Cowley Magazine - Summer 2021

This issue of Cowley is devoted to the connected dynamics of power, authority, and obedience. As the pandemic has unmasked many inequalities in society, we have seen and experienced what happens when the balance between power and empowerment, authority and authoritarianism results in division and dominance rather than reconciliation and cooperation. It is our hope that these reflections, rooted in our monastic tradition of obedience, will help in some small way as we practice the art of listening to one another deeply, and with open hearts and minds.

Explore the online magazine, view selected articles below, or download a PDF.

Letter from the Superior – Summer 2021

By Br. James Koester

“It is not an accident that this issue of Cowley is devoted to these connected dynamics of power, authority, and obedience. Nor do I believe that it is an accident that, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, these issues have been thrust onto center stage.”

Letter from the FSJ – Summer 2021

By Curator

“My experience of church people is that we are sometimes more afraid of our own power than we are at risk of becoming Machiavellian.”

Slow & Steady: A Novice’s View of Power & Authority

By Br. Jack Crowley

“I went through thousands of moments like that in my early days as a Postulant: long moments of waiting for someone with authority to swoop in and tell me exactly what to do. It took me a long time to realize that was not the way authority was exercised at SSJE.”

Finding Holiness in the Sanctuary of Difference

By Br. Geoffrey Tristram

“Each one of us lives in various circles of society, whether they be our family, our community, or our place of work, and I bet that each one of us can think of at least one person who annoys or irritates us, and whom we sometimes wish would just simply go away! If we are trying to follow Jesus Christ, our challenge is to use the power that we have been given to build up community and not break it down, to learn how to live with the other rather than trying to exclude them and wishing they would just disappear.”

The Conversion of Fear into Power

By Br. Curtis Almquist

“In virtually every page of the Bible, there is a supernatural manifestation of power, the intervention or infusion of God’s power in everyday life. And yet, power, without an acknowledgment of its source and its end, is simply privilege unrecognized by the beholder but patently obvious to the dispossessed. Howard Thurman writes, “too often the weight of the Christian movement has been on the side of the strong and the powerful, and against the weak and oppressed – this, despite the gospel.” Consider Jesus’ promise of power.”

Authority in the Kingdom of God

By Br. Nicholas Bartoli

“Instead of falling prey to the lure of the Tyrant, we can embrace our wise and benevolent internal Ruler. Jesus said “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work” (John 4:34). Following the Way of Jesus, we learn that our own nourishment, too, comes from submitting to God’s will. It’s only in this way that we will find our inner Ruler. The more completely we surrender to God’s will, the more our inner authority will reflect the truth of who we are in Christ.”

Bound Together by Christ’s Loving Authority

By Br. Jonathan Maury

“I’d like to offer here a collection of some of the teachings from our Rule of Life which have most struck and stayed with me over decades of living and learning with this text. Of all its many topics, the Rule is particularly rich in its teachings navigating the challenges and rewards of life in community. These teachings point the way ahead for all of us who are trying to live together in recognition of the fact that we are bound to one another by Christ’s loving authority.”

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