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School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism (New Monastic Library: Resources for Radical Discipleship) Paperback – January 14, 2005
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This book invites us into a way of life that is simultaneously ancient and wonderfully new. By combining first-person accounts of the marks of Christ-formed communities with rich historical and biblical reflection, the various writers provide truthful and hope-filled descriptions of contemporary Christian community. Taking seriously the resources of the monastic tradition and the importance of preserving a relationship with
the wider church, the authors offer mature, wise, and gracious insight into the practices of faithful living. I heartily recommend this book to anyone yearning for evidence and promise of renewal in the church! --Christine D. Pohl, author of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition
Whatever future God has for the church, I am convinced the essays in this remarkable book will help us discern that future. Monasticism has always been one of the main means God has used to renew the church. Through some strange miracle God now seems to be calling Protestants to consider what it might mean for them to live in communities that might look very much like monastic communities. Such a call might tempt many toward some kind of romanticism, but one of the remarkable things about these essays is their stark realism. Such a realism is unavoidable not only because of the challenges facing those who are about the formation of communities faithful to God but also because they have lived with one another enough to know this is not going to be easy. So these essays are full of good sense and they help us see the potential of this extraordinary movement. Moreover, each essayist never forgets to remind us that when it's all said and done, it's about God who makes it possible for us to live patiently and nonviolently in a world of impatience and violence. --Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School
I believe the new monasticism represents a source of vital renewal from the margins and forgotten places of empire. It is my sincere hope that the 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, pastor (crcc.org), author (anewkindofchristian.com)
About the Author
The Rutba House is a Christian community of hospitality, peacemaking, and discipleship in the Walltown neighborhood of Durham, NC.
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Jonathan R. Wilson coined the term "new monasticism" in his short monograph, Living Faithfully In a Fragmented World. Drawing on the social analysis of Alasdair MacIntyre (After Virtue) and the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together and Letters and Papers From Prison), Wilson called for a "new monasticism ... that will sustain the [church's] witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ through faithful living." (Living Faithfully, p. 69) This call assumes that the contemporary church is so compromised by its identification with and embrace of the forces and institutions of modernity and empire, that disentanglement from these forces and institutions is necessary for the church to recover its identity and mission.
In June 2004, the Rutba House ("a Christian community of hospitality, peacemaking, and discipleship" in Durham, N.C.) invited representatives from various neo-monastic communities across the country to a conference designed to "discern a possible shape of a new monasticism." School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism is one result of this meeting. Participants in the conference identified twelve "marks" or common characteristics of these neo-monastic communities. These marks include: sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy, hospitality to the stranger, lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation, geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life, and peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution along the lines of Matthew 18.
Edited by the Rutba House, School(s) for Conversion contains an eloquent introduction by Wilson and one essay, written by various conference participants, on each of the twelve marks. Essay contributors include members of The Simple Way and New Jerusalem Now recovery center in Philadelphia; Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, Illinois; and Communality in Lexington, Kentucky. The essays are generally well written and offer a helpful balance of theory and practice.
Many Christians in "the last remaining superpower" believe that the church in America is in need of deep renewal and reform. The forces of empire: capitalism, militarism, consumerism, individualism and pursuit of the "American dream" have taken us far from our common life with Christian brothers and sisters in service to and for the Kingdom of God. New monasticism or intentional community is a potentially fruitful way of renewing both the identity and mission of ecclesial communities. However, as Wilson warns in the introduction, "The task of forming communities of the NM [new monasticism] will be marked by deep struggle, perhaps a great deal of pain, and the hard work of reconciliation." (p. 4) School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism is an excellent introduction to the cost, benefits, and possible priorities of new Christian communities capable of bearing faithful witness to Jesus Christ and his Kingdom