of those whose communities are poor or lacking in library resources, to help them acquire the books they would actually like. The choices won’t necessarily be religious, so please don’t make any assumptions in advance. This is a great way of helping communities in the Third World. If you can’t help materially, please pray instead. Who knows, your prayer may move the heart of someone who can give but hadn’t previously thought of doing so. Thank you.

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Oyez, Oyez, Buy a Nun a Book Day Draws Near

International Buy a Nun a Book Day
International Buy a Nun a Book Day

It will soon be here, International Buy a Nun a Book Day, on 17 September, the feast of St Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church and Benedictine polymath. The idea behind the day is simple. Nuns and Sisters (especially missionaries) often don’t have the opportunity to choose a book for themselves. They have to rely on what is already in the monastery/convent library, if they have one, or on what they are given (which is why you will often find lots of lives of St John Paul II on religious bookshelves!).

This is YOUR chance to show a nun or sister that you value her by delighting her with a book. So,

  • find a nun or sister
  • ask her what book or ebook she would like
  • present her with a copy on 17 September
  • pray for her.

You will find that some will ask you for titles they can use in their work. Others may ask for poetry or a novel that would normally be unavailable to them. The requests will be as many and various as the nuns and sisters themselves. If you can’t afford a book, a book token for a smaller sum will be received with just as much gratitude and pleasure. (Note: Amazon do not allow gifts of Kindle editions in the UK, but you can buy a Kindle gift card.)

What we ask you NOT to do is to use this day as an opportunity to offload unwanted books from your own collection (unless, of course, one of them happens to be wanted by the intended recipient). Take them to Oxfam or some other charitable organization rather than dumping them on the nuns and sisters!

Update: we shall post our own wish-list in due course on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/benedictinenuns, but for now we just want to spread the word about #BNABDay.

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