The Othona Community: “a strange phenomenon”

Misler, Andrea-Renée (2017). The Othona Community: “a strange phenomenon”. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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The aim of this thesis is to explore the “strange phenomenon” of the Intentional Christian Community Othona in Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, Great Britain, founded in 1946 by Norman Motley, to cherish differences and diversity through reconciliation among nations that had been at war with each other. An old neglected chapel, St Peter-on-the-Wall, became the spiritual centre of this

A phenomenographic, auto-ethnographic and multi-dimensional research approach, designed to investigate and describe the Othona Community and its praxis and the researcher's involvement in it, is used for the empirical part of the thesis.

The study seeks to discover a) the Lebenswelten ― or the world created by its life ― of the Othona Community, b) members'/participants' perception of the Community through interviews and Community literature, c) a way of understanding this “strange phenomenon” and its special charism with the help of an “endogenous theology”.

This thesis shows that a two-fold encounter lies at the heart of the experience at Othona: encounter between a person and the “Other” (represented by the Stoep) and between a person and the “Wholly Other” (represented by the Chapel). Through examination of these encounters light is shed on the extraordinariness of Othona. The German term Heimat (a deeply spiritual home) is introduced here to encapsulate these “encounteral” experiences which induce a transformation of place and people alike.

Theologically, the thesis claims that a combination of a Theology of Encounter and an understanding of Heimat can assist the appreciation of the Othona phenomenon as a Community of temporary withdrawal and restoration, where differences and a Kingdom model are experienced in narrative encounters on the margins by offering Heimat through belonging and significance.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races


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