In the BBC reality show Monastery, a group of five men from diverse backgrounds voluntarily join a Benedictine monastery for a span of forty days. The five men don't have to assent to Christian beliefs, but they do have to respect and follow the monks' communal requirements--a strict rhythm of meals, silence, prayer times, and so on.
One of the stories focused on a man named Tony, a producer of soft-core pornography. After some time in the monastery, Tony felt torn: he wanted to keep his job, but he didn't want to lose the peace he was experiencing in the monastery. With two days left at the monastery, he shared his concerns with Brother Francis:
Tony: No, I am not going to give up my job. I am not going to sit in church all day and read the Bible. I need to live. I need to keep my lifestyle. So I'm just a little bit worried. Part of me wants to keep the whole thing alive and carry it through. And I know the minute I get out, it will fade.
Brother Francis: I want to give you something that I think will help with what you've just described... Vocation is about discovering who you really are and maybe what you should really be doing. And that is what we are trying to do here--discover who we really are. I want to give you this stone, this white stone. We have our Christian name, our family name. But we also have another name, and it's called our "white stone name." [Revelation 2:17] says, "Your new name is written on a white stone in heaven." I think our vocation is to find out what that name is, to find our white stone name.
After handing Tony the stone, Brother Francis places his hand on his head and speaks a word of blessing over him. Immediately after that exchange, the camera scans to a shot of Tony, outside in the dark, huddled on a bench, deeply affected by Brother Francis' fatherly words of hope and blessing.
Author John Sower comments on this scene from The Monastery:
"I believe Brother Francis...speaks to the heart of the fatherless generation. These are the sons and daughters who don't know their true name. They are searching for who they really are. In their search, they bring this question of identity to anyone who will listen...They are willing to look anywhere to find it."
Earlier in his book, John Sower had already described our crisis of fatherlessness:
"We are a generation seriously searching for Dad. Fatherlessness has become the new cultural norm. This story is being written into the lives of my generation. A story that can be heard in our songs, seen in our movies, read in our blogs. A story of grief and pain, of loneliness and rejection. A story that desperately needs to be heard."
[John Sower, Fatherless Generation (Zondervan, 2010), pp. 116-117, 12-13 | posted 6/13/2011]
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Tim Zingale on Dec 11, 2000
Dr. William Sloan Coffin of New York’s Riverside Church said this in the April 20,1984 Lutheran Standard after the death of his son, Alex."The night after Alex died, I was sitting in the living room of my sister’s house outside of Boston, when a middle-aged lady came in, shook her head ...read more
Contributed by Owen Bourgaize on Oct 18, 2000
What is God like? This is a question, which has exercised the minds of mankind. It reminds me of the story of the little girl who was in deep concentration over her drawing. Her mother asked her what she was drawing and received the curt reply, “God.” Her mother ...read more
Contributed by Jeff Strite on Jan 21, 2001
Mary Farwell of Green Castle Missouri, told of the time she was listening to her 5 year old son, Matthew, as he worked on his Speak and Spell™ computer. He was concentrating intensely, typing in words for the computer to say back to him. Matthew punched in the word “God.” To his surprise, the ...read more
Contributed by Bruce Goettsche on Oct 18, 2000
Listen to St. Augustine’s declaration about God, You are ever active, yet always at rest. You gather all things to yourself, though you suffer no need. . . . You grieve for wrong, but suffer no pain. You can be angry and yet serene. Your works are varied, but your purpose is one and the ...read more
Contributed by Kenneth Henes on Oct 27, 2000
Oscar Cervantes is a dramatic example of Christ’s power to transform lives. As a child, Oscar began to get into trouble. Then as he got older, he was jailed 17 times for brutal crimes. Prison psychiatrists said he was beyond help. But they were wrong! During a brief interval of freedom, Oscar ...read more