Desperately seeking Spirituality…

Check out this article by Simon Cross on the site- he has included some discussion of our wilderness retreats.

(There is no particular link to the image above by the way, other than it reminds me of one of our island retreats!)

Simon’s article was focussing on what he saw as a significant change in the way Evangelical Christians are approaching spirituality, and whilst I would not regard myself as Evangelical, I recognise the patterns he describes. Here is a quote;

“Contemplative spirituality is a radically different way of being for most evangelical communities.”

In contemporary British society, with its emphasis on the importance of activity and consumption, a sustained path of contemplative Christianity is profoundly counter cultural. Success is generally measured by achievement, and when it comes to contemplation, achievement is hard to measure, or display.

I interviewed Roy Searle of the Northumbria Community for a book about new forms of monasticism , and during our discussion he made the point that the way in which desert spirituality differs from ‘conventional’ Christian spirituality, is that it focuses upon the inner journey – or the ‘journey of the heart’. This is in contrast to ‘normal’ life which is marked by external signs of movement, progress and achievement.


7 thoughts on “Desperately seeking Spirituality…

  1. Not only is a sustained path of contemplative Christianity profoundly counter cultural, it’s counter evangelical too. This is because the evangelical church is also driven by the need to show the external signs of movement, progress and achievement in conversion.

    • I suppose this is because the Evangelical church grew out of western modernity, with all its confident assertions, rationalistic leanings and intertwining with industrial capitalism? Are there signs of change though? Can Evangelicalism itself reform or will it just destroy itself?

      I suppose the imperative to proselytise is one that troubles me- I am uncomfortable with telling others what they need to believe these days, but still feel that if we follow Jesus, we have a responsibility to preach the gospel- however we understand what ‘the gospel’ is?

      Cheers Angus


      • I don’t see many signs of change (might just be me though as I’m no longer in it! -:). It promises a lot, but delivers tragically little.
        The problem with black and white theology is that it doesn’t fit our multicoloured world and the more messy life gets the harder it is to ignore this. So when all the hip music and multi media presentations have died away do we hear a still small voice or just the ringing in our ears?

        The other thing that disables all human organisations is our capacity for self deceit and lack of self knowledge. So we do what we must and call it God’s leading. I just can’t see it going anywhere I’m afraid.

        Like u I’m not comfortable nor interested in trying to persuade others to believe in something I was told about myself.

        This only leaves me with the community based “church” where there is little doctrine and overcoming the difficulty of living with one another is as much achievement as we need.
        If someone were to look at that and find it strangely drawing, I’d consider that to be Gospel preaching at its highest.

      • Hi Angus-

        Can’t see what going anywhere? That particular kind of church, or church at all? Because I think there ARE signs of change, and I am not quite so pessimistic (although others might disagree!) I think we are going through something equivalent to the reformation, and that the place of faith in the life of our cities will not go away rather it will change, and that this is a good thing!

        But community based church where we learn to get along must also be more than this don’t you think? As well as gathering, we need to be activists- and this is where it gets interesting- what activity are we called to here and now (as much as we can ever understand ‘calling’ as you rightly point out.)



  2. No progress there then,.,Consider the effects of the persistent aggresive Priesthood versus Shamanism activities across to Siberia/Asia etc. of 15.16,17th cent. then look at all the other continental invasions and their drivers and consequences..which version is the right one and why?

  3. Pingback: Spirituality: Jesus the Church, Evangelism, Discipleship, and Multiculturalism | Social Behavioral Patterns–How to Understand Culture and Behaviors

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