While Bonhoeffer’s and Kelly’s monastic circles shared similarities, Kelly’s model is clearly closer to the American liberal arts experience. However, both attempts at community building share commonalities:
1. Each developed largely within institutional boundaries but operated with little institutional supervision. Bonhoeffer’s Finkenwalde was supported by the Confessing Church, a breakaway from the sanctioned German Christian (Nazi) Church. The Confessing Church largely left curriculum-building to Bonhoeffer. Kelly created a Haverford student group, but ran it independently.
2. Participation was self-selecting, voluntary, and only attracted a minority of students.
3. Bonhoeffer could have as easily gone to America or to India to live with Gandhi; Kelly didn’t have to invite students to his home. Both were driven by a deep sense of urgency — their commitment to the group was deep.
4. Both Kelly and Bonhoeffer introduced culture and music and “fun” into the mix.
5. Both pushed their students’ boundaries, Bonhoeffer through advocating pacifism in the context of a culture of young pastor trainees eager to avenge Versailles: “The majority of the students completely rejected his suggestion that conscientious objection was something a Christian should consider.” Kelly, as we have seen, urged his students to embrace a George Fox-like evangelism that rubbed against upper middle class American cultural norms.
Quaker colleges already have the infrastructure and methodology to build strong spiritual/intellectual communities in a context of egalitarianism and might do well to more fully embrace that tradition, which is at the heart of Quakerism. In a world that is increasingly commodified, hurried and “cyber,” some students hunger for meaningful living interactions. Both Kelly and Bonhoeffer would likely have advocated for not taking the opportunity to build human capital for granted. Instead, like Woolman, they sought, in a “pattern … plain,” a way to build up that community.
Diane, center, pictured with ESR writing students, faculty, and graduates
You can read the full article here: http://quakerfahe.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/qhevol6no2.pdf