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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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25 Responses to 1049

  1. Goodacre says:

    Sounds like the ‘new christian’ to me! :-)

  2. Tiggy says:

    Haha, yeah what IS a New Monastic? I just stayed with some and it was one family leading very busy lives running businesses, having groups there on retreats from time to time. Apart from three very short offices a day that not everyone turned up to, I couldn’t see anything monastic about it. Read all the stuff, watched all the videos, looked at the websites and still can’t see what it’s all about.

  3. Tiggy – I had the exact same experience. The only diff I could see is that saying you’re new monastic means you get to act like a hippie.

  4. Tiggy says:

    Oh these didn’t act like hippies, but I don”t see how you can call just living with your family, ‘living in community’. I’ve lived in student houses that were more monastic. I

  5. subo says:

    maybe were all a little bit like new monastic’s, connecting via ASBO

  6. soniamain says:

    Oh Jon that made us laugh at breakfast this morning- you are back on form! I love this :)

  7. jonbirch says:

    i must say, new monasticism as an idea makes be giggle. just sounds ridiculously silly. monasticism without the really difficult stuff, like giving up your life for example. i wonder whether it is a phrase that makes people feel a little better about the capitalist/consumerist treadmill they’re on.
    many people are looking for space within their busy lives and there are disciplines from monastic traditions that may be very helpful to people… but how does that constitute ‘new monasticism’? i wonder whether people just enjoy fancy labels… makes ‘em feel better. :-)

  8. jonbirch says:

    ‘new monasticism’ is another ‘fresh expression’… hilarious! :lol:
    is there anyone out there who reads this blog who is committed to a ‘fresh expression’ of church through the medium of ‘new monasticism’?… do tell. seems like reading the gumph on the internet makes it as confusing as ever for some. looks a little like the return of the 60’s… but i’m no expert, just a facetious twerp. :-)

  9. Andy says:

    I wouldn’t say Shane Claiborne was on a capitalist/consumerist treadmill. And he’s a frontrunner for new monasticism. Having said that, I’m sure lots of people just take the NM label without really living out the values.

  10. jonbirch says:

    hi andy… so what are the ‘new monastic’ values which are different to those of others who seek god? what is it that makes it ‘label’ worthy? btw, when i said ‘capitalist/consumerist’ i was simply meaning the way we all live our lives in the west… it’s hard, if not impossible, to escape.
    also confusing about the label, is that there seems to be a rejection of the old monastic ways… so why use the term ‘monastic’? maybe i have all that wrong and it’s a bit like the ‘alt church’ label which is used by many different people to mean many different things.

  11. jonbirch says:

    if we want community back where it’s missing, if we want hospitality back where it’s missing, if we want a bit of structure back in to those things… why not just do it? why wrap it up in yet another trademark or label? at the moment it seems there’s a big part of christendom which is pulling old and undervalued toys back out of the closet and playing with them… it’ll be another toy in a few years time. where there is community, great. where there is hospitality, great. i believe these things should be sought after and are important, but calling it ‘new monasticism’ just seems like another pretension… and you can bet yer butt that there’ll be some doing a good trade in book sales off the back of it… as per usual.

  12. Tiggy says:

    There already is – a whole section in the book tent at Greenbelt. My friends started the Northumbria Community, long before all this New Monasticism thing became popular and started in America. They have links with Iona and Lindisfarne and are part of the Celtic tradition. I think it’s important that that is kept alive/revived. That has direct links to those monastic traditions. I don’t know much about the ones in the US.

  13. soniamain says:

    I think you raise some good questions- when I first heard of it a few years back it made me laugh!. Stuck me as being a lot of hyped up talk for meeting together and eating- but I am probably missing something. There were a number of people at greenbelt this year, including Shane Claiborne, who were discussing it- didn’t get to hear them, but am thinking now i might see if i can download their talk and see what they said

  14. Pat says:

    I heard Shane Claiborne at GB several years ago and found it an inspiring and challenging experience (though I pretty much went on in the same old way afterwards :-( )

    For the bare bones of his version of NM see


    And of course various of the traditional monastic movements have long had tertiary orders for lay people

    I think you are right though jon – it’s become a trendy tag which people appropriate without any real connection to its original roots :-(

  15. Tiggy says:

    It involves doing stuff for the community you live in. ‘Support for CELIBATE singles’ seems to be an American concept. I’m sure over here it would just be ‘Support for singles’ as New Monastic communities seem to be quite liberal/progressive. I can’t imagine anyone saying, ‘We’re only going to support you if you’re celibate!’

  16. soniamain says:

    from listening to the talk at GB ( just downloaded it and heard it today!). It seems to me that new monasticism is about community- eating together, praying together, having a rhythm of prayer and liturgy throughout the day. After being very cynical!! there were bits to what the speakers said that I liked- Karen Ward gave an example of having a community cafe, where they feed people and pray each day, Shane talked about a community of compassion and peacefulness, Mark Pierson talked about a community of people who eat together, pray together, someone else talked about being re in touch with old traditions. Can’t argue with any of these things, certainly trying to be community, praying for one another and eating together have been important parts of Sanctuary ( the group we are with). But is this new monasticism?- My feeling is this is another new label for groups of people who are trying to live their lives in a faithful way- if I am to be a cynical it is a label which makes them sound more holy- Sanctuary are not a new monastic group- we are trying hard to be a loving community to one another- and that is bloody hard!, we love eating together!!- but no I don’t think we could use that label- sounds too trendy to me!!

  17. HAHAHAHA! I like this one – very funny! It all sounds a bit too earnest, doesn’t it? Not knocking people who are doing good stuff…it’s just the whole marketing approach. You could almost imagine them doing the whole brainstorming with a flip chart thing. It makes me think of the latest thing with dog breeds. You can get jackahuahuas ( cross Jack Russell with chihuahua), cockerdoodles (cross cocker spaniel with poodle) and no doubt lots of others. Dogs created probably more on the basis of the suitability of their names to merge together with the comic ease of a Sun headline than anything else! Still, you have to admire the successful and lucrative re-branding of the humble mongrel!

  18. soniamain says:

    re-branding of the humble mongrel!- Carole that is genius!- i’d rather be part of the humble mongrel :)

  19. markk says:

    i suppose it’s a bit like new labour ; )

  20. Jon et al,

    if you’re interested in finding out why some consider these communities a form of sharing life that is part of the living stream of monasticism, and not just a label, here are a couple of places you could start:

    written by practitioners, some with decades of communal living under their belt. i’m a member of Communality in Lexington, KY.
    and laughed out loud when i saw #1049.

  21. Pingback: New Monasticism | rach's blog

  22. Caroline Too says:

    Well, I would describe myself as New Monastic… glad I give you a giggle, Jon! ;-)

    the term is taken from the letters of Bonhoeffer, he was thinking of a community that really set about living out the sermon on the mount.

    of course, because we’re a bunch of sillies, that remains more of an aspiration than actuality.

    Another origin of the term is the monastic sense of ‘monos’ = (approx) single minded… it links back to Jesus telling Martha that her sister was seeking the one thing necessary. So it links to the contemplative strand of Christian tradition.

    Why new?

    well, because it isn’t meant to ape the old, enclosed monasticism of the monastery. A common phrase is that we’re seeking to take the monastery into the market place, ie we aspire to take that still heart that is settled on Jesus out into our every day life…

    we fail

    of course!

    but, many of us keep trying.

    why would I call myself a new monastic?

    1) because I’m a companion of the Northumbria Community
    2) because I think that monastic organisation is more appropriate to today’s scene… rather than spreading thinly in parishes or geographic based locations, many (not all) will seek to locate in close communities, seeking to support each other. I wonder if this is a trend that is just starting with groups coming together – for me this is important, for I think that we can only show the generous love of Christ as we’re in community.
    3) because I believe that monastic spirituality centred around the spiritual formation of people (rather than a syllabus of things to believe) is important to my own spiritual growth.
    4) because I love the notion of a christian community that gathers round the dining table more than it gathers round an alter – I love the importance given to hospitality
    5) because I aspire to a quality of simple living, (it’s a journey for me)
    6) because I see in new monasticism an emergent journey (using that term in its correct sense, Becky, before you let rip at me!) and that suits me, for my spiritual journey is emergent… I’m not quite sure where it’s going, but I’ve found a community that are willing to travel with me, pick me up when I tumble and rarely tell me that I’ve committed some terrible belief-faux-pas

    sorry for long comment, hope I haven’t bored you terribly,
    Caroline TOO

  23. jonbirch says:

    wow, caroline… not boring… fascinating. can’t find myself arguing with any of that. in fact, i agree with all your points as being key things.
    i guess in a culture where so many of these basic human needs seem to have got lost in the quest for individual wealth and comfort at the expense of others, reclaiming them is actually the only valid response that makes sense to me. there are some things which human beings will always be the poorer for if they are not there… namely, community and all the things which that brings.
    yup, what you’re saying makes all the sense in the world.

  24. Tiggy says:

    Caroline Too, I’d be interested in hearing more about the Northumbrian Community. I’m friends with the people who set it up but who now live in Turkey. I’m on Facebook as ‘Tiggy Sagar’ and I live in Bath. If you’re not on FB, maybe John can forward you my email address. (Don’t like to put it on here in case of trawlers.)

  25. Joe Turner says:

    Lovely cartoon – but I’d suggest that it is possible to be (essentially) monastic and do all those things – check out Church Communities International (formerly known as the Bruderhof). I’ve visited and blogged about them a lot in the past – but they don’t look like classical monks bc they’re roots are in the Hutterites rather than the monastic tradition – so they live in family groups, work in a communal factory, cook in a communal kitchen and so on.

    Worth checking out if you want to think seriously about these things. Their sense of commitment is quite a challenge to the rest of us, too.

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