Reverence : Renewing a Forgotten Virtue

3.86 (229 ratings by Goodreads)
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Reverence is an ancient virtue dating back thousands of years. It survives among us in half-forgotten patterns of behavior and in the vestiges of old ceremonies. Yet, Paul Woodruff says, we have lost sight of reverence. This short, elegiac volume makes an impassioned case for the fundamental importance of the forgotten virtue of reverence, and how awe for things greater than oneself can-indeed must-be a touchstone for other virtues like respect, humility, and charity. Ranging widely over diverse cultural terrain-from Philip Larkin to ancient Greek poetry, from modern politics to Chinese philosophy-Woodruff shows how absolutely essential reverence is to a well-functioning society. He tackles some thorny questions: How does reverence allow not only for leaders but for followers? What role does reverence play in religion? Do some religions misuse reverence? Must reverence be humorless? In the process, Woodruff shows convincingly how reverence plays an unseen part in virtually every human relationship.
Elegantly written, thoughtful yet urgent, Reverence is sure to reach out to a wide variety of people interested in the moral health of Western culture, showing how our own intellectual and spiritual legacy can guide us more than we realize.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 129.54 x 203.2 x 25.4mm | 249.47g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195157958
  • 9780195157956
  • 544,321

Review quote

This book by Paul Woodruff is a delight, in part from the beauty and pertinence of the poetry that Woodruff brings in to illuminate his discussion and from the charm added by his explications. His prose is a joy as he illustrates the various facets of reverence with brief scenarios and as well as longer stories. This book is capable of changing some people. George Bennion, Brigham Young University [Woodruff] makes use of his broad knowledge of classical literature, modern politics, and Chinese philosophy to illustrate that reverence is essential to a well-functioning society and that it plays a part in almost every human relationship. Theology Digest In this small book, philosopher Paul Woodruff sets himself two large tasks: to revive an appreciation for reverence in a culture that celebrates irreverence, and to rescue the idea of virtue from its proponents on the right and its opponents on the left. He succeeds admirably in both. Scott Russell Sanders, Christian Science Monitor An admirable, historical and ideological survey. Publishers Weekly Elegant... Not a simple self-help book, nor is it intended to be a feel-good, or feel-better, philosophical read... It is grounded in Western and Eastern philosophical, intellectual, an literary traditions, and it invites us to figure out for ourselves how its plainspoken lessons about the role of reverence...can be applied to the challenges of that confront us in our day-to-day lives. Tom Palaima, The American Prospect Woodruff approaches his subject with reverence, thereby invoking it even as he is analyzing it with depth and clarity. We have lost the 'idea' of reverence, he tells us, and to reclaim it is our obligation and opportunity. A beautiful book, lyrical and hard-hitting, intellectual and emotive, transformative. Ursula Goodenough, author of Sacred Depths of Nature Reverence is a beautifully written meditation on an important and neglected Ranging through time and traditions from the ancient Greeks to the present day, Woodruff has written a wise, original book. The Common Reader Clarion and worthy, Woodriff's treatise will give readers their own 'Eureka!' moments and, hopefully, create a ripple effect. Booklist
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About Paul Woodruff

Paul Woodruff is Mary Helen Thompson Professor of the Humanities at the University of Texas in Austin. A widely published translator of Plato, Thucydides, and other ancient writers, he has written extensively on classical philosophy and political thought.
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Rating details

229 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 28% (64)
4 41% (93)
3 23% (53)
2 7% (15)
1 2% (4)
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