Thursday, April 7, 2011

Things I Did Today
  • Worked from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Had a little more training, then started reading background materials on the case I'm going to be working on.
  • From now on I'll only share recommended links when I've come across something really worthwhile that day; no point in pushing filler.
Thoughts -- Excerpts From The Middle Ages, Part 9: The Downsides Of Monasticism
Lack of exercise, a starchy diet, and abundance of ale and beer induced corpulence and invited coronaries. To purge noxious humors and also to diminish lust, the monks were bled five or six times a year. This was a happy time. The men spent several days in the infirmary relieved of all duties, sleeping, and eating meat. At this time, one monastic chronicler reports, "the cloister monks are wont to reveal the secrets of their hearts." Many monasteries possessed country retreats or rest hostels, where the religious were allowed to take decorous walks, though they were forbidden to hunt or vault hedges.

The professional disease of the cloistered monk is accidia, a spiritual sluggishness that may turn to black bordeom, to melancholia. In hours set for meditation, and particularly after a heavy noontide meal, the hearty monk is assailed by the devil, the Midday Demon. He questions whether he has done well to renounce the world and its delightful temptations. To fight accidia the monk might seize and opportunity to go on a monastic errand or a pilgrimage, or to spend a term at a university. Some never returned; they became wandering beggars, gyrovagues, and some, like Friar Tuck, joined brigand bands. Within the walls the monks were more likely to burn with petty jealousies: one envious brother at the monastery of St. Gall cut to pieces with his penknife a rival's beautiful manuscript; others, maddened by the devil's wiles, hanged or crucified themselves.

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