Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart

Wayne Edward Oates “Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart: How to Find Inner Peace” Doubleday, 1979; Augsburg Books 1996
nurturing silence
“The majority of clinically trained chaplains for 50 years owe a huge debt to Wayne Oates. Since his influence spread through the Clinical Pastoral Education Movement, anyone serving as chaplain is on speaking terms with his 40-50 books & hundreds of articles.

In his preface he clearly states his goal: “The disciplines of nurturing silence are what this book is about.” Dr. Oates keeps his constant theme: “discovering your privacy in order to nurture silence is to discover, Ecstasy as an entrancing joy. It means ‘to stand outside of oneself or apart from’ so that you center down in silence.” Then he proceeds to develop those ideas just like he spoke and/or taught in seminary lectures & seminars.”
nurturing silence 2
“Practical advice from a Christian psychologist on how to carve out a niche of quiet sanity in the crazy rush of everyday life. Oates himself is an admitted workaholic, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Knoxville and the author of 25 books, and much of this chatty, agreeable manual bears the stamp of personal experience. Oates lists several tell-tale signs of spiritual stress–fatigue, loss of perspective, poor judgment, and mental confusion–and suggests a number of strategies for finding the privacy needed to relieve it. He recommends creating “”pockets of silence”” by cutting down on TV, unplugging the telephone, rescheduling work, and generally slipping out from under the sensory overload of routine existence. This sort of “centering” silence also enables us to hear the sounds of a more ominous silence–the distress signals emitted by lonely, despairing people all around us, and the echoes of our own moribund ideals. And silence, finally, is the essential condition for heating the voice of God. Oates’ approach is strictly non-sectarian and low-key: he spends far more time on mental hygiene than on religion. A simple, sensible, how-to guide to serenity (assuming you can really find serenity through a book).”
“Wayne Edward Oates (24 June 1917 – 21 October 1999) was an American psychologist and religious educator who coined the word ‘workaholic’.
Born to a poor family in Greenville, South Carolina in June 1917, Oates was abandoned by his father in infancy and was brought up by his grandmother and sister while his mother supported them by working in a cotton mill. At the age of fourteen he was one of a small number of impoverished clever boys selected to serve as a United States House of Representatives Page. He enjoyed the experience and it inspired him to become the first of his family to enter higher education. He studied at Mars Hill Junior College, Wake Forest University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. After graduating from Southern with a PhD in Psychology of Religion, Oates joined the School of Theology in 1947 as professor of psychology of religion and pastoral care. He held the post until he joined the University of Louisville Medical School in 1974.
Oates’ cross-disciplinary approach combined psychological models with pastoral sensitivity, and biblical teaching. The result changed conventional attitudes to counselling to yield the modern pastoral care movement. Oates developed the ‘trialogue’ form of pastoral counseling: a conversation between counselor, counselee, and the Holy Spirit. The first of his fifty-seven books, was a short volume entitled Alcohol in and out of the Church (1940) and there was a long interval before the reworking of his doctoral thesis The Significance of the Work of Sigmund Freud for the Christian Faith under the autobiographical title The Christian Pastor (1951). The trialogue concept was introduced in The Presence of God in Pastoral Counseling (). With the publication of Confessions of a Workaholic in 1971 he brought his neologism ‘workaholic’ into public use and it was soon included in the Oxford English Dictionary.
In 1984 the American Psychiatric Association granted Oates the Oskar Pfister Award for his contributions to the relationship between psychiatry and religion.
He married Pauline with whom he had two sons. They lived in Louisville, Kentucky until his death in October 1999. He is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville.


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