Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"New Monasticism" = Old Pacifism + Old Socialism?

Paul Beston, a writer of whom SWNID knows nothing, posts a potent review of The Irresistible Revolution, a memoir by Shane Claiborne, whom we know from a recent Christianity Today article as a leader of the so-called "new monasticism."

What is the new monasticism? In sum, it is a "radical" movement among young Christians to serve with sacrifice and abandon among the poor and dispossessed. Claiborne (not surprisingly an Eastern University alum, doubtless under the spell of Tony Campolo) has, among other things, lived with the homeless in Philadelphia, worked with Mother Theresa in Calcutta, and comforted civilians in Iraq during the American invasion.

Beston assesses the New Monasticism as SWNID does; therefore, Beston is right. To wit: there is much to admire in the movement's sacrificial love and much of which to be skeptical in its political and social analysis. Beston notes that Claiborne's assertion of pacifism and socialism are less than thorough or convincing. But we'll go one better, or maybe two:

1. Pacifism actually kills more innocent people than just war theory.
2. Socialism actually impoverishes more people than free markets.

Is there a place for the "new monasticism" that isn't pacifistic and socialist? SWNID says yes, and points to Josh and Chloe Glenn and Jade and Kim Kendall, recent CCU grads living and serving just down the hill in Cincinnati's notorious Lower Price Hill. No pacifism, no socialism, just simple living among the poor with lots of communication, encouragement, outreach, and meaningful assistance. These folks know what it's all about, minus grandstanding, bad politics and bad economics.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

After reading your comments on "new monasticism" I would like to humbly offer up myself as an example of what new monasticism looks like. In my town, most people have three car garages, but my wife and I have chosen to make do with a two car garage. Oh, I just remember, I made eye contact with a homeless person the other day. I think that made him feel good. Do you have any idea where can I order my "I'm a new monasticist" coffee mug?

Dustin said...

I would be interested to read a post about your reasoning behind believing pacifism leads to more innocent dead than just war theory. I believe it would be a good read.

Bryan said...

Well Dustin, a good start might be with a case study in the second world war. Whereas brutal tyrant #1 Adolf Hitler was beant on destroying as many brown haired or otherwise defective humans on the road to world domination, two options for oposition were present, the much heralded choice between pacifism and just war. The first of the method was practiced the great Mr. Bonhoeffer who, being himself a pacifist, strongly opposed armed opposition to said tyrant. Hitler's answer to Mr. Bonhoeffer's opposition was simple, he killed him. And it could probably be responsibly stated that he didn't even feel bad about it. Bonhoeffer's pacifism saved a remarkable 0 people where saved. On the other hand Allied armies, while killing a good many Nazis in the process, saved many "undesirables" already on the chopping block and nearly saved Bonhoeffer himself and countless who would have been killed if Hitler had not been stopped. Now this response is hardly a principled one, but it might provide just the sort of anecdote you require to fulfill your "good read" needs.

Tim said...

Anyone find it ironic tht a guy with the movie Boondock Saints listed in his blogger profile needs explained to him why pacifism results in the amplification of evil?

Dustin said...

Well, Tim, I did not need it explained to me, but rather wanted to here SWNID's take on the issue (being uniquely poised in the evangelical academic world). Maybe rather than speaking in ignorance, you should ask for clarification.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Settle down, guys. But don't wait for me to weigh in. Bryan nailed the issue nicely. Sometimes to protect the innocent, bad guys have to be killed.

Actually, I will weigh in. Last night WCET (PBS in Cincinnati) aired an Independent Lens program, "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power." It was an impressive tale of how the Klan had to stand down when African Americans in Monore, Louisiana stood up to defend themselves. In some cases, just the threat of self-defense is enough to deter evil.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Correct that: it was Monroe, NC.