Another much-maligned feature of civ4, but I love 'em. The past few games I've built 5 monasteries in my bureaucratic capital and added the Great Library and Parthenon and run Representation. Later adding Oxford when I can. Wow. That's powerful, I've found myself researching everything else but SciMeth, putting it off as far as possible. I've found that I cruise past the other AI's, and when I go as far as I can, it's a simple matter to trade for SciMeth and the few subsequent techs unlocked to me. I maintain an overall lead, and at the same time rack up quite a bank. It's such a disappointment when I finally have to take scimeth bcz I take such a significant hit. Monasteries are great.