Irvine,”The Everyday Life of Monks”

Irvine, Richard D.G. 2017. “The Everyday Life of Monks: English Benedictine identity and the performance of proximity.” In Monasticism in Modern Times, Isabelle Jonveaux and Stefania Palmisano, eds. 191-208. London: Routledge.

Excerpt: This chapter sets out to explore the identity of contemporary Catholic English Benedictine monasticism in relation to the wider society of which it is part. Contrary to the characterisation of monasteries as an anti-social ‘flight from the world’, I focus on the many ways in which monastic communities exist in continuity with wider society and secular norms. This performance of proximity – grounding monastic identity in the continuity between the monastic and lay life, rather than the sharp contrasts – is illustrated in three domains: food, kinship, and work.

Irvine, “Some Christian Contradictions”

Irvine, Richard. 2016. Some Christian Contradictions. Hau 6(1):13-18.

Excerpt: Confronted with a catalogue of contradictions—the evidence of everyday inconsistencies in human lives—it is easy to take an external position of analysis which makes the incongruity seem all too obvious. Surely anyone can see this is not consistent with that? Perhaps, once dissected and laid out as specimens, the contradictions seem stark. But are they experienced this way when lived out in real time?…. As an anthropologist of religion who has carried out research on Christianity, here I wish to focus on a number of apparent contradictions that play an important role in Christian life (not because I believe they are necessarily unique to Christianity, simply that because of my ethnographic experience I find Christianity a useful lens through which to view this topic). My contention will be that such “contradictions” are not instances of disequilibrium to be rectified, but are often the very heart of the matter and, indeed, may be sustained as contradictions.