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Silence And Honey Cakes: The Wisdom Of The Desert
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Silence And Honey Cakes: The Wisdom Of The Desert

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  215 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The place "where God happens," according to Rowan Williams's striking new reading of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, is between each other . It's a truth that we of the twenty-first century most urgently need to learn in order to heal the experience of alienation that has become endemic to our age, and these odd and appealing ancient figures, surprisingly, hold keys to thi ...more
Hardcover, 125 pages
Published November 21st 2003 by Lion Books (first published 2003)
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Phil Aud
Jan 06, 2016 Phil Aud rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
Silence and Honey Cakes is Rowan Williams wonderful little book – based on his lectures to The World Community of Christian Meditation – which explores the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers. It is one of the most compelling books on Christian community that I have read. One of the great aspects of this book is it’s presentation of holiness. By looking at the writings and lives of the desert monastics, Williams presents the call to be saints as ‘non-heroic.’ I immediately thought of a book ...more
Apr 22, 2016 Angela rated it really liked it
I found this book, Silence And Honey Cakes: The Wisdom Of The Desert by Rowan Williams to be informative and helpful.

Rowan Williams, using the chapter titles: Life, Death and Neighbours; Silence and Honey Cakes; Fleeing and Staying, explored some of the ideas propounded by the Christian desert monastics of the third century onwards. Although these men - and some women - lived many centuries ago, the author shows how their ideas have relevance for the church and Christians today.

I found the last
Oct 13, 2013 J. rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I asked someone who was a fan of Rowan Williams and his works what the most accessible book in his canon was and they came up with this. This short book is based on a series of seminars that Williams gave in Sydney, 2001 for the World Community for Christian Meditation. Around the beginning of the 3rd century A.D. hermits, ascetics and monks, seemingly inspired by the founder St.Anthony set themselves up in the Egyptian desert. Their purpose was experiential, didactic and also one of renunciatio ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Archbishop (now Archbishop-Emeritus) Rowan Williams of Canterbury has here written a concise volume - really three essays which intertwine with each other - on the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, of the practice of 'dying to the neighbour', of the practice of 'fleeing' one's own thoughts and fantasies, and of the practice of 'staying' within the lived, physical, bodily context where one is set. This is rounded out with an excellent but all-too-brief collection of sayings and stories fr ...more
Andrew Doohan
With its origins in the 2001 John Main Seminar held in Sydney, this book by the (now former) Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is an absolute gem for anyone wishing to deepen their appreciation of the spiritual life as seen through the eyes of the early desert fathers and mothers.

Written in a very accessible style - you can almost hear the author speaking them aloud in his unmistakable voice - there is much insight and wisdom to be gleaned for the modern spiritual seeker. It just goes to
Mar 01, 2015 Theresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spurred by my recent focus on medieval theologians, I wanted to fill in some gaps in the earlier period of Christian history. This work was a pleasure to read.
Maria Longley
May 08, 2013 Maria Longley rated it it was amazing
Drawing on the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers this book looks at what they said and did and then also how we might use that knowledge in our lives and practise today. It helped explain and contextualise some of the sayings and thoughts for me. It's written in a very accessible style and I find it quite amazing that this started life as a lecture (how long was that!?!), I was also impressed by the quality of the Q&A at the end of the book which was based on the Q&A after the tal ...more
Jan 19, 2013 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This is another re-read for me, but one that I keep returning to. The attempt to take the Desert Fathers seriously and apply them to the modern world is one that has been tried by several authors, but this is one of the more successful applications. The book takes seriously the complexity of human nature and Christianity in a way that challenges me and comforts me. Well worth reading and re-reading. Good as either an Advent or Lenten devotion, either for individuals or groups.
Ik vind dit echt zo'n fijne schrijver. Ik vond zijn Narnia boek tot nu toe denk ik het beste, maar deze verdient ook zeker vijf sterren. Praktisch, nuchter en diepzinnig tegelijk. Net als de vorige die ik las, een boek om langzaam te lezen. Love it.
Hoofdstukken (om de rode draad vast te houden):
1. Life, Death and Neighbours;
2. Silence and Honey Cakes;
3. Fleeing;
4. Staying.
Jul 14, 2016 5greenway rated it really liked it
4.5. Small book: lucid, focused, and challenging. Another one to return to.
Oct 31, 2010 Andy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a decent introduction to the wisdom of the desert fathers, the early fathers of the Church. Rowan Williams writes in a fairly easy to read manner but the chapters can go a bit long and at times the content felt slightly heavy. Not a page turner is what I'm trying to get at. He does cover a lot that relates to how we can grow as individuals and as Christians.
Margaret Clark
Jan 08, 2014 Margaret Clark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful little book, well worth reading and re-reading. For clergy, this could be a Lenten selection possibility.
Jan 20, 2015 Lucy rated it it was ok
Let me be fair. This probably made a lot more sense as a lecture than as a book, I'd hope the intonation of the speaker might have made some sense. I do dislike the way he sets up a personal characteristic to knock it down again, I often found myself thinking, well that's not what the people I know are like, Rowan.....
Jul 30, 2013 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful, honest exploration of the application of the sayings and practices of the Desert Fathers and Mothers to today's church and Christian. Worth the effort, especially for the Christian meditator or practitioner of mindfulness, as Williams speaks to the importance of present moment awareness in one's Christian journey.
Aug 02, 2016 heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sep 08, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Reflecting on lessons from the desert fathers and mothers, Rowan Williams's John Main lectures give contemporary christians a fresh window on those teachings, especially in light of the Questions and Answers at the end.
The present Archbishop of Canterbury recapitulates the theology and practice of the desert fathers, particularly their ability to take sin absolutely seriously and at the same time to absolutely refuse to judge others' sin.
Luke H
Apr 05, 2013 Luke H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
absolutely excellent. one of the best spiritual books i've read in awhile. good clear thoughts that really connect the desert father tradition to living with faith in the modern world. highly recommend.
Rachael Miles
Feb 20, 2012 Rachael Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Brilliant! Our current Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams writes about the value of silence, the history of the desert fathers/mothers, and what Church really means (or at least should mean!).
James Wheeler
Nov 12, 2012 James Wheeler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great for an introduction to desert fathers and their religious communities. Also helpful for those who have high ideals about community and its potential for good.
Chris Hall
Jun 04, 2010 Chris Hall rated it really liked it
Lots of words but thankfully not too many.

Not quite sure what the point of the book was.


excellent! The desert fathers have so much to teach us....
Mark Payne
May 30, 2013 Mark Payne rated it it was amazing
He's a clever one our Rowan. Delightful as always.
May 12, 2015 Steve rated it liked it
Ok. Useful in places
Apr 25, 2009 Huw added it
Feb 10, 2009 Ruth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
I learned so much from this that I'm going through it again and taking notes! Rowan Williams' writing is crystal clear and make rational what would seem irrational. He tells stories of the desert fathers - the ancient monks of the 3rd, 4th and 5th centuries, and helps us understand what drove them to retreat from 'normal'life. Teachings that resonated with me were on simplicity, the need for utter honesty before God, transparency, and our complete dependence on Christs salvation. And most of all ...more
Jan 24, 2014 Emme rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spring-term-2014
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Aug 23, 2016
Allan Groen
Allan Groen rated it liked it
Aug 23, 2016
Gargi Ghosh
Gargi Ghosh marked it as to-read
Aug 18, 2016
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Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, is an Anglican bishop, poet, and theologian. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from December 2002-2012, and is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and Chancellor of the University of South Wales.
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“[T]here is no goodness that is not bodily and realistic and local.” 8 likes
“Only the body saves the soul.” 5 likes
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