Something to Shoot For

sinaia-monastery.jpg

Inside Sinaia Monastery….

These folks have put a lot of thought, experience and wisdom into their concept of monasticism, and it makes me want to run back into the “contemplative cave” immediately:

The 12 Marks of a New Monasticism

Moved by God’s Spirit in this time called America to assemble at St. Johns Baptist Church in Durham, NC, we wish to acknowledge a movement of radical rebirth, grounded in God’s love and drawing on the rich tradition of Christian practices that have long formed disciples in the simple Way of Christ. This contemporary school for conversion which we have called a “new monasticism,” is producing a grassroots ecumenism and a prophetic witness within the North American church which is diverse in form, but characterized by the following marks:

1. Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.

2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.

3. Hospitality to the stranger

4. Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities
combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.

5. Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.

6. Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the
community along the lines of the old novitiate.

7. Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.

8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

9. Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.

10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.

11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.

12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

May God give us grace by the power of the Holy Spirit to discern rules for living that will help us embody these marks in our local contexts as signs of Christ’s kingdom for the sake of God’s world.

Lots of good stuff in there — and these are Baptists! I’m pinching myself….

My major beef growing up a preacher’s son was the fact that my church life did not include a systematic practice for the direct realization of “God.” For me, it was all about memorizing scripture, enduring Sunday services, pretending I was someone who I really wasn’t, and a continuing alienation from those who would banish me to the fires of hell for not conforming enough to their fear-based, sexually-stultified, mindless attempt to keep God in their little box. No meditation, not even so-called “contemplative prayer” — just the occasional “Rocky Mountain High” at church camp, soon to be deflated when “real life” commenced back home.

Now, after many years studying and practicing Eastern forms of spirituality, I find that I’m not the only one hungry for access to the original “mustard seed” of Christ’s teachings — much of which must be understood in its esoteric or “inner,” symbolic meaning, if it’s to be understood at all. This inner teaching is, in fact, very “Eastern” in terms of its contemplative component — and now we see all sorts of efforts, such as The 12 Marks of a New Monasticism, offering a path for contemplatives who’ve broken out of their religious straitjackets and found themselves in need of the direct experience of… THAT….

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6 thoughts on “Something to Shoot For

  1. Hawk Sr. says:

    Yes, the contemplative disciplines have always been out there for those few inclined to seek them out. Models from many groups, Catholic. Orthodox, Protestant, Anabaptist, contemporary evangelical and others within the Christian traditions have contributed some beautiful avenues of meditation and contemplation.

    Unfortunately, they get swallowed up by the self-centered and shallow approaches of popular religion that feed the human tendencies to greed, power and self-righteousness.

    Have a good contemplative week, Michael.

  2. Gregor says:

    Popular religion is a tough thing. . .especially here in this country. It seems to many of us are all to eager to reduce the idea of god into something way to narrow.

    Its nice to see that there are those under the umbrella of Christianity giving it much more thought. There influence can only be for the good.

  3. adreampuppet says:

    If a “religion” doesn’t offer a pathway to liberation for everyone — and not just a set of platitudes offering a better existence in some “heavenly afterlife” — then I really do see it as a control structure, as in Lenin’s “opiate of the masses” idea. To me, the Buddha left (in the form of the Pali Canon, which was written down a couple hundred years after his physical death) the best, most comprehensive and effective set of instructions for reaching true liberation in this very life. The Gospel of Christ adds the idea of total and complete surrender/merging with “the Father,” or with the Infinite, as a way of connecting with the totality that is Creation. The Buddha’s stages of meditative absorption (i.e., “jhanas”) are concrete examples of ever-increasing states of communion with what Christians call “God,” and I’m enjoying the cross-fertilization that occurs in my head when I read scriptures from both traditions. They mean far more to me now than they could have during my youth.

  4. Hawk Sr. says:

    Mike: I have a feeling that first century Christians were much more in tune with the states of communion shared by peoples of different spiritual traditions than we can imagine. Rennaissance and rationalism cut us off from those roots. Your journey helps us all to recapture a fullness that contemporary modes of thought exclude.

  5. monk says:

    see our Yahoo group, 355 members that existed since 2000, bishops, priests, laity, hermits for monasticism – east and west, past, present , future and associated subjects, eg mysticism, contemplation, prayer, info, news and much else. John (monk)

  6. adreampuppet says:

    Thanks so much, John. What a busy group! I just joined up and am anxious to learn. Good of you to drop by — please come again!

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