Tools for Peace

A sixth-century abbot who wrote a practical rule for his community and a twentieth-century thinker who has roamed through literature, cultural anthropology, and religious thought-what would these two men have in common to generate a conversation between them? The religious study Tools for Peace: The Spiritual Craft of St. Benedict and René Girard combines their insights on how to understand and overcome violence in the world today.

In his Rule for monks, St. Benedict explored ways that people can live in peace with one another and with God. René Girard probed human experience to seek the roots of violence that tears human communities apart and separates people from God. A dialogue between this abbot and this modern thinker across fifteen centuries deepens the insights of both into the causes and cures of human violence and gives us the tools to apply their ideas in our troubled world.

For both St. Benedict and Girard, peace is rooted in God. Anyone who yearns for harmony in the midst of the violence that surrounds us today can learn much fromTools for Peace, essentially joining in a conversation between two people who share a desire for the serenity of God for all.

See Violence and the Kingdom of God for an introduction to René Girard’s thought.

See Gathering a Community in the Spirit for an introduction to the Rule of Benedict.

BUY THE BOOK: softcover from St. Gregory’s Abbey to best support the monks

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Nook from Barnes & Noble

Kirkus Review:

Benedictine monk Marr adds a fresh volume to the existing commentary on the St. Benedict’s book of precepts written for monks living in a monastery. Here, the Rule is examined in relation to philosopher Girard’s concept of mimesis. Marr (Born in the Darkest Time of Year: Stories for the Season of the Christ Child, 2004) first provides background on the concept, which puts forth the notion that a fundamental human characteristic is to imitate others. According to Girard, mimesis becomes problematic when violence is the characteristic imitated, and throughout history society has overcome the mimetic impulse and restored order through the sacrifice of individuality. The connection between mimesis and the Rule is not immediately evident, but becomes so as Marr progresses. He presents a compelling argument for the Rule as a response to mimetic discord and violence, while also using mimesis as a tool to spread peace. For example, the Rule hinders the mimetic impulse to covet by disallowing direct property ownership. Yet, while demanding piety from a monastery’s leadership, the Rule harnesses the mimetic impulse to make piety a desirable trait. The connection is not as evident in some chapters, but Marr ultimately makes a strong case for viewing the Rule through mimetic eyes. But the impact of the author’s arguments on those who live outside the Rule is not entirely clear. It may be a tool used for peace in a monastery, but what about the rest of us? Though the author fails to fully develop this notion, the book remains a meaningful addition to the study of Benedict and would serve as an appropriate text for classes studying the Rule or Girard.

A welcome resource for better understanding Benedict.

BUY THE BOOK: softcover from St. Gregory’s Abbey  Support the monks

Kindle from Amazon

Nook from Barnes & Noble

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2 thoughts on “Tools for Peace

  1. I would have to disagree with the review of Tools for Peace in that it is very relevant to those of us outside of the monastery. I reference the work quite a lot in respect of the way that people can work together to create a safe working environment and it is quickly becoming one of the core texts for my PhD research.

    Thanks for providing one of, what I consider, the most accessible and useful, introductions to mimetic theory.

    • Thank you for your kind remarks. I don’t try to tell non-monastics how to live by the principles of the Rule, but I did try to write my book so that people like you could be led to applications. If you get a chance to write a brief review on Amazon & GoodReads (if you are signed on with them) that would be helpful for me.

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