Sunday, January 28, 2007

Monasteries Everywhere

Papa Rooster forwarded me a fascinating interview with Dr. Bradley Nassif, an Orthodox evangelical professor who teaches at North Park College in Chicago. He has an exciting vision for evangelicals and Orthodox learning from one another, which he discusses in the interview.

This quote resonates with the type of "monastery" we want to found, one in which most members will live a "mixed life" of daily worship together and work in the world:

[There is] a need to help parishioners integrate their faith with the workaday world of everyday life. I try to do this by offering weekend seminars in our churches entitled “Desert Spirituality for City Dwellers.” When I worked as a Honda salesman, I found myself in need of integrating faith with the marketplace. I ended up viewing my job as a spiritual arena where I would die to self and grow through all the various tasks I did throughout the day. Making 20 phone calls a day became an exercise in ascetic discipline; responding to a rude customer became an opportunity to grow in patience; working with a joyful heart gave witness to the Resurrection of Christ in my soul. I began seeing my daily tasks in a new light. I transformed my vision of work into a spiritual cause. That’s what I mean when I say we need to help people connect the dots between Scripture and what they do at work and home.

Others who are thinking of their homes as monasteries:

Ann at The Sacred Everyday:

I am waking, keeping watch for God here in the midst of this family life. In the constant din of a family of eight, I too am learning a life of vigil, seeking signs of the God who comes to do the soul work in this house of religious retirement, that we may co-labor with Him. If monastic life is about living in a watchful community of love, then fling our doors wide open again—Welcome to this humble monastery of Love. (whole post here)

Mental Multivitamin:

Be an alien in our culture's "hardening phase," when its form is preserved but its content is lost. Be like a lonely monk, gathering scraps of what is best about about us for the civilizations that follow after our dark age. (whole post here)

Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons:

I think Alasdair McIntyre is right when he says that our culture has fragmented so much we can't even agree on what right and wrong is as a community anymore. That can cause us to despair, but we need to look to what St. Benedict did when the Roman Empire broke down, retire to whatever our modern equivalent of monasteries are and try to rebuild culture, to not only preserve our religious, cultural and moral values, but keep them alive for a time when there is more cohesion in the culture.

I have no illusions that I'm going to be able to change America by what I believe, but I can change my family. I can change my parish. I can change what Edmund Burke called the "little platoons" of which I am a part. And I think that's enough. That's got to be enough because that's what I have control over. And maybe other people will see by the examples we liveI'm not talking about withdrawing and becoming neo-Amish—but by making these small changes, by living a good, virtuous life every single day, we can effect a more lasting change, a change that comes from deep within. (whole interview here)


Bss said...

It took me a few years to realize that my home is where my ministry is during this season of my life. And if my heart is changed, and the hearts of my children are molded for God, then people will be able to observe God in our lives, see His light, and hopefully want God for themselves. That is one very small way to change my part of the world. As the song says, "Brighten the corner where you are!"

Thank you for visiting the blog! :) The curriculum I asked you about is Winter Promise's American Story 1&2. It seems to be along the same lines as Sonlight's Core 3&4 and 100, especially if the Middler's pack is added for middle school aged children. I'm having a hard time deciding which way to go.

Anonymous said...

"the little platoons of which I am a part"...this caught my is what has always been in my heart...I have never been one to want to change the world...I would much rather spend my time with all "the little platoons" that make up my little corner of the world and set an example for change that way. I really enjoyed the message of this particular post, especially since I am about to start reading The Genesee Diary:Report from a Trappist Monastery by Henri J.M. Nouwen. Everything we do at this moment in time is God's ministry and purpose for is important that we embrace it and look beyond it to the glory of the God that has placed us here, in this particular time, in this particular place.

Erin said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog! I read your daughter's audition essay and could totally relate. I also read through all of your "children's theater" labeled posts - my favorites were "Ahhhh, Auditions" and "There Was a Moment..." Especially the latter...reading it made me so sorry she did not get the part! What a marvelous moment to witness, though.

I must say I'm jealous that you have a children's theater program locally. Where I live there's just community theater, and so it's hit-and-miss if they'll pick shows that can use kids/teenagers in them.

Antigone is actually a film that some friends and I are making. We've only filmed one scene, we're still working on cutting parts of the script and finding good locations, etc. It's going to be a huge challenge but I hope we can complete it!

Nice to meet you, too. :)

Linds said...

Hello there... Thank you so much for you comment on my blog. It is all about trust in the end, isn't it? There seem to be so many women out there in bloggityville who are being tried and tested, or refined by fire at the moment. Keep looking up, never down. I am with you on the platoons. And have absolutely no regrets about staying home with my 3 as they grew up. Just look what God had planned for me! Now I just need to find another Christian at work.I am praying for you and your family as you step out in faith.

Carrie said...

Thank you for your comment re: Eric Carle's books on my blog. I'll see if my son likes them! I was also thinking I'd look a the Maisy (?) series (with the mouse?). The "chunky" pictures might go over well.

I liked your post here as well. As Christians, we are taking the Kingdom with us wherever we go as we have the King in our hearts. Whether its to the grocery store, work, in our homes, at the park, etc., the King is with us. His children -- His kingdom -- are making their mark on his behalf. It's a different way to think and a different way to live. Definitely a challenge!

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Yes, we all have to love the Lord, serve Him, and advance His Kingdom in our own families. We can make a mark in our society through our family witness. For us, our community is our local church, where we can find support if we need it. Mostly, our private relationship with the Lord is what we need to nurture, and this is adequate in seeking wisdom from the Lord. However, what we choose to eat--Well, my conscience may be more in tune to other matters of conduct and life than whether the food is organic or not. Re: the community living idea: I think it's pretty idealistic to think that people with their busy families are going to want to come together to have devotions daily at a central meeting point/community, and I'm not sure it's necessary. Rod D.'s comment about monastic living-until the culture is more unified---it'll not happen. The Scripture says, in the last days, perilous times will come, going on to describe great breakdown in societal norms. We must do all we can to be Biblical lighthouses of faith. I liked Rod D.'s comments re: the common ground true Christians have with moderate Muslims--we both decry the declining moral values that are being sold to the Middle East. It might help if we expressed that loudly to the world. Pianomum

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Hello Jeanne, This is a subject very dear to my heart that I had/have been writing about as well. Lovely post, and I really enjoyed following the links : )

Blessed Week : ) Wendy