The following outline notes were taken from a talk that Roy Searle gave to a community gathering earlier this year:


Almost Monastic in Nature ~ Hope for Society

Dynamic & erratic, spontaneous & radical, audacious & immature, committed if not altogether coherent’, ecumenically open & often experimental, visible here & there, now and then, but unsettled institutionally. Almost Monastic in nature, but most of all enacting a fearful hope for human life in society.


The times they are a changing  Bob Dylan

Turbulence & Transition…

The world has changed and is changing more than many politician and social commentator is prepared to admit.

Growing instability and uncertainty of life in contemporary society.  We are living through a period of immense turbulence; economically … politically … environmentally … socially …

The tide of modernity is on its way out …

The world map is being re-drawn e.g. collapse of the Soviet Union and its re-emergence … the decline of America as a major economic superpower but with conventional military might… the emergence of China, India and Brazil as economic superpowers … the changing dynamics and threat of terrorism … the renaissance of tribal and ethnic loyalties and religious fundamentalism … and the continuing crisis in the Middle East … the new secular ‘ evangelists’ who capture the public’s mood for secular humanism, Western consumerism and the pursuit of celebrity status and hedonism.

The global financial crash and ensuing crisis has contributed to major economic, political and social problems for many countries throughout the world…

The world changed on September 11th, 2001 but in many ways we chose to ignore it.   There is a power of consumerism that blinds us from the realities of the world.  It anaesthetises any sense of sorrow, grieving and lament for the state of the world.

End times of Western Culture as we know it… the shift from a Christendom paradigm to a post modern, post-Christendom society is upon us. The dominance Judeo Christian narrative that is shaped certainly European culture for centuries, is now simply one societal story among many. The values that once shaped Western culture, values that were rooted in the Christian tradition, now find themselves competing in a marketplace of conflicting and fragmented ideologies. The dominance of secular humanism, Western capitalist consumerism and a heightened individualism has contributed to the demise of the notion of community and society.

The reality for the church in the West, despite the rhetoric in some quarters of revival, feels more like survival, or exile. The whole notion of exile resonates with the experience of the Northumbria community. Our origins are rooted in the experience of exile, feeling homeless in the changing world, where things familiar, things that once held sustenance and coherence, now seem hollow and devoid of meaning in a changing context.

  • Exile…
  • History of Monasticism…..  Emerged during periods of exile….. major ecclesiastical and /or cultural change…
  • e.g. Desert Fathers and Mothers…. Celtic….. Francis….. Beguines…. Order of St. Francis…. Taizé…  L’Arche….

What did each of these bring to the church and the world? >>> Hope…

e.g. re. Renewal of the Church……>

The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism that only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount.  It is high time that men and women banded together to do this.  Dietrich Bonheoffer


e.g. Francis….. simplicity of the gospel…. Heart for the poor…. Freedom not legalism… community not control…. Hope!

Cf. today.

Fuller Seminary philosopher Richard Mouw, speaking at Wheaton College, suggested that the church would benefit from “remonasticisation” – the clear and radical witness of a smaller body within the church, calling the entire church to a clearer and more radical witness.


e.g. re. Fearful hope for human life in society…. >

Celtic saints e.g. 5th – 8th Century Ireland…..tribalism / community… warfare / welcome and hospitality… paganism and superstition / faith and freedom…..violence / peace… >>> Hope!

cf. Today….

Though the new monasticism is a minority movement, its impact could be far beyond the numbers of people involved. “None of these historical movements were ever a huge percentage of the Christian population. But they had a disproportionate impact on society. I think we’re going to see that in the next 50 years.  Scott Bessenecker


History of new monasticism….Old and New / almost monastic in every emergent new monastic movement…. But clear that through each there is one long history of God bringing Hope to bear upon the church and the world….