Saturday, November 16, 2013

Kierkegaard on Monasticism

As a Lutheran with Danish ancestry, I suppose I should know a lot more about Soren Kierkegaard than I do.  Reading translations of 19th century philosophical works has never been that high on my list of things to do.

However, after reading this quote from Kierkegaard, I may have to break down and actually read his writings some time, as it sums up my feelings on the the future of monasticism, both within Protestantism, and the Church as a whole:

"Of this there is no doubt, our age and Protestantism in general may need the monastery again, or wish it were there.  The "monastery" is an essential dialectical element in Christianity.  We therefore need it out there like a navigation buoy at sea in order to see where we are, even though I myself would not enter it.  But if there really is true Christianity in every generation, there must also be individuals who have this need..."

(Quoted in the preface to "An Infinity of Little Hours" by Nancy Klein Maguire).


  1. I love the image of the monastery (and monasticism, as a whole) as a buoy at sea. I know that regular prayer and silence, along with other monastic practices, have kept me grounded in daily life. I wish there were more monastic people in the wider Church, both in traditional monasteries and in "monastic homes." We have a lot of work to do!

  2. I think the "buoy at sea" metaphor is beautiful because it encapsulates where we are now - people are hungry for a deeper kind of spirituality, but are either lost, or are turned off from modern Christianity. Many are turning to New Age-type spiritual practices - if monasteries were more prevalent, I think people would find the deeper spirituality they are looking for within Christianity.