Article on folks from "The New Monasticism" in the L.A. Times.
What's fascinating --and frustrating-- about this new movement is its a) reinventing the wheel and b) lack of ecumenical and historical grounding. If they just connected with other similar communities past and present -- Catholic Worker houses, various communes and religious houses, Amish, more mainstream Mennonites and Brethren, Quaker communities (Quaker testimonies include "simplicity") and retreat/resource centers, Jesuit Volunteer Corps communities and Mercy Volunteer Corps (not to be confused with the Mercy Corps) and their Presbyterian counterparts (yes, the Presbys have a volunteer corps, doing border work in and around Tucson), the Sojourners folks (the original ones, anyway) and any number of others -- they could get some practical tips and talk to people who've been at it for a while, in the case of the present-day communities in the U.S. The Rule of Benedict isn't made for married people, but checking in with Catholic and Anglican communities who have associates or oblates might also be helpful. Community and simplicity aren't new impulses in Christianity, though in any era they are tremendously challenging.
I'm feeling old.
There are also other "New Monasticism" communities around the country, so you'd think they'd form a loose federation or at least check in with each other.
Note: there is a New Monasticism organization and website, so it's not like there isn't some of what I am talking about going on -- but the very practical side of things needs some assistance so people can communicate and support each other. And share struggles and ideas. It's not rocket science.
This is where American individualism and also Protestant fear of and ignorance of Catholics (and other Protestants, and Anglicans) impair well-meaning efforts like these.
We also can't underestimate the grip that consumerism has on all of us.
End of rant.
I need to go and get some protein in me.
The article has some very moving aspects and is worth a read but I am just struck by the lack of "vertical" and "horizontal" (historical and geographical/present/communication) connections. We have a local group here that is an "emergent" community, lovely people --not a live-in community though, but the problem is similar-- and they are reinventing wheels all over the place.
Of course the fault may be partly ours in the institutional churches that have wonderful and rich resources. We've hidden them or not made them attractive or failed to help people outside our immediate communities see how they could renew their lives and nourish them. And folk are suspicious of established churches for all kinds of very good reasons. So, there's work for us to do too.