The relevance and importance of humility is the focus of a new book by a Charles Sturt University (CSU) theologian.
Reclaiming Humility: Four Studies in the Monastic Tradition is written by Dr Jane Foulcher, a lecturer in systematic theology at St Mark's National Theological Centre, a partner in the CSU School of Theology. The book will be launched in Canberra on Thursday 22 October.
Dr Foulcher is an Anglican priest with experience in urban and regional contexts, in chaplaincy and parish ministry. She has been an academic associate in the School of Theology since 2007, teaching in systematic and practical theology. Her doctoral research was in the area of monastic theology, and she has a particular interest in the relationship between theology and practice.
Reclaiming Humility considers the fundamental question, does humility have a place in contemporary life? Dr Foulcher answers this by examining whether Enlightenment thinkers were wrong to reject humility as a 'monkish virtue' (Hume) arising from a 'slave morality' (Nietzsche).
In the book she recovers the counter-cultural reading of humility that marked early Christianity and examines its trajectory at key junctures in the development of Western monasticism. Humility emerges not as a moral virtue achieved by human effort, but as a way opened by grace as a divine 'climate' (Christian de Chergé) that we are invited to inhabit.
Dr Foulcher (pictured) said she first became interested in humility as a topic and aspect of life when she was working in a high school 15 years ago.
"I'd picked up a book on the sixth-century Rule of Benedict by American nun Joan Chittister which, surprisingly, offered some wonderful wisdom on living as a community," Dr Foulcher said. "She suggested that for human survival in the 21st century we need to embrace the commitment of the Rule to humility - 'a proper sense of self in a universe of wonders'.
"For a school this offered a pretty counter-cultural challenge. Our education system is focused primarily on individual performance and competition. Our obsession with image on social media has made this worse.
"Yet cooperation is actually dependent on humility; that is, the capacity to give space to our fellow human beings."
From fourth-century Egypt to twentieth-century Algeria, via Saint Benedict and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Dr Foulcher's compelling analysis of theology and practice in Reclaiming Humility challenges the Church to reclaim Christian humility as essential to its life and witness today.
Reclaiming Humility: Four Studies in the Monastic Tradition will be officially launched by Reverend Dr Graeme Garrett at 6pm Thursday 22 October in the chapel at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, 15 Blackall Street (corner King's Avenue) Barton, Canberra. All welcome.
A seminar on Reclaiming Humility will follow at 10am to 12pm Friday 23 October in the Withycombe Room at St Mark's National Theological Centre, 15 Blackall Street, Barton. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.