WHAT WOULD IT look like to extend radical hospitality to the “other,” spend less money in order to give more away, reclaim the Sabbath by practicing intentional rest, embrace simplicity by downsizing material possessions, and seek the renewal of ailing cities and neighborhoods by living in them rather than fleeing them—all while holding jobs and raising a flock of kids?
In The Year of Small Things, Sarah Arthur and Erin Wasinger set out to discover the answer. Inspired by the New Monasticism, a movement that integrates ancient Christian values into modern life, the two friends and their families embark on a year of small but intentional steps of faith and action, devoting each month to a different theme, whether prayer, sustainability, or serving the needs of the under-resourced city in which they live and worship.
So, I'm wrangling with Lillian Daniels. Smart. Savvy. Informed. Yep. I respect her a great deal. And I disagree with her assessment of the "Spiritual But Not Religious" Thang almost completely. In a recent email exchange (where I got rather worked up, I admit), I offered a response to a comparison a friend made between Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove and Lillian Daniels, their visions, and their understanding of Christian community (Johnathan, for those who don't know, is a Baptist minister and new monastic serving at Rutba House).
Jonathan is a monastic. He has a very rigorous sense of a call to Christian community, of how one follows the way of Jesus the Christ. Read the twelve marks of a new monasticism and get a sense of his understanding of Christian "intentional" community. My understanding from Daniels' work is that it is far more rigorous than her congregationalism (even though the UCC has roots in a congregationalism that might today be called monastic if they were to live into the fullness of it.)
For Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, "subversive" friendship is about creating God's counterculture in the midst of a dominant culture.
Just a few days ago, I returned from a short trip into Iraq with a small group of Christian peacemakers. Most of us had been to the country before, but under varying circumstances: I was on a combat deployment in 2004; Greg Barrett, our organizer, went as a journalist in the run-up to the invasion in 2003; and four were part of a peace team protesting the bombing campaign during that same period.
Shane Claiborne, Cliff Kindy, Weldon Nisly, and Peggy Gish were leaving Iraq in March 2003 when one of their vehicles was involved in an accident, leaving Cliff and Weldon with life-threatening injuries. Had it not been for a few Iraqi Good Samaritans, they may have never made it out alive.
My mother is an immigrant from Korea who has worked as a janitor in a hospital and waitress in a Korean restaurant. My father is a white guy from a small town in Tennessee who has been a soldier and dock worker.
I've been following the recent online conversation about racial reconciliation and the New Monastics rather closely. Why? Because it is a conversation whose time has come. I honestly believe that [...]