"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
mattress,/
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The New Monasticism?

As a convinced MacIntyrean, I am of course skeptical of the modern urge to think "I'm from nowhere in particular so I can pick traditions from anywhere" sorts of movements that seek to construct an identity or community in a bricolage fashion that does nothing more than covertly reproduce the assumptions of modern liberal societies and their wickedly effective capacity for commodifying just about everything and rendering it an individual 'choice.' Still, for all that I bring to your attention The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living (Orbis, 2015), 256pp. 

This book, the publisher tells us, seeks to draw on Eastern and Western monasticism. Further, we are told:
Young leaders of the new monastic movement introduce their vision for contemplative life- one that draws from the long traditions of East and West but also seeks an interreligious and 'interspiritual' dimension to intentional living in our time. With a preface by Mirabai Starr, a foreword by Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, and an afterword by Fr. Thomas Keating.
The New Monasticism is an introduction to the "new monastic movement," offering the authors' intellectual and spiritual reflections on what contemplative life could look like in the 21st century. With chapters focusing on spiritual practice, vocation, contemplation and activism, dialogical dialogue, the relationship with traditional religious paths, contemplative psychology and the building of intentional communities, the authors seek to "cut across the boundaries of religious traditions, of contemplation and action, and endeavor to create intergenerational alliances between those immersed in the depths of our traditional religious frameworks and those who are being called to contemplative and prophetic life outside of those frameworks."
While drawing on the work of Raimon Panikkar, St. Teresa of Avila, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Ewert Cousins, Fr. Bede Griffiths, Thomas Merton, Brother Wayne Teasdale, St. John of the Cross and the Russian sophianic tradition, among others, the book also incorporates some popular modern day academic, cultural, and contemplative theorists, such as Ken Wilber and Fr. Thomas Keating, who speak to young people about creating a more sacred and just world while providing them with sophisticated tools for psychological analysis and integrated action. It also offers specific practices for a disciplined contemplative life and inspired social justice activism.

1 comment:

  1. wow, it does indeed look like bricolage. I lived for 20 years under the Rule of St Benedict, in the Trappist tradition, so I have nothing against authentic Western monasticism, and I'm Orthodox now and enjoy a lot Eastern authors, but still, this looks like over the top.
    The name of Mirabai Starr makes me cringe when I recall what she did in her recent translation of Julian of Norwich!

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