Reverence by Paul Woodruff
Renewing a Forgotten Virtue

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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. Like an important engine part that has rusted over time, the idea of reverence has become increasingly foreign. 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, whether in government, work, friendship, or family. It is essential, he says, for us to recover a sense of reverence in order to help repair the fraying bonds that tie us together.
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.

About Paul Woodruff

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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.
Published September 20, 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA. 260 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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He makes this point aptly through situational sketches, some of which show how a lack of reverence makes a mockery of certain traditions (such as voting), and others that reveal reverence in unexpected places (e.g., in a classical music quartet).

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Publishers Weekly

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Although he offers a variety of different approaches to the same subject, Woodruff cannot overcome a deadening sense of repetition (e.g., reminding us on almost every other page that reverence and respect are not synonymous), ultimately defeating his valiant efforts to rehabilitate reverence for ...

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Spirituality & Practice

Power without reverence is aflame with arrogance, while service without reverence is smoldering toward rebellion.

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