A 17th-c. Saint Nicolas icon, Historic Museum in Sanok, Poland
I could apparently spend my entire day just posting on interesting articles around the web about St. Nicholas, whose feast day is today. But this will be the last one. It’s a brief piece in the Huffington Post by new monastics Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, giving their own particular take on the jolly old guy . . . well, at least on his prototype, St. Nicholas of Myra:
Even though we don’t expect Santa for another few weeks, December 6th is the day when we remember the original “Old St. Nick.” Nicholas was bishop of Myra in fourth-century Turkey. Little is known about his life except that he entrusted himself to Jesus at an early age and, when his parents died, gave all of their possessions to the poor. Continue reading
Though the following is a critical review, I want to be clear: I am deeply sympathetic with the aims and perspectives of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I just think we need to be historically responsible when we compare new and old movements.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, “A Vision So Old It Looks New” in Monasticism Old and New (Christian Reflection, Baylor University, 2010 issue)
This article was adapted from Wilson-Hartgrove’s book New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2008).
In his introduction to this issue of Christian Reflection, Robert Kruschwitz summarizes this article : “In A Vision So Old It Looks New (p. 11), Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove explores how monasticism over the centuries has offered a powerful critique of mainstream culture. Tracing its origins from Antony and the fourth-century desert Christians, through the medieval monasteries inspired by Benedict of Nursia, to the intentional communities of radical Protestant Reformers, he shows, ‘In every era God has raised up new monastics to pledge their allegiance to God alone and remind the church of its true vocation’” (8).
Wilson-Hartgrove opens the article: “It is hard to be a Christian in America today. . . . The church in America is not living up to what it claims to be. Somehow we have lost our way.” (11) Especially he gives examples of behavior: spousal abuse, racism, hypocrisy in areas of sexuality. We ain’t that different from secular society, or sometimes worse, in many of those areas. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants, Resources for Radical Living
Tagged African-American Christianity, Antony of Egypt, Benedict of Nursia, Benedictinism, church and state, communal life, Constantine, Constantinianization, Council of Nicea, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Martin Luther, Medieval, medievalism, Middle Ages, monasticism, new monasticism, prophetic life, radical Christianity, slavery
In his co-written book Inhabiting the Church, New Monastic pioneer Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove began to reflect on what Benedictine monasticism can teach us today. Now he has dedicated an entire book to the Benedictine virtue of stability. Pennsylvania bookstore Hearts & Minds has posted an intriguing review of the book. A brief excerpt follows (click the link above for the whole review):
Lauren Winner writes on the back cover “Stability may be the virtue of the 21-st century Christians most ignore—and the virtue we are most called to embrace. This fine book will inspire you to look at your own life, asking ‘Where am I restless? Where might God be calling me to be rooted, to stay put?'”
Indeed, most of us have failed in this virtue; we have not cared for our neighbors (or our own neighborhoods) as we ought. We have not been rooted in place, or really engaged with the people and plot of creation in which we are placed. We have been too busy to participate in the simpler rhythms of life.
This chapter will begin by opening up Lewis’s use of medieval understandings of natural law over against modern utilitarianism and relativism (referencing his Abolition of Man, his Cambridge inaugural address “De Descriptione Temporum,” and Mere Christianity). Segueing to Aquinas’s Aristotelian virtue ethics, the chapter will then peer into the development of the famous medieval lists of seven cardinal virtues and seven deadly sins. It will then focus on the moral seriousness and concern for personal holiness reflected in the development of the sacrament of penance and the doctrine of purgatory. Finally, it will exegete “seven corporal acts of mercy” and “seven spiritual works of comfort,” and look at medieval attitudes and actions related to the poor. Continue reading
Posted in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Protestants
Tagged Abolition of Man, Alisdair McIntyre, Aristotle, C S Lewis, doctrine of purgatory, holiness, Jonathan Wilson, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Mere Christianity, new monasticism, relativism, sacrament of penance, seven cardinal virtues, seven deadly sins, Stanley Hauerwas, the poor, Thomas Aquinas, utilitarianism, virtue ethics