Minding the Spirit

The spiritual life has often been seen as the concern of ordinary saints and well outside the purview of scholars. Indeed, in the 14th century Richard Rolle lamented, “Alas, the shame! That a little old lady could be more experienced in love of God (and less experienced in the pleasure of the world!) than a theologian, whose study is empty because he studies for the sake of vanity—that he may learn and appear glorious—and so he may acquire payments and dignities!” Those who know the 14th century will know that the hermit of Hampole wasn’t entirely fair to the scholars of his day, and such a judgment, though often articulated, does not treat the academy fairly today either. As a matter of fact, the surge of interest in spirituality has penetrated deeply enough into the academic world to give birth to a new discipline, evidenced by the 1991 creation of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality.


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