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New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church Paperback – May 1, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's a vision so old it looks new, writes Wilson-Hartgrove, a 20-something North Carolina pastor who is part of New Monasticism.New Monastics, he says, are a loosely confederated group of Christians who choose to live in intentional communities, often in blighted areas.It's age-old monasticism, but with new twists: some practitioners are celibate singles, but many others are married with children; some communities hold all goods in common and pool their economic resources, while others retain individual ownership.The book's more coherent and invigorating second half explores the marks of New Monasticism, including geographic relocation, redistribution of wealth, ecumenism, peacemaking and submission to the church.These chapters, which offer a treasure trove of concrete examples and stories of real communities that practice these values, eclipse the book's unfocused first half, which mires down in broad descriptions of American Christianity's complex problems and an obligatory dose of monastic history.Readers who are serious about putting New Monastic ideas into practice may want to skip the first 75 pages in favor of life-changing practices like relational tithing (maintaining no more than one degree of separation between the giver of charity and its receiver).(May)
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From the Back Cover

"It's hard to be a Christian in America," writes Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a leader in the new monasticism movement, a growing group of committed Christians who are living lives of radical discipleship and unearthing a fresh expression of Christianity. He takes readers inside new monasticism, tracing its roots through scripture and history and illuminating its impact on the contemporary church.

"It is my sincere hope that new monasticism will grow so strong and healthy and widespread that every follower of Jesus in every church has the opportunity, if not to actually live in a new monastic community, to at least have enough proximity and relationship to be influenced by it. This book can help that dream and prayer come true."--Brian McLaren, author of Everything Must Change

"This is the most informative work to date on its subject. Written in fluid, accessible prose and without pretense, it is also rich in personal and historical insights. The result is a book that is both beguiling and highly credible."--Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours

"This book demonstrates how embracing the lifestyle prescribed by Jesus is a realistic possibility in our present age. It also shows how countercultural Christianity can provide a needed critique of our self-centered, consumerist society."--Tony Campolo, Eastern University

"This book is a scavenger hunt into Christian history and the abandoned places of Empire where the Spirit is stirring today. It's like digging around in the dirt trying to find the pearl we buried, the pearl that is so beautiful it's worth giving up everything else in the world for."--Shane Claiborne, author of The Irresistible Revolution

"Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is bringing things both old and new out of the great Christian storehouse! New monasticism is discovering what is always rediscovered--and always bears great life for the gospel."--Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Center for Action and Contemplation
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Brazos Press (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587432242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587432248
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #955,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I ordered this book with a lot of enthusiasm. Our society is awash in a sea of violence; statistically, the US has not only the highest rate of violent crime in the world by a pretty wide margin, but is arguably the most violent peace time society in the recorded history of the world. In addition, our financial system has become corrupt right down to its core, and about every form of social pathology one could name seems to be on the rise. Nothing could be more hoped for than the rise of a "New Monasticism" that would be in our day and age what St. Francis and his followers were in their day and age, or a wide spread evangelical and lay version of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. My enthusiasm for the book and the movement it represents (fairly?) faded rapidly as I read. Mostly, its just a warmed over presentation of the same old liberal Protestantism we've known for over a hundred years, with that same old smell of unctious self-righteousness drifting off the pages. For example, a lot is made of peace issues as a primary concern for Christians who are disciples of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and rightly so!! However, the author's concern never seems to get beyond the war in Iraq and the death penalty. The reality of violent crime, spousal abuse, drug related gang wars, etc., that are pandemic here in America, especially in the low income neighborhoods that the author supposedly cares so much about, is passed over in silence....sort of like he's got his head in the sand. I work as a city police officer; I see it every night I go to work. The social services people can't change it, and neither can the police. It breaks my heart, I was looking for Christian alternatives. Unfortunately, I didn't find them here.
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This was a powerful book. I find Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove on target. He gives me hope for the future of the Church. I resonate with his kind of counter-culture tendencies. Wilson-Hartgrove is correct that that new monasticism is not about achieving some standard of personal piety. It is ultimately about transforming our relationships and community.

I love these words that Wilson-Hartgove quoted from Eberhard Arnold: "We do not need theories or idealistic goals or prophets or leaders. We need brotherhood and sisterhood...We need to show that a life of justice and forgiveness and unity is possible today."

I agree with Wilson-Hartgrove that the Church today needs to follow the subversive practices of the prophets: "loving one another, welcoming the stranger, ...returning good for evil."

A toast to Wilson-Hartgrove's dream and mine: The way of life Jesus taught and practiced can become reality!

-Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)
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Format: Paperback
Monasticism conjures up images of monks quietly moving through dark monasteries, sequestered from the "real" world as they seek God's will through meditation, prayer and communal living.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove brings fresh perspective to the age-old concept of living in Christian community in "New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church". Starting with a strong historical foundation, the author explores ancient concepts of community through an informative study of the early church at Antioch, as well as more contemporary figures in the monastic movement such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Benedict, and Mother Teresa.

This book forced me to honestly examine the Bible's radical ideas and how its teachings should impact my choices as a 21st Century American. Wilson-Hartgrove begins with the convincing concept, beginning with Genesis and moving through Biblical history, that God's plan to save the world was not one person at a time, but through a people. From this premise, he boldly states, "If the Bible is a story about God's plan to save the world through a people, then my salvation and sanctification depend on finding my true home with God's people. Apart from the story of this people, I can't have a relationship with God. Without the church, there's no chance of becoming holy."

The focus of the book then shifts to an examination of the movement's current marks of distinction including: sharing economic resources; geographical proximity to other community members; peacemaking; and the active pursuit of "just reconciliation".
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Format: Paperback
"...almost everywhere I go these days, people agree that something is wrong in American Christianity."

This is the motivation for the book New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. He points out many areas in which he believes the church is falling short of God's design and offers some possibilities for how to rethink our approach to these problems using monastic ideas, "a vision for society that is `so old it looked like new.'" The book was relatively short, only 140 pages, but it was filled with concepts and ideas that will challenge our ideas of church and community in North America and definitely for us here in the Bible belt.

In the first few chapters, Wilson-Heartgrove supplies us with a biblical perspective of God's community starting from the creation story in Genesis through the 1st century New Testament Church. He gives us the origins and history of monastic communities through the centuries including the new monastic movement he is a part of today.

In the remainder of the book, Wilson-Heartgrove shares with us the knowledge that can be gleaned from the practices and experiments of new monastic communities in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I struggled with this book. I had to keep reminding myself that this book has a message for the church today. Its purpose was not to suggest getting rid of churches in favor of communal living, but instead, what do these ventures in communal living have to say to churches about how they behave as a community? At times, it seemed the suggestion was to join a community where everything is shared or not. There was no in between. I'm sure that was not his intention, but it comes across at times that this is the only way things should be done.
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