Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 60, The Rules Don't Apply to Me Because I Am Special

Chapter 60 of the Rule of St. Benedict has to do with admitting priests into the monastery.

Now if you are a Protestant you might not know that being a monk and being a priest are two different things. You can be a monk and not be a priest. But many monks do become priests. And while some priests might join a monastery, most priests do not.

Benedict's concerns about allowing priests to join the monastery have to do with the priests thinking they are better than the other monks and that the rules, because they are priests, don't apply to them. Thus Benedict warns:
1If any ordained priest asks to be received into the monastery, do not agree too quickly. 2However, if he is fully persistent in his request, be must recognize that he will have to observe the full discipline of the rule.
I think we all want to be a bit special, thinking that the rules don't apply to us, that we are deserving of special privileges and considerations. You see this all the time in churches. Maybe you don't have a priest problem but odds are you have donor, educational and ministerial experience problems.

Big donors to a church often think that they are deserving of special consideration, input and influence. Same goes for anyone in the church who has a graduate degree in biblical studies, ministry or theology. Finally, anyone with former experience as a minister, pastor or missionary can also use that as a trump card.

And this goes well beyond the church. Everywhere we see people believing that the rules don't apply to them because they are special.

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2 thoughts on “Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 60, The Rules Don't Apply to Me Because I Am Special”

  1. This whole speech from Michael Lewis is great, but I think the most relevant part here is his summary of research on the effects of assigning 'leader' status to a person. Tell someone they are in charge of a random group, and 30 minutes later they will start taking special privileges for themselves.

    "A few years ago, just a few blocks from my home, a pair of researchers in the Cal psychology department staged an experiment. They began by grabbing students, as lab rats. Then they broke the students into teams, segregated by sex. Three men, or three women, per team. Then they put these teams of three into a room, and arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader. Then they gave them some complicated moral problem to solve: say what should be done about academic cheating, or how to regulate drinking on campus.

    Exactly 30 minutes into the problem-solving the researchers interrupted each group. They entered the room bearing a plate of cookies. Four cookies. The team consisted of three people, but there were these four cookies. Every team member obviously got one cookie, but that left a fourth cookie, just sitting there. It should have been awkward. But it wasn't. With incredible consistency the person arbitrarily appointed leader of the group grabbed the fourth cookie, and ate it. Not only ate it, but ate it with gusto: lips smacking, mouth open, drool at the corners of their mouths. In the end all that was left of the extra cookie were crumbs on the leader's shirt.

    This leader had performed no special task. He had no special virtue. He'd been chosen at random, 30 minutes earlier. His status was nothing but luck. But it still left him with the sense that the cookie should be his."

  2. The narcissistic personality disorder (as you know) is given to those people who believe they are so special they are entitled to privileges from which others are exempt. It has been my experience that when you do not meet their demands for special treatment, they will usually attempt to inflict serious harm. Yes, they know all the ways of manipulation to get their way.

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