Marks of a Christian

Many people of faith sense that these are trying times.

Many people of faith sense that these are trying times. But some are recklessly hopeful enough to believe that God’s Spirit may be breaking in on our society in ways both new and ancient.

That is the witness of School(s) for Conversion. Its genesis lies in a web of relationships among various Christians around the United States, most of whom are involved in some kind of intentional faith community experiment. Some are grizzled veterans of the Christian counterculture; others are newer and younger voices. Through gatherings and conversations about their struggles for faithfulness and community life in the midst of a fragmented society, they have developed what they call (using good biblical numerology) 12 marks of a new monasticism.

This book is about these 12 marks. But the result is much richer than a simple collection of essays. School(s) for Conversion is a repository of collective experiential wisdom, reflecting lives of engaged, committed discipleship.

The first mark, described eloquently by Sister Margaret McKenna, sets the tone: the call for Christians to relocate to places abandoned by empire. Drawing on biblical and early church notions of desert spirituality, McKenna and her fellow new monastics believe that God’s Spirit will speak to us from the margins and there show us "new possibilities of faithfulness."

All the chapters, each covering one of the marks, reflect a holistic understanding of Christian faith that is historically situated and seeks to respond to the crises of our times. All the writers ground their reflections in scripture and church history, complemented by personal testimonies or portraits of communities seeking to incarnate the particular mark of new monasticism.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2005
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