Now that we have clarified the terminology of what is a monk or monastic, let us get back to your premise that originally had brought about this exchange. How would you envision using those monastics that have been called by their communities and hierarchs to serve the Church outside of the confines of a monastery? Would you propose a team of monks like the original Varlaam mission or would it be in another context?
In IC XC,
Dear Father Anthony,
You are probably really going to love this response . . . BUT, I was not really proposing anything in the AO II thread. I think I was offering an observation more than anything when I used that expression that will not be named (even though it is the title of this thread).
In fact, any who might have read my posts over the past 1.5 years here in the AO threads will see that if I have come close to proposing anything it has been to highlight the necessity of a naturally occurring, organic process by which an existing Orthodoxy in America emerges so to say, to a greater degree than is to be found at the present, and one based on a clear movement of the Holy Spirit via the Sovereignty of God. Possibly, some may remember my use of Tonnies "Community and Society" used to point to this.
I was brought up in the ranks of the Evangelical church growth movement whereby there were many technical methods employed by various church growth gurus, and I came to despise all of these. Much of my so called spiritual formation included training in vision casting, strategic planning, and church planting. I still have bad dreams about bell curves and other charts and graphs.
So on the one hand, what you are speaking of here is diametrically opposed to what I have been writing about in the sharing of my observations since I have become Eastern Orthodoxy. And, early on in my life as an Orthodoxy Church member I would have rejected it out of hand for the very reasons stated above.
However, that was then . . . and this is now. You are the first one I have ever heard to suggest such a thing. And, at this stage in the game, somewhat surprisingly to myself, it sounds very good to me to consider the possibility of monks serving outside the confines of the monastery!
And, I while I plan to continue with what I have been writing about in a new AO thread, I am able to change gears here with this I think--although I feel completely out of my depth even participating in this conversation. For example, I didn't even know really how one became a monk until just within the last 24 hours.
In fact, I've only ever seen one monk in my life. He was a very thin man, a short man with the longest and scraggliest grey beard I've ever seen. He was in church one Sunday, down from the Palamas monastery in the Columbus area. He was just hanging out by the end of the pews after the service, and I wanted to talk with him, but for some reason I didn't. Possibly, I didn't want to risk doing or saying something wrong, or causing him some grief. I don't know. But, I was attracted to him although I didn't speak to him.
But, possibly what I'm getting at here via the long way round is . . . the more I think about this the more perfect it sounds. I like the word transcend. And, it almost seems like the very institution of the monk (viz. the monk serving outside the monastery) transcends many long held divisions, even some that exist in the minds of some as we may consider church from above, or church from below--church for the people, or church of the people.
If I'm understanding things correctly in some ways, the monks represent and stand on a middle ground--a common ground between the hierarchy and the lay community. And, I'm having a problem now not moving back into what I've been writing about in the past as it relates to possibly what some others have called "a monasticism of the heart;" however, this sounds like wisdom from above to picture tonsured monks outside the monastery--this sounds very good the more I think about it!
From a spiritual standpoint, if the monks can keep from being corrupted and becoming political beasts or from being tempted to start to fill the role of a type of Orthodoxy Church Growth/Missions Guru, then this sounds most beautiful to me.
From a more pragmatic standpoint, I see folks all around me (especially in the Cinti. area) flocking to new age, Buddhist, and yogic holy men . . . it is not a new revelation that there is a great spiritual hunger in our age. Why not move in this direction with Orthodoxy if there are monks ready for this! In fact the more I think about this the better and more Beautiful the picture becomes in my mind.
But, again I will leave off with a call for balance here. Because, just as what is being suggested here in this thread now seems to be a very Beautiful thing, it is so easy, and I have seen it repeatedly, whereby what seemed to be a clear movement of the Holy Spirit initially, in some mission minded endeavors, ended up being nothing but a business venture run a master of ceremonies or a C.O.O. in the end. And, each time I see this happen, I think about attempting a writing project titled something like, "Before the Church Became a Business."
So now I'm starting to really ramble, so it's time to end this. But, hopefully, my enthusiasm can be seen for this suggestion even though I don't really have a strategic plan to offer or a vision to cast.
Edited by Rick H., 29 February 2008 - 11:16 PM.