How I Am A Failure (March Synchroblog)
March 14th, 2008 by Sonja

This month’s synchroblog was to have been posted on Wednesday evening for those us who live in the current iteration of the Roman empire … the U.S. I failed. We’re to write this month on neo-monasticism. I was excited about this subject; it is near and dear to my heart. But my thoughts failed. A more appropriate description is they scattered like chicken when a thunderstorm is coming. And I could not round them up (chickens do not like to be rounded). Friday morning came and technology failed. Our internet provider is fritzing AGAIN!

So here I am in a new (to me) independent coffee house. With my plain coffee. I just looked up and saw this sign on the wall: “Behind every successful woman is a substantial amount of coffee.” No. Lie. It’s inspirational. So here are my random scattered thoughts on neo-monasticism (in no particular order), followed by the links to my fellow synchro-bloggers, who wrote much more engaging articles than I did and I know this because I read theirs first.

I love the idea.

It scares me to death.

Those who embark upon it need to be very careful of not turning the idea of community into an idol. This is much, much easier than you’d think.

I have friends with whom I dream of beginning a neo-monastic community. We’ve drawn up plans and everything. The plans include a large communal kitchen, vats for brewing organic Belgian beer and textile arts, music and recording arts, a foot bath and plenty of room for just hanging around. We do some things together. We hold a common purse (sort of). We hold some things in common. We raise our children together. The children (all 7 of them from three families) call all three of the mothers, “Mom.” I am “middle Mom.” There is also “short Mom,” and “tall Mom.” There are only two dads. Both are bald. But only one wears glasses.

We eat together at least once a week. Sometimes more than that. We keep each others children in times of crisis (of course). And when things are going well. The children know the expectations at all the houses equally. So do the adults. We all clean each others kitchens and bathrooms (or at least instruct the children to do it, because they are now old enough 😀 ).

All of that sounds wonderful.

But I think I’d be a failure in a neo-monastic community. I’m too selfish. I like having my own time to myself. Even in my own family (of my, LightHusband and LightChildren) I’m too mean and grumpy for my own skin. I don’t know how I’d manage with other people around. I love the idea of a “rule of life” and the routine it implies. But I don’t know how I’d manage with it. I think I’d have to ease my way into it.


Phil Wyman at Square No More: SynchroBlog on Neo-Monasticism
Beth at Until Translucent
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill
Jonathan Brink at
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Bryan Riley at at Charis Shalom
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations
Mike Bursell at Mike’s Musings
David Fisher at Cosmic Collisions
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church
Sam Norton at Elizaphanian
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith
Sonja Andrews at Calacirian

8 Responses  
  • Steve Hayes writes:
    March 14th, 200811:08 amat

    I like it!

    I once went with some friends to a new cluister house development, and we looked at it with a view to all buying in to it and starting a community there. But we chickened out. Or should I say time passed, and we scattered.

    But keep dreaming, it may come true one day.

    Oh yes, and the way I heard it was “Behind every successful woman stands a fish with a bicycle.”

  • Patrick O writes:
    March 14th, 200811:17 amat

    “I’m too selfish. I like having my own time to myself… I’m too mean and grumpy for my own skin. I don’t know how I’d manage with other people around. I love the idea of a “rule of life” and the routine it implies. But I don’t know how I’d manage with it. I think I’d have to ease my way into it.”

    Yeah, that’s pretty much how all monks I’ve read were like. If you were already a perfect monk you wouldn’t benefit from a monastic community.

    And really, there were all kinds of formats. Though, I’ve noticed that a lot of the neo-monasticism movement seems to reflect a narrow expression of monasticism, emphasizing the very, very highly communal shared spaces in urban settings, rather than the more contemplative forms that seem to have made up the bulk of monasticism.

    But then if I wanted to make a point like that I probably should have written my own blog. 😀

  • Amanda writes:
    March 14th, 200811:17 amat

    This is a dream of mine, as well. I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now, but it’s the kind of thing you can’t do alone – and if there’s one thing I excel at it’s being a loner.

    Which really stinks when you dream about this kind of community.

  • Peggy writes:
    March 14th, 200811:59 amat

    Sounds very similar to CovenantClusters, sister! And part of the point of the whole neo-monastic deal is to help us with the whole selfish thing. 8) And a good part of this is the whole perichoretic thing, too! The tension of being unique individuals yet unified in mission, even as Elohim is 3 in 1.

    We were talking about this in our Missional Learning Community meeting this past Tuesday…and one of the things that was shared is that the vision has to drive the form, which is also tied up with the means and the ends have to be in line with each other. This is the only way to head off the whole “idolatry” thing, which the end being “community” but the means being something shy of the faithful hesed of the Jesus Creed: loving God/loving others.

    I guess I’m practicing here for the post I need to make myself. Thanks for listening! 😉

  • Bryan Riley writes:
    March 14th, 20081:17 pmat

    Great post. Calling them all mom and dad sounds kinda weird on first blush, but I love this post. I don’t mean to keep pounding the YWAM bandwagon, but a DTS is a great way to taste community (ease into it).

  • Adam G. writes:
    March 14th, 200810:45 pmat

    I couldn’t be in a commune. Just wouldn’t work.

    Nice post though. :-)

  • bryan riley writes:
    March 17th, 200812:05 pmat

    […] […]

  • bryan fisher writes:
    March 21st, 200812:03 amat

    […] […]

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