Monastery: the new tool for spiritual formation?

Will monasteries, or monastic communities of some kind, be important tools for spiritual formation in the Post-modern Church? At least some Evangelicals think so. But what could be more "Romish" (in the bad sense)? Or not. Didn't the Reformation produce lots of little communes and Christian-communal living arrangements (think Amish)? Didn't the Charismatic movement do the same thing? Aren't some "emergent church" leaders advocating something similar: living together in groups for accountability and regular communal prayer and worship? For that matter, didn't Jesus and his disciples pretty much live together throughout his 3-year ministry as they walked, learned, and prayed together?
St. Basil the Great, when asked (see Ascetical works, "The Long Rules," question 7) if it was better to be a hermit or to live in a monastic community responded that it was better to be in community because only by living closely connected with others can we learn the Christian virtues of charity, forgiveness, and burden-bearing.

Richard Foster has this to say: "The feelings of alienation and loneliness, the concern over ecological responsibility, the desire for a just distribution of resources, and the joyful freedom to share resulting from the charismatic renewal are a few of the causes [for renewed interest in communal living]...Perhaps the greatest value of the Christian commune is its symbolic importance. Quietly, it questions society's affluence, and points toward another way." (see The Freedom of Simplicity, chapter 8).

I wonder if we American Christians would do well to radically re-think our ideas of individual freedom and consider some sort of more communal living (and not just while we are in college)? That is a scary thought for recovering hermits like me.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home