Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What I'm Reading

This is from The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez. He quotes John Chrysostom, who says:
"Many who have gone from monastic retreat to the active life of the priest or the bishop are completely unable to face the difficulties of their new situation."

7 comments:

David, T. said...

I have that book... it seems pretty comprehensive.

Daniel Slavich said...

Yeah, it's pretty engaging and easy to read. I've been enjoying it.

Ben said...

I just bought it for $13 on Amazon. I imagine it will meet the fate of many other well-intentioned buys, but $13 for a Danny-recommended hardcover? Too good to pass up.

Sungkhum said...

I realize Mr. Chrysostom said, "many", but throughout history - was the time spent by many men of God in seclusion worthless? To me, it seems like that is what he is saying, "There's no reason to go off and be by yourself - no value whatsoever".

But I beg to differ. I believe monastic retreats do have value, and I believe that history is also on my side. Some men have been forced on them, but I believe even in that there is value - I believe it shaped them and informed their walk before God - making them seek God before men and therefore making them strong and mighty men of God.

No, we shouldn't all go off and be alone - but I don't think it is something that should be wholly discouraged.

Moses (not totally alone, but more alone than he was in Egypt)
John the Baptist (I dare say he didn't have any problem when he came to meet the people...)
Paul (well, I guess some might argue that he wasn't alone...but he went off to Arabia for three years).
Athanasius (forced into exile staying with desert monks)
Luther

I'm sure there are more, but it is late and I can't think of any.

This just to say, I am not totally convinced that it is always right to say, "No, you shouldn't take that retreat, it will be bad for you when you come back."

Maybe that retreat is just what that person needs to re-focus their heart and regain that first love - to align with Christ.

Just my 2 cents.

Cya in a week :)
(I would appreciate your prayers for the camp - thanks)

Daniel Slavich said...

I think that J.C. (no, not Jesus in this case...) is speaking against, not a monastic retreat, but the monastic life; a life devoted solely to contemplation and prayer. Such a lifestyle is self-absorbed and goes against the biblical mandate of loving the brothers.
I agree absolutely that "retreats of monasticism" are beneficial and even necessary for the Christian. But it should not be the whole of one's spiritual life.

I found the above quote especially helpful for me personally, because pursuing education can be such an inward, almost selfish exercise. That's what happened at Capernwray. I just don't want it to happen here. Because by this we know that we have come to know him, when we keep his commandments. And his commandment is, largely, to love the brothers.

Daniel Slavich said...

Oh, btw, are you coming back to the States, Nathan?

Ben said...

Dangit Danny, we agree again. We've got to work on this.

As a side note, a common Torrey joke (Torrey is the program Bonnie was in at Biola) was that it was the only place where JC meant "John Chrysostom" instead of Jesus Christ.