Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Pilgrims of the Absolute

In various blogs I have been reading about and the , and discovered that quite a lot of people had been talking about these in various forms.

This led me to review and revise a web page on which I had posted a paper called Pilgrims of the Absolute by Brother Roger of the Community of the Resurrection.

Brother Roger read his paper at a conference of the Anglican Students Federation of South Africa. It had the sub-title of “the unrespectability of our religion”, and was aimed at shaking Christian students our of the complacency of their bourgeois upbringing.

Back in the early 1960s Christianity in South Africa was a good deal more bourgeouis and respectable than it is now, and Brother Roger gave examples of countercultural figures like the Beat Generation authors Jack Kerouac and John Clellon Holmes, the playwright Jean Genet and others.

Pilgrims of the Absolute blew my mind, and I began reading Beat Generation authors, especially Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma bums (which was soon afterwards banned in South Africa). Brother Roger kept me supplied with reading matter from the well-stocked library of the Priory of the Community of the Resurrection in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, and became a kind of guru, sharing his vision with me.

I was not a particularly apt pupil, and the vision remained a more or less unattainable ideal for me. One consolation is that it also remained unattainable for Jack Kerouac. It was the vision of a , in which young people would give up the security and comfort of home, and the dominant values of an acquisitive society, and become Pilgrims of the Absolute, similar, in a way, to the kind of life described in The way of a pilgrim, which is a prime example of a pilgrim of the absolute, and it could also be seen as a vision for a new monasticism. One could find more examples in recent times, like , zine and .

I wrote something about this in my LiveJournal so won’t repeat it all here, but I was moved by the discussions in various places to revamp the Pilgrims of the Absolute web page, in the hope that some might find it interesting and useful, and that it might contribute to the discussion about a .



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3 thoughts on “Pilgrims of the Absolute

  1. The Confessor on said:

    Thanks for the question on my recent post. I’m looking forward to dialoguing with you!

  2. Steve Hayes on said:

    Brother Roger, in the article referred to in my post, speaks of holy desolation as one of the marks of a pilgrim of the absolute, and that seemed to have some resonance with your comments on the cry of dereliction from the cross. In fact you seemed to be making a similar point, so I was wondering whether you agreed.

  3. The Confessor on said:

    I posted a reply on my comment thread.
    Thank you for inspiring some great theological reflection!

    It feeds my soul.

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