WHAT IS MONKROCK?
MONKROCK is simply a play-on-words from punk rock, serving as its antithetical alternative. It is the name of our brand and trademark, which identifies the nature and purpose of our organization, our mission and work, our products and services, and the defining principles and values of the lifestyle we promote.
MONKROCK is not punk rock. Nor is it rock n roll, rap, pop, country, folk or even gospel. In fact, MONKROCK is not a musical genre, a musical group, a musical composition or a musical term. However, musical genres are often accompanied by a distinctive ideology, ethos and lifestyle that are represented and promoted by its particular style of music, its merchandise, its artists and even its fans.
It is in this sense that MONKROCK identifies itself as a company, a culture and a community, and in doing so, distinguishes itself from these other art-forms and fads, tribes and party-lines, great ideas (at the time) and plans to take over the world. Or, better said, MONKROCK is the fulfillment of the loftier ambitions of all these passing but recurring trends.
MONKROCK, unlike punk rock (and other such counter-movements), is not a reaction to the mainstream, popular culture or the status quo. No, MONKROCK is not a reaction to punk rock, even despite the irony that punk rock has become mainstream, popular and status quo. MONKROCK, unlike punk rock, is not rebellion. And no, MONKROCK is not a “rebellion of rebellion”.
MONKROCK is not me-against-the world nor does it seek to be all things to all people. MONKROCK is not a community of anarchists, a denomination of non-denominationalists or a club of like-individuals who do not fit into a group. No, we’re not a church, a faith community, a secret society or a cult.
MONKROCK is proactive and not reactive, contemplative and not impulsive, virtuous not licentious, existing for reconstruction over deconstruction, tradition over novelty, restoration over revolution. Where the punk rock ideal is formed, fueled and sustained by a common hatred for the world, the MONKROCK ideal is formed, fueled and sustained by a common love for it. However this “love” for the world is not utopian, otherworldly, sentimental, egalitarian or progressive but practical, incarnational, rational, hierarchal and redemptive.
MONKROCK is not so much a sad penitential death to the world as it is a joyous evangelical life in the world. MONKROCK embodies a standard so old it seems like a new alternative.
IT’S A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
Inspired by the religious ideals of monks (poverty, chastity, obedience) and the necessary norms for monastic contemplation and apostolic action (a distinctive garb of dress, a sacred space, and a rule of life) we have formed a secular “habit” of sorts for modern traditionalists, new monastics, hip non-hipsters or those who simply want to live more like a monk – a new kind of habit for a new kind of monk.
By imitating the work of monks and incorporating their way, we seek to share in their efficiency in doing and more importantly, their efficacy of being. It is our belief that you don't have to be a monk to live like one and receive the rewards of a lifestyle that merges ambition and contemplation, technology and simplicity, commerce and compassion, faith and art, liturgy and life, holiness and happiness. In fact, the more monastic one becomes the more human and the more divine one will be.
“TO BE A COMPANY OR NOT TO BE A COMPANY...”
I've desired for many years to form a lifestyle company founded upon the ideals, spirit, art and fashion of Catholicism, monasticism, and hipsterdoxy - the punk rock ethic and ethos turned on its head and revolutionized at its heart.
It would be one of humble, chaste and dignified living, to promote the hidden life over self-expression and to provide a style of religious observance for everyday people in the context of ordinary life. It would serve as a classical cultural oasis in the desert of contemporary society, a refuge for those fleeing the decadence of modern pop culture, the decline in traditional liturgy, faith and morals, and the pseudo-spiritual notions that eclipse and undermine true worship and community, selfless work and real leisure.
So I decided that I would create a brand that a person of faith could identify with or at least want to, yet a brand through which a person not of faith may find it. I wanted to promote a lifestyle that would not please the body at the expense of the soul or be so heavenly minded that it was of no earthly good.
It became evident that this brand must be rooted in eternal things so as to never be enslaved to the ever-changing trends of the current fashion. Yet this brand must humbly serve the cult of man and the common good so as to reveal the likeness of God in whose image man is created, to help draw the monk, artist, humanitarian and saint out of every man and woman, and lead them to heaven – even the “heaven” that is present on earth and most importantly, within the human heart.
In order to accomplish such an ideal, this company would have to be motivated not by money or anything that money can buy, by profit or even making ends meet, but driven by a divine sense of purpose and mission – a labor of love – seeking a success not measured by popularity or sales but by how well it stayed true to its principles and how willing it was to change according to the guidance of Divine Providence.
This company would not only function as a business but also form a culture – a culture of life, leisure, contemplation, creativity, work, worship, and all other ways we can make our world more like a monastery – where love transcends pleasure, divine mercy perfects social justice, and life is once again worth dying for.
And from this culture would emerge a community of like-minded souls united by brand identity, lifestyle and a common love for creation and the creator, the here-and-now and the here-after, seeking not to take the monk out of the monastery but to bring the monastery to the world – a new kind of religious order for a new kind of monk.
In short, I would create the company that I have complained other companies, brands, ministries and even churches are not. With that said, I’ve often contemplated NOT having a company at all for the very same reasons.
I am often overwhelmed by my own ambition, and easily discouraged from my lack of resources, but it is the blessed curse of conviction that eliminates all other alternatives and distractions. I guess it’s the messiah in me that wants to save, it’s the martyr in me that wants to quit but it’s the monk in me that wants to leave the world in order to embrace it. Though I know that MONKROCK is not “the way”, it exists as a path to it.
You don’t have to be a monk to live like one.
Kevin Francis Bernadette Clay
Owner, Founder, & Fellow Monkrocker
* Original mission statement written in the Fall 2002 during the initial founding of MONKROCK, updated 2012.