New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church

New Monasticism as Fresh Expression of Church Edited by Graham Cray, Ian Mobsby and Aaron Kennedy. (Canterbury Press – £14.99)

The truth is, you can get away with an awful lot in ecclesiastical life in Scotland by explaining away whatever mischief you are up to as being genuinely, authentically Celtic. In England, they’ve had to invent a new expression upon which people can project their wistful longings. Its called, “Fresh Expressions of Church”. There are few things that Christians can come up with in England which can’t be justified by calling them a Fresh Expression of Church. This is a book wherein those twin traditions meet with the kiss of peace. For quite a few of these Fresh Expressions of Church that the authors are promoting, they explain away as a return to Celtic tradition.

For all that, this book is an interesting and quite compelling read. The basic theme is that the values of monastic life are very much things that contemporary people are seeking. The success of programmes like The Big Silence on television recently and the yearnings that lead modern people to attempt community living suggest that these ideas are not only alive and well but may be just the thing that people are seeking.

Why can’t people be honest about what they hope for and argue for what they want without having to invent a fey Celtic fantasy from which to justify their desires though? Much of monastic life was about hierarchy and power. The Celtic experience was as much about reciting the psalms whilst up to your oxters in cold sea water as it was about the things that are represented in this book.
Notwithstanding that, I know enough people interested in forming, founding and shaping new ways of living the Christian life with others that are outside or beyond of the immediate expectations of the nuclear family that I’ve a notion that God’s spirit might be at work. This book represents some of the experience of those being called to something new. Some of them feel that the Christian mission in these islands depends entirely upon the ability of the churches to embrace different structures to those of family and congregation which have reigned hitherto.

They might be right.

Buy from Amazon: New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of Church (Ancient Faith, Future Mission)


  1. Steve says

    Re unmasking the ‘Celtic’ thing, try Ian Bradley, ‘Celtic Christianity: Making Myths and Chasing Dreams’. Explains all & is a good read.

  2. fr dougal says

    There is also a new one out by a lady called Power which unmasks much of the gunk that is peddled as Celtic..

  3. fr dougal says

    That is: The Celtic Quest: A Contemporary Spirituality (Paperback)
    by Rosemary Power (Author) columban press.

  4. I was for many years a Tertiary Franciscan, I look back and see this was probably a ‘fresh expression’. I quit the Third Order when the bureaucrats (the chief one of whom is now an Archbishop) took over this imaginative, empowering group…and decided to ‘order it’. Plus ca change!
    Thank goodness after he was exalted he lost interest in what had been his stepping stone, and the good faithful ordinary folk have reclaimed their faithful Fresh Expression

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