Friday, December 08, 2006

The New Monasticism

I keep coming back to the ideas espoused by the "movement" that is being called "The New Monasticism". Since I heard about it a year or more ago, it seems like I keep coming across it. I've liked the idea of intentional Christian communities in terms of proximity of living, shared table, and common vision for a while. I've come to believe that the closest we get to what Christian community could be in our culture is during college...when we all live together. Then the American culture tends to be a downhill run of individuality and lonliness for most people. Here are the 12 Marks of the New Monasticism from the New Monasticism website :

1) Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.

2) Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.

3) Hospitality to the stranger

4) Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities
combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.

5) Humble submission to Christís body, the church.

6) Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the
community along the lines of the old novitiate.

7) Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.

8) Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

9) Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.

10) Care for the plot of Godís earth given to us along with support of our local economies.

11) Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.

12) Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

This appeals to me so much that it drives me crazy at times. It's appealing but requires so much. Here is another link to some documents relating to the New Monasticism.

It does sound enticing. However, I often wonder if it is right for us to live our lives in such isolation. I understand that such a community would be mutually beneficial, in that Christians would encourage and support one another, as well as form a strong group to help the community around them. I am just hesitant of such formations, because it tends to create these isolated comunes that is more internally focused then externally focused. For a period of time, I think such internal focus can be good, as it causes growth, but it cannot be your entire life. That is what heaven is for...

I understand that I am talking about a slippery sloap here, and it is by no means a "natural law", but I do believe it to be a plausable reality, and one that you would not want to slip into. Miles Monroe spoke at ORU chapel the other day, and among many things, told the students they needed to get the heck out of Tulsa. So many people come there, from all over the United States and the World looking for a community...and because it is such a comfortable place, they forget to leave. Even ORU missions is constantly critiqued as being a group too consumed in each other and their own lives to really do good ministry.

I guess what I am saying is that although the idea is entertaining, I like the scattered nature of "Christians"... it tends to make them reach out to more people, more often.... even if it does make things a good bit less comfortable.

Just a thought.

I should ammend my previous post with a question.... Is this monasticism of which you speak referencing adults living in a temporal communal sense, or are you referencing a group of adults and children (families) living this way long-term?
I'm speaking in terms of a both/and for long term. I could see some people doing it only for a little while, while others might commit to it long term. I think the goal in my mind would be communities that desire to be engaged in incarnational ministry in forgotten neighborhoods--bringing reconciliation and hope to those neighborhoods. You may be exactly right...such communities might become unhealthy if they contintued past their mission. I feel the same way about churches. Most churches spring up around a real need, but then force themselves to continue when they really should allow themselves to die once the need is met. and be resurrected to new needs and ways of being.
what does "Humble submission to Christís body, the church" mean and look like?
I checked out the website and did some more internet research on monasticism. Much of what I read spoke first of a seculusion or aloneness. I agree, Zac, that those things can have a temporary good purpose. I'll even agree that for some, Jimmy, a lifetime calling of seclusion could exist.

What excites me is that the 12 marks that were listed don't have to refer to a secluded community, but can also exist within a context of an intentional community...or church.

Actually I don't understand number 6 and as of the time of this comment posting, I haven't looked up the word "novitiate."

Other than that, it looks great to me and it's everything that I'm pursuing and striving to create. If you want to be a part, come eat breakfast with us at Joe Momma's at 9am sunday, dec 31st. We're starting with the breaking of bread and praying for each other and for the community at large and for all that 2007 holds.
I see a lot of people are talking about Monks (or Friars) being isolated and separated. There are a few who are, but most Monastics are called to be involved with their communites or the Order's Charism (gifting)is connected with support for those outside the closed circle of the group. You want to see a real group of Monks, check out the Melanesian Brotherhood. They are seriously of of the most vibrant witnesses of Christ you will see on the planet. They do not have life vows, but 5 year vows that can be renewed.

I am always in awe of these humble servants of Christ.
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