Old Monks and New Monastics

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Below is a link to a thoughtful article about the relationship between a declining expression of old monasticism and burgeoning expressions of new monastic spirituality.

Steven Hiltner of the New York Times reflects on some real adaptive and creative thinking among the brothers of Mepkin Abbey in South Carolina.

In this generation the brothers read a healthy distaste for institutionalism but a hunger for immersive spirituality. I believe their reading is accurate and I like how they have responded with an associate structure and time-framed immersions in the monastic community and experience. I believe in those kinds if initiatives as ways forward and I have seen some appetite for those forms and engaged with them over the last 30 years or so among boomers and millennials.

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When I read of the Trappists’ pioneering days and their self-sustaining patterns of life I see significant points of connection with movements among today’s generations for sustainable and Eco-friendly living.

The Trappist tradition, like many monastic movements, benefited in the C20th century from intakes driven by the social dislocation and disfranchisement of veterans of war. I hear similar notes of disenchantment and disfranchisement growing in Western cultures whose capitalism is creating a growing body of people who realize they are among the serfs and the excluded. If old monastics can be in active conversation with those kinds of demographics, more would know how relevant their ways and their stories are for today. I have hope for new generations and for old monastics in that conversation.

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