Our community is hosting a School for Conversion this weekend. As part of the New Monasticism conversation, one thing we've been considering is what the tradition of monasticism might have to say to religious and spiritual life today. One of our sessions had the following thoughts, which I found very compelling. I need to chew on them a bit more, but here they are.
"By putting on a habit, by making vows, the religious is making a pledge of allegiance. By making a commitment to poverty or simplicity, I am by definition standing against the god of materialism. By making a commitment to chastity or monogamy, I am by definition standing against the god of sexual gratification. By making a commitment to obedience or humility, I am by definition making a stand against the god of power. By making a commitment to an ongoing conversion of life or to stability, I am by definition making a stand against the unexamined, ephemeral self of contemporary culture. Religious life, by its very nature, is an expression of resistance to some of the most pernicious values, ideologies, and structures of culture."
Obviously, the kind of monasticism practiced throughout the centuries is not what most of us would choose today, especially folks with families. But the core principles behind the movement can, I think, be translated into virtually every setting and situation.
Through the next few weeks, I'm going to be doing a series of posts about these commitments. I'm really hoping for lots of conversation from all of you. Feel free to post anonymously if you'd prefer, but please share what you think and how you feel.