Desiring the Kingdom Book Club, week 14: Monastic Cultural Engagement

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Desiring the Kingdom Book Club

This week we’re discussing the rest of chapter 5, where, yes, Smith did say, “The minister raises her hands.” eye roll

Summary: Influential Monastic Communities

Yes, worship is meant to shape us. So why does it often seem to have so little influence? Partly because the secular liturgies exegeted in chapter 3 surround much more of our time and lives, but also because the time and space they do get is unconscious, brain-switched-off time: so their message goes straight to our gut, bypassing our conscious, rational mind.

One way to counter that is to simply be aware that even our entertainment does shape us. That awareness goes a long way to diffusing the impact. However, another way is to embrace monasticism. I really liked how Smith hedged this. This isn’t totally withdrawing from culture, but refraining from participating in the bulk of the practices that tend to unwittingly shape us. Sometimes we can only see the formative power of a practice by being outside of it, and if it is a negative shaping power, then wouldn’t that be the best strategy? I think most homeschoolers would smile and nod. I can testify that if you don’t go to movies and don’t follow sports and don’t watch tv, you soon find in small-talk situations that many people don’t have any topic of conversation beyond those three. So, the point isn’t that you then abstain from contact with people outside your clique, but you’re willing to be the sore thumb that brings some awkwardness, but then also be willing to be interested in people’s work, people’s hobbies – once the easy common topics are out, it becomes natural to instead talk about more earthy and personal topics like work, kids, people’s histories, and yes, the weather.

The other element of modern monasticism I hadn’t really thought about was making time in the day not only for personal devotions, but for communal devotions as well. Circle Time is certainly a form of communal devotion, as are family devotions and family or couple and even meal time prayers.

Do you see monastic practices in your own life and family? What are they?

Further Book Club Conversation

Visit these other participants’ posts and keep the conversation going in the comment sections! You don’t have to have a blog to participate. Please jump on in.


Next week: Chapter 6! We’ll bring this all back ’round to education at last.

2 Responses

  1. Lisa
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    Family prayers are definitely a big one here. We do morning and evening prayers as well as prayer before meals.

    For us another big thing that sets us apart from the world is fasting. It’s not easy (especially when you’re a kid) to go to school with peanut butter and jelly (AGAIN) when the person next to you has a ham and cheese sandwich!

    I was going to post about this when we were finishing up chapter 3 because I think it’s a huge deal to keep ourselves separate from the world while still living in the world.

  2. Missy
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    I dropped out of life this past week. I will be adding my post after Easter. Thanks for your faithfulness