Acedia and Me (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Kathleen Norris, a poet and nonfiction writer, has written earlier about her life and her spirituality in Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (1993), Cloister Walk (1996), and Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith (1998). In these and in The Virgin of Bennington (2001), an account of her college and early professional years, Norris alludes to the bouts of despondency and the resistance to commitment that marked her life. She maintained that she had found professional help for her depression, but she had no name for or understanding of the latter affliction. In Cloister Walk, written after two residencies at a Benedictine monastery, she devotes a few pages to acedia, and she credits a lecture that became The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and “Women’s Work” (1999) with inspiring her to do a full-length study based on her belief in the usefulness of the literature of monasticism for herself and her world.
In Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, Norris focuses on this belief. She found that those in monastic life, going back to the fourth century, understood acedia best, identifying it as the “noonday devil,” a spiritual temptation to weariness unto giving up that may be felt by a monk after his first fervor, at a time when he is facing the reality of his day-by-day life committed to prayer. It was at noon that a monk felt most acutely the temptation to lose his...
(The entire section is 1810 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
America 199, no. 10 (October 6, 2008): 31.
The Atlantic Monthly 302, no. 4 (November, 2008): 140-141.
Booklist 104, no. 21 (July 1, 2008): 27.
Christianity Today 52, no. 8 (August, 2008): 59.
Kirkus Reviews 76, no. 14 (July 10, 2008): 80.
Library Journal 133, no. 19 (November 15, 2008): 44.
Publishers Weekly 255, no. 23 (June 9, 2008): 44.
(The entire section is 28 words.)