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Religions 2018, 9(6), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9060184

“A Web of Subversive Friends”: New Monasticism in the United States and South Africa

Religion and Public Life Program, Rice University, 6100 Main St., MS-28, Houston, TX 77005, USA
Received: 8 May 2018 / Revised: 4 June 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
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Abstract

This article analyzes new monastic efforts to engage with systemic inequality in the United States and South Africa, arguing for the importance of the concept of friendship to new monastic social justice efforts. Growing in popularity during the 2000s, new monasticism is a term used to describe Christians who are experimenting with forms of community and subject formation that take as their inspiration earlier monastic or other Christian socialist/communitarian movements. Drawing on qualitative research conducted with two South African groups inspired by new monasticism, I show how building relationships with economic and racial others is central to new monastic visions of social change. New monastics emphasize the importance of deep, committed, authentic, relationships—friendships—as the primary means of surmounting race and class divides. Building on the insights of Michael Emerson and Christian Smith in Divided by Faith, I argue that how new monastics conceptualize friendship simultaneously draws on and subverts traditional evangelical approaches to social engagement. Although new monastics are similar to evangelicals in that they attach central importance to interpersonal relationships, new monastics are distinct in that they explicitly connect the value of relationship building to practices of self-transformation and social critique. View Full-Text
Keywords: new monasticism; Emerging Church Movement; South Africa; United States; poverty; race; inequality; religion; evangelicals new monasticism; Emerging Church Movement; South Africa; United States; poverty; race; inequality; religion; evangelicals
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Schneider, R.C. “A Web of Subversive Friends”: New Monasticism in the United States and South Africa. Religions 2018, 9, 184.

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