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The article focuses on ancient Christian monasticism. The simplicity admired and practiced by the early Christian monks, so often construed as a first order naiveté or credulity devoid of depth or subtlety, in fact contained and expressed a complex range of thought and feeling. More than this, it was, at least in its most mature expressions, a hard won achievement, realized only through a costly and demanding process of relinquishment. Ancient Christian monks actually did realize on occasion a simplicity that embodied a beautiful freedom and transparency. But such simplicity rarely came to expression in a life except through intense and costly, even terrifying, personal struggle. To realize such simplicity in one's life meant living through a kind of death.

Recommended Citation

Christie, Douglas E. “Simplicity, or the Terror of Belief: The Making and Unmaking of the Self in Early Christian Monasticisim.” Cistercian Studies Quarterly 40.4 (2005): 353-64. Print.