Benedict’s Rule: Restraining Speech

We are drowning in a sea of words.  I rarely come to an intersection without seeing a person next to me, or a person driving through the intersection on their mobile phone.  And that doesn’t even begin to touch the multiplied millions (billions?) of emails, posts, texts, and twitters which are sent and received each day.

Chapter 6 of the Rule of St. Benedict calls for a restraint of speech, not the proliferation of it.  Even “good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence” (6:2).  The danger of living in a world of “many words” is that some of them are downright sinful, others are wrong and based upon faulty information, and many are just useless.

But the greater danger is that words erode our ability to listen. They diminish our ability to be attentive. They severely damage our ability to be receivers.  Unrestrained speech puts the speaker at the center, and this becomes just another way to enlarge the ego.  Silence is a recognition that another’s voice—and especially God’s Voice—supercedes mine.  Keeping silence is an act of humility.

Benedict would tell me that I don’t really need to “tweet” and let you know I’m having a delicious Mocha Java at Starbucks; I just need to sit quietly and enjoy it.

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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1 Response to Benedict’s Rule: Restraining Speech

  1. Larry Teasley says:

    “If I had more time, I’d say less.” – Mark Twain

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