The Table Video

James K.A. Smith

How the Desert Monastics Help Us Unlearn Our Vices

Professor of Philosophy / Gary and Henrietta Byker Chair in Applied Reformed Theology and Worldview, Calvin College
March 27, 2014

Philosopher James K.A. Smith (Calvin College) comments on the benefits of reading and learning from the Ancient Christian desert Monastics.


Oh, oh, the Desert Fathers. Absolutely, I mean that was already, this is why I think some of the most important gifts that we could appropriate in the 21st century, are the monastic fathers, desert fathers’ insights, about how spiritual disciplines roll back the vices and sort of inscribe in us the virtures.

One of my colleages, Rebekah Konyndyk DeYoung has a great book called Glittering Vices in which she goes back to the Desert Fathers and says look, these are basically therapies for our vices, right? And you have to recognize that our vices are habits.

We’ve acquired them through practices over time, so you need practices over time to roll them back and acquire the new habits which are faith hope and charity, right? I think there’s, and slow down Jaime. Excitedly, I think a lot of people are rediscovering the Fathers at a popular level.

About the Author