Aquinas's Commentary On The Metaphysics

#147- Rule of Saint Benedict Part 1


Scott and Karl begin discussing the Rule of Saint Benedict, written by the father of Western monasticism. These rules have been used by the Benedictines for 15 centuries and act as a guide for religious communities or anyone wishing to live more simply.

Karl says, “It’s civilization stuff, it’s not papal stuff. Western civilization, probably all civilization, is monastic.”

While the book was written for monks living collectively under the authority of an abbot, you’ll find aspects of leadership, management, and community in these rules that could be useful in many different realms.

Tune in for Part One of the duo’s discussion, brought to you by 


Scott Hambrick 0:09
Welcome to the online great books podcast brought to you by online great, where we talk about the good life, the great books, great conversation, and great ideas.

Brett Veinotte 0:30
Hello, dear listener, this is Brett, I’m the producer of the online great books podcast, the very first thing that I want to tell you is that as I record this, on Wednesday, January 26, enrollment at online grade books will be open for four more days. So if you’re hearing this on Thursday, that’s three days you have left. Also, remember, you can always join the VIP waiting lists, the website is online, great And you should, I said should just be on the mailing list for updates as well. So if you are listening right on Thursday, as the show is released, because you are that kind of listener, I would say the dearest listener for being so punctual with new shows, you’ve got about three days left of enrollment. Again, the site is online great And today, Scott and Carl will be journeying into monastic life and discussing the rule of Saint Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia. In 516, this book has been a basis of the Benedictine tradition for 15 centuries now. So according to the Lindy effect, I’m going to forecast that it is here to stay for the next 15 centuries, as long as everything outside of the church continues to go so well. All right, this episode is shorter than what is coming next week, Scott and Carl make a transition a little bit before the hour mark. And I decided to end part one there. So there is much more of this conversation still on the way. Thank you so much for your time and attention. And thank you for your interest in online grade books. We’ll see you next week.

Scott Hambrick 2:11
I’m Scott Hambrick.

Karl Schudt 2:13
I’m Karl Schudt.

Scott Hambrick 2:14
And Brett has already told you what the show is gonna be about. So I just want to say my name and then have Karl say his name so you know which voice is which

Karl Schudt 2:24
That’s right. Yeah. My voice however, is a little bit. It is a little bit subpar. Had a little bit of a cold. So I’m gonna I’m gonna sound weird.

Scott Hambrick 2:36
That’s all that’s scary. Having colds, like, how will we make it?

Karl Schudt 2:42
Well, in the old days, what happened is that you got a cold. And you know, maybe you had a fever for a day, then maybe you felt good for a day and then you felt bad for a day. And then you’re up all night because you had mucus training down the back of your throat you woke up here sounded like this. But then after a day or two of that you’d either die. But probably not. Or you just get on with it. Huh? That’s what we used to do.

Scott Hambrick 3:07
I have heard of that.

Karl Schudt 3:10
I know it sounds crazy.

Scott Hambrick 3:12
You asked me if we were going to before we turn on the microphones if we were going to read reviews. And I hadn’t even thought of it until you said that. So yeah. Well, first of all, we’re going to cover the rule of Saint Benedict and English here in a bit. What are we going to read next trip? Is it going to be Lost in the Cosmos Walker Percy.

Karl Schudt 3:34
I think that was our plan last time the cosmos is a lot of fun.

Scott Hambrick 3:37
I look forward to it. That’ll be good.

Karl Schudt 3:40
Yeah, I’ll talk about it more at the end. Yeah, we’ll

Scott Hambrick 3:42
do that one and then see if we can give some teasers here that we talked about reading Polyface Micro: Success with Livestock on a Homestead Scale by Joel Salatin, his new book on homesteading and in holistic agriculture, regenerative grazing in the like, what’d you think of that?

Karl Schudt 3:56
Yep. Yeah, that sounds fine. Well, I bought it. Yeah,

Scott Hambrick 3:59
that’s a good chunk. That’ll get us almost a march. Meanwhile, this guy on Reddit panel, the table he posted a review in in the review of online great books is conflated with a review of the podcast and I have told you people on this show that listen to this show. That online great books isn’t the podcast. I don’t even lead seminars because I’m not any good at it. I’m too opinionated. And I’m not patient and I’m not a seminar host. I’m just not cut out for it. It’s not the same thing. And he says quote, what I really think is that the founders are basically meat headed mediocrities who like Aristophanes for the fart jokes in the Iliad, because it’s violent. Joe Rogan wannabes who like to pretend play professor for the ego boost in the money. You can listen to the podcast to see if you agree. It’s basically two weightlifters for middle America attempting to tuck philosophy in each other hackneyed takes logical fallacies, factual inaccuracies and unbridled ego about it’s a shame that they’re personal dross fact, the rest of RGB, but they do. So I go through that I didn’t that’s not the whole review. He makes some other reviews. But wait, wait,

Karl Schudt 5:10
there’s money in this. Right? Right.

Scott Hambrick 5:12
I went through it like point by point and like refuted that chunk there on my, on my blog. It’s just, it’s just so dumb and so tiresome. He basically just doesn’t agree with us. And he wants to hang out with coastal people and say all the cool things back and forth each other and all that

Karl Schudt 5:30
it is usually the most overtly political people that find us political. Yeah,

Scott Hambrick 5:35
well, I’m political, you know, all my great books isn’t terribly political, though. It really isn’t. Our seminar hosts are not experts, although a couple of you might be there were a couple of guys that are a personal acquaintances of mine, they’re friends, and that he doesn’t like that. But they’re really good at the shared inquiry thing. You know, I have my good friend that is like, Hey, guys, he has a seminar host, he’s, it’s really common for him to say, hey, this, this three page thing here, right in the middle of this Aristotle, I just don’t get it, can you help me. And then these in the seminar, off, they go, and they bring the, the experience and intellect of everybody in the room to bear on that hard thing, you know, he doesn’t claim to be an expert. And, you know, one of them, we don’t want him that’s not the point of seminar. And he has a personal friend of mine. In fact, he’s coming over to the house tonight. So whatever. Yeah, the thing is not perfect, but by golly, I’m proud of it, I think we do a good job. And this guy, this guy’s, frankly, just not welcome there. So that’s fine.

Karl Schudt 6:39
Well, the amateur take, or the takes it, I want, these people wrote these books for you, they didn’t write them for the university, there weren’t universities, then. Now for a long time, they didn’t write them for people to hair split over that, you know, whatever fine points of logic that they can find. It’s to miss the point.

Scott Hambrick 6:59
Of course, it’s frustrating to me. And on top of that, like, the great courses is worn out all of these books, you know, go get the go buy the great courses thing on the book you’re interested in, they do a great job of what they do. But that’s not what we do at all. It’s just not the same thing.

Karl Schudt 7:17
Well, sure, if you want somebody to tell you what to think of a book, there are people that will tell you what to think of the book,

Scott Hambrick 7:23
you know, or I’ll even be generous, they’ll tell you, they’ll tell the heck out of you about what they think of it, and then you can take it or leave it. But you know, that’s been done to death. And we don’t do that. It’s a very, I hate the word now. But I’ll use it, I think it’s a very democratic kind of organization. And there’s some risks in that people’s experiences with great books, groups, whether it’s us or at their home group, they’re expensive experiences are really, they’re really dependent on the on the seminar, the group themselves, you’ve got to really work to make the thing what you want it to be, if you’re a great books person, whether you do a group in your home, or you do a podcast with your buddy, Karl, like, we’ve got to make this thing right, in, you know, in the seminar person, right, whatever that means, right? The seminar member has to work to make it the thing they want it to be that they need it to be, which means they have to bring their questions, bring their problems with their texts, bring their confusion to the group in in prosecute that, you know, and you

Karl Schudt 8:31
what, and you never know where it’s gonna go. I had a Saturday seminar last week. I’m forgetting the name was it, Liz, I can’t recall, brought up this point. And she was she’s reading about Alcibiades. And she can’t help but think back to the Republic, and the portrayal of cities as sorts of people. And she’s making all sorts of connections between, like, Athens is Alcibiades, writ large, and which is a great thought and it was really productive thinking but it wasn’t something that I’d come in thinking at all with

Scott Hambrick 9:10
the scholarship does it support that it is the

Karl Schudt 9:15
you get surprised in seminars, and then you walk away thinking something that you didn’t think before?

Scott Hambrick 9:20
Yeah. Yeah, we don’t do it. Right. I’m very proud of that. So if you want to do it, right. You know, go get 85 grand and go down there to that school over there. You know, and GTFO ah, get out of here.

Karl Schudt 9:36
Yeah, that’ll get you through a year and a half by the way.

Scott Hambrick 9:39
Oh, is that right? Yeah, they could do it right. It’s gonna be awesome. It’s $50,000

Karl Schudt 9:42
a year, I think. Oh, yeah.

Scott Hambrick 9:45
Where’s that? The state you? Is that just kind of what it is?

Karl Schudt 9:47
That’s at my alma mater. The last I checked No, I think the last I checked it was $60,000 a year. Room and board and tuition for zoom classes, better university right. Wow. If you guys pay us $60,000 Each per year, we’ll do better.

Scott Hambrick 10:09
I don’t want a major client like that, because then they’ll be like, Hey, listen to that thing you said on the show or your take on this or whatever, then they’ll be like this guy. Sounds like taking the ticket to me. Well, meanwhile, gonna have to read some more your papers, stuff here.

Karl Schudt 10:27
It’s civilizational stuff. It’s not paper stuff.

Scott Hambrick 10:31
What do you mean?

Karl Schudt 10:33
I mean, I mean, Western civilization. Actually, probably all civilization is monastic. Oh,

Scott Hambrick 10:40
whoa. Big claim.

Karl Schudt 10:44
Yeah, but certainly Western civilization is. And by that, I mean, you have nerds living together in communities, according to rules, figuring things out.

Scott Hambrick 10:58
So what you’re saying is nerds built civilization.

Karl Schudt 11:03
I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that. That monasteries did, for sure, especially in the last. And so it’d be good idea to figure out what they are. They are still around a couple of them. I mean, there’s more than a couple. But there there are a few that actually do it the old way. And figure out what this instinct is, and how it works. And so what we picked is a little book written by a guy named Benedict, called the rule is probably a sixth century book. We don’t really know very much about Benedict, I’m just pulling this from memory. But he lived in Rome. This is Rome at the End Times. This is Rome, after the Empire has fallen. In the West, it’s decadent. Within 100 years, there’s going to be wolves going through the city, the population is going to fall so much. It’s not a great time, and decides that in order for him to be a Christian in the way that he wants to be. He needs to leave town. And so he does, and he goes out and becomes a monk, which means somebody who lives on his own, it just means solitary.

Scott Hambrick 12:11
And he was monking before people knew what that was kind of

Karl Schudt 12:13
there was a lot of monks in Egypt. Yeah, there

Scott Hambrick 12:17
were these Desert Fathers, but maybe he made monking cool.

Karl Schudt 12:22
Sure, in the West, he did well in gave it a particular flavor. So it starts out monasticism the big father monasticism is a guy named Anthony, who lived I think, in the three hundreds. He lived 104 years, something like that lived a long time. He was in church one day, and he heard that line about sell all you have and come follow me. And so he did. And for him that meant out in the desert. And he was known to be a holy man, and people would go try to be next to him. And that’s when monastery started because people wanted to be next to Anthony and he kept moving. So it’s kind of a casual thing, but there were also cases of weirdness.

Well, the English had this expression enthusiasms books from the 18 and 1900s. Early English stuff, he suffered from enthusiasms. He was the sort to go off in the wilderness and set up his own life. And so Anthony was one of these. There was a guy that sticks in my memory, his name is Simeon Stylites. I don’t know that his name means he sat on top of a pillar. Okay. And I read his life story, I’m probably pronouncing it wrong. September 1 on the old calendar. And what he would do is he climbed on top of the pillar, and he stayed there for 40 years.

Scott Hambrick 13:56
So how does that build a civilization?

Karl Schudt 13:59
It? Well, I don’t know that it does. But it’s evidence of extreme religiosity. The pillars I finally saw a picture of this before they made Athens touristy. I saw a picture that a friend of mine posted way back when I used to be on Facebook. This is from by 1880 or something, there was a monk who lived on top of the pillar. And what it was was the ruins of the old civilization. So the old temples people just climb on top of these pillars and live amongst the ruins. And just stay up there and pray all day out in the cold. There odd people.

Scott Hambrick 14:36
Do you think around the base of that pillar was like, like, under like a billboard where the pigeons raised?

Karl Schudt 14:45
Yeah. Yeah, I think he had disciples cleared out. There’s a story about Simeon the bishop came up to him because the bishop thought bishops are overseers. That’s what the word means. And we wanted to make sure he wasn’t, you know, bad crazy. Obviously he was cool. Breaking Bad and says Simeon come down. He hadn’t been down for 20 years or so. And Simeon stops doing his prostrations and he climbs down and says, Yes, Your Grace. The bishop says, Okay,

Scott Hambrick 15:16
you can go back up. Just wanted to make sure.

Karl Schudt 15:20
Yeah, as one of the know that he would be obedient actually come down prostrations, but you can’t really have a community of pillar saints.

Scott Hambrick 15:30
prostrations or like Catholic burpees.

Karl Schudt 15:35
Yeah, it’s a spiritual CrossFit. So you had you had people like this, and if it’s gonna endure, you probably need somebody to come up with some rules, some ways to do it. Because maybe you have a simian who’s actually wholly out there in the wilderness. But maybe you have a villain who’s out there pretending to be holy. You know, being like a wizard in the in the desert. You know, people tend to do this sort of thing, charlatans will tend to do that. So we have rules, we had rules. Basil wrote a rule. Augustine wrote a rule, there’s a few others. And Benedict’s rule is the most famous.

Scott Hambrick 16:22
So if you ever hear somebody say that it’s a Benedictine monastery. They follow some version of the rule of Benedict heron. He died in 547. AD. And like Karl said, we don’t know a whole lot about him. So we don’t really know when this thing was written. And we really don’t know that he died in 547. But that’s, that’s kind of close. It’s kind of close. So that’s the beginning of the monastic era. And Karl, you say that this is some civilization or building stuff, civilization building stuff.

Karl Schudt 16:58
Mm hmm. Yeah, I do. You and I, to a lesser extent, have been engaging in some homesteading activity, some regenerative agriculture, pretty much all I’ve done is clear a fence line and ordered some seeds. But so regenerative agriculture is a long term project where you are improving the soil. The soil lives in harmony with the animals that are on it, and produces food for the people that attended. But it takes time. Oh, man, it takes patience. It is not extremely profitable in the short term. It may be more profitable in the long term, maybe. But it’s not it’s not as profitable as dumping petroleum based fertilizer on your field and growing a bunch of stuff. So it’s a long term project, you may be this about knocked me over when I was reading my seed catalog and ordering fruit trees. And it says if you order fruit trees of this particular kind, you may well be planting fruit trees for your grandchildren’s grandchildren. That civilizational stuff where you plant an orchard, and you may never get the fruit. Or if you’re going to preserve knowledge, which is one of the big things that the monks did. You’re copying down books, not for profit, hoping that someday somebody will read it. Maybe somebody will read it. It’s long term thinking. It doesn’t matter if you personally, as I know, what would your monastic name be?

Scott Hambrick 18:44
My monastic name? Yeah. Well, all the monks I noticed have pedestrian names like, brother, Scott.

Karl Schudt 18:55
Yeah, but I can’t think of a saint Scott.

Scott Hambrick 18:57
Oh, well, just wait. I just be acquirement Absolutely. You know,

Karl Schudt 19:02
a lay brother. Yeah. Brother

Scott Hambrick 19:05
Scott’s fine.

Karl Schudt 19:06
So Brother Scott. You know, Brother Scott might work his entire life to drain that field make it harvestable. But Brother Scott may die before that ever happens? He probably will. I have a snowman. His brother Jacob will show up and probably take up the work. And continue it.

Scott Hambrick 19:28
Did I tell the story about the stone wall in the Canticle for Leibowitz show.

Karl Schudt 19:36
Well tell it again.

Scott Hambrick 19:37
I don’t like telling them twice. But there is a monastery, a Benedictine monastery that’s pretty hardcore. Not too far from here. And I go down there and stay with those men from time to time. And the first time I went down there, they put me in a third floor room and I had a west facing window. And I was standing looking out the window and there was a man bunk, down there, down on the ground, below the window. Next to a giant pile of rocks a pile of rocks taller than him. And he was he would pick up a rock and turn it around and look at it and turn it over with his hand and put it down. And then he would pick up another one, he would turn it over and you’d look at it and put it down. And then he would find you pick up another one. And he would hit it with a hammer a couple times, and then fit it to this wall that he was working on that was not knee high yet. It was like nine feet long and not even knee high, then you would hit it again with Chip a little bit off and then fit it and then move on and pick up another rock. Well, I go once a year, I go down there once a year, maybe I’ll go twice a year, but I don’t go all the time. And I go back down there and look out the window. And that wall is four and a half feet tall and 21 feet long now. And the pile of rocks is gone. But there’s another pile of rock a little farther down. And then I’ve got well there’s plenty of rocks out there. There’s plenty of rocks. And then I went out there again. And I got out there again. That wall is about eight feet tall now and goes about halfway around the place. And I was out for a walk one day and he was out there working. And I said then once you build this wall for a number of years, what’s the overall plan for the wall? And he said what we’re going to encircle the entire building. And let me show you. And he walked over and there was a two before frame laying on the ground, kind of an a, an A frame kind of thing. And he stood it up with some effort. And he says this will be the profile of the wall. The wall will be 10 feet thick at the base. It’s a truncated pyramid or a truncated triangle section, right? So it’s going to be 10 feet tall, wide at the base. Something like that. Maybe 12 feet wide, very wide at the base, about 10 feet tall, with about a two and a half a three foot wide flat spot on top. I said When do you think that’ll be done? This is Oh, I don’t know. There you go. Guys, doesn’t matter how 1000s of tons.

Karl Schudt 22:32
I remember visiting a Carmelite monastery in Germany. And they don’t follow the rules St. Benedict, they have their own thing. Father Michael Linson was there. I think the prior or the Abbot, I was studying there, they had an archive there that I was studying. And I remember one of the first thing things he did was he gave me a tour around the town. And he showed me the cathedral. This is in Vertibird, Germany. And that was nice. And then he showed me all of the rooms and everything. He brought me down to the basement. And show me all the graves of all the all the friars they’re all lined up down there. And we get to the end. That one’s mine. Yep. And he says I have I have 30% heart function. That one’s mine. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a different perspective so that your perspective is not. That’s not on you. It’s on on the project that’s outside of you. And so they were able to do some, some amazing things. Pretty much invent agriculture in the West.

Scott Hambrick 23:42
Yeah. So Benedict sets up this rule? Not very long, you might read it, you don’t get to pick it up. It’s you. It’s out of copyright. Unsurprisingly, you know, and I’ve got this little book here. I don’t know it’s four inches by seven inches is 96 pages in that. So it’s not the pages are small. So it’s not a lot. You can read this thing. I read it, I don’t know. 48 minutes? I don’t know, not very long. He just sets forth how he thinks that these men should live together in this community for their purpose. And he starts off by talking about these kinds of monk. Which I think cool. He says First are the kilobytes. Was that right Karl? Cenobite.

Karl Schudt 24:24
In English we’d say Cenobite

Scott Hambrick 24:26
ce o bi te S that is to say those who belong to a monastery where they serve under a rule and an abbot second there. anchorites are hermits. Third, there are Sarah Bates. Fourth and finally there are amongst called gyro vagues I don’t know guiro vagues.

Karl Schudt 24:47
Like flittering around like helicopters, yeah. Or maple seeds.

Scott Hambrick 24:51
Think the kind of monk that stays at the monastery and wears the brown robe. And that he think about when Here’s some chant. That’s probably number one that seen a buy. Now remember to the anchor writer the hermit that’s maybe your pillar father your filter St. Or St. Julian of Norwich, Norwich.

Karl Schudt 25:13
There, there still are such as these there are in the West, I think they’re probably more common in the east to have hermits, but they’re still around.

Scott Hambrick 25:24
Yeah, I know, I don’t know a solitary nun. And they’re heavy duty. Benedict says they have built up their strength and go from the battle line in the ranks of the brothers to the single combat of the desert, self reliant now without the support of another they are ready with God’s help to grapple single handed with the vices of body and mind. Rough and tough. The third and the Sarah bytes, the most detestable kinds of monks, he says, with no experience to guide them, no rule to try them as gold has tried in a furnace have a character as soft as lead. I wrote Friar Tuck

Karl Schudt 26:01
Yeah, or, or he’s the guy from Romeo and Juliet. That is Friar Lawrence, who sets those kids up and gives them the drugs and that Jerk.

Scott Hambrick 26:13
Jerk shark. Yeah,

Karl Schudt 26:15
he’s the villain of the piece.

Scott Hambrick 26:17
And then these ones that that drift around these gyro vagues. always on the move. They never settle down or slaves, their own wheels and gross appetites. He says, Let us draw by then. And with the help of the Lord Proceed to draw up a plan for the strong kind. Cenobites.

Karl Schudt 26:34
Yeah, no. So why would anybody want to be any of these types? If you’re going to be one, you want to be the first in a second? But what’s the as they’ve been saying on Twitter, the masculine urge to be a monk what? What is the point?

Scott Hambrick 26:48
Well, here’s the problem with this religion stuff, Karl. Yeah. If it’s true, it has to be the most important thing in the world, in the universe. So if you think it’s true, then you have to do everything you can to do it properly. And do the most of it in the best of it. And all of that, right. You can leave nothing proper undone. So there you go. So the, you know, the masculine urge, what do you say? What do you say? Was the massive

Karl Schudt 27:22
masculine urge to? Yeah, it’s just a trope on Twitter these days. Yeah, the masculine urge to conquer your enemies and drive the women? Well,

Scott Hambrick 27:31
he talked about the single combat for the Anchorite, you know, the single combat with evil, like, there’s so there’s your masculine? Like,

Karl Schudt 27:39
right. I think that’s right. I mean, it’s, it is hard for moderns to understand because most of us our experience of, of religious people is negative. Or I would suggest you probably haven’t really experienced it. Oh. So what

I mean, that the Presbyterian bake sale is, it might not be an example of true religion. Out there, if it’s extremely comfortable for you. It’s not what these guys we’re doing whatever it is, it’s something different than what Benedict was. was seeing. Yeah.

Scott Hambrick 28:24
Yeah, yeah. If it’s if you think it’s true, if you believe that is true, then it’s the most important thing in the world and these men Benedict, and then later the Benedictines have a particularly pure expression of their faith. That is, by just all encompassing, I promise you that every stone that that man laid in that wall was laid with a prayer. So they have a an integrated worldview. That leaves way in which there is no aspect of their life that is not devoted to this, this truth that they believe. That’s appealing. Like if you think something’s real, and you think something’s true, then by golly, you should act like it and I don’t care who you are or what you think. If you think it and you believe it, and you have your reasons, then it should influence the way you act in all things.

Karl Schudt 29:16
Yeah, whatever it is that you are, you ought to be it without contradiction as much as you can. And that’s the monastic urge to live without contradiction that in the religious spheres, the monastic urge, yeah, to live without contradiction. live authentically, as you believe to be true. Yeah. Yeah. So that there’s a line in the prologue, which explains, I think, the reason why they want to do this, the labor of obedience will bring you back to him from you, whom you had drifted through the slaughter of disobedience. So for these men who are joining these groups there, there are women Benedictines, too, but for these men who joining these groups, I have gone astray from the way I should that’s what They believe, and I did that by my own will. And so in order to get back, I need to discipline my will and subordinate it. And that would be the reason to seek out. If you went and joined one of these monasteries, you pretty much you’re submitting your will to the abbot.

Scott Hambrick 30:17
Oh, boy, forever. And hell,

Karl Schudt 30:21
although you can always leave three times the door is always open out. It’s a voluntary association, but it’s a voluntary submission of your will. Yeah. And so you have to figure out how to manage this. If you’re just one guy off on his own, you know, you don’t really need a rule, I guess.

Scott Hambrick 30:40
Although I think you do. You know, there’s a community aspect to being Benedictine for sure. Like there have to live with each other. And they, he writes about that. But doesn’t the proper hermit need to have a structure as well? Whether you’re a pente, Lynn, Cola, ecological hermit, or whatever, don’t you need a rule as well?

Karl Schudt 31:06
You, it’s probably a turtle to you, though you don’t need somebody else telling it to you. That’s, that’s, I think you’re right. But whereas I would do much better with an external rule. And that’s why I got married,

Scott Hambrick 31:19
most of us would, well, for all of you. There’s a lot in this book that’s about I kind of hate to ship and I’m saying anyway, that’s sort of about leadership and management, like organizational dynamics. So you could be a bug man, wing nut, and have your team at work, you know, the dev team, go through this together. There’s a lot in here about leadership and about how to do things as a team, and community and so on that it could be useful in all sorts of realms in your if you’re putting together your would you say Presbyterian bake sale, you could probably benefit from from reading this thing, because chapter two is about the qualities of the Abbot, who takes his name from Abba, ABB, a meaning

Karl Schudt 32:10
father, the the Swedish pop group, not that one. That’s Abba. The abbot must therefore be aware that the shepherd will bear the blame wherever the father of the household finds that the sheep have yielded no profit. If you are the Abbot,

Scott Hambrick 32:29
can you imagine taking that job? Everything at the monastery is the Abbott’s responsibility. Picking everything up to the quality of the shoes. The men were the output from the crops, the spiritual development and health of the men. Everything. Holy smokes. Unbelievable.

Karl Schudt 32:52
it’s like being a father of a family.

Scott Hambrick 32:55
Yep. A big family of hairy dudes. Yeah, but it’s not just the family, though. But it’s also it also has an economic aspect because they have to. They have to have products so they can they can fund themselves. To some degree. There’s husbandry, there’s property involved. It’s a great big job. I have the acquaintance of an abbot. He’s cracked a joke at me a couple of times. Never laughs at them. I know he’s a really nice guy, but he scares the shit out of me man. Father of Clear Creek. Holy smokes, man. He’s scary.

Karl Schudt 33:45
Is he one of those that can see into your soul? Of course,

Scott Hambrick 33:48
you can’t get that job unless you do. Yes, of course. Oh, gosh.

Karl Schudt 33:51
I don’t ever want to meet him that. Of course. They’re waiting they have to be in order to do that job there is. I’ve heard that in the Sistine Chapel. There is a cry room. Because after, after the poor, the poor guy gets elected Pope. They all they always break down in tears. Because they I can’t do this. Right? Of course. And they’re right. They can’t, but probably something similar for an abbot. So if we’re gonna put it in management, translate this into management, which is a way I suppose secondary folks can can approach this book. If you are going to be a manager, all the responsibilities yours. Everything’s your fault, everything. You have to realize that. If you can’t do that, maybe you ought to work for somebody else. Yep. There’s all sorts of good little little bits of advice here. Let’s see the abbot. He must point out to them all that is good and holy, more by example. Then by words, proposing the commandments of the Lord receptive disciples with words but demonstrating God’s instructions to the stubborn and the dull by a living example. So he’s got to do it. What he wants them to do, he has to do.

Scott Hambrick 35:15
He has to be the real thing. Well, lots of the kind of one liners in here about avoiding favoritism, walking the walk, coaxing by turns, stern is a taskmaster, and devoted in Tinder only as a father can be. So he has to be coaxing, and then hard. And then Tinder all all at once or in succession. And then here’s my favorite part of this section. It’s the last line of the thing here about being the Abbot, while helping others to manage by his warnings, he achieves the amendment of his own faults.

Karl Schudt 35:54
Well, that would be the benefit to the abbot. Because why would the abbot want to do the job? Right for the money and the ego boost?

Scott Hambrick 36:02
The groupies? Yeah, but But there’s more to it than that, though. Like, I think implicit in that would be that if you are a father of, you know, head of a home, you see, I’m patriarchal like that I can already see the Redditors, the manager at work, you know, whatever. Like, if you’re a leader in a in a respect in a certain place, you will be improved. As you improve those around you. I think that’s true. You and I haven’t acquaintances when one teaches to learn. So you could flip that, if you let people do shoddy things around you. If you let your your charges screw up, you’ll be damaged by it.

Karl Schudt 36:46
The organization will reflect the whoever’s in charge, but if there’s actually somebody in charge of it. And so you see, I mean, are the bathrooms clean? Right? Has the trash been taken out? Is there dust everywhere? You know, it reflects on the the person in charge of it. And then I had another thought that. So here’s the app at the Abbott’s personally in charge of everything that goes on in the monastery and personally accountable for everything that goes on in the monastery, and therefore has a real interest in making everything perfect. And then I thought, what if the abbot got replaced by a committee? Would it work as well? Or shareholders?

Scott Hambrick 37:29
I Sander spinner would say that they would be irresponsible. We couldn’t be in the committee. You can’t hold a committee responsible. You can hold individuals responsible but you can’t hold a committee responsible.

Karl Schudt 37:42
Yeah, so you brought up the the patriarchy thing. I think it’s got to be a patriarchy. Well, if it’s women, it can be a matriarchy, but it’s gotta be hierarchical. Somebody has to be responsible.

Scott Hambrick 37:54
Yes. Some people are better at things than other people. Yeah. Oh, but Oh, no, I can’t even I can’t even bro. While ago I said that. I think that if you let the people in your charge, do shoddy work, you are then harmed by that. Like if if improving if helping improve them improves you contributing to their decline would harm you. I think you go. I think that’s right. Well, my buddy said he and I had breakfast the other day, and he says, you know, listen to podcast and you’ll say something weird something or another? And he says in Carl says, I think that’s right. He said Is Carl just trying to get you off of that and just move on to something else? Or does he actually think that’s right.

Karl Schudt 38:39
Though I actually think that’s right.

Scott Hambrick 38:41
I said I don’t think he’s I don’t think he’s yanking my chain. I think he

Karl Schudt 38:45
I’m I’m not devious enough to manipulate you people have accused me of that they’re like, Have you have you had a long term plan to make him into a Platanus? No. No, I mean, I’m glad it’s worked, but

Scott Hambrick 38:57
I’m not a Platanus See, here’s the thing. I’m a scholastic essentialist and as such, I know that the form resides in the divine intellect it is not materially substantiated. Plato thinks that the form resides in another realm and he may or may not believe that that has a material substantiation. Big difference

Karl Schudt 39:34
small difference

Scott Hambrick 39:37
do you think so?

Karl Schudt 39:40
Think they’re all Platanus they’re all there everybody. Everybody serious? believes in the forms. It’s just serious be working out the mechanics of it. Okay, yeah, I’ll good hearted people. Sorry, so I wanted to go back. Yes. Speaking of the abbot Hema, so a cop Under the adapt himself to each one’s character and intelligence that he will not only keep the flock entrusted to his care from dwindling, but will rejoice in the increase of a good flock. I like that image and I was thinking about your folks beekeeping. And the way that you know that you’re doing it right is that you have more bees than you had when you started. You have to be adaptable, right to whatever’s going on in which hive and it’s not you laying down the law to the bees make honey. It’s, wait, what is this hive need? It’s the same thing with the people, you have to say, well, this person is very intelligent, and will respond to my words and my logical arguments. This guy over here, this monk over here is not very smart at all, but likes encouragement and a pat on the shoulder. That’s what he gets, you know, and you have to know what to say to each person. You have to in a sense, be all of them. Yeah, to figure it out.

Scott Hambrick 41:00
It’s a huge job. But in chapter three, Benedict tells the abbot that he should summon the brothers for counsel. And when it’s a big time decision, you bring in everyone, every brother, and have a council of war. And you ask them to express their opinions with all humility, and not to presume to defend their own views obstinately and know that the decision is rather the Abbott’s to make?

Karl Schudt 41:30
Yeah, don’t defend your own views, obstinately defend them the fan

Scott Hambrick 41:36
in for smaller decisions, he says you can bring in the kind of senior man. You don’t need to bring in everybody. But if it’s a big one, you need to bring everybody the lowliest wire monkeys on kitchen duty. Probably good.

Karl Schudt 41:50
I like the bit about the younger ones. You even have the younger ones show up. The reason why we’ve said all should be called for counselors that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger? Mm hmm. I wonder what you thought of that?

Scott Hambrick 42:04
Yeah, sometimes, you know, they think outside the norms. And I think that’s probably probably true. Out of the mouths of babes. At this time. There were small children there. You know, he talks about how to help the children along. So there were 810 year old 10 year olds, they’re, you know, small children. So they might say something that hadn’t occurred to you, after all of your wounds and scar tissue as an older person. And also, I thought, you know, how how, how clever and wonderful is it to bring them in? So let’s say you’ve been at the monastery, you were the fourth son of a minor, Duke. And they take you over to the monastery, when you’re seven. By time you’re 22 years old, how many of these councils will you have seen? I mean, if you seen five of them, were all of these men who have skin in the game and see the stakes to be high. Do the thing, right? You will have seen something really special, the young people would have learned an enormous amount. You know, seeing things from all these different sides, critical thinking, high stakes decision making all of that, what an instructive process.

Karl Schudt 43:25
That’s one of the benefits of the old time, one room schoolhouse, or, you know, modern day homeschooling is that you have a vertical dispersion of age in the house. So your five year old gets to see the 45 year old wrestle with problems and isn’t stuck in a room with a bunch of other five year olds.

Scott Hambrick 43:46
Oh, but they need to spend a lot of as much time as possible with your peer group. Radish. No, no, no, no. And also, no,

Karl Schudt 43:55
Benedict says no, no. Yeah, Benedict says you need to mix up the peer group. Otherwise, there’s no peers, a five year olds, not another five year olds, peer. Harrumph.

Scott Hambrick 44:12
Yeah, so I like that. Chapter Three is about kind of a council of war. And he doesn’t democratize the decision. He doesn’t make it a committee because he says that the decision is rather the Abbott’s to make, so that when he has determined what is more prudent all may obey nevertheless, just as as proper for disciples to obey their master. So it is becoming for the master on his part to settle everything with foresight and fairness. He puts the decision right where it should be, which is the top of the hierarchy.

Karl Schudt 44:42
So an informed monarch.

Scott Hambrick 44:45
Yeah, that’s awesome. Chapter for the tools for good works. And there are a lot of chapters we’re not going to do like this.

Karl Schudt 44:52
Yeah, that’s a bunch of scriptural quotes and, and general general advice. It’s all good stuff.

Scott Hambrick 44:58
Yeah, I wrote here. The good devices.

Karl Schudt 45:01
Yeah, if you’re interested these people like Benedict when he wrote this, he probably just wrote it down or dictated it. But I get to the end of four, and they’re 78 footnotes. And the 78 footnotes are all the scripture that he’s referring to. He’s got the thing memorized. So these are religious athletes, you know, they’re really into this. They got the thing in their head, and then their heart

Scott Hambrick 45:27
because they think it’s important and they act that way. He says, You’re not to act in anger or nor sick nurse a grudge, read your heart of all deceit. Never give a hollow greeting of priests, or turn away when someone needs your left, bind yourself to no oath, lest it prove false, and speak the truth with heart and tongue. So, you know, just chapter four. These tools are just all of these aphorisms, each of which has a footnote to pointing at some chunk of Scripture. Now, what about this girl? This one’s the one that gripes me the most. Okay. Prefer moderation in speech. I’m not even good at that. So it must be wrong. Speak no fools, chatter, her romp? Nothing just to provoke laughter. Do not love a moderator, boisterous laughter, and then several other places in here. He’s like, no laughter No. Laughing. No laughing.

Karl Schudt 46:19
I know, am Umberto Eco. So he said Umberto Eco say? Yeah. And that the Name of the Rose book and what they were digging up with supposedly the last Aristotelean work on comedy and the evil monk. I can’t remember the whole plot spoiler. The evil monk has hidden it away. Lest the monks laugh. Yeah, I’m not so sure about that. But you have to think about humor. Probably need to analyze it and say, what causes laughter. Whether there’s a we need to distinguish, make distinctions. Father Bethel,

Scott Hambrick 46:59
he wrote John Sr. In the restoration of realism, who is one of the brothers there at Clear Creek Creek. He’s cut up and joked with me, and he’ll laugh. They all have a very dry sense of humor. And they don’t talk a lot. They don’t use a lot of words in the course of their weeks and months and years. And when they when they joke, it’s not the kind of joking that you’re I do, but it’s still funny. And he knows when he’s being funny. I thought about this a lot. Laughter is rough, because of the things that tend to make us laugh. So many things that make us laugh or transgressive. And that’s not good.

Karl Schudt 47:41
Mm hmm. I remember I busted out laughing I saw because I spent too much time on the internet. Probably shouldn’t dwell too much time. And I saw this video of this guy, and he’s driving his truck. And he got just across the railroad tracks. And then the train hit the truck.

Scott Hambrick 48:02
And you laugh at that.

Karl Schudt 48:04
It spins around the cab five or six times. And then he gets out. And he’s okay, but he’s, he’s dizzy. And then he falls down. Right? And it was funny. Right? Well, what is it? That’s funny is his misfortune. Well, that wasn’t a good day for him. But it was funny.

Scott Hambrick 48:25
So one, humor is often transgressive. It transgresses norms, to there’s often a butt of the joke. And that’s not generous maybe to your fellow man. And so this guy was the butt of the joke. Unless, unless you laughed, because it was a surprising outcome. That the wreck meeting dizzy. If you laugh, because you were like, delighted by the surprise that he was okay. It was so trivial that he was just dizzy, then that’s probably an okay. Laughter. But if you’re like, well, that hung Tuesday up well, that’s probably not good.

Karl Schudt 49:03
Yeah. Or if I’m saying, Wow, look at that more on things you can get across the track, right? That’s probably not good.

Scott Hambrick 49:09
Yeah. And laughter can make the laughter the center of attention. And it can certainly encourage a class clown. And the community can’t be having that. The community can’t be having either of those things. So that’s what I decided about his prohibition on laughter

Karl Schudt 49:28
Yeah, there’s there needs to be things that you’re just not supposed to make fun of. I think I bet brother Bethel probably doesn’t make jokes in church. Oh, certainly

Scott Hambrick 49:41
not. Certainly not. He might make a joke or out walking the grounds or something like that, you know.

Karl Schudt 49:48
By the way, dear listener, if you go to You can see my background is a picture of Clear Creek Monestary.

Scott Hambrick 49:55
So wonderful place to just see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. Very interesting. It’s worth that.

Karl Schudt 50:08
Let’s see. So obedience is the first step of lots of stages of humility. I think your obedience is gonna be hard. I got to think about my own reaction to that, that, that I don’t want to do what other people tell me to do. You know, I heard a description once of Americans least Americans have a certain sort that if the government were to provide them proper instructions for lighting a campfire in order not to be burned, they would do the opposite, just out of spite. I think that’s my attitude. But I think it’s because my sense is that, that the authorities over me are unjust or illegitimate. But if there’s somebody that that knows what’s going on that generally has care of whatever group, I’m part of it of course, you have to obey. As long as you’re going to be part of the group. The doors always open outwards. For No, this is the show about the rule of Saint Benedict.

Scott Hambrick 51:14
Oh, I thought I step back in time.

Karl Schudt 51:22
Yeah, the obedience bugs me, but if you are part of a group that has a common goal, and you share the goal,

Scott Hambrick 51:30
like a union.

Karl Schudt 51:35
Alright, where are you going with this? Scott?

Scott Hambrick 51:37
Well, I don’t know. I really, I don’t know. I think it’s proper dogma that you should be obedient to proper authority and disobedient to improper authority. And so the problem becomes, yeah, discernment of what’s the discernment? You know,

Karl Schudt 51:53
okay, so you brought up the civil war that a monastery is not a nation, a monastery, you’re you have joined, you have gone through a long process, you stood on the door and knocked for about four days before they finally opened it and let you in. And then you swept the floors and did all the crap jobs that because they’re trying to discourage you. Yeah. When you want to go become a monk, they don’t. They don’t want you. I mean, they want you but they don’t want you if you don’t really want it. So what you end up with is a group of people of substantial unanimity and shared goal. And the goal is what makes the obedience makes sense. A geographic collection of people is not quite the same thing.

Scott Hambrick 52:34
No, father Abbott’s elected.

Karl Schudt 52:37
Yeah, it was weird when the abbot at the monastery the school that I used to teach at when he was he’s younger than I am. 45 strange.

Scott Hambrick 52:49
Yeah, supposed to be old. The obedience thing is tough.

Karl Schudt 52:55
It matters how you do it. So it can’t be grudging. Her fine. Alright, I’ll go put rocks in the wall. That doesn’t work. That’s not they, the whole point here is not to build the wall. The whole point is the as they see it, the spiritual regeneration of that monk. And so when you say, brother, wall builder, go build the wall. He has to say, okay, or just go do it. cheerfully. The grudging I guess I’ll do it. If you make me it’s no good. It says if you didn’t do it at all. So it matters how you do it. If a disciple obeys grudgingly, and grumbles not only allowed, but also in his heart, then even though he carries out the order, his action will not be accepted with favor by God who sees that he is grumbling in his heart, he will have no reward for service of this kind. On the contrary, he will incur punishment for grumbling unless he changes for the better, and makes amends. If it’s something good to do, and a legitimate authority tells you to do it. Just do it. What do you gain by the grumbling?

Scott Hambrick 54:08
Right? Like when my kids are supposed to empty the dishwasher? Might as well be cheerful? Because I assure you, they’re going to empty the dishwasher.

Karl Schudt 54:20
Yeah, your kids do that too.

Scott Hambrick 54:23
Oh, man. They want to take everybody’s inventory. She did it. I did it more than she did last month. You know? Unbelievable. Gosh, Septime. They’re all two additional hold. They’re old enough that like historically, they would have their own dishwasher by now. Which would be them. But whatever.

Karl Schudt 54:46
Yeah. Yeah. grudging obedience isn’t really obedience, according to Benedict. If just do it. I think he’s probably right. I think there’s freedom in that when you finally say, Fine. I’ll do it. No, it’s okay. I’ll do It’s fine, it’s great. And then you do it. Whatever this. This is Psychology, whatever that bad task was, you just it turns out not to be so bad. It turns out that your grudging made it a whole lot worse than it was. I think he’s onto something.

Scott Hambrick 55:18
Oh, I do too. I think post enlightenment, individualistic American people really don’t want to do that. And I think I said this. I think I said this in the Civil War show. I think part of that is that like, just aren’t enough trustworthy authorities. If my uncle tells me, you know, you need to do this. I realized I probably need to do that. I might not understand or whatever. But those guys have done some things. And I know they care about me. And they wouldn’t they wouldn’t do me wrong on purpose. If the disgusting mayor of Tulsa GT binary says, do this or that, like I have? No, I have no reason to believe that that guy can do anything, right? Anything. I really don’t just no credibility with me whatsoever. or really anybody else I’ve said before, he has no political constituency. He’s a swamp thing. Like I don’t know where he came. Yeah, no one likes seem like he’s not a he’s not a proper political authority. What are you supposed to do with that?

Karl Schudt 56:30
All right, but to get better obedience, maybe you need better groups. How’s that? Better groups? Yeah. So I mean, this is about monks. And they’re based in, in religion. Sure, sure. But not all these groups have to be that. I mean, heck, you make a great books group. What, whoever’s in charge of it, you probably ought to obey and not be grumbling about it, as long as you’re gonna be part of the group. If you’re supposed to bring cheese and crackers, bring your cheese and crackers.

Scott Hambrick 57:00
Yeah, so and so’s hosting it. And he’s like, can you bring the paper plates next time and we’ll be reading X, don’t cry, just bring the paper plates and read it.

Karl Schudt 57:11
What a thing and you can use this kind of management model to build up some groups of people around you to do some great things. You know, find 10 or 20 of your friends and well, maybe don’t call it a monastery or whatever. But, you know, we’re the we’re the association of what would it be?

Scott Hambrick 57:34
I can’t wait. What’s our purpose? I kind of know I can name it

Karl Schudt 57:38
to attack large homesteading jobs and make them small jobs through large amounts of labor.

Scott Hambrick 57:47
regenerative agriculture, multiple Aid Society. Yeah. Or a in a Ramas. There Yeah.

Karl Schudt 57:58
Sometimes we do barn raisings. Right. So you have your group of people.

Scott Hambrick 58:02
Oh, Carl got the last barn raise. What are we gonna raise?

Karl Schudt 58:12
Yeah, that would be poison to set your group. But imagine how useful that group would be, you know, you got your Rolodex and it’s time to have a big job done. I got to dig a ditch. Okay. And you know, a bunch of people show up and you have fried chicken and you dig a ditch. And it would only work if there’s obedience to the the grand scheme of the thing. I think it’d be very good. Yeah. Learn some stuff from this book.


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