I was over at Sojo.net just now and read a short article by Tom Sine talking about Shane Claiborne. Shane is part of what is being described as The New Monasticism. It is a post-Protestant re-conceptualizing of a common religious life informed by the writings of the great Monastic leaders of the Medieval Church. Since writes:
Over the past two decades, a new Protestant movement very much like the Franciscan order has emerged. Like many in the traditional Franciscan order, they have moved into the poorest urban communities in our world, live in community as families and singles, and care for the poor, often living at the same lifestyle level of the poor around them. A number of them have even developed a rule of life.
This is a compelling way of life and one that is counter-intuitive to our prevailing notions of the good life. I have not always been as interested in this movement as I now am. Once upon a time, in 1998, Shane and I were in seminary together at Princeton. I did not know him personally, but remember him asking a question in OT (I think it was OT) and prefacing it by saying that he lived in intentional community. I had no idea what “intentional community” was and I certainly thought he was something of an odd bird (as the English say) since he wore apparently home-made clothes. Ten years later, I am a little more enlightened. The one thing that does concern me about this movement is its inability to capitalize a community. It seems to be a charity movement in the sense that it is dependent upon money from others in order to be sustaining. I am not sure that it creates wealth for a community. However, I am willing to admit that this is not the only (or perhaps not even the most) important thing for a Christian group to do. Thanks Shane, and others, for creating an interesting alternative to traditional evangelical and post-evangelical Christian living.