neo-monasticism – my thoughts

February 29, 2008

I joined the TGIF crowd again this morning at Brooklyn mall. Cori invited me last week, I wasn’t aware of this group until then. Roger Saner was speaking on neo-Monasticism, a topic I know absolutely nothing about, but have a lot of thoughts on lately, so I was eager so listen. Steve Hays was there as well, and left some thoughts on what Roger said, which I’m not going to repeat, it was a little early for me, so I’m not sure whether I listened so good. Roger will post some thoughts on his blog somewhere, and said he’ll try and upload the podcast as well onto ons of his blogs.

I had one question though. I struggled to see the line between neo-monasticism and the emerging conversation in Roger’s speech. Still wondering on the relation between the two…

But OK. This is my thoughts, thoughts which I’ve been pondering for a while now, and which was again triggered in the last few months when I read Blue Like Jazz. I’m not sure yet was the relationship between intentional communal living and new-monasticism might be, but I think I might be more onto the former than the latter, not sure yet.

I’ve been living in a communal setting for 5 years now, moved out end of last year. It might be communal settings we seldom recognize when talking these things in theological conversations, but this really is what it is. It was called Taaibos, and is a University residence at Tukkies. 240 guys, 7 corridors, some intentionality (making first year students part of the community – with a very positive orientation program, winning res of the year, having fun, that kind of thing) but usually a few people managing the system, and a lot sitting on the fringe, a lot like a congregation actually. But I really learned a lot form this communal experience, a lot about people, about living together, being together when things aint good, that kind of stuff.

So, why think about communal living again after 5 years? I think the general communal living system which students follow can be a great experience, and really teach you a lot, however, after 5 years I’m thinking that their might be something more. Something which won’t give you what this open communal systems gave, but maybe give something else later on in life. A more intentional group. Maybe this is similar to what the guys at, for example, nieucommunties are doing, but some things will have to differ.

  • When thinking communal living/neo monasticism/call it what you want, the sustainable idea is to have communities of people working or studying, with normal lives. Not devoted only to the community.
  • I think we need more than a religious community, it should also be a community where we develop rythms of life which will cause a sustainable lifestyle (in the psycological, physical, but also the ecological sense of the word)
  • It should be a place where spirituality is developed, but with a strong theological base, and a close link with tradition, or else I feel a sect or a cult coming
  • It should be a commited group, but a free group, since we are not working with monks who vowed their way into this community. So something like a minimal commitment, but which is kept
  • Yes, it should also be a missional community, but the form of mission might differ, because we have a lesser commitment, and people working and living a life that is bigger than the community

Sometimes I think I’d like to experiment with something like this, taking what we’ve learned about communal living at university, joining it with monastic, neo-monastic, intentional communal living, emerging, or whatever ideas, and seeing what developes out of this.

10 Responses to “neo-monasticism – my thoughts”


  1. […] Some good thoughts on new monasticism. […]

  2. Whitney Says:

    I’m interested in neo-monasticism/communal living and am doing a research paper for my english class. (I’m a student at Mount Vernon Nazarene University majoring in Urban Ministry.) I need to have one interview. Would you be willing to answer a few questions via email? Feel free to contact me at wmentzer@Mvnu.edu . By the way, very interesting blog!

  3. Cobus Says:

    I’ve sent you a mail. You might also wanna look out for the coming synchroblog which might also be on this topic (still has to be finalized). So, for anyone interested in neo-monasticism and communal living, check back here in the days to come, we provide links to all other posts when doing a synchroblog.

    Thanx for making contact, and for the compliment on the blog.

  4. Roger Saner Says:

    A rhythm of life – nice. Other communities are starting to experiment with this, like Moot in the UK.

    Oh ja, I have the audio from my talk (not great, but workable) which I’ll upload to the FutureChurch Podcast when I get some time…

    Hey, are you going to pop around any time this weekend to join us in some Easter festivities?🙂 We’re probably having a braai for Sunday lunch…

  5. Roger Saner Says:

    Oh, in regard to your question about the line between emerging church and new monasticism…

    I see the heart of the emerging church as missional ecclesiology, and new monasticism as one expression of missional ecclesiology. Others may disagree, but I see new monasticism as an expression of emerging church…
    🙂

  6. Cobus Says:

    you know my heart, and I think I know yours:-) I also see neo-monasticism as an expression of the emerging church.

    However, I sometimes wonder whether the monastic connection is really the primary one in intentional communities when forming from the emerging conversation… I’m just wondering at the moment.

  7. everydaymiracles Says:

    thanks for your thoughts…i’m still researching and trying to find more about both emerging and monastisicm theology, but i feel i struggle to find viewpoints and solid basis for what the belief system is. (although i admit i haven’t looked into it as deeply as i’d like to yet)

    i do agree that many of what each of them seem to be saying seems very similar, and my concern at times is that the youth and young people of this generation like to jump onto what’s hip and happening, rather than what may be more solid and biblical. even so, i definitely do think that social justice does get looked over too often in the church today, which i know that NM focuses on a lot… 🙂

  8. cobus Says:

    I do not doubt that much of the popularity of the emerging conversation is due to the fact that young people like to jump onto that which is hip. But there is a number of voices in the emerging conversation, and for some, those I myself, and the emerging writers I link to (which is only a few of the people on the blogroll) am interested in is not always that hip, because it actually ask a highly committed lifestyle.

    Having “older” people become part of the conversation, and those from different theological traditiona, I believe will help to sift through all the not-so-well-thought-out things we are saying.


  9. […]   The relationship church/world has aways been at the heart of the Judeo-Christian tradition but has become of particular concern in the past decades, and it would seem like a our understanding of this is being transformed in this time. As the realization grows that the the church, Christian theology and the Christian faith should be active in the world, the question of how this should happen is also growing. Drawing from the recently emerging field of Public Theology and the work of eminent South African theologian David Bosch, Cobus van Wyngaard will attempt to point to some of the changes that is happening concerning the above, some of the challenges that need to be faced, and some thoughts on how this might look today and in the future. Ek het al voorheen oor TGIF geblog in by hierdie posts: Christian-Atheist conversation at TGIF a narrative to bridge the theological canyon neo-monasticism – my thoughts […]


  10. […] posts: Christian-Atheist conversation at TGIF a narrative to bridge the theological canyon neo-monasticism – my thoughts Posted by cobus Filed in David Bosch, Public Theology, […]


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