Archives For New Monasticism


COMMON PRAYER - Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson HartgroveCome celebrate the release of Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s new book of liturgy COMMON PRAYER…

Friday December 3rd
Englewood Christian Church
57 N. Rural St  / Indianapolis, IN    46201

Light Dinner: 6PM
Prayer and overview of the book: 7PM
Event is FREE, but you must RSVP here:

Free copies of the book will be given away to several of those who RSVP!!!

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Read our review of this book (from our brand new print edition!):


“A Vibrant Contrast to
the Madness of our Hypermobile Culture

A Review of
The Wisdom of Stability:
Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture

by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

The Wisdom of Stability:
Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2010.
Buy Now: [ ]

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove THE WISDOM OF STABILITYTransience is a major curse of our age.  From those who are always on the move to avoid their creditors to the upwardly mobile who are always seeking greener pastures, it seems that everyone is on the move.  In our urban neighborhood, it is a fairly common practice for renters to move into a new place, paying the first month’s rent, and then forego paying the second month’s rent, and then at the end of the second month when their account is 30 days past due, the eviction process is started and the renter then has 30 days until they are evicted.  Thus, crafty renters can get three months worth of housing for the price of one month, and force themselves into a cycle of moving every three months (or more if they are able to scrape together more than a single month’s rent).  These habits have larger cultural implications; I have heard of a public school in our neighborhood that has turnover rates as high as 95% from one year to the next (i.e., only 5 % of the students who started in a grade one year were still at the school a year later).  Lest I get too critical, it occurred to me recently that I myself have, in the last 15 years (since the summer before my senior year of college), lived at a staggering twelve  addresses in four different states!  Thankfully, I have been fortunate to live in the same house for the last six years, and have no intention of moving any time soon, and am slowly learning here about the historic Christian practice of stability.

Given the great mobility of American culture, it is not surprising that stability is virtually unknown in our churches today.  In the historically Black Walltown neighborhood of Durham, North Carolina, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and the Rutba House community have been growing roots over the last decade in that place and re-learning the practice of stability.  Hartgrove has reflected on these experiences and on the Christian tradition of stability in his excellent new book, The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture.  This new volume features a foreword by Kathleen Norris, who herself has reflected eloquently on stability in her most recent book Acedia and Me (which was our 2008 Book of the Year).  The book also features narrative “Front Porch” reflections interspersed between the chapters, in which Wilson-Hartgrove captures vignettes from his own life that cut to the heart of the “craft” of stability.

Continue Reading…


“The Abundant Goodness
of God’s Provision”

A Review of
God’s Economy:
Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel

by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

God’s Economy:
Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel

by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Paperback: Zondervan, 2009.
Buy now: [ ]

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove / Gods Economy

The biblical writer of Ecclesiastes wrote: “Of the making of books there is no end,” and if that is true, it is even truer that there is no end of the making of many books about money: books on how to get it, books on how to keep once you’ve got it, etc.  But, in all my years of reading, selling and reviewing books, I’ve never encountered a book about money that is anything like Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s new book God’s Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel. Ultimately, God’s Economy is about the good news of the kingdom of God; indeed that is the “health and wealth gospel” of the book’s sub-title.  But before your mind turns from the words “health and wealth” to images of the myriad of televangelists who have made plush lives for themselves – e.g. Benny Hinn or Creflo Dollar – by preaching such a gospel to the masses, allow me to reassure that Jonathan’s message bears little in common with these slick television preachers. God’s Economy is about “abundant life” – which although Jonathan doesn’t specifically mention it – is perhaps a better translation of the familiar New Testament Greek phrase that is usually rendered “eternal life.”  He describes this abundant life:  “It’s a celebration of God’s economy, where the poor find bread and the rich find healing because we rediscover one another as friends … and we are not alone anymore.”  As he demonstrated in his previous books (including two superb ones that were reviewed in the ERB last year:  New Monasticism and Free to Be Bound), Jonathan is a masterful storyteller weaving together stories from Scripture, from church history and from his own experience. God’s Economy is a delight to read, humorous at times, but ultimately these stories – like those Jesus told – are disarming, shining the light into those dark places of our souls in which lie our assumptions about how the world works and our deeply rooted plans for preserving ourselves (and those closest to us) in a hostile world.

Continue Reading…


At the Ekklesia Project Gathering in July, I had a chance to sit down with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and talk a little bit about his upcoming book, God’s Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel, due out October 1 ( pre-order here).

ERB:  I’d like to get you to talk a little bit about your upcoming book, God’s Economy.  To start, tell us a little about some of the major themes in it.
JWH:  I decided to write this book because of Sister Barbara Parker who does all the Christian Education at our church; when she has to go to the Christian bookstore to pick a book on money, she has to choose between Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes.  Our church at one point was actually doing a study of one of T.D. Jakes’ books, and I just kept shaking my head and thinking that there is such a hunger for this [sort of book] because these guys are partly right.  They’re offering something very concrete and present and real to folks who’ve been sold a over-spiritualized gospel.  I wanted to say that the abundance of God’s economy just doesn’t look like the abundance of this world and that if we offer people that, we offer them less than the Gospel.  So, the book is called:  God’s Economy: Redefining the Health and Wealth Gospel.  The audience is very much people who want to know what Jesus has to offer in the here and now, and I think that is a perfectly legitimate thing to want to know.
In the book, the first thing we’ve got to do is to consider what in the world has gotten us so captivated by this world’s economy that we choose to live in it.  Jacques Ellul’s notion of money as a power really made a lot of sense to me.  So that is what the early part of the book is – considering how money is a power and how it holds us captive.  Then, that sets us up really well to see how Jesus engages the powers with tactics.  So the structure of the book is to explore five tactics that come right out of Jesus teaching:

1) Subversive Service – “Whoever wants to be first should be last and servant of all”
2) Economic Friendship – “Use money to make friends”
3) Relational Generosity – “Give to whoever asks of you”
4) Generous Politics – “Render unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God what is God’s”
5) Eternal Investments – “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Continue Reading…


The 911 Campaign for the Christian Peacemaker Teams.

By Shane Claiborne / Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
26 August 2009

As we remember the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, we join our voices with the psalmist in a cry of lament: “How long, O Lord, until Abel’s blood stops crying, until justice rolls down like waters, until the lion can lay down with the lamb in a restored creation?” We lament the violence suffered by 9/11 victims and their families. And we lament the violence that people in Afghanistan and Iraq have suffered these past eight years. We cry out against the violence, and we want to act now for peace.

A couple of decades ago our brother Ron Sider made the following statement: “Making peace is as costly as waging war. Unless we are prepared to pay the cost of peacemaking, we have no right to claim the label or preach the message.” Before long the Christian Peacemaker Teams was born. CPT has been interrupting injustice and respectfully partnering with local nonviolent movements in some of the toughest corners on the planet for years. CPTers radiate the sort of courage and imagination we need if we are to expect folks to take our cross seriously in a world riddled with terror and smart bombs. For this reason, many of us have joined delegations like the one we went to Iraq with in March of 2003.

This sort of Christian “witness” is marked by the truth at the center of the Christian message – greater love has no one than those who are willing to lay down their lives for others. There is something worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for. No doubt, CPT is a new face of global missions in a world of omnipresent war—a witness to the God that loves evildoers so much he died for them, for us. These days, the cross presents a beautiful alternative to the sword. Continue Reading…


Doulos Christou Press has recently released a new volume in its “Resources for a New Monasticism” series: On Prayer and the Contemplative Life By St. Thomas Aquinas.

You can order this new book through Amazon.

Here is an excerpt:

Is the Active Life a Hindrance to the Contemplative Life?

St. Gregory says: “They who would hold the citadel of contemplation must first exercise themselves on the battle-field of toil.”

We may consider the active life from two points of view. For we may first of all consider the actual occupation with, and practice of, external works; and from this point of view it is clear that the active life is a hindrance to the contemplative, for it is impossible for a man to be simultaneously occupied with external works, and yet at leisure for divine contemplation.

But we may also consider the active life from the standpoint of the harmony and order which it introduces into the interior passions of the soul; and from this point of view the active life is an assistance to contemplation since this latter is hindered by the disturbance arising from the passions. Thus St. Gregory says: “They who would hold the citadel of contemplation must first needs exercise themselves on the battle-field of toil; they must learn, forsooth, whether they still do harm to their neighbors, whether they bear with equanimity the harm their neighbors may do them; whether, when temporal good things are set before them, their minds are overwhelmed with joy; whether when such things are withdrawn they are over much grieved. And lastly, they must ask themselves whether, when they withdraw within upon themselves and search into the things of the spirit, they do not carry with them the shadows of things corporeal, or whether, if perchance they have touched upon them, they discreetly repel them.”

Thus, then, the exercises of the active life are conducive to contemplation, for they still those interior passions whence arise those imaginations which serve as a hindrance to contemplation. Continue Reading…


Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was here at Englewood Christian Church last Wednesday evening, speaking about his recent book New Monasticism: What it has to say to Today’s Church.

Here is the recording of the talk (in two parts):



“The Ethics
of Eating Together”


A Review of
Around the Monastic Table:
Growing in Mutual Service and Love.

by Aquinata Böckmann.

 Reviewed by Chris Smith


Around the Monastic Table: Growing in Mutual Service and Love.
Aquinata Böckmann.
Paperback: Liturgical Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $25 ]  [ Amazon ]

 “To do rightly the practice of breaking bread together is a matter of economic ethics”

— John Howard Yoder, from Body Politics.


At one level, Aquinata Böckmann’s new book, Around the Monastic Table: Growing in Mutual Service and Love, is a fairly technical monastic commentary on twelve brief chapters of The Rule of St. Benedict.  And yet, this volume is one of the most significant and engaging works in recent memory on the ethics of food and eating within the life of the Church community.  Around the Monastic Table is not just about food, but rather the economy and form of a life that is centered around a community of God’s people who break bread together.  Thus, even Benedict’s broader economic reflections on questions like how the tools and resources of the monastery should be shared or whether a monk should have any possessions of his own, in Böckmann’s words, reflect “the image of the common meal” (3).  Each chapter of Around the Monastic Table (with one key exception that we will address later) exposits a single chapter from the passage of Benedict’s Rule on which Böckmann has chosen to focus. In these chapters, she examines our contemporary context into which the specific passage is read, the sixth-century context in which it was written, and the textual context within the Rule where the passage occurs.  She them overviews the passage as a whole and finally spends the bulk of the chapter in a phrase-by-phrase exegesis of the passage’s meaning.  Although this rigid approach is typical of academic textual commentaries, Böckmann seems never to get bogged down in the minutia of the text, but – perhaps driven by the monastic practice of lectio divina – she ultimately focuses on the ethical significance of each phrase.

  Continue Reading…


From the audio archives of Doulos Christou Books, here is Part 2 of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s talk “The Monastic Impulse and the God Movement in America” from the 2007 conference “Inhabiting the Church.”


Book Featured:


Sara Weinraub introduces us to the lovely book

I’m charmed by many of the books Princeton Architectural Press publishes. A recent PAP favorite is The Day-to-Day Life of Albert Hastings.

Photographer Kaylynn Deveney struck up a friendship with the then 85-year-old Albert Hastings after becoming his neighbor in Wales. She began to photograph his simple daily acts, asking Hastings to write captions under each of her pictures.

With so much bad news these days, there’s something surprisingly heartening about the pictures that fill this book.

Read the full review:

Kaylynn Deveney.

Hardcover: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Brandon Rhodes examines the tensions
of privilege and creation care in the New Monasticism

Living in an intentional Christian community of university students in college, I was the fella who persistently insisted that faithfulness to Jesus meant buying more organic food, driving less, avoiding Wal-Mart, and gardening year-round.  Never was a sincere argument given for why I was wrong in pleading these things, yet the community struggled to seriously pursue them.  I had a point, but nobody could muster the time, zeal, or money to live much of it.

Since then I have realized a key ingredient for why I was able to do these things, but others struggled so much to.  I am a child of privilege; my parents graciously paid for my college tuition.  This freed me from working over 12 hours a week, and so gave time for garden maintenance.  And I was financially in a position to buy more organic foods, where my friends in the community were working their way through college.  How silly was I to name as sin their inability to afford organic bell peppers!  How shallow was my contempt at their inability to devote a couple hours a week to the garden!  My convictions about creation-care were spot on, even as I ignored the privilege which let me embody those ideals.

I did not offer to share my money to help them buy healthier food.  I did not share my money to free them up from work.  I just clanged my idealism without perceiving the structures of privilege and class which allowed me to behave that way.  May God help me to learn the lessons of this…

Read the full review:


Edited by Rutba House.

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2005.
Buy now:  [ Doulos Christou Books $18 ] [ Amazon ]


Renard understands, as the literary theorist Paul Ricoeur has argued, that we are “entangled in stories” and that every thread is worthy of our best effort. He sustains an incredible concentration on the particulars, as though he believes the very force, momentum, and meaning of life to be stowed in the branches of a tree, the depth of a well, the silence of a cemetery, and even the incongruities of one’s laziness, moods, and aspirations, even going so far as to say that a dream “is only life madly dilated.”

All the while, he wins us over by never slackening his precise hold on language, and never glossing the grim realities of finitude and sorrow. Death, God, memory, beauty, and truth are featured in each month of each year, casting Renard as a kind of precursor to French existentialism, though without the clove cigarettes, pomp, embittered atheism, and amphetamines, “I am in no great hurry to see the society of the future [. . . .] What most surprises me is this heart which keeps on beating.” He even plants his own play of surprise when he admits, “Yes, God exists, but He knows no more about it than we do.” He doesn’t overstate the tragic side of familial angst (even if he had his reasons), but still says of his mother with a shudder, “How will I manage to pass from her life to her death while being aware of it?” And he does not overlook the loving miracle that is his wife, Marinette, bestowing on her the highest compliment a writer can muster: “You have prevented me from becoming a satiric poet.”

The manifold ability to close the distance between literary skill and lived reality, without boasting about it, is perhaps the reason why the name Renard has been a shibboleth of sorts among writer’s writers who, with Nietzsche, would confess, “We want to be the poets of our life—first of all in the smallest, most everyday matters.” Previous incarnations of The Journal have passed through the hands of Donald Barthelme, Susan Sontag, Somerset Maugham, and others. Michael Silverblatt calls it “a secret book.” And as Cheston Knapp of Tin House remarks, “After I read The Journal, the stakes of making art became higher for me, the borders expanded, the depths deepened.” Indeed, what contemporary art needs is a recovery of the tempered romanticism that seems to exude from the pen of Jules Renard, despite his best efforts to contain it. Art is not a matter of self-expression or capitalist venture; rather, it is alive. It is the point at which the divisions between subject and object are removed, where art and artist become one, not in the sense that art is a an expression of the individual artist, but as the active participation in what is at once within and beyond the artist’s grasp. It is this fresh encounter with reality, a reality that is not self-contained, that Renard offers the modern artist—indeed, offers us all.

Read the full review:

Paperback: Tin House Books, 2008.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $16 ]  [ Amazon ]