Schools for Conversion 12 Marks of a New Monasticism

…just finished another read recently entitled ‘School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism’ that was edited by the Rutba House (pronounced ROOT-buh) in Durham, NC. For those of you who have followed some of my musings over the years, you may know that monasticism is something that I am always interested in. In particular, the contemplative life is how I maintain sanity as not only a minister, but also a Christian. There is nothing more liberating in my experience than the ability to meditate and seek the ‘mind of Christ’ as Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove writes about in the final chapter of this book. My dream job is where I could be a contemplative…ALL DAY.


While the contemplative life is the ’12th mark’ of this ‘New Monasticism’, what I found intriguing was reading about the other 11 ‘marks’ that were introduced by other community members (although different communities) that all identify with said title. Even if you don’t identify as a new monastic, the conversations around such marks is really interesting, and important as we seek out what it means to follow Christ in the modern world. And those that are wondering about the 12 marks, but too lazy to look them up yourselves…:)

1. Relocation to the abandoned places of the empire

2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us

3. Hospitality to the stranger

4. Lament for racial divisions…combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation

5. Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church

6. Intentional formation…along the lines of the old novitiate

7. Nurturing common life among members…

8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children

9. Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life

10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us…

11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence…

12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life


These marks don’t have it all…at least to everyone who follows Christ, and that’s okay. One mark for example, the support of celibate singles, is something that does not address the injustices of homophobia which has led to ‘illegal’ marriages in both civil and religious arenas. Other marks, like sharing economic resources is something that is simply down right HARD to even figure out in our capitalistic culture. How do we receive medical assistance? What about bank accounts? …who is more ‘needy’ than the other? What I like about this book, however, is there is a genuine attempt to help address the challenges to intentional living…even within the short pages of an essay for each chapter.


In my experiences with various communities in Camden, Lake Worth, Chicago, and others, I’ve been fortunate enough to see how some of these communities have navigated the tough waters of intentional living, and I give them a lot of credit. Even within my own experiments of hospitality these past few weeks, I have faced many challenges and frustrations both personally and professionally…and this is just with two people!


Thank you, Rutba House for putting such a piece together, especially for those who realize that there are other options beside the commercial materialistic individualistic culture that we encounter each and every day here in the United States, and especially within US Christianity. You continue to give me hope and a vision for life lived in following Christ, and for that I’m forever changed.


…and now what should I do?


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