Friday, April 02, 2010

12 marks of new monasticism, according to your dad

Somewhere along the line, you may have come into contact with the 12 Marks of New Monasticism, a branch of the Emerging Church I have had tangential connection to during my journey. These 12 Marks, compiled by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove paint a very appealing picture of Christianity to many of us (myself included). However, to many of our parents, pastors and church leaders from another generation or worldview, they may seem a bit strange.

When asked to write a piece of satire for a magazine frequented by New Monastics, I came up with an early draft of the 12 marks, which was intended to poke a little fun at the earnestness of the group, while maintaining an understanding of who they are. It was not the right piece for the publication, so I have decided to resurrect it here, primarily because I like it. I have changed it from an early draft, so as to not unintentionally insult the originator. Instead we are going with this…

When a New Monastic says this (one of the 12 Marks), his/her dad or pastor hears this (something entirely different). This could be why New Monasticism and other emerging church ideas sound freakish to some older Christians.

The 12 Marks of New Monasticism, interpreted by your Dad.

  1. You say “Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.” Your dad hears “buy cheap houses in the ghetto and gentrify, but complain when other white people move in, thereby increasing your street-cred.”
  2. You say “Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.” Your dad hears “become a hippy cult like those people in Haight-Ashbury and continue to misinterpret Acts 2:44-45 by taking it literally.”
  3. You say “Hospitality to the stranger.” Your dad hears “Hospitality to other strange white people with tattoos oh, and poor people too, just don’t feed them the organic stuff.”
  4. You say “Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.” Your black friends hear “whine and complain with other white people about the lack of black people in your church. Go to black churches and notice how much better the music is. Complain less loudly.”
  5. You say “Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.” Your dad hears “when the pastor says ‘drink the Kool-Aid,’ you ask “can I have grape?’”
  6. You say “Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.” Your dad hears “act Catholic when it suits you, Protestant at all other times.” While the priest down the street hears “act Catholic, except when it comes to all that Mary, Pope and lifelong celibacy stuff. You know the stuff that makes a Catholic, Catholic.”
  7. You say “Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.” Your dad hears “rebel against your upbringing, but with other weird people (don’t drink or smoke alone). Talk about how much more real this is than the way you grew up in Evangelicalism.”
  8. You say “Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.” Your dad or single friend hears “get to know singles that won’t let their girlfriend/ boyfriend sleep over. Ask them to babysit.”
  9. You say “Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.” Your dad hears “find roommates to share expenses so you don’t have to get a real job working for The Man."
  10. You say “Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.” Your dad hears “stay away from Starbucks, McDonalds and Wal-Mart frequented by real people and silently judge that those that shop there. Drive a Prius or a bike. I guess you could take the bus.”
  11. You say “Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.” Your dad hears “don’t pray people in the back, like they did in your parent’s church. Tell people when you got a beef against them.” For once he agrees with you, unless you are really saying “vote for Democratics, if they are sufficiently non-patriotic. Vote Green Party, if you must vote. Just don’t tell anybody.” He just can’t tell which you are saying, but he is concerned your vote will cancel his Republican vote.
  12. You say “Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.” Your dad hears “give up on everything you were taught in Sunday School.” Your older friends that listen to Toad the Wet Sprocket hear “Burn your TV in the yard. Gather round it with your friends.” They smile, unless you really mean it.

I still like it better the other way (as an early draft with what he was really saying crossed out), but decided for once to be gentle (it will not be a trend, I assure you).


Unknown said...

man ill tell you, with all the division that peaks its head up into the church these days, your blog is one of the only things that can make me laugh instead of throw stuff. God bless you man.

Jasmine said...

I really appreciate this post. It is sympathetic to new monasticism while at the same time being funny, and recognizing a lot of the miscommunication that can happen between those a part of new monasticism and those not a part of it. Thanks so much!!