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Monastic Futures - Contemporary Culture I


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First of two presentations given at the Benedictine Renewal Program at Mount St. Benedict, Crookston Minnesota. Focus on the social and cultural context of modern monastic life.

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Monastic Futures - Contemporary Culture I

  1. 1. Culture Shift:The Shape of Monastic Life in the Future<br />Sister Edith Bogue<br />Benedictine Renewal Program<br />Mount St. Benedict Monastery<br />Crookston, Minnesota<br />16 June 2011<br />
  2. 2. How do we begin to look into the future?<br />2<br />The Whole World in a Crystal Ball by xollob58 at<br />
  3. 3. 3<br />Trends as predictors of the future<br />Data is plentiful<br />Analysis is sophisticated<br />How can we find the patterns?<br />What gives us confidence that it will continue?<br />
  4. 4. 4<br />Even our view of monastic life now depends on where we are when we look…<br />We might see things one way from a monastery descendedfrom Mother Benedicta Riepp’s lineageor the other sisters who cameto teach or nurse in the late 1800s… <br />
  5. 5. 5<br />Even our view of monastic life now depends on where we are when we look…<br />… but quite differently from a monastery founded by the Missionary Benedictines in rural Africa … <br />Sisters Susana, Imane, and Presentasia are thrilled with the new dam that brings electricity to their monastery in Chipole, Tanzania<br />Photo by S. Mary Agnes Patterson of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, KS <br />
  6. 6. 6<br />Even our view of monastic life now depends on where we are when we look…<br />… and still differently from the other monasteries in America founded from Eichstätt and other European abbeys in the 20th century.<br />Sisters measuring rain water near the garden at the Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, CO.<br />
  7. 7. <ul><li>Demographic changes
  8. 8. Aging society
  9. 9. Decreasing birth rate
  10. 10. Family life and work
  11. 11. Economic changes
  12. 12. Affluenza
  13. 13. Environmental degradation
  14. 14. Inequality
  15. 15. Cultural changes
  16. 16. Modernity & Post-modernity
  17. 17. Pluralism and diversity
  18. 18. Global perspective</li></ul>7<br />Three forces shaping the future culture<br />Our Lady of NovyDur, Czech Republic. Photo by John Pawson<br />
  19. 19. Demographic Change<br />
  20. 20. Reasons for aging that most people know<br />Better medical care: people live longer<br />Greater safety (highway, work, homes)<br />More knowledge about health<br />Effects of an aging society<br />Greater access to wisdom and experience<br />More people in retirement <br />Dependency – society or families or individuals must provide for the care of the frailest of the elderly<br />9<br />AGING SOCIETY & COMMUNITY<br />
  21. 21. Aging societies in the West: Europe<br />10<br />
  22. 22. Aging society: America<br />11<br />
  23. 23. 12<br />Demographic Transition<br />THIS IS UNKNOWN<br />
  24. 24. Declining birth rates:Replacement rate = 2.1 child per woman<br />13<br />
  25. 25. 14<br />Lives of young people will be differentfrom those we knew growing up.<br />
  26. 26. We see aging in monastic communities – blame fewer vocations or the exodus after Vatican II.<br />Sisters are “recycled” not retired.<br />People may be less free to consider monastic life because of their parents’ need for care<br />Fewer young people available to enter<br />Society’s perspective on the acceptability of religious life may change <br />15<br />How does an aging society affect monastic life?<br />
  27. 27. Marrying later<br />Sexuality separated from marriage and family<br />Divorce and cohabitation<br />Career and workplace (not family-friendly)<br />Emphasis on “freedom” and self-actualization<br />Progression from “clan” to “nuclear family” to“couple” to “as long as it works”<br />Norms of “success” are more materialistic<br />16<br />Why so few children?<br />
  28. 28. (Break)<br />17<br />
  29. 29. Economic Changes<br />18<br />
  30. 30. Affluenza<br />19<br />affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of more. (de Graaf)<br />
  31. 31. 20<br />
  32. 32. Thorstein Veblen’s analysis showed that wives, servants, and children were an important way for men to display their success. <br />In modern times, the display has replaced the success.<br />Conspicuous Consumption<br />
  33. 33. Excessive Consumption = Environmental degradation<br />22<br />
  34. 34. Inequality: The poor you will always have with you<br />23<br />An ancient Sumerian art piece shows awareness of social classes then…<br />The nobles, priests, and warriors at the top…<br />Below them, merchants and artisans …<br />The serfs and slaves who performed manual labor on the bottom.<br />
  35. 35. Affluence: not equally distributed<br />24<br />
  36. 36. Cultural and Social Change<br />25<br />
  37. 37. Modernity: the age of industrialization<br />Marvelous gifts of science & prosperity<br />Tragedies of inequality & dehumanization<br />Religious vocations<br />More schools to educate workforce<br />More hospitals as medicine improves<br />Care for the poor (urban and immigrant especially)<br />Sense that new society is normless<br />26<br />Modernity and Post-modernity<br />
  38. 38. The early theorists explored the impact<br />Karl Marx: the power of the “haves” to the work and product of the “have nots”<br />Max Weber: “iron cage” of bureaucracy<br />Now seems quite natural to us<br />Rules, written records, roles: not relationships<br />Durkheim: “mechanical” solidarity<br />We function like cogs in a machine<br />Anomie – we lose a sense of norms and belonging<br />Saw religion as “glue” that holds society together<br />27<br />Modernity and Post-modernity<br />
  39. 39. 28<br />
  40. 40. 29<br />Post-Modernity<br />Post modern has a variety of meanings<br />Distance between persons disappears<br />National cultures blend<br />Media simulatesrealities<br />Media becomemore real thaneveryday life<br />
  41. 41. 30<br />
  42. 42. 31<br />Post-Modernity<br />Perhaps there is no reality. <br />Relativism: we each exist inour own, equally valid, form of reality.<br />Pushes the limits of culture – to find reality if it’s there or to demonstrate that it is not<br />
  43. 43. 32<br />Post-Modernity<br />
  44. 44. Pluralism and Identity<br />33<br />
  45. 45. Smaller world, more connected <br />Powerful nations are not so powerful<br />Corporations / NGOs have new power<br />Individuals & movements gather power for good or evil<br />34<br />Globalization<br />
  46. 46. Resources are likely to be constrained and access to them conflicted<br />Young adulthood – an extended time beforeassuming mature responsibilities<br />Multiple roles and identities at one time, and over the course of a lifetime<br />We will have interlocking and serial relationships and communities<br />What place do peace, hospitality, community and stability have in such a culture? <br />35<br />America’s future<br />
  47. 47. 36<br />
  48. 48. Culture Shift:The Shape of Monastic Life in the Future<br />Sister Edith Bogue<br />Benedictine Renewal Program<br />Mount St. Benedict Monastery<br />Crookston, Minnesota<br />16 June 2011<br />