Monday, May 02, 2005

Reality TV & Christian Disciplines

Apparently the latest incarnation of reality TV has actually made a real world impact. The show was produced in England for the BBC 2 and is called, “The Monastery.” Five men including an atheist who produced pornography joined a Benedictine monastery for forty days. There the five followed the monastery rules including a strict schedule for instruction, study, prayer, reflection and work. They were also obliged to follow the monks’ rules of silence, obedience, and humility. There was resistance at first. Two were reprimanded for leaving the monastery “looking for virgins and cigarettes.” Still, each one experienced change in his life.
By the end, the atheist, Tony Burke, 29, became a believer and gave up his job producing trailers for a sex chat line after having what he described as a "religious experience".

Gary McCormick, 36, the former Ulster Defence Association member, who spent much of his early life in prison, began to overcome his inner demons.

Peter Gruffydd, a retired teacher, regained the faith he had rejected in his youth and Nick Buxton, 37, a Cambridge undergraduate, edged closer to becoming an Anglican priest.

The fifth "novice", 32-year-old Anthony Wright, who works for a London legal publishing company, started to come to terms with his childhood traumas.

At the end of one of these sessions, Mr Burke, his voicing breaking with emotion, confessed his feelings in a video-diary entry. "I didn't want this to happen," he said.

"But something touched me, something spoke to me very deeply. It was a religious experience.

"When I woke up this morning, I didn't believe in this but, as I speak to you now, I do. Whatever it is, I believe in it."
I’m not really surprised that all five experienced something during the experiment. To be emerged in prayer and scripture, including all 150 Psalms each week, for forty days is bound to make an impact. Perhaps, this is a reminder that we should be drawn closer to the community of faith, the Scriptures and prayer.

Actually, I am a bit jealous. To live for forty days focusing on Christ and my life in Him without distraction would be quite a luxury. We live continually with the worries of life, and we need to develop disciplines necessary for lives in motion. Prayer, Scripture, Eucharist, and fellowship become ever more essential because of life‘s inevitable distractions. Sometimes I wonder if all of humanity has a case of spiritual ADD. We need to be reminded over and over about the good news of God in Jesus Christ otherwise we quickly forget.

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