A Monk in the Works

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Information about A Monk in the Works

Published on April 14, 2008

Author: edithosb

Source: slideshare.net

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Presentation contrasting the structure of bureaucracy and the perspective of the Rule of Saint Benedict, given to the Benedictine Oblates at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, MN.

A Monk in the Works What does The Rule of Benedict teach us about working and living in modern organizations? Presentation by Sister Edith Bogue, O.S.B. for the Oblates of Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth MN. 13 April 2008

The Unseen Structure Modern life is structured in formal organizations School (even pre-school) Work Church Even our free times takes on this form – sports leagues, book clubs, charity. This structure – bureaucracy – is a modern social invention. We no longer notice it.

Modern life is structured in formal organizations

School (even pre-school)

Work

Church

Even our free times takes on this form – sports leagues, book clubs, charity.

This structure – bureaucracy – is a modern social invention. We no longer notice it.

 

The Iron Cage Max Weber – study of organizations* Defined their basic characteristics Designed for making profit Machine is the metaphor Improve productivity Reduce cost Make components work together efficiently People are just one type of component Thought that bureaucracy would become an Iron Cage *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

Max Weber – study of organizations*

Defined their basic characteristics

Designed for making profit

Machine is the metaphor

Improve productivity

Reduce cost

Make components work together efficiently

People are just one type of component

Thought that bureaucracy would become an Iron Cage

 

Bureaucracies Work divided into fixed areas (territories) and authority defined within its territory.* The Rule defines certain areas or roles (gate, cook, cellarer, readers) Monastics rotate through some roles regularly Few areas defined, and all integrated with the life of the monastery (no “divisions” or “departments”) *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

Work divided into fixed areas (territories) and authority defined within its territory.*

The Rule defines certain areas or roles (gate, cook, cellarer, readers)

Monastics rotate through some roles regularly

Few areas defined, and all integrated with the life of the monastery (no “divisions” or “departments”)

 

Bureaucracies Graded levels of authority form a system of supervision and subordination.* St. Benedict is allergic to levels of hierarchy (Ch. 65!) but accepts multiple small groups each with a leader to organize its work. The Rule presumes a mutual supervision and mutual subordination. *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

Graded levels of authority form a system of supervision and subordination.*

St. Benedict is allergic to levels of hierarchy (Ch. 65!) but accepts multiple small groups each with a leader to organize its work.

The Rule presumes a mutual supervision and mutual subordination.

 

Bureaucracies Management is impersonal, based on “the files” or written records, rather than personal relationship or memory.* The only written record described in The Rule is the record of one’s monastic profession. All decisions are personal – tools are given out personally, infractions are dealt with. Even departures are not permanent. *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

Management is impersonal, based on “the files” or written records, rather than personal relationship or memory.*

The only written record described in The Rule is the record of one’s monastic profession.

All decisions are personal – tools are given out personally, infractions are dealt with. Even departures are not permanent.

Bureaucracies Work is specialized, and presupposes extensive training to become expert.* St. Benedict prescribes training in psalmody. How do we read descriptions for cellarer, porter, reader? The abbot? Prescriptions of the behavior & skills to develop? Descriptions of the traits a person should have? How are these traits developed? *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

Work is specialized, and presupposes extensive training to become expert.*

St. Benedict prescribes training in psalmody.

How do we read descriptions for cellarer, porter, reader? The abbot?

Prescriptions of the behavior & skills to develop?

Descriptions of the traits a person should have?

How are these traits developed?

Bureaucracies Work in a bureaucracy, especially the work of a manager, takes the full-time effort of a person.* The Rule defines seven times of prayer a day. Prayer and lectio are the first job of every monk. St. Benedict speaks of getting help when the work is heavy, or sometimes harvesting. No one seems to be assigned to one job and nothing else. *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

Work in a bureaucracy, especially the work of a manager, takes the full-time effort of a person.*

The Rule defines seven times of prayer a day. Prayer and lectio are the first job of every monk.

St. Benedict speaks of getting help when the work is heavy, or sometimes harvesting. No one seems to be assigned to one job and nothing else.

Bureaucracies The organization follows rules which are stable and can be learned. Application of these rules is a special skill of management.* This seems to be a similarity. The Rule is written. The abbot is charged with interpreting and applying The Rule The Rule is rarely specific. The application is based on the person, not the situation or the part of The Rule. *From Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft , part III, chap. 6, pp. 650-78.

The organization follows rules which are stable and can be learned. Application of these rules is a special skill of management.*

This seems to be a similarity.

The Rule is written.

The abbot is charged with interpreting and applying The Rule

The Rule is rarely specific.

The application is based on the person, not the situation or the part of The Rule.

Translating The Rule to organizational life

Rank: RB Chapter 63 Let all keep their places Established by time of their entrance In no place whatever should age decide order Juniors should honor their seniors Seniors should love their juniors In speech and in actions, rank is acknowledged. How can this apply in our organizational lives?

Let all keep their places

Established by time of their entrance

In no place whatever should age decide order

Juniors should honor their seniors

Seniors should love their juniors

In speech and in actions, rank is acknowledged.

How can this apply in our organizational lives?

Impossible Tasks: Chapter 68 “If it happens that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a member…” Receive the order in meekness & obedience! “If he sees it…exceeds the limit of strength…” Submit reasons If the superior persists, let him obey out of love, trusting in the help of God. Do such tasks just happen? How does “love” fit?

“If it happens that difficult or impossible tasks are laid on a member…”

Receive the order in meekness & obedience!

“If he sees it…exceeds the limit of strength…”

Submit reasons

If the superior persists, let him obey out of love, trusting in the help of God.

Do such tasks just happen? How does “love” fit?

Defending Another: RB Chapter 69 No monk may presume on any ground to defend another monk. Nor protect someone Gives rise to scandals. Severely punished. Note Chapter 70: Let no one venture to punish on their own without authority. How can we apply this in our organizations? What changes?

No monk may presume on any ground to defend another monk.

Nor protect someone

Gives rise to scandals.

Severely punished.

Note Chapter 70: Let no one venture to punish on their own without authority.

How can we apply this in our organizations? What changes?

Voice: Ch 3, Ch 61, Ch 67 Benedict always seeks alternate points of view. Ch 3: Important items Call the whole community Listen to the younger Give advice with deference, not stubbornness Ch 61: A pilgrim monk may have been sent by God to point out something (reasonably) Ch 67: In contrast: monks who travel Do not report what they have seen or heard. How can we apply this? What do we do? Stop?

Benedict always seeks alternate points of view.

Ch 3: Important items

Call the whole community

Listen to the younger

Give advice with deference, not stubbornness

Ch 61: A pilgrim monk may have been sent by God to point out something (reasonably)

Ch 67: In contrast: monks who travel

Do not report what they have seen or heard.

How can we apply this? What do we do? Stop?

How does The Rule change us inside our organizations? How do we change our organizations as Benedictines?

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