Community of the Resurrection

I had a lovely, but all too short, visit to the brothers of the Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield this weekend.

Originally I’d intended to meet a friend there, but when he had to cancel at the last minute, I decided to head off on my own, and have a mini retreat. It was wonderful.

I can heartily reccomend the hospitality of the brothers, who live an unusual mixture of the Religious and Monastic life. As well as organised retreats of different kinds, visitors can arrange to visit individually, and its well worth doing.

One of the reasons I originally wanted to visit was the knowledge that Dietrich Bonhoeffer stayed with them when he was developing his own ideas about a ‘new kind of monasticism’ – I think he went to exactly the right place.

I may blog some more about the things which came to mind while I was there, but then again I may just let them percolate for a while. I found the visit really spiritually nourishing, and its good to see that despite the fact that many of the brothers are pretty old, there is a real vision for the future of the community. As one brother said wryly though – “We’re a bit like Pandas in the zoo, people like to come and look at us, but we’re not very good at reproducing ourselves.”

January is nearly at an end – thoughts and revolutions about the coming year are still working through, but this visit has certainly played a part in those workings – one resolution I have made, is that Mirfield, with its large, peaceful gardens, atmosphere of stillness and calm, and ancient/contemporary spirituality –  is somewhere I shall certainly be visiting again.

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7 thoughts on “Community of the Resurrection

  1. Just bought your book (finally) mate. Soon to be winging over from an online retailer who will remain nameless but isn’t named after a river.

  2. Thanks mate, I’m blessed 🙂 hope you find some of it interesting. It wouldnt be accurately described as a major bestseller, but it’s had some positive feedback for which my ego is enormously grateful.

  3. Mmm. Well, in brief – I life your style (as I hope you know), but struggle with the contents. On a very petty level, most of the groups mentioned are not ‘monastic’, or ‘new’. On a more serious level, I’m wondering if the attempt is to bring together groups in a rounded narrative which don’t belong together – I wonder if there are even some groups (in the book) who wouldn’t even recognise others (in the book) as fellow Christians. Finally, and most importantly for me, I’m not sure I accept the notion of worship/prayer as a discreet function which can be taken as a lifestyle. For me, the formulation of a religious elite is not counter-cultural, but absolutely the antithesis of the gospel. FWIW, I don’t believe in measuring prayer by volume (as if 24/7 is ‘better’ or more effective than anything else) and struggle to believe that many of these groups/communities are anything more than self-serving. I was particularly saddened by the idea that you can engage more deeply with inner city deprivation by going to live in the wilds of Northumbria.

    As another comment, I’m wondering if one of the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant/ecumenical groups is that, as Hauerwas says, Catholic is Church whilst Protestant is Denomination. So, in that sense, the Benedictines (for example) can be said to be recognised as having a function within the whole whereas these other groups become self-absorbed new denominations which people chose to be committed to. I’m sorry, I’ve not explained that well.

    1. Hi Joe, thanks for your thoughtful comments – as you might expect, I take issue with some of them – lets go through:

      “most of the groups mentioned are not ‘monastic’, or ‘new’.”

      Well who says? You’re imposing your definition of monastic, which you dont elucidate upon, but it clearly differs from mine. However, that said, what I try to explain in the book is that many groups demonstrate ‘aspects’ of a new monasticism – they have drawn from the well of monasticism as it were. After all, Bonhoeffer called for a new kind of monasticism which would have very little in common with the old. I find the way people try to draw lines around what is and what is not monastic confusing, as ‘monks’ have lived very different kinds of lifestyles through the ages. As for new – that too is a relative term. The book was written two or more years ago now, some of these groups have folded, others have been going for nearly a century – in general respects though, they represent part of the new in monastic or religious life.

      “I’m wondering if the attempt is to bring together groups in a rounded narrative which don’t belong together – I wonder if there are even some groups (in the book) who wouldn’t even recognise others (in the book) as fellow Christians.”

      Certainly many of these people are like chalk and cheese – and if that isnt representative of Christianity in its reality I dont know what is. Sure they diverge – so what? They all represent, in their own ways, new forms of monasticism. My attempt was to show that whatever your background, your particular slant on God, you can find a monastic movement within your own tradition, or close.

      “I’m not sure I accept the notion of worship/prayer as a discreet function which can be taken as a lifestyle. For me, the formulation of a religious elite is not counter-cultural, but absolutely the antithesis of the gospel.”

      Lots to talk about here, and your opinions are of course totally valid – but lets just get rid of the idea of a ‘religious elite’ for a start – that’s a wrong notion. Being set apart even for a season is a responsibility, a vocation, it doesnt make you elite. I feel you may be projecting here.

      “I don’t believe in measuring prayer by volume (as if 24/7 is ‘better’ or more effective than anything else) and struggle to believe that many of these groups/communities are anything more than self-serving.”

      OK – well that’s your view, I personally think that if you feel led to pray continuously as part of a group, you should do so.

      “I was particularly saddened by the idea that you can engage more deeply with inner city deprivation by going to live in the wilds of Northumbria.”

      I am not sure where this one comes from – perhaps Roy Searle? I think you’ve oversimlified, and Roy spent a long time in an inner city, before moving to a very poor and very rural area – where issues of life are just as hard as they were in the inner city. He doesnt live in a utopia.

      “I’m wondering if one of the differences between Roman Catholic and Protestant/ecumenical groups is that, as Hauerwas says, Catholic is Church whilst Protestant is Denomination. So, in that sense, the Benedictines (for example) can be said to be recognised as having a function within the whole whereas these other groups become self-absorbed new denominations which people chose to be committed to. ”

      I agree in one sense and disagree in another – its not right to say that Catholic is only the one meaning of the word – it also now represents a particular tradition, with its own theology, praxis and power base. But as the defining movement in much of Western Christianity, yes it does have great influence in the story of monasticism, but as these new monastic groups show, that story is a long way from being over.

  4. Yeah, I would also say the same ab the possibility that i’m projecting 🙂 I guess the truth is that I cannot get over this idea, that I learned from kierkegaard that claims of devotion to God are subjective and untestable. and, perhaps more controversially, not a strong enough basis to build a life of purpose. I need to try to order my thoughts better – maybe i’ll try to blog ab it later.

    1. well that’s fair enough – to be honest, your initial point about title and cover etc really were right – I had a big battle about both with the publisher, which I lost. I feel the book has totally the wrong look and has been marketed pretty dismally – but then again, what can you expect? its all very well to have anti capitalist principals, but then to go complaining when capitalism doesnt work in your favour is a bit rich I suppose – lol. T’would be good if you kept blogging.

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