1) SCHOOL CHAPLAIN, STAND-UP COMEDIAN,
AUTHOR & MODERN MONK
School Chaplain/Author/Stand-up comedian, Mark Gladman
The “Modern Monk”
Mark lauched The Modern Monk project in October 2010 after an 18 month personal study into prayer led him to the Rule of St. Benedict. With a wife, two children and responsibilities, he began to wonder if the monastic lifestyle was possible for your average Protestant living in the suburbs. He writes…
“Over the past two years or so my prayer life has been an important thing for me. I have done a pile of reading about prayer. My new love of the daily offices drew me to the Rule of St Benedict. My blog traces the journey as I obey God and follow the call to a monastic lifestyle. I will be sharing with you the joys and trials of applying Benedict’s rule.”
“I am not the first person who has sought to do this, nor is my way the best or even ideal way. I am encouraged by the witness of the likes of Ash & Anj Barker – founders of Urban Neighbours of Hope, of Paul Wallis – speaker and author of the challenging book The New Monastic – and the hundreds of thousands of Oblates of St Benedict around the world who do exactly as I am going to attempt to do. But I know my journey will be different in ways to theirs, and so I share it with the world in the hope I can encourage others in the same way they have encouraged me.” Click here to follow or share Mark’s journey.
2) NATHAN HOBBY PUTS “THE NEW MONASTIC” IN GOOD COMPANY!
Nathan Hobby is an award-winning Australian novelist. His blog is about the literary life of a writer in Perth. You can expect reflections on reading and writing and feature posts on whatever has caught Nathan’s attention, from historical curiosities to autobiographical reflections. In his quest for the “Christian Novel” or “kingdom novel”, Nathan puts my book THE NEW MONASTIC in some exalted company!…
N.T.Wright writes: “It might be much more appropriate to go off and write a novel (and not a ‘Christian’ novel where half the characters are Christians and all the other half become Christians on the last page) but a novel which grips people with the structure of Christian thought, and with Christian motivation set deep into the heart and structure of the narrative, so that people would read that and resonate with it and realize that that story can be my story”
The kingdom novel is an elusive, mythical creature…One of the problems is that most evangelicals who write novels write inferior popular fiction, romance, science fiction or thriller, usually promulgating popular piety. It’s rare to find any fiction on the shelves of Koorong with profound spirituality or reflecting a thoughtful theology…
There are some good literary novelists who have Christian faith, but they are usually much better writers than Christians. We might think of Graham Greene (1904-1991), whose work often reflected Christian concerns, but who struggled to even believe in God’s existence…
Adultery was a preoccupation of the other great 20th century Christian novelist, John Updike (1932-2009)…He is one of the greatest post-war American novelists, but he never wrote the sort of novel Wright was imagining
Closer to home, we have Tim Winton (1960-), one of Australia’s most important novelists. He was brought up a fundamentalist in the Church of Christ, but as a teenager read John Yoder and Jim Wallis, who influenced him to a social justice faith…But if Yoder has shaped Winton’s writing, I struggle to find it in anything he’s published since 1992 whenCloudstreet came out.
Some theologians have used the novel form to get their message across, and we do at least get better theology from them. Brian McLaren wrote A New Kind of Christian and its two sequels; the theology is good, or at least I generally like it, but as a novel it’s appalling. It is dominated by slabs of dialogue which put ideas in characters’ mouths; the descriptive interruptions feel like filler. The plot, characterisation and prose are all uncompelling. It seems to work for a lot of people, at least for getting across some ideas in an accessible way, but it’s not the novel N.T.Wright is describing. Paul Wallis, has done a better job in his recent publication, The New Monastic, which I’m reading at the moment…
Click here for more of Nathan’s bloggings.
Paul says: “Thank you Nathan! I love that phrase from N.T.Wright – ‘a novel which grips people with the structure of Christian thought, and with Christian motivation set deep into the heart and structure of the narrative, so that people would read that and resonate with it and realize that that story can be my story’. That was certainly my hope and prayer in the writing of “The New Monastic“.
3) THE LATE DIRECTOR OF OIKOS AUSTRALIA – BESSIE PEREIRA’S REVIEW OF THE NEW MONASTIC
At the end of his new book The New Monastic Paul Wallis hopes that the story of his character Ben Anthony will “entertain and encourage you, praying especially that it will inspire fresh courage in anyone who feels they have paid a price for being as slow as Ben Anthony was in catching on to the exciting, earth-shattering, and church-changing call of today’s new monastic”. Entertaining it certainly is….
The New Monastic is written in an engaging style that pulls you into the story….the unfolding transitions through which Ben Anthony battled and triumphed. Ben Anthony’s experiences as leader of a successful independent Pentecostal work sandwiched between significant stints in the Anglican Church as priest, were the backdrop to a roller coaster ride of triumph and trauma in which God fashioned him for His future.
He was profoundly influenced by monastics like Aidan and Hilda in Britain, John of the Cross and Teresa in Spain, Sophrony in Greece, John Climacus in Syria, and Benedict and Scholastica, Francis and Clare in Italy. His search, however, didn’t only lead him back into history, but also forward into radical movements in Britain and South America where he experienced present day examples of pledged church movements either on the edge or outside hierarchical structures. His experience in the Base Ecclesial Communities in Brazil had a deep affect on him.
At the end of the book are meditations based on each chapter in turn. These could be wonderfully used in groups, but also effectively for individual reflection. I found these very enjoyable (Yes – enjoyable! They were challenging also!)
I would encourage those who are interested in the reasons why these New Monastic movements are emerging in the Western world to read this book because it strikes at the root [through] the ground level realities that one person faced and the avenues that God used to draw him towards that which he discovered was also drawing many in our day.
I would encourage those who think that these monastics are withdrawing from the world, or that they are harking back to something that is outdated and irrelevant [to read this book.] Described in this book are the counter-cultural, Kingdom focused realities that these groups are living out as singles, marrieds, families and across age differences regardless of church background.
I would encourage home churches to read this book. Not only will it broaden one’s understanding of the wide scope of the ways of God in forming His church in our day, an appreciation of the ‘cloud of witnesses down through the ages, but also this book deals in an engaging way, the nitty-gritties of ways of church that will encourage many to move on from traditional ways of church towards a fresh approach.
This book comes with endorsements from Phyllis Tickle, well-known amongst New Monastics, and also Tony and Felicity Dale of House2House, well known to our OIKOS readers. Good work Paul. Congratulations from OIKOS.
4) PAUL BAGGALEY’S BLOG ON “THE NEW MONASTIC”
Medic and Blogger, Paul Baggaley
Paul Baggaley blogs on life, medicine, faith, family, technology and much more…Reviewing Brian McLaren’s recent writing, Bagga has some words of praise for the spirit of my book THE NEW MONASTIC. Take a look…
Paul Baggaley writes: “Brian McLaren has been somewhat of a hero of mine. Reading his books earlier this decade was very illuminating and inspiring…This was a guy who was generous in his orthodoxy- he was willing to embrace the good in all the varied versions of Christianity out there whilst still retaining solid orthodox beliefs at the core of his faith…from Cedar Ridge Church a few years back. But since the early 2000′s, especially since he left Pastoral ministry, Brian seems to be getting less “generous” and more and more condescending towards the majority of Christians…and while I generally don’t disagree with him on many…issues, I have found myself more and more irritated with his negative tone towards Christians and his excessive fawning towards other faiths.” “The Spirit is moving in the world today and there is plenty of the “vibrant life and way of Jesus” to be found.
I found the recent book I read by Paul Wallis – The New Monastic – to be much more generous on this point. While he was promoting a quite specific and unusual (to our modern mind) way of doing church (‘New Monasticism’) he was also able to see the positives in the other styles of church he had been involved in, reserving criticism primarily for corrupt institutional structures.”
“So now…I’ve started reading McLaren’s latest book “A New Kind of Christianity.” – a book that has attracted quite a lot of criticism…even from some who have previously been in Brian’s camp. Reading this book will tell me if McLaren has finally jumped the shark or not…”
To find all sorts of other exciting stuff at Paul Baggaley’s blog, click here.
The New Monastic
“Seductive…draws us gently into some of time’s deepest currents.”
Phyllis Tickle – Publishers Weekly (USA)
A gripping and fascinating book. A Great read. We love it!
Tony & Felicity Dale – Senior Editors – House2House Magazine
“…An important piece of work.”
“Parker J Palmer – Educator and Author of Let Your Life Speak
“A wonderful story.”
Randall Neighbour – Director Touch Ministries
This is so fresh – unlike anything currently being published
[in] the evangelical-charismatic world.
Richard Herkes CEO Kingsway Publications (UK partner to David C Cook)
BRILLIANT! Very well written. Very inspirational. I just loved the wide range of sources and inspirations…from all traditions and periods of history. Testimony to the quality of this ms: I knew from the first page that we were not the right publisher, yet I still read every page of it. I have NEVER done that before. INSPIRATIONAL!
Robin Parry – Academic Editor – Paternoster UK
Written in an engaging style that pulls you into the story…The New Monastic will broaden [your] understanding of the wide scope of the ways of God…
[and] will encourage many to move on from traditional ways of doing church towards a fresh approach.
Bessie Pereira – as National Director OIKOS Australia
This guy can write! It is honest, funny, well-written…and interesting.
Immensely readable and quite gripping.
Ali Hull – Authentic Media UK
Paul’s honest journey of faith even in the most challenging and confronting circumstances is a true inspiration. The New Monastic will both challenge and inspire. Paul’s ability to weave the stories and teachings of people from every era (including our own) to instruct and learn from is an exceptional. He draws you in as a friend and introduces you to the people who have instructed him and then he quietly invites you to learn from them too.
Stirred me so deeply…
Cpt John Pilcher – Jetstar