Flirting with Monasticism

As I sit at my office desk listening to Claudio Monteverdi, I am inspired to reflect upon my latest book of choice, Karen Sloan’s ‘Flirting with Monasticism.’

Now, I’m going to qualify this review: I usually put a lot of research into the books I choose to read. This book I bought on a hunch after reading a blog that mentioned this text. Plus, it has such a great title! Anyways, I read it…and it was okay:).

The story is centered around the spiritual walk of a young adult PC(USA) pastor who is gets interested in monasticism after developing a relationship with a young soon-to-be monk. However, most of the book spends its time focusing on the process and different aspects of the Dominican order, which I appreciate. Yes, the book is simple, practical, and straightforward. I didn’t get into the ‘love’ story, nor did I get into the personal life of the author. However, I think the text hints at a longing that many young people, especially pastors, are yearning for in their spiritual lives–a sacred experience. And with this sacred experience, I find most people seeking community in a world that continues to isolate itself behind the computer screen (I am a great example).

Now, since my recent blog about ‘re-thinking community’ and after reading this book, I’ve tried to take a few steps in these directions, and here’s what I found out–it’s hard! Even just trying to find a few times in the day to pray is tough, even for a pastor.

So are monastic orders the only way to experience sacred community today? Certainly not. Later tonight I’ll be worshiping and hanging out with the ‘Coral House’ community, who has been living intentionally for several years now, even in the midst of the materialistic southern Florida culture.

What I find to be on the top of my thoughts these days is what ARE the essentials to community/sacred living? Are there any elements that need to be there? Most monastic orders would point to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience…but does this work in all situations? I, for one, have a big problem with renouncing sex in order to live in a sacred community.

So what are these essentials to living in community? Do we look to the ’12 marks of new monasticism’ for guidance? I think it’s a good start, but certainly not the ‘end-all’ authority. Do we look to the Rule of Benedict for guidance? While I appreciate much of its inspiration, I pause with some of its language. Do we look to the Book of Acts and other biblical texts for direction? I think we do all of these things, and then we listen to God, who continues to speak in our hearts and in our lives, as we seek this sacred community.

Thank you, Karen Sloan, for adding to the conversation.

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