Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The New Monasticism?

I just came across a site dedicated to the 'New Monasticism'. This group is made up of dissatisfied Evangelicals who want to experience the early church. Little do they know, but monastic life is growing again in the historical churches of Catholicism and Orthodoxy- the two traditions in which both monasticism and the early church were originated. God bless them in their ventures. Here is how they describe themselves:

Throughout the history of the church, monastic movements have arisen during times of rapid social change. When the minority movement that Jesus started was flooded by converts after Constantine, desert mothers and fathers went into their cells to discern a new way of life. When Europe collapsed into the Dark Ages, Benedictines carved out spaces for community and new life. When the advent of a cash economy revolutionized European culture, St. Francis started an order of beggars to proclaim the divine economy of providence. Over the past two thousand years, monasticism has helped the church remember who we are.

Ours is a time of rapid social change. We are post-modern, post-Cold War, post-9/11, even post-Christian. All signs point to change, and we know things aren’t what they used to be. But we hardly know who we are. Amidst wars and rumors of war, our global identity crisis threatens to consume us.

But we have hope. The Holy Spirit is stirring in the places overlooked by Empire to raise up a new monastic movement. We don’t know yet what this movement of the Spirit will become. “New Monasticism” is the language we’re using to talk about it in the meantime.

For the sake of discernment and mutual encouragement, we have connected with other followers of Jesus who are experimenting with a new way of life in community. The “12 Marks of a New Monasticism” name what God is doing in our communities. The Community of Communities is an online directory of where communities are and descriptions of what they’re about.

In the summer of 2006, we started School for Conversion to offer community-based training and theological education for the church. Seeing a need to learn what community looks like across the dividing lines of our time, we initiated School for Conversion Latin America [link] in 2007. SFC courses are offered throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Argentina and Brazil.

To clarify our own thoughts and share the good news we’ve seen and heard, we have written a number of books which you can find here. In the fall of 2007, we announced a partnership with Cascade Books to publish the New Monastic Library Series [link].

We’re not sure just what will come of all this. But we’re so grateful for the good news that God has not abandoned the world. Something new is stirring, drawing deeply from the old. People who’ve stumbled in darkness are glimpsing light. We pray for grace to remember who we are in Christ.

Moved by God’s Spirit in this time called America to assemble at St. Johns Baptist Church in Durham, NC, we wish to acknowledge a movement of radical rebirth, grounded in God’s love and drawing on the rich tradition of Christian practices that have long formed disciples in the simple Way of Christ. This contemporary school for conversion which we have called a “new monasticism,” is producing a grassroots ecumenism and a prophetic witness within the North American church which is diverse in form, but characterized by the following marks:

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 Christ’s 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 God’s 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.

May God give us grace by the power of the Holy Spirit to discern rules for living that will help us embody these marks in our local contexts as signs of Christ’s kingdom for the sake of God’s world.

Here's their website:

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