My blog posts revolve around my interests and vocation as a historian: the intersection of history and contemporary church life, the intersection of history and contemporary politics, serendipitous discoveries in archives or on research trips, publications and research projects, upcoming conferences, and speaking engagements.
I sometimes blog for two other organizations, the Canadian Baptist Historical Society and the Centre for Post-Christendom Studies.
The views expressed in these blogs represent the views of the authors, and not necessarily those of any organizations with which they are associated.
What I find interesting is that for many Protestants there is an instinctive return to aspects of monastic life as a way of dealing with the shifts and setbacks of the church in western society.
That telos is often coined New Monasticism. Here are a few of the titles I am most familiar with that are in some ways related to the movement:
A book on St. Augustine that I recently stumbled across is a great aid in getting a sense of some of the earliest “rules” for monastic living. It is entitled The Monastic Rules (New City Press, 2004). The book was not written with New Monasticism in mind, but it is related nonetheless.
Its purpose was two-fold. First, it provides helpful details on St. Augustine’s writings related to the monastic life, as well as contextual information related to the lifestyle of those committed to such a way.
Second, it provides the actual texts written by St. Augustine that over generations became known as the rules of the Augustinian Order. Whether or not one is interested in New Monasticism, the instructions given are wise counsel for anyone committed to living a disciplined Christian life. And here are some choice quotes that hopefully will entice you to get the book yourself and read more:
“For every other vice prompts people to do evil deeds; but pride lies in ambush even for good deeds in order to destroy them.”
“When you pray to God in psalms and hymns, meditate in the heart on what is expressed with the voice.”
“Discipline your flesh by fasting and abstinence from food and drink as far as your health allows.”
“When you come to the table, and until you rise, you should listen without interruption or discussion to what is read to you according to custom. Not only do your throats take food but ears, too, hunger for the word of God.”
“They should esteem themselves to be the richer who are stronger in enduring privations. It is better to need less than to have more.”
“Your clothing should not be conspicuous. You should try to please not by your clothes but by your behavior.”
“You cannot claim to have pure minds if you have impure eyes, for an impure eye is the messenger of an impure heart. When impure hearts exchange messages by their glances, even though the tongue remains silent, and when through wrong desire they take pleasure in each other’s ardor, then chastity takes flight from their behavior even though there has been no despoiling of the body.”
“You should take care, then, not to use harsh words; but if they have escaped from your mouth, then do not be ashamed to let the mouth which caused the wound to provide the cure.”
“Give more effort to making peace among yourselves than to arguing. For just as vinegar spoils a metal vessel if it stands in it too long, so anger spoils the heart if it is left overnight.”
After a discussion of who gets to wear what clothing, St. Augustine wrote, “…and he considers that it is beneath his dignity to wear what another brother has worn, this shows how far you are lacking in the holy interior clothing of your heart.”
In conclusion, such wisdom was intended to be remembered by those in community, and what better way to recall than to hear something over and over again. That being the case, those today who seek to draw on such ancient wisdom would be wise to heed the closing advice of St. Augustine: “And so that you may be able to look at yourselves in this little book as in a mirror, it should be read to you once a week, lest you neglect anything through forgetfulness.”
 Praeceptum, 1.7
 Praeceptum, 2.3
 Praeceptum, 3.1
 Praeceptum, 3.2
 Praeceptum, 3.5
 Praeceptum, 4.1
 Praeceptum, 4.4
 Praeceptum, 6.2
 Letter 210, 2
 Praeceptum, 5.1
 Praeceptum, 8.2