The New Monasticism in print and in person
I don’t know if you’ve heard about this or not but two Friends of mine, Martin Kelley and Wess Daniels, are going to lead a workshop at Pendle Hill this fall called New Monastics and Convergent Friends. You can read more about it on the Pendle Hill website, on the QuakerQuaker event page, or email Wess or Martin via the contact info on their blogs.
I’m probably not going to make it to Philadelphia in November, but just as a coincidence, a local Friend just gave me a book someone gave her and she thought I would like. It’s called New Monasticism: What It Has To Say To Today’s Church by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Jonathan is one of the co-founders, along with his wife Leah, of Rutba House, an intentional community in Durham, North Carolina. He is a leader in the coming together of a variety of intentional communities of radical disciples of Jesus. This book connects these groups to the long history of Christian monasticism, from Antony in the desert, through Benedict and Francis and the Anabaptists in Europe. Then beginning again in the 20th century with the Bruderhof in Germany in the 1920’s, the Catholic Workers in New York, Koinonia Farm in Georgia, John Perkins and the CCDA in Mississippi, the Jesus People in Chicago, the Simple Way in Philadelphia and Rutba House in Durham.
The list of 12 Marks of a New Monasticism is another list of characteristics of a religion I want to be part of. Much like Gibbs/Bolger’s nine elements of emerging church or Diana Butler-Bass’s Ten Signposts of Renewal. Each of these strikes me as a good set of measurements or goals for considering how I’m living my own life and how my Meeting is connecting our community life.
The first is “relocating to the abandoned places of Empire.” Fifteen years ago, SF Monthly Meeting moved to the South of Market of San Francisco on purpose. It’s less abandoned now than it used to be, but it’s still a place where we regularly wrestle with our right relationship to our homeless, poor, mentally ill or addicted neighbors. It’s hard sometimes, and I wouldn’t say we always get it right, but we can’t ignore them either.
Chris and I used to live in the same neighborhood. But for the last seven years we have lived in quieter, cleaner neighborhoods. How are we modeling our discipleship here? Or have we just backslid and given up? This is a real question for me some days.
Another is “nurturing common life among members of intentional community.” One of the recurring functions of our Meeting is to set up small groups that meet in each other’s homes for a meal and fellowship. We call them Friendly 8’s.
Chris and I are currently part of a group that we were assigned to because of geographic proximity. The two things we all have in common are attendance at SF Meeting and the fact that we all live in the same county just to the south of SF, not even the same town. Among the six adults and our two children, we have a range of theology, stages in life, and pretty much anything else. We have to be intentional about our community because it’s not based on a natural affinity. I mean I like these people, but we didn't all really know each other before. It’s not super-time-consuming either; one night a month we meet for an early potluck dinner and worship sharing. But it’s a good beginner’s laboratory for building community.
The other marks all seem relevant but it would be a book not a blogpost to address them all. In any case, I recommend the book to you and if you can make it, the weekend with Wess and Martin.
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