August 29, 2007

new misnomerism

I've been having some conversations as of late with those that would consider themselves a part of the new monasticism genre. I deeply appreciate the intentions and actions of this group from what I can tell. Those I do know include some of the people I most highly respect. But I wonder if using the term "monasticism" is a bit of a misnomer. Afterall, from what I know, most of those that commonly fall under this label do not practice whipping themselves, or some of the other more unpopular historical monastic practices. And if we follow our history, monasticism has not historically been about being a monk, it's been about returning to the essence of the church.

When I was speaking in San Jose I was asked several times if I thought our community fell under that label. I said I didn't think so. Not that I don't want to be associated with these folks, but because I think what we're primarily interested in is new ecclesiology. The term new monasticism relegates these communities to para-church status. It also weakens the threat it poses to the Christendom institution. So, maybe it's a bit safer. But if I were to evaluate most of the communities I've peaked around at on the internet, they're new ecclesiology communities just as much as new monastic. They proclaim by their common life, There is another way to be the Body of Christ... Although, if one starts spelling it wrong with u's and z's I have to wonder if they're more interested in aesthetic as opposed to essence.

Read up on new monasticism here.

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