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I use this book often for daily meditation, as a prelude to reading scripture. Though the stories and sayings are extreme, I think they are hyperbole to emphasize the point the wisdom fathers are trying to communicate, perhaps better stated as silence than by words. The Desert Fathers were not of the Western World mindset, and they predate the Enlightenment Period by a millenium. As the Prelude eloquently states, the historical context is important because the Desert Fathers did not have dogma or a Baltimore Catechism to answer all their questions. And this is a good thing, because by bare simplicity the stories convey the extreme spirit and mindset one may need to overcome complex obstacles brought by the human condition and sin.