You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more than the stars in the sky, but like locusts they strip the land and then fly away.
Global capitalism, anyone? Thanks to Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw for pointing out this great verse (Jesus for President, 188).
Christianity Today has a decent, short article on new monasticism here, called, “Monastic Evangelicals.” Far better though is a blog post by Mark Van Steenwyk of Missio Dei called, “What is the New Monasticism?” One of my favourite parts:
For some reason, human beings tend to use words to limit, rather than to inspire. When someone utters the words “new monasticism,” folks immediately attempt to define what the movement is…to understand it in its totality. This is unfortunate, because the word “new” was placed in front of “monasticism” to inspire–to invite someone into reimagination.
I’m also excited about getting my hands on these two new books on new monasticism: New Monasticism: What It Has To Say To Today’s Church by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Inhabiting the Church: Biblical Wisdom for a New Monasticism co-authored by Jon Stock, Tim Otto and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Good resources all.
An article from the Boston Globe, “The Unexpected Monks,” details the rise of the new monastic (or neo-monastic) movement in contemporary evangelicalism. Apparently, around 100 neo-monastic communities have sprung up in North America over the last five years:
New Monasticism is part of a broader movement stirring at the margins of American evangelicalism: Evangelicals disillusioned with a church they view as captive to consumerism, sectarian theological debates, and social conservatism. Calling themselves the “emerging church” or “post-evangelicals,” these Christians represent only a small proportion of the approximate 60 million evangelical Americans. Yet their criticisms may resonate with more mainstream believers.
This is an excellent article, quoting everyone from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove to Scott Bessenecker to Shane Claiborne. To learn about this exciting, emerging movement, this is a great place to start. See it here.
New (or neo-) monasticism is a movement roughly, though not totally, located within the emerging church movement. Those part of it seek to appropriate the insights of traditional monasticism for our contemporary world, especially intentional community, prayer and mission, but most often in an urban setting. That is, groups of Christians intentionally choose to live together in a single house in the midst of a needy part of the city (or in a Third World slum, as in The New Friars) and reach out from there to the broader community. In this context, author Andy Freeman asks what traditional monastic vows might look like:
It is an interesting experiment to consider how some of the monastic vows connect with our lives. Is a new vow of silence, for example, one that disconnects our Internet or mobile phone? Is it one that turns off our TV or removes us from the crowd? Can we embrace a vow of poverty by choosing not to earn a bigger wage or not seek that new promotion? Could we choose to wait sometimes, to be happy with little?
Perhaps most challenging is a vow of celibacy. Being married with five children perhaps undermines my credibility to say anything on this issue, yet surely celibacy is about sexual fidelity as well as abstinence. How do I apply this in both thought and deed? For those of you not yet married, there are times to lay down the desire to be with others, just as there are times to take that up again. I know some who have chosen to go a season without a boyfriend or girlfriend. I know some who feel that singleness is part of their journey and have chosen to embrace it, sometimes with joy, sometimes with tears. (Pete Greig and Andy Freeman, PunkMonk: New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing, 111-2.)
What might a neo-monastic vow of silence, poverty or celibacy look like in our post-communications revolution [anti-silence], post-industrial revolution [anti-poverty], post-romanticism [anti-celibacy] world? An important question indeed, which might do much to help us recognize how much our culture has seeped into (and perhaps, poisoned) our lives.