Friday, July 28, 2006

One Book..

Found this over at Kyles. Great stuff.
Other community members need to play!

One book that changed your life:
Esther De Waal "The Benedicitine Way". Began this whole crazy journey

One book that you’ve read more than once:
Henri Nouwen "The Genesee Diary"

One book you’d want on a desert island:
Abhishiktanada "Prayer" (look it up!)

One book that made you laugh:
Ben Elton Stark

One book that made you cry:
Ann Patchet. Truth and Beauty

One book that you wish had been written:
The dummies guide to making difficult decisions in the spiritual life.

One book that you wish had never been written:
Any thing anti catholic.... Just look in your local Christian book store
(and no I'm NOT paranoid!)

One book you’re currently reading:
C S Lewis Essays, Philosophy, Short Stories

One book you’ve been meaning to read:
J H Newman Apologia Pro Vita Sua

Monday, July 24, 2006


You can shampoo my hair,
But I believe in Jesus.

Eliza - Rose, Aged 5.

Sounds like a manifesto....

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


More thinking about our community, the wider church and all the issues which we run across in my discussions with Christians of all denominations and persuasions.

Reading Lewis has made me want to ask big questions of myself, to not waste my time on peripherals, to be honest and intelligent and engage.
I ask these questions of myself, as much as of you.

Does blogging help to build the kingdom or does it just “stir the pot” ?

What long-term effects will the neo-monastic movement have?
Will any of us be able to sustain our close communities in the long term?

Does the Emerging Church really matter?
Will it have long term effects as a movement on its own.?
Will established churches be influenced in the long term by its spirituality, worship or theology?

For how long can a church/movement engage with its dominant culture, as fully as the emerging church does, before it becomes saltless salt, or trite, or rootless, or so relevant it loses its connection with the ancient faith once handed on form the apostles?

Did Thomas Merton like Giant Steps by John Coltrane, or was he a Kind of Blue fan?

Pick a question?
Ask a question!
Write an answer!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Continuing Education

As I continue to read a biography of C S Lewis, I also continue to think about the importance of education, or lack thereof, in the Christian life, and its place for me personally and that of my two little ones.

Lewis, and many of his contemporaries, were schooled in “classics” – reading and writing Greek and Latin, Greek and Roman literature, philosophy, history, and politics. Not only was this considered a basic education for those going into English politics or public service, but also as a basic degree before going onto studying anything else – be it English, Theology, Languages etc.

I can’t help wondering about the basis of my own education in comparison to Lewis’ and the correlating spiritual issues. I sometimes feel poorly prepared. Many of the Christian writers I admire had the same training as Lewis (For instance, Baron Von Hugel, Spiritual Director of English mystic Evelyn Underhill, who prescribed a reading program of Roman writers to his niece when she inquired about the faith).
To my mind, it gave them a broadness of thought, an appreciation of the expressions of humanity through time. It also gave them a historical and sociological context of their understanding of Christianity of which I have only the smallest knowledge.
This type of knowledge must surely be an antidote to narrow beliefs and narrow sectarian understandings – at least you would hope so! It is also, of course, medicine for the anti-intellectual type Christian, of which I have had the misfortune to meet a few lately (You studied where? And you’re still a Christian…)

I think the Benedictines fill this educative roll for me.
This is not in any way to reduce the great spiritual or liturgical learning I have found at the monastery, but Education is valued. Knowledge is important.
Join the monastery and see the world! (Sometimes in a more than metaphorical sense!) Becoming immersed in a rich tradition like that of St Benedict gives a language and a way of seeing the world which is both broad and informed.

So for my little ones, for who I want “Broad and informed” (I like that!) I encourage them to read. And more reading. To discuss. To question. To not settle for easy answers. To believe. To value learning. To embrace mystery when they find it. To pray. To love richly and deeply. I hope it will serve them well, and in their learning, I will learn these lessons too.

Classics at the University Of Oxford
Classic at the University of Cambridge

Friday, July 14, 2006

Education Part 2

Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
C S Lewis

Thursday, July 13, 2006


BTW, ever since we put our book lists up, comments have ceased!
Hope no ones offended by our taste!

Last night at community Rachel was discussing a documentary she saw detailing the life of several Mennonite families. The families came from two different communities, one more “liberal” than the other. The more basic community had no power, no modern dental services, and no rubber tyres on the tractor – apparently going into town to get new tyres was an opportunity for drunkenness. But most notable was the lack of education overall. Only the Bible as literature. Only able to write own name.

Skip dimensions to our place. Books oozing out of the shelves. I am considering studying for my fourth degree. My daughter aged 6 wants to learn Latin, so together we are learning. My son has a few language issues, so he is going to a Speech Pathologist (and doing well). I am part of a community where we have all been to University after high school. Education is important to us. We talk, debate, discuss, compare. I can’t imagine not continuing to learn, read and discover.

But where should we place Education in the overall view of our lives? As usual I return to the monastic model, where Education is one third of the study – work- pray model. Education is good when it serves the community (which can be by facilitating personal growth). Being bookish I know that there is great joy in learning, and it is easy to be obsessed and become focused on the learning for its own sake. But eventually, as Christians, our learning needs to lead us back to developing our true selves, and in that way serving our brothers and sister.

St Irenaeus’ words “The joy of God is a person fully alive” have great truth in learning.

I do see that Education can be an opportunity for sin and brokeness. We can find new, damaging experiences. We can encounter views we may not have the maturity or wisdom to dialogue with.

But, firmly rooted in a community of faith and wisdom, and trusting in the Holy Spirit, Learning is a journey we are all called to take. Not to superiority and pride, but to understanding and truth. There is no implicit Holiness in being uneducated or illiterate – but neither is there in the opposite. But I know simplicity of heart can go with great learning.

I feel like I’m rambling. I have a cold. I keep trying to find great C S Lewis quote on education.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

St Benedicts Feast Day

Happy St Benedict’s Day !

Oblates, Monastics and religious of every persuasion celebrate today the founder of Western Monasticism.

At mass this morning (I’m on holidays so I could actually go with Matt) Father David called for us to follow St Benedict in finding how “our work and our prayer can lead us to holiness”.

We’ve told the story of Benedict and discussed much of his wisdom in previous posts. You may want to check out
Living in Community
Message from another community

Some Australian links to see are listed on our side post (New Norcia and the Dardanup House of Prayer) but also visit the home of the Benedictine Order at

Has St Benedict influenced your community or your life?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What's New?

Look down the page.
A few books we're reading.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New Taize-style ecumenical community

Check this out!
Another interesting church development.

Their site is here.

Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why couldn't I say that?

A few months ago I was asked by a close colleague what it was that I really believed in.
I was aware of the context from which my friend was asking: She is a practicing Jew and had stated that Jesus was a social construction to control people.
I acknowledged that their were lots of different ways of thinking about Jesus.
I then told her that the stories of Jesus create something beautiful in my life; and the more I become like those stories the more I seem able to love, to be honest with people, to live life to the full.
She responded that she wanted this kind of spirituality, and this opened up further opportunities for us both to discover about God from each other.
Ana Draper in "The Rite Stuff"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What Sort of Catholic Are you

Not sure about this but here's the answer anyway!

You scored as Liberal Catholic. You embrace the social justice mission of the Church, and the view of Catholic community as seen in the Acts of Apostles. You have a great love of the American democratic tradition, but tend to want to apply these traditions to the Church itself and the deposit of faith. You want a married and female clergy, decentralization of power, and an endless list of reforms. You feel that you are a true champion of the Second Vatican Council.Like the Neo-Conservative Catholic, your views may be too determined by American culture, and you may uncritically accept many theories that may be harmful to yourself and society; instead you may need rediscover authentic Catholic thinking. You should emphasize the love of God, as your Creator and sustainer.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Is not Holiness the result of many patient efforts after obedience, gradually working on us, and first modifying and then changing our hearts?”
John Henry Newman.

I am both drawn and repelled by the idea of Holiness.
Holiness can speak of pious, do-gooder, churchiness.
A Christianity that is spineless and insipid.

But I also know holiness can also speak of being in-tune with the Spirit.
Of time spent studying the scriptures, and of a heart for both prayer and the whole of God’s creation.
Truly a life “Set Apart” for God. In the world, but not of the world.

I know I need more holiness in my life.
I am barren too often - unable to respond to God’s love through my own listlessness, stubbiness and unawareness.

Holiness must have an outward form. A visible, and “sacramental” character.

What might Holiness look like for me as an individual - as a husband, as a father, as a son, as a colleague, as a friend?

Equally as important, what might Holiness look like for us a community?

How to structure, grace and liberty work together for our good?

The test is “Are we living in a mere dream, which we mistake for Christian faith and obedience, or are we truly awake, alive, living in the day, on our road heavenward ?”

I will seek holiness that I may believe.