Times, they are a changin’.
I have appreciated several books lately that have touched on the way American Christianity is changing and exploring old faucets within our tradition – perhaps things left behind in the wake of reformations and revivals. The New Monasticism by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a piece written about this kind of exploration – a wondering about community life, living in close proximity to the poor (many ways to define poverty), and exploring a communal prayer rhythms.
I have a lot of admiration for Wilson-Hartgrove who has been a part of taking up a new adventure and piloting a rough-draft (of sorts) for admiring Jesus through imitation. Wait, new? I’m not sure. What we see happening is something that has been going on under the main-stream radar for all of Christian history. Every once in a while we hear about monastic movements. Of course, we’re most familiar with the Medieval period movements (and the good/bad within). A part of Wilson-Hartgrove’s book provides just a little view of some of these communities and invites us to look into what ideas like close community living might look like for us and how such a new way of life for us might affect the depths of our souls.
My main take-away from the book was the call to living in close proximity with others – other believers, others who are impoverished, people like me, people unlike me, everyone. The concept presented is that we in our society find ourselves very fragmented and distant from even our next door neighbors. We go to a church’s building on Sunday mornings perhaps with an inner desire for community but often feel disjointed, unconnected.
In summary: life is simple; we’ve overcomplicated it. Live in community.