Desert Fathers in the ‘Desert of the Real’

desert2I was chatting recently to Roshan Allpress from Compass. He felt that in our interactions today with culture we need to re-engage with the tradition of the Desert Fathers. The Desert Fathers is a loose term to describe the movement of believers out of the the cities into the deserts of Asian Minor and the Middle East around the 3rd century. This move was a response to a perceived corruption of Christianity that occurred with Constantine the 1st  giving the faith legal status.Much of the Desert Fathers spirituality was tainted by a horribly dualistic view of life. However their prophetic stance and withdrawal, brought out a rich vein of theology and Christian thought that still holds today.

One term that has been used to describe our hyperreal culture is The Desert of the Real. I wonder what it would look like to be a Desert Father today? What would it look like to withdraw, to like Christ spend some time in the wilderness? Often we do find ourselves in the wilderness, sometimes we find ourselves ill, socially isolated, overwhelmed. Our culture tells us to run from these moments, to fill the voids and silences with glitz, glam, noise and neon.But maybe when wilderness experiences come along we need to integrate them into our lives, to reframe them as gifts, chances to unplug, to encounter God away from the distractions. To see them as prophetic possibilities. Chances to dare to see who we are unplugged from the universes of affirmation we build around us. To face God without the masks and manipulations.

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