Thursday, July 29, 2010

Living simply? Monastically? Oh, whatever.

This past year has been about us.  Me, me, me, you, you, you, and me some more.  S transitioned from seminary to working full-time and was kind of on "putting others first and trying to be good" overload.  For the first time we had a little extra pocket money so we've been taking care of our needs and, more accurately, our wants.  I wanted two pairs of shoes at DSW, and now I own them.  S wanted a Super Nintendo controller so he can play old games on the computer, and it is on its way to our house.  So, that's been nice.

But now we are slowly but surely rethinking things.  Maybe it's because we are getting ready for my second round of grad school in a year.  Maybe it's because we are starting to think about the babies and how we want to live when we have them.  Maybe it's because we've been taking a church hiatus and we are missing the emphasis on giving and sharing that tends to be a part of a church community.

On my long training walks, I listen to podcasts and try to vary the tone and topics (a 10-mile walk takes about 3 hours so I need some variety!).  I recently listened a Speaking of Faith in which Krista Tippett interviewed Shane Claiborne.  You can read more about him if you don't know much already.  He's kind of a new generation of Christians rock star so you've probably heard of him before.

This got me thinking about one of my favorite professors at Perkins, Dr. Clark-Soles.  I love her.  Anyway, she would talk about their "tribe": the people in their community and their church with whom they share resources and life.  Instead of everyone having their own lawn mower, the tribe has a lawn mower.  Instead of everyone having an SVU, the tribe has an SVU.  I like this idea.  We have a small tribe here, I guess.  We share wireless internet with our neighbor.  Instead of buying an electric saw for our table project we borrowed one from our friend.

Here's the thing about "living simply" and "new monasticism" -- the Shane Claiborne folks didn't set out to "be" something, they just started living a certain way and it "became" something.  So now that people are following in their footsteps and adopting that model, it seems a tad inauthentic.  We are going to "be" a new monastic community instead of, "we're here, you're here, let's try living like this and see how it goes."

Tangent - now back to what I was saying.

As grown ups trying to figure out how to be in this world, how do you live in a way that cares for others?  How do you make it a part of your family's daily life in real and tangible ways, ways that permeate your family's identity without becoming self-sacrificial to the point of guilt or overt righteousness?  How do you just live in such a way that your life brings life to others without being all like "LOOK AT ME! MY LIFE BRINGS LIFE TO OTHERS!  I'M JUST LIKE THE COOL KIDS!"?  How do you live generously yet quietly?  How do we live softly, in both senses, on the earth?

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