I’ve been pondering recently the technological aspects of culture change and how they relate to Christian community and life.
I’m, frankly, confused by the notion of “emergent” or “emerging.” I get that it’s a new way of doing things and ordering of common life, a way of presenting the riches of our spiritual tradition without the “baggage” of our institutions. I do wonder, however, how much of this “baggage” is connected into truths of incarnation that may in fact be necessary evils that warn us against an idea, any plan, any approach to spirituality that attempts an end-around that avoids the messiness and sin that accompanies embodied reality.
Is there really more to the “emergent” thing than creating a more informal environment and being more loosely tied to denominational structures?
Furthermore—on a related but different note—to what degree are internet connections capable of being “communities of formation”?
As I consider the pull that keeps moving me toward a more monastic way of living I wonder and weigh the benefits of various options. I was impressed by the offering at the Daily Episcopalian today and note that they are by the co-founder of the Community of Solitude, a group I’ve never heard of before. On one hand, they seem like something I’m looking for as I have an interest and a love for the spirituality and practices that guide them. And yet…
I’ve never quite been able to wrap my mind around St. Oswald, sometime bishop of Worcester and the third of the reforming bishops of the Benedictine Revival. If I recall correctly he did spend some time in a monastic community on the Continent but when he was in England at points I recall reading that he was a monk by himself.
How can that be?
I know what a hermit is, what an anchorite is, but this notion of being a monk by yourself seems different somehow…
Can a scattered community be, through harnessing of the internet, cohesive enough to provide a community of formation? I’m not sure. Part of it may require an unpacking of this phrase I’ve created… for in my mind the heart of a community of formation is observing the examples of the practices of others. Cassian—and St Antony as presented by Cassian—put quite a bit of emphasis on the observation and imitation of others. Can this part of the formation process occur without incarnate, communal, intentional living? I don’t know…
Or is the oblate path the stronger method—associates in the world tied to a smaller group of professed religious who provide incarnate examples by whom the oblates can be refershed on a regular basis? Certainly this is the more classical model, and the one embraced by many Benedictines, the Julians, and the Order of the Holy Cross.
What do you think—what are the requirements for communities of formation in our brave new digital world?