Monday, October 10, 2011

The Rule of the Community of Holy Trinity and "Occupy Walstreet (or other place name) Movement

The Community of the Holy trinity is formed under a Rule of life.  This Rule of life not only shapes how we are to live together as persons under the Rule, but also shapes our orientation in and to the world around us.  Five years before the current financial and economic system came crumbling down and ruining the lives of those who had put their hopes, lives, savings and housing into its hands this system the community formed as an attempted alternative, a small point of resistance and rejection of the system that crashed around us but still continues on.  We aren't the only such community, there are certainly communities who predated us by decades.  I wonder about the connections between these communities of withdrawing resistance and the active resistance of the "Occupy" (Wallstreet, Chicago, DC, everywhere) movement.

Our rule opens with Scriptures and Sayings from the Early Church, and this statement of intention:

Following the example of Acts and nearly 2000 years of ascetics, monks and nuns, we turn aside from the individualism and self-reliance of the world, resolving to hold real property in common for the purpose of service to Christ in, through, and for the Church and the world. We have chosen to live in community, in part, to speak to the current economic system, attempting to remove from ourselves the fetters of economic necessity. In doing this, we no longer trust the economy focused myopically on the creation and accumulation of wealth for individualistic benefit. We seek an economy of mutuality and the sharing of personal wealth and talents for both the common good and personal development, an economy beyond individual ownership and beyond all economies: the economy of the Kingdom of God. We come together sharing real property and other goods so that, through the joining of individual resources for the sake of the community, individuals may have not only what they need but also the means fully to express their selves and talents.
The community formed under this Rule exists for Christ and for others, not for itself alone. It is not a local church nor a replacement for a local fellowship of believers but a community of witness to the possibilities of the Kingdom of God, through its common life of discipline, communal living, hospitality, prayer, art, and seeking justice and mercy in the Church and world.
We acknowledge that God has called us to a life of common service, prayer and property according to the following Rule. In so doing we offer all to Christ in Love of God and of neighbor.
On one hand I hope communities like ours and Reba Place and Jesus People USA, and Simple Way etc.(to name only three of many more that I could list) may be something of an inspiration for those in the movement. I also hope it can be encouraging to know that there are those who have been living within the system in alternative ways as resisting the system while withdrawing from it (in part).  I also, hope that there might be ways for finding actual connection and solidarity even if there is also tension.  

I will not speak for other communities that may fall under the current moniker of New Monastic, but for myself and the above portion of the rule, there is a particular spirituality that grounds a particular act of withdrawal from and within the system that is a proclamation to those in the system.  There is a calling out of it.  Granted this is not a direct confrontation with the system, nor an attempt to reform, change, or take over the system.  This way of being in the world is one that can't shrink from the contradiction of a withdrawal that continues to remain in commerce with that against which one is objecting through a particular way of life.

It leaves a community like that of Holy Trinity in a peculiar position, objecting to and rejecting the system yet never fully disentangled from it, nor actively working against the system to change it so that we are no longer entangled and implicated in injustice.

Thus I could see some activists maybe even those of the Occupy movement seeing that we have done nothing. We are perhaps weak and hidden - ineffective.  These little communities have not attempted, and certainly Holy Trinity has not sought to do so, to demand access to the halls of power for the sake of the poor and oppressed, or the bottom 99%.

I as prior of the community feel a tension,which I think is good, between the Rule of life we live and are committed to and the "Occupy" protests and movement.  On one hand our Rule of life simply and straightforwardly claims the current systems of economy and power are broken.  The point of the alternative is in the very least that this brokenness is that the system or systems claim to cover everything but overlook a great deal and this community is for those who in various ways and for various reasons find the current system untenable.  But it also is a critique of the system, and a rejection of its understandings of wealth and power.  In this sense a community like Holy Trinity stands in solidarity with and is a predecessor of the Occupy movement. It might be seen by some that we have done and do too little, there is a weakness in the face of the problems of the world and the powers of the system have not trembled.  This weakness may be the point though from the perspective of a community founded to serve Christ the Crucified in the world.  It is by the weak and foolish things of the world that God confounds the powerful and wise of the world.

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