We need more monks. Not necessarily the actual monks in monasteries around the world (though I am not against it) but more of the monk spirit. Yes, we have seen the mystic movement within Christianity in the last decade or so, and that is fantastic! What if we can take that mysticism and put it into practice?
Monasticism is a way of leaving the world entirely and vowing solitary confinement. To be within that realm is good for a season, I think, but I think we always must be part of the world but not controlled by it. Having that perspective in mind, having a monk-like outlook on Christian orthopraxy could help us terrain this streamlined culture we currently see ourselves in.
Our easy access to goods is bringing about those lovely seven deadly sins we all enjoy so much (tongue and cheek). Instant gratification is so nice, isn’t it though? I love having access to so many goods from just the tip of my fingertips and the scroll of my smartphone. Our technology driven society is helping the insta (get it?) cause for sure (plug in and stay tuned).
That is why it’s such a good time to step into the way of the monk. The wilderness is always a good place to find ourselves when in a time of thresholds. To maneuver into the edge , having a comical view of ourselves is going to help us manage this new path. Like the one and only monk; Thomas Merton put it:
“A gentle sense of humor will be alert to detect anything that savors of a pious ‘act’ on the part of the penitent.”
Let’s admit, it seems “the pious” are running amok and we need some type of bullshit detector to avoid this dead end. This is not from the religious end but also the secular. With cancel culture being at the forefront of our social media dialogue, we might need to abandon this notion of control.
When we come to experiential trust, we can recognize that it’s about connecting with others through relationships. It’s making oneself encounter the whole of being rather than worrying about if you have the doctrine of the atonement right or if you did something regretful in the past (which it all boils down to a theory rather than an experience). See, when we get too caught up in “who has it right” we create a us vs. them paradigm which only causes division.
Make someone laugh instead! To the pious, the disposition of humor is the sure way to alleviate the blinders of self-righteousness. The path to contemplation is letting go of proving someone wrong. It’s all about inner reflection to better equip oneself with outer service to others.
It reminds of the song by The Monkees called, Hey Hey we’re The Monkees (oh yes, I went there). A pop band in the late 6Os with a light and goofy style (they had a tv show too). They were pretty ridiculous and had some issues, but I want to point out a lyric from this song that I think all of Christianity needs:
“Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees
And people say we monkey around
But we’re too busy singing
To put anybody down”
Now that’s nice, huh? Maybe we bring the monk into this and put it like “we are too busy being to put anybody down”! This is what the monk in all of us can bring. Stop taking everything we are suffering through as the final say in all of this? Let’s stop being the “Christian police” and start being Jesus!
This brings us to what “being” a more monkish community looks like. Once we realize that true and healthy connection can be done without the consumer mindset, a new way of unity can emerge. This unity is not conformity, but a sensibility in how we work together. To be sensible means we will need to be more graceful in how we treat each other. To move into this grace, we need to make space (oh that rhymes) for humor to do its thing! When we are part of this cellular unit of bodies, we are susceptible to all kinds of currents. If we do not take up our chuckles, we will have a difficult time finding our balance through it all.
May we continue to embrace the MONKing around (cheesy alert) and enjoy the ludicrous ride. I think that’s where the abundant life begins, ends and continues again (that rhymes).