Book ReviewsMonk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants

Book written by: Dennis Okholm

Author Dennis Okholm is a Presbyterian minister with an interest in Benedictine life and spirituality.  Raised as a Pentecostal and a Baptist, he presents his life story and attraction to the Benedictines.  Okholm became an oblate or an associate with Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota before becoming involved with the American Benedictine Academy.  Benedictine oblates are not only Roman Catholics but also include other Christians. 

Okholm examines Benedictinism from an evangelical Protestant point of view and explains to his fellow evangelicals it is all about; and that it is something they do not need to fear.  To begin, he presents the Rule of St. Benedict so that they may have a better understanding of this sixth century document.  He also shows how Benedictine spirituality or life is lived by the monks and nuns, but also by lay people.  His chapters explore: listening, poverty, obedience, humility, hospitality, stability, balance, and how all of this and more can change the world in which we live.  Okholm also points out why the Protestant Reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and others opposed monasticism due to some abuses before and after the Reformation.  He is clear to point out that these fears are no longer valid and that monasticism is a good thing.

Okholm shows that Benedictine spirituality is not complicated; in fact it is quite simple and very ordinary.  The ordinariness of their lives is a great asceticism in itself.  One does not have to look for exotic or oriental methods of spirituality.  St. Benedict compiled his Rule by picking the best from the monastic traditions before him, focusing especially on living a balanced and moderate life.  His Rule is very scripturally oriented and uses the best from St. Augustine of Hippo, John Cassian, the Rule of the Master, St. Basil the Great, and other monastic founders and documents. 

Okholm has conducted successful and eye-opening classes on Benedictine spirituality at the colleges where he has taught.  This book is a fruit of that experience and of his lived experience as a Benedictine oblate.  This reviewer is a Benedictine monk and he can say that Okholm has done a great job of explaining Benedictinism and its spirituality.  This book is highly recommended to Protestants and Catholics curious about Benedictines and their spirituality.

Dennis Okholm (Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary) is a professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University and a parish associate at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California.  He has taught in North Dakota, Kentucky, Illinois, and other places.  He is the author of The Gospel in Black and White (1998), and is the co-author of Invitation to Philosophy (2005), Evangelicals and Scripture (2004), A Family of Faith (2001) and of others.

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