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The Unexpected Monks

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : February 3, 2008

For those interested, there is a new article in the Boston Globe called “The Unexpected Monks” about New Monasticism. I’m quoted in it (and in a sidebar called “in the beginning“). One of my quotes makes me look like a pompous ass. But since I often can be a pompous ass, I can’t complain.  Here’s a snippet:

The image of the Catholic monk - devoted to a cloistered life of fasting and prayer, his tonsured scalp hidden by a woolen cowl - has long provoked the disdain of Protestants. Their theological forefathers denounced the monastic life: True Christians, the 16th-century Reformers said, lived wholly in the world, spent their time reading the Bible rather than chanting in Latin, and accepted that God saved them by his grace alone, not as reward for prayers, fasting, or good works. Martin Luther called monks and wandering friars “lice placed by the devil on God Almighty’s fur coat.” Of all Protestants, American evangelicals in particular - activist, family-oriented, and far more concerned with evangelism than solitary study or meditative prayer - have historically viewed monks as an alien species, and a vaguely demonic one at that…

Yet some evangelicals are starting to wonder if Luther’s judgment was too hasty. There is now a growing movement to revive evangelicalism by reclaiming parts of Roman Catholic tradition - including monasticism. Some 100 groups that describe themselves as both evangelical and monastic have sprung up in North America, according to Rutba House’s Wilson-Hartgrove. Many have appeared within the past five years. Increasing numbers of evangelical congregations have struck up friendships with Catholic monasteries, sending church members to join the monks for spiritual retreats. St. John’s Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Minnesota, now makes a point of including interested evangelicals in its summer Monastic Institute.

for further reading . . .

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Comments

3 Responses to “The Unexpected Monks”

  1. RHVSBIGDADDY on February 3rd, 2008 3:18 pm

    I,VE BEEN CATHOLIC,METHODIST,REFORMIST,HINDU,MORMON,BORN AGAIN,SPIRIT FILLED ,PENTECOSTAL,[LESS THAN INTELLECTUAL] AGNOSTIC.
    ALL I EVER REALLY WANTED WAS SOMEONE TO WALK WITH,TALK WITH,WHO
    COULD LEAD ME THROUGH THIS LIFE AND INTO ETERNITY.

    LIVE JUST,LOVE MERCY,WALK HUMBLY………PUTTING THE ETHICAL TEACHINGS
    OF JESUS INTO PRACTICE.

  2. Mark Dixon on February 3rd, 2008 8:10 pm

    Re your other quote, Mark, I was a part of the Jesus Movement beginning in 1970, and what we were reading in those days would have varied greatly. The intellectual radicals (not me) who orbited around Jack Sparks at UC Berkeley might indeed have been reading Derrida, as “Dissemination” was published in 1972 at the peak of the Movement. In our little upper room here in southern California, though, our noses were usually buried in Nestle’s interlinear Greek New Testament. I do recall getting into Sartre around that time, though. Some of our brothers, I’ll admit, didn’t go much further than Larry Norman lyrics and the comics in the Hollywood Free Paper. Keep in mind there were a lot of street people and surfers in our movement, and a lot of us were literally just kids, I was only 14. It was a mixed bag.

  3. monk on February 4th, 2008 3:02 am

    Been a (hermit or solitary) monk for more than 35 years ; non-RC xtain monks existed for decades, first anglicans and then Lutherans or German ‘evangelicals’. Good luck to all who hear the call be they xtian, hindu, buddhist, taoist… a monk

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