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Tag: community

Dreaming of home


This motto will sound familiar to those who attended Greenbelt last year. Whether I choose to say ‘I’ or ‘we’, the reality is that there is a longing in me and in a few from the community to come to a new home, where God has called us to be. In my case, it will have meant leaving my country, and ultimately, a long-term relationship behind to fulfil that longing to become part of moot, which is now my home. Those anointed above us may think otherwise, but I have come to a point where, as far as I am concerned and for a few others in moot, a community house is now essential to becoming who God is calling them to be.

We are called to be living in and with the people of London, to live pure lives rather than celibate ones, and to submit to community decisions. In my case, the unfailingly recurring recognition by those monastics and spiritual directors who I’ve prayed with to follow such a call compels me to appeal here and now to the rest of the community and to get the ball rolling.

This is not out of the blue and have been boiling in me for months. Subject to Ian’s authority and that of those anointed above us – begging them to hear and attend to this request, I would call for those who share a similar longing to communicate their desire, those who – after reflection – feel that the time is ripe for such a move. I am not here talking of a house with all mooters coming together, but only a few to start with, who have at heart the desire to share a contemplative rhythm of life. To start with a small community, with a few people who need and want to pray together mornings and evenings together as well as to have a daily time for meditation/contemplation.

I pray that this call may resonate with others and that it may be heard as something that is now ripe for action.

POSTED 03.03.12 BY: Moot Archive | Comments (1)

Tobias Jones: living in community, being church

In this first Moot podcast of 2012 Aaron Kennedy talks to Tobias Jones about what inspired him to set up his community house in the woods near Bristol, what its like, and what communities like it are saying to the church today. Tobias Jones is a freelance writer, well-known for his books The Dark Heart of Italy and Utopian Dreams, and his regular column in the Observer, in which he relates his experiences of living in community. For information on the Windsor Hill Wood Community see their website .   For more information on New Monasticism see here. We apologise for the drop in sound quality in some parts of this podcast.

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POSTED 01.01.12 BY: ianmobsby | Comments Off on Tobias Jones: living in community, being church

From one community to another

While on a week-end away in a monastery, I came to seek the deep wisdom of Father Marc, a Cistercian monk I had befriendedon a previous retreat. Our short but very intense discussions were enlightening (here some bits and pieces):

We all belong to some community, whether this is family, a business or a spiritual home. These define us as much as we should in fact be defining them. We do not usually consciously choose them, we often just find ourselves being part of one. Even if we chose a community rationally and therefore consciously, it would be almost impossible to fully understand why. This is because it is a journey only God knows but does not yet fully reveal.

With this in mind, a question still worth asking is why do we want to be part of a particular community, what is it that it offers and we do not find anywhere else. This should in fact be part of a deeper reflexion on one’s past and one’s lessons learnt (whether we have reached the right conclusions on previous experiences or not). The question is vital not only to the one looking to join a community, but also for the community itself. One of the best ways for a community to fail is to have its members each being there for a different reason, or even worse, a reason that has only to do with their own selves rather than in relation to other members in the community. Monks and nuns are part of a monastic community because they are to serve Christ together (in whatever creative way that may be) and this is what holds them together – nothing else.

Father Marc and I also discussed the ‘fluidity’ of moot: people joining, people leaving, but also and in particular because there are effectively different levels of commitment. Singles might be in a position to commit more to the community than married couple (although I think this is not necessarily true). Also, those abroad can only participate to a certain extent. Add to this the fact that faith and beliefs are not provided through dogma but through discussions, the sharing of experiences, and non-normative narratives. This effectively forces mooters to define themselves, their beliefs and their roles much more so than in a traditional monastic community. He saw that as being very positive: indeed following the temptation to offer some consumption-ready experience instead of leaving it up to community members to discover why they have ended up with a particular community would mean the beginning of the end.

Because of this particular constellation however, the danger of theological drifts is also greater. Being part of an established Church provides a safety net. Being under the supervision of a Bishop is also a guarantee that a community will not turn into a cult. There is obviously a need for individuals to keep their own (critical) thinking, and perhaps also to have a spiritual father or mother from another monastic community outside moot. Through that will they not only enrich the community, but also preserve their own integrity and that of others.

[No particular conclusion here, but I guess this is already some food for further meditation…]

POSTED 12.07.10 BY: Moot Archive | Comments (3)

New Monasticism and financial ethics

Moot is not quite there yet, but surely, at some point in time the question of community finance will be raised. By this I don’t mean just tithing. Rather, here I’m more concerned with how moot and mooters could constitute economic agents, an economic microcosm and an economic entity, and how financial relationships and transactions could be functioning between them and with external agents. These thoughts stem from different conversations with mooters and some personal reading, and are by no means either comprehensive or complete. But here a few of them – for discussion purposes only (i.e. don’t try this at home quite yet):

1)      Self-sufficiency

As a community, moot should strive for self-sufficiency but not get to a state of autarky. This would mean recognising that while it would make sense for people to share capital and human resources within the community to ensure lower costs and higher utility for everyone, reliance on external services is inevitable. Moot, both materially and spiritually, is to live with and from exchanges with “the outside world”.

2)      Ownership and use

Usually, monastic communities require people joining to give up all their possessions to the community, i.e. give up ownership of what they possess. This is unlikely to be feasible here for several reasons: (a) people do not stay for their entire life with moot, (b) giving up one’s possessions would require such a level of trust between mooters that I personally believe it is unreasonable to expect that, (c) it is actually impractical, mostly because people are scattered in different places. An alternative, though, is that people do not give up ownership but allow others to use some of what they possess. An even weaker alternative, and perhaps a first step, is the ability for people to lease their possessions for use, provided they don’t make a (significant) profit (see point 4) out of the transaction.

3)      Freedom of contract

This is more a theoretical point, perhaps, but important nevertheless. People should be free to enter financial transactions as they see fit, provided they abide to certain rules, which should protect both parties against potential economic adversity. I personally think this is a preferable approach to restricting contracts to a list of authorised transactions. In effect, this means that mooters can agree to enter any financial transaction and are not restricted in their use of financial instruments (e.g. it is possible to give a loan to another mooter and charge interest rates). This, provided all transactions remain in line with some precepts which remain to be defined.

4)      Profit making

This one ought not to be misunderstood. Moot, and mooters, should be able to make a profit. By this, I don’t mean that they should enrich themselves on the back of others, whether these are part of the community or not. But, people need to realise that if they lend money or give access to some of their possessions for use by other mooters, they should not simply charge the amortising rate, but expect to earn a certain profit on this as well. This would apply to community initiatives as well, such as the art café. The rationale is that people need to be able to make use of their capital and reinvest it to ensure self-sufficiency on the long-term. For instance, and as a theoretical example, if a family were to work in the art café, not only their current costs of living should be covered, but also, let’s say, the savings necessary for the children’s education. This said, people should not overcharge others (greediness). If an extra profit is made, which should still be possible in certain circumstance and for whatever reason, a fund for moot should be created to allow these profits to be reinvested in goods and services useful to the entire community.

5)      Relationship to the external financial and economic world

Christian financial precepts, contrarily to what is the case for instance in Islamic Finance, do not require a fundamental change in the prevailing economic system. Rather, they much more concentrate on relationships between members of a community than between individuals and an overarching system. A Christian community should be able to function in a similar way whether it is living in a free market or planned economy. While some activism for a positive change in how a particular economic system functions may be welcome, this should be pursued because that system is unjust, rather than because we are looking to overhaul the entire economic system. This is because the Bible, contrarily to the Qur’an, does not really provide any hints as to what kind of macroeconomic system is to be preferred by Christians.

All this said, two words of caution here: (1) financial transactions could potentially be the source of much discord between community members and a lot of caution has to be taken before making any steps in the directions described above, (2) my thinking tends to be influenced by free market economic theories – any alternative thoughts are welcome…

POSTED 20.06.10 BY: Moot Archive | Comments (13)

God’s Way – Trinity – participating in God by Mark Berry

On the weekend of 14th-16th May 2010, the Moot community held a short spiritual retreat to explore the theme of participating in God. Mark Berry, Missioner and leader of the Safespace Community led the retreat. This is the 1st of 4 recordings. The handouts for the session will be uploaded shortly.

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POSTED 17.05.10 BY: ianmobsby | Comments (2)

God's Way – Trinity – participating in God by Mark Berry

On the weekend of 14th-16th May 2010, the Moot community held a short spiritual retreat to explore the theme of participating in God. Mark Berry, Missioner and leader of the Safespace Community led the retreat. This is the 1st of 4 recordings. The handouts for the session will be uploaded shortly.

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POSTED 17.05.10 BY: ianmobsby | Comments (2)

Thanks to all you Mooters

Thanks to all you mooters and moot friends who came on the weekend away, to Arundel, which I hear is still there even though it rained for 2 days. So amongst the pool competitions, speed connect four, jenga, table football, meditation, movement workshops, jigsaws and scrabble, I hope you enjoyed the time out for our community as much as I did. I think Thomasin again, helped plan a great menu of sumptuous food. Don’t forget we have a Christmas party coming up very soon! See info on this here

We have also been thinking we may explore some form of spiritual retreat weekend next year, taking the meditation and reflection as the focus for 2.5 days. If you have thoughts on this as something you would like/dislike or have thoughts, please do share them in the comments.

POSTED 23.11.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (2)

Connected Minds



It was some random link that someone sent me on Twitter – can’t remember who – but there is some excellent stuff here that could definitely feed into our discussion. I’m going to quote their precise here. Would love to know what you think:


“We think of ourselves as rugged, self-determining individualists, but our very existence rests on connected brains and minds. Social species such as ours do not fare well when forced to live solitary lives, and the impact of loneliness on individuals can be surprisingly damaging. Residents of transient communities and isolated individuals lack rich attachments, meaningful connections and enriching encounters, which can be deleterious on a physiological as well as psychological level.


An individual’s complete involvement in a thriving, engaged and altruistic community is more than spiritually beneficial. As a social species, humans create emergent organisations beyond the individual—structures that range from dyads, families, and groups to cities, civilisations, and international alliances. These emergent structures evolved hand-in-hand with supporting genetic, neural, and hormonal mechanisms because the consequent social behaviors helped humans survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too survived to reproduce. We are only now beginning to truly understand the ramifications of our individualistic lifestyles, as our social brains struggle to cope with isolation, loneliness and failing communities.


Join Professor John Cacioppo, author of the bestselling book Loneliness and co-founder of the study of ‘social neuroscience’ as he outlines the vital importance of altruistic behaviour, social connection, and inclusive communities in this exclusive and important RSA event.”


POSTED 16.09.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (3)

An experiment in community thinking. David asks what it means to share a fridge in the city

POSTED 04.07.08 BY: paulabbott | Comments (2)

Moot Weekend Away & Sad Parting

Pleased to say that the Moot weekend away was great – catching up with people, great food and some good discussion and planning concerning Moot’s future – more on that to follow in the fullness of time.

However – it is also a sad parting – as Aaron leaves us to prepare for moving to New York via a stint in Northern Ireland. He is coming back for one weekend before he goes in January.

So yet another core person to Moot spreads their wings. Aaron has been a really important member of Moot for sometime, and personally – has been a great friend and tower of support. It has been hard saying goodbye to so many people, and Aaron was a particularly special person……

I hope he comes back, there is a good chance he could in a year or so, but this photo – of which I am showing a bit for blackmail purposes, will be totally revealed to the world if he does not return. Nothing more needs to be said!! I am saying no more or he will kill me! Aaron is seeking sponsorship to spend a year in the States – and will get involved with our sister group ‘transmission’.

So so long Aaron, we miss you already – and look after yourself!!

POSTED 27.11.07 BY: paulabbott | Comments (3)