If old forms of Christianity in Ireland are passing away, there are new expressions of this ancient faith emerging throughout the island. One of these expressions, ‘new monasticism,’ will be explored in a one-day conference in Dublin on 16 January 2010 with Prof. Douglas Burton Christie of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
‘New monasticism’ is a broad international movement. Primarily, it has been advanced by laypeople who commit to spiritual disciplines and community life. The aim is to revive ancient interior practices that deepen individuals’ connection with God and humankind, while at the same time sustaining them to work for social justice in the world. Community life may consist of actually living together in a specific location, or ‘virtual’ communities linked by technology and/or prayer.
Prof. Burton-Christie is the author of the award-winning book, The Word in the Desert, and lectures in Christian spirituality. The title of the conference is ‘The Contemplative Face of New Monasticism,’ and it runs from 10.30 a.m.-4.00 p.m. in Woodlock Hall, All Hallows College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9. Attendance must be pre-booked with Bernadette Flanagan, All Hallows, firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is €45.
I know very little about new monasticism within Ireland (unless you count the Belfast-based collective Ikon as an expression of this), so I am curious about the event and those who are promoting it. Such groups usually consist of committed and compassionate people who are dissatisfied and sometimes even angry about what church institutions (both Catholic and Protestant) in Ireland have become. I expect research on Christians like these will be a significant part of my School’s current IRCHSS-funded research project, ‘Visioning 21st Century Ecumenism.’ It will be interesting to see what they make of Irish Christianity in the 21st Century.