ex Africa semper aliquid novi
16 December 2011 in Julian Collette, monastic, new monastic | Tags: monasticism, new monasticism, Paula Huston
Here be dynamite, and a window into the heart of Julian’s quest. Read the comments..
Paula Huston Follow-Up: On the Clash between Ancient Monasticism and Modern Romanticism.
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7 February 2012 at 01:17
Hello, everyone! This is the first time I’ve read all the comments, and I much appreciate the spirit of lovingkindness displayed, particularly by those who most strongly disagreed with my (admittedly) “strident” defense of ancient monasticism. A bad habit of mine–to start pounding the table when the subject is one I care about deeply, and I apologize for this, particularly because I am always getting on my own writing students when they start to rant.
To address just a couple of the (entirely justifiable) objections raised–yes, of course, I am appreciative of some of the great gifts of modernism listed by Fr. Robert (women’s rights, a greater focus the suffering of the poor, a culture more conducive to individual self-development). I would be the first to chafe if I were, for example, forbidden because of my gender to write books. My assumption when I responded to Julian’s request to clarify my original pointed comments on Romanticism was that NONE of us reading this stuff on the 21st century Internet want to go back to the “bad old days,” so I (naively, perhaps) figured you’d automatically grant me this point from the beginning.
As for the British Romantics themselves, again you are right, Fr. Robert–Wordsworth had an intensely religious sensibility and it was in fact he who cracked open the long-closed door to God in my own life. Thirty-five years old, I was sitting in a lit class when the professor began to recite, from memory, Wordsworth’s magnificent “Intimations of Immortality”–and I, feeling myself moved spiritually in a way I had not been for many years, began to cry, right there in front of my fellow students. So I might hammer on these guys for the purposes of this discussion, but I love them like family (and taught them for many, many years).
I do think, however, that an unquestioning embrace of the tenets of modernism–particularly in its focus on individual self-development–can make commitment to long-term work in ANY area (i.e., marriage) much harder than it already is. Our modern tendency is to quickly abandon that which does not immediately satisfy our longings. I really do believe this easy dismissal of what does not personally please sits right at the heart of the current crisis regarding new vocations. But this is a whole new discussion, and I’m going to quit right here!
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