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Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert [Hardcover]

Rowan Williams
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Nov 2003
In this text, Rowan Williams goes back to the 4th century Desert Fathers and Mothers for inspiration and insight. He rediscovers that the spirituality of the deseert resonates strongly with aspects of the modern spiritual search.

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Silence and Honey Cakes: The Wisdom of the Desert + Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Books (21 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745951384
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745951386
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A profound yet readable book.' The Tablet --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Rowan Williams was enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury in 2003. He had previously been Archbishop of Wales. Before becoming a bishop, he was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Oxford. He is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books, including Lost Icons (Continuum), Poems (Perpetua), Christ on Trial (Zondervan), Resurrection (DLT) and Writing in the Dust (Hodder & Stoughton). --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be silent about... 2 Jan 2004
By Dai
Despite its title, this is a book not to be silent about! Exploring the sayings of the desert fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries might at first glance seem to be a dry and unrewarding task, but Williams unearths hidden gems for a 21st century audience. Focusing on gaining God in one's neighbour, respecting difference, fleeing from our false ideas of self and finding God where we are, Williams gives a brilliant exposé of the lies we tell ourselve and draws out the grace of God which loves us anyway. Williams's work resonates with the wisdom of the Bible whilst rarely quoting it, and leaves you with a feeling that if Jesus were physically present on earth today, this is what he would say. Eye opening, exciting, and utterly rewarding.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book 17 Jun 2008
By Origen
This thoughtful little book won't take you long to read (at just over 100 pages) but there's a lot here worth absorbing.

The sayings and lives of the so-called desert fathers, who many centuries ago inhabited ancient Syria and a number of surrounding territories have in recent times attracted the attention of many modern readers. The translation of a number of their writings by Sister Benedicta Ward, in particular, has assisted in this, as she has made what these distant believers taught available in a helpful collection in English.

Rowan Williams' book offers a discussion of a number of the most important features of the spirituality of the desert fathers - their asceticism, conceptions of God and the world, and their relationships to others. He offers only a sketch, but does enough to bring the world of his subjects alive.

At the end of the book, there is a transcript of a question and answer session between Williams and a number of interlocutors at a conference in Australia. I felt this was an excellent addition to the book, since the questions posed all relate to how the ideas and examples of the desert fathers can be understood for their relevance here and now, and because Williams' answers intimate (with,for him, an unusual degree of clarity) how he personally conceives the important role of the desert monks in his own spiritual life.
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67 of 71 people found the following review helpful
The first monks and nuns of the Christian era who lived in the inhospitable places of the Middle East have begun to experience something of a revival; Christopher Jamison in his excellent book Finding Sanctuary talks about them a lot, and gives tantalizing snippets from their lives. Is this the place to praise them, or to explain what a huge influence they have had on our culture? Probably only briefly: without them, there might have been no Augustine, that great philosopher and theologian from Roman N Africa; the work of the early monks in Europe such as Benedict are full of their wisdom; and without these two pillars, Europe would have looked very different. Even though they lived uncompromising lives of silence and poverty, their message, by and large, is homely, social and full of a trust in their vision of God. Williams' task - and he succeeds very well indeed - is to bring these people into his readers' world. His view of these men and women leads him to examine our conformist, manufacture-led culture, our reliance on the myths of choice.

Williams gives a methodical exposition of the message he takes from the lives of these eccentric and imposing individuals. The original stories can be witty, poignant, powerful; Williams chooses well from the collections of their sayings and weaves an engaging picture.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where God Happens 18 Nov 2008
Silence and Honey Cakes is essentially the same book as Where God Happens. They have different publishers. The four essays by Rowan Williams are identical, but both books have extras which are worth having. S&HC has Questions and Answers, and WGH has a selection by Laurence Freeman of sayings from the monastic wisdom of the Christian Desert. I recommend either book, but probably not both!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book for a practising Christian 8 Jun 2010
This book is a little gem. I dip in and dip out of this book when I need help in resolving everyday dilemmas and conflicts in life. Trying to do the right thing in life is very hard. This book with it's simple format and pithy language has been a true God send. The book illustrates how by accepting our human frailties and yet still striving to overcome them can be managed by honest and supportive dialogue with each other and being realistic but unrelenting in trying always to justify actions as being ethical objectively. Also this book shows how silence can be beautiful and perfect for inner reflection and understanding true motives and resulting actions. In this day and age where secularism appears to rule, this book shows how secularism and spiritualism can coexist happily without conflict in one's everyday life. I love this book and the author whose profound theology is an oasis in an increasingly spiritually arid world. I have read and re-read several passages many times over and each reading gives a new and helpful insight. This is an excellent book and I cannot recommend it more highly. RW shows that the desert fathers and mothers certainly knew a thing or two about life and their wisdom is as important and valid today as it was centuries ago!! If you are a Jesus fan, as I am, you will love this book as it shows how we can all lead a Christian life in a in an ever increasing secular world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars OK
Good information; good excerpts from the desert fathers and Mothers; would like a little more of their theology, but I suppose it is difficult with such a diverse set of people.
Published 3 months ago by Wes Blakey
5.0 out of 5 stars great Christian handbook
really clear exposition of living a true Christian life, and how important it is to live it together in order to grow
Published 8 months ago by thezibaty
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and inspiring
This is only a short book, but it is worth reading slowly. The Desert Fathers (and Mothers) are a treasure trove in their own right; here Rowan Williams distils some themes from... Read more
Published 10 months ago by The Green Man
5.0 out of 5 stars The wisdom of the desert
The wisdom and charisma that goes with the way this book has been laid out epitomises
the profound fulfilment that is found in the desert of silence. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Sydwell Isaac
5.0 out of 5 stars Silence and Honey Cakes.
The book is simply written, and so can easily be understood. It brings the reader back to the original thoughts of the very early Church, and the foundations of catholicism and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Triona Harvey
3.0 out of 5 stars A short book reporting on a conference.
Not being an accademic I found that I had to read this book with a dictionary to hand which in itself was good as it taught me a lot of new words. Read more
Published 18 months ago by S. K. North
4.0 out of 5 stars Retreat and Resist
I used this book on annual retreat a few years ago. Rowan Williams greatness lies in his ability to be both academically rigorous and spiritually pastoral. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Keith Hebden
5.0 out of 5 stars Silence and Honey Cakes
Book arrived in good time and condition - thank you. A wonderful book, needing deep thought to penetrate its profundities. Read more
Published on 2 April 2012 by JA Raeburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Wow! There was just so much in this book that I wanted to remember. I started book marking pages but ran out of book marks. Read more
Published on 23 Jun 2011 by JH
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it me or is this book a bit dull
I'm reading this as part of the suggested reading for a course of study I am doing. The first few pages are such that it has got to get more interesting BUT I haven't got beyond... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2010 by Ian Willsher
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