For awhile I’ve been following what’s been called the New Monasticism. Probably many of you are more familiar with someone like Shane Claiborne and his book Irresistible Revolution: living as an ordinary radical. It’s an excellent book, and very challenging to our contemporary way of life. Well, I’m intrigued because the values are many that I hold and ones that I’ve hoped the church could move towards. Some people are scared by churches and individuals who are pursuing these things, thinking they’re moving away from the heart of the gospel. One thing that I find interested is the tragectory of history. The original liberals to which the fundamentalists reacted were interested in building the kingdom here on earth and then later in social justice issues. The fundamentalists and later the evangelicals fought hard against these liberals because they were moving agains the heart of the gospel (never mind all the Old Testament commands to care for the poor or Jesus’ sermon on the mount). Now, you have large churches like Saddleback and Willow leading a charge for social justice, racial reconciliation, urban redevelopment, and AIDS Awareness while at the same time, people who are living by rules such as the ones below are being attacked again as liberal. Here’s the interesting quandary: does anyone find it interesting that the more central evangelical church (of which I count myself a part) is “interested” in the ways of Jesus for social reconstruction and reordering or cultural reality and yet at the same time is seriously frightened about its implications in our own lives? Forgive me if this is pushing too hard, but it’s almost as if we want to live the truths of the sermon on the mount and the way of Jesus so long as it doesn’t change our current lifestyle, how we spend our money, how we spend our time, and what our churches look like or provide for us. When being the people of Jesus in these ways actually threatens our own way of living, then it’s seen as radical and dangerous. That bothers me.
Here are the 12 marks of the new monasticism.
- Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.
- Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.
- Hospitality to the stranger
- Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.
- Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.
- Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.
- Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.
- Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.
- Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.
- Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.
- Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.
- Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.
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