The Restoration of the Monasteries
et us think now of the Dissolution the destruction, by King Henry VIII in the early 1540s, of all the great monastic houses of the English-speaking world. The lands and buildings of monastic communities- some of which had endured above five hundred years- were summarily seized in a vast transfer of wealth.
I believe the time is now right for Restoration. I envision new monastic communities being created on hundreds of choice pieces of property in the rural parts of the (now much vaster) English-speaking world. The innovation of this Restoration will be that most monks will be gay men, living in an openly homosocial, homoerotic community.
Here are characteristics of these "New Monasteries":
The new monastic houses will be populated largely by men middle aged and older, mostly from the cities, who are "over" the fast, anonymous, hypersexualized urban world. Such men will possess a lifetime's worth of learning and experience, and possibly much capital, with which to energize the New Monasteries. By pooling resources, a group of 20 or 30 such men could set up in fine style in the countryside. Green energy (think in terms of millions) will flood the countryside anew with architecture, art, music, books, and other aspects of civilization.
Gay men are well-endowed with good taste, so it's likely that the New Monasteries will seek out the choicer locations of the American countryside. After just a few years of the generous application of fairy dust, the buildings and landscapes of these new foundations will be a fine sight.
The abundance of healthy men will enable the production of specialty foods that are labor intensive, for example berry jams or Heirloom tomatoes or premium wines. The flourishing of Whole Foods proves that such specialty foods could command a good return to the growers.
The New Monasteries will revitalize many a local rural community. They will provide professional services, such as medical help or eldercare, which are desperately short in a depopulating area. They will be at hand for volunteer help of all sorts. Many Monasteries will be sources of fresh, local organic produce. And of course the gay monks will lend their imaginative energies to holiday celebrations, dinner parties, and other entertainments for the local folk.
The monks will be potent in their service to God, as gay men realize their pent-up spiritual longings in a welcoming environment. For isn't it true that the greatest theological contributions have been made by men living apart from women? Who thinks of the wives of Thomas Aquinas, or St. Francis, or Francis Xavier?
It's likely that, of all Christian religions, the Episcopal (Anglican) Church will be most amenable to fitting the New Monasteries into their ecclesiastical world. Such Monasteries could adopt some of the forms of the medieval English houses: privileges of seniority, specialization of labor, a system for initiation of new members, and suchlike. Once the Anglican model proved viable, the Catholic Church could begin to sponsor its own set of New Monasteries. But please, none of this damned nonsense about celibacy.
There are of course many monastic traditions, but probably the Benedictine is the most workable for gay men: self-governing communities living on vast farms, dedicated to peace, work, and contemplation.(printer friendly version)