Natural resistance: Faith at work

There is virtue yet in the hoe and the spade for learned as well as unlearned hands,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, echoing a theme that goes back at least as far as the Rule of St. Benedict. Both the 19th-century transcendentalists and the sixth-century abbot saw value in physical labor, even though and perhaps because each in his own way placed such a high value on the intangible, be it the Oversoul or the Holy Spirit. Physical labor would anchor the soaring mind; physical labor would keep both the American scholar and the monastic community self-sufficient.

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