Book cover of The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction  by Jamie Kreinerby Jamie Kreiner

A revelatory account of how Christian monks identified distraction as a fundamental challenge—and how their efforts to defeat it can inform ours, more than a millennium later.

The digital era is beset by distraction, and it feels like things are only getting worse. At times like these, the distant past beckons as a golden age of attention. We fantasize about escaping our screens. We dream of recapturing the quiet of a world with less noise. We imagine retreating into solitude and singlemindedness, almost like latter-day monks.

But although we think of early monks as master concentrators, a life of mindfulness did not, in fact, come to them easily. As historian Jamie Kreiner demonstrates in The Wandering Mind, their attempts to stretch the mind out to God—to continuously contemplate the divine order and its ethical requirements—were all-consuming, and their battles against distraction were never-ending.

Interview with the Author

Podcast Art for the New Book NetworkNew Books Network 
Jamie Kreiner, “The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction” (Liveright, 2023)
3/8/23           45 min

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