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The Motley Crew: Monastic Lives [Paperback]

By Benet Tvedten (Author)
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Item description for The Motley Crew: Monastic Lives by Benet Tvedten...

This lively history takes readers through the rise and fall of monastic life in Europe and the United States, with its ongoing conflicts between obedience to the Rule and the human desires for a life of comfort and ease. This collection of saints, so far from living in the "state of perfection" attributed to the monastic life by the church, reflects the truly human and holy nature to which all believers aspire.

Publishers Description

In this latest collection of portraits and reflections on the monastic life, Brother Benet Tvedten has gathered together a motley crew indeed. Inside this book you 'll encounter the stories, both legend and history, of ancestors and contemporary monastics, the saints and the laypeople who contributed to this movement over the centuries. They struggle with obedience: Maurus jumps into the lake. They perform miracles: Scholastica prays up a storm to keep her brother by her side. They venture forth to serve as missionaries in the American wilderness of the Dakota territories, always with St. Benedict as their guide.

"The Motley Crew" is a lively history in which you 'll follow the rise and fall of monastic life in Europe and the United States, with its ongoing conflicts between obedience to the Rule and the human desires for a life of comfort and ease. This collection of saints, so far from living in the state of perfection attributed to the monastic life by the church, reflects the truly human and holy nature to which we al aspire.

"Brother Benet Tvedten, O.S.B., is a member of Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota, where he serves as the Director of Oblates. He is also the author of "The View from a Monastery "and "How to Be a Monastic and Not Leave your Day Job: An Invitation to Oblate Life" published by Paraclete Press."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Liturgical Press
Pages   133
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.22" Width: 5.56" Height: 0.3"
Weight:   0.37 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2007
Publisher   LITURGICAL PRESS #1200
ISBN  0814631770  
ISBN13  9780814631775  

Availability  0 units.

More About Benet Tvedten

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Brother Benet Tvedten entered Blue Cloud Abbey in Marvin, South Dakota in 1958. He has been his community's Director of Oblates for nearly thirty years, and held the position of Coordinator of the North American Association of Oblate Directors between 1995 and 1999. He is also the author ofA View from a MonasteryandHow to Be a Monastic and Not Leave Your Day Job."

Benet Tvedten currently resides in the state of South Dakota.

Benet Tvedten has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Voices from the Monastery

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Motley Crew: Monastic Lives?

Motley Indeed!  Mar 26, 2008
I was drawn to this book by reading other works of this author.
Also, Kathleen Norris. I was sure it would be about a group of people, but truly enjoy the arrangement of the groups and single subjects.
The chapters allowed for an easy read and were useful as part of a daily devotional program.
I liked the author's style of wording sentences and his humor.
Bro Benet likes his subjects and he was very at ease with the material.
I was unfamiliar with many of the subjects, but I always found them interesting and oh so very human.
I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in religion and church history.

Brother Benet does it again.  Jul 20, 2007
In this delightful book we see the infinite variety of the colorful characters out of monastic history - The Motley Crew. "We are not saints," Brother Benet declares. Story after story shows the mysterious mix of saint-and-sinner in the life of every monastic, indeed of every human being. Far from being just a humorous, enjoyable, and accurate romp through monastic history, this book is a compassionate and paradoxically hopeful rendering of human imperfections and virtues in age after age.

The Motley Crew is divided into 38 short spicy chapters each averaging three pages in length. Each chapter portrays the lives of monastics and the times in which they lived. The chapters gallop chronologically through history, yet often we are transported in a flash back to the present as Benet splices in current tales from his vast repertoire of monastic adventures. Throughout the book the author also weaves in guidelines from the Rule of St. Benedict, so that we get a good look at the monastic ideal. Refreshingly, Br. Benet is not at all hesitant to poke a little fun at everyone and everything - himself and his fellow monks included. Yet out of this quagmire of human foibles, Benet gently leads us to the humor, compassion, hope, and light cast by fifteen centuries of Benedictine monastics who are heroic in their quiet unassuming day-to-day lives. As Benet notes, "Ours is a joyful and somewhat messy history, not unlike the history of all people striving to draw closer to God."

The colorful stories are of very human saints and include details that you'll never find in glossed-over legends and hagiographies. Portrayed are every imaginable human weakness along with all the virtues. We meet gluttons, drunkards, gossips, adulterers, and murderers amidst those of deep faith, hope, and love. We see abuses of authority ranging from hair-pulling and name-calling to sexual indiscretions. We see monks playing tennis in the village when they should be in church, monks "seeking too much solace in a nearby tavern owned by the monastery," and we see altogether too much monastic wealth and comfort at different times in history. Benet readily admits that at times "things really werern't up to snuff."

We observe the sad and cyclical decline of monasteries: abbeys in ruins turned to cow pastures, refectories used for bowling alleys, a holy-water fountain used for a kitchen sink, tombstones from the monks' cemetery used for a sidewalk. We hear of the current shrinkage and even closure of European and North American monasteries.

The startling thing about this book is that there is so much hope amidst the dross, with its subtly joyful, optimistic, and compassionate rendition of history in spite of tragedies, disasters, and the gamut of human weaknesses. One meets cycle after cycle of decline and resurrection, despair and triumph - where "triumph" is often a simple quiet continuance of the everyday life of Benedictine ideals.

Br. Benet ponders over the future of monasticism as numbers of monks steadily decline. He finds hope for the future: "Benedictines are like weeds. We keep cropping up, even in the most surprusing places" - and notes the current rise of monasticism in Third World countries. He points out that following on the heels of every epoch of monastic decline we see solid reform movements with return to the simplicity, moderation, and discipline of the guiding Rule of St. Benedict.

As Br. Benet notes: "[Saint] Benedict's vision was one of hope and light, even though he lived in a time of darkness and despair." The same can be said of Brother Benet, as evidenced by this book. Bless Benet for the hope and light that he brings to our world with The Motley Crew. His book is a tribute to the generations of monastics who sought God, found God, and passed on the torch of monasticism which continues to burn brightly today in spite of dwindling numbers. This book is a must-read for Benedictine oblates, and for anyone interested in monastic life and/or studies in human nature.

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