bigquestion

'The Shift' is a book that is currently being written to explore discipleship. Using Saint Benedict's (480-547) idea of the Ladder of Humilty and combining it with a theological version of the AA Twelve Steps this course invites people to consider how to grow as Christians and build flourishing communities.  The need for this has come out of Father Daniel's experience of overseeing the residential community of St Peter's Foundation at Malborough, Devon. 

"I quickly got a sense that there was a lot of material out there for them to study about or around discipleship but all of it looked at the business of following Jesus as an intellectual thing. What these guys needed over the year was resources that really tugged at their hearts but was also intellectually deep. We had to look at conversion as a daily process which allowed them to consider how God was making, breaking and reforming them."

Looking at the recovery programmes the first steps are always the hardest and the bravest. Here there is a parallel for Christians in the realm of theology. Conversion to Christ requires for believers a leap of faith and a shift away from past behaviours and the values of the world. Just as the alcoholic has to come to that rock bottom place so the sinner has sit in that pit, the place of desolation and acknowledge that life is unmanageable.  In particular, for the Christian I believe that the four areas of unmanageability are..

  • Our individual lives
  • The unity of the Church
  • Civilisation (What St John the Evangelist means when he employ the words "the World")
  • and the environment, namely the impact of climate change.

We may not feel the crushing defeat in all four areas but if we are not aware of the troubles in at least one area of unmanageability then we are kidding ourselves. Sometimes it can be said that we are blinded by other forces from seeing the full effect of our disenfranchisement from God. Commercialism in the West, for example, dulls our senses to the plight of others or what we are doing to our inner life. It creates a codependency.  This affects the manner in which we worship and how we relate to other Christians. Modernity at its most pernicious pressurizes congregations to believe that worship is entertainment and that unity is somehow not about a humility to each other but a series of negotiations of theological territory. 

So for Benedict the first rung on the road to heaven is the fear of God. If we do not have the awesomeness of God haunting our every step then how can we expect to grow as Christians? So the Shifts I am beginning to flesh out integrate The Ladder of Humility and the AA Recovery like this..

Shift 1 - Part 1.  
There something badly wrong since my life, the Church, the World and the environment have become unmanageable. (AA adapted)

Shift 1 - Part 2.
God is awesome and everywhere. "We should always have the fear of the Lord before our eyes." (Benedict)

Shift 2 - Part 1
We came to believe that only Jesus Christ could restore our lives, unite the Church, heal the World and restore the environment. (AA adapted)

Shift 2 - Part 2
"We love not our own will but the will of the Lord." (Benedict)

garden

So this is it so far and a series of talks are being composed at the moment so that the September 2017 intake can enjoy these and work through stuff which is both intellectually stimulating and (more importantly) moving.