This morning, we introduce our new Internet Monk banner. We’ve been having a little trouble with the code the past day or two, so I’ve included the art in today’s post while we work on it. The banner at the top of the post will appear during the daytime hours and the one at the end will be displayed at night.
Many thanks to our friend Michael Buckley for these wonderful pieces of art. Michael is the same artist who created our previous headline art back in 2007, which highlighted “Dispatches from the Post-Evangelical Wilderness.” That was a major theme of Michael Spencer’s and it remains an important part of what we do here. However, some things have definitely changed since we lost Michael five years ago. As Michael himself changed over the many years he wrote the blog, so we have continued to evolve. We’re standing at a different place along the road in 2015.
Many of us who were in the post-evangelical wilderness have now found homes (or at least places of respite) after our desert sojourns. Jeff Dunn found his way into the Roman Catholic Church, as did Damaris and her family. Chaplain Mike found an oasis in Lutheran teachings and for a time even underwent a process of discernment to discover if he was being called to parish ministry in that tradition. Evangelicals who write for us, such as Lisa Dye, have delved more deeply into ancient spiritual practices and ideas from the Great Tradition. It seems we have a significant and growing number of Orthodox members in our community.
Internet Monk has become more of a conversation like that described by C.S. Lewis: a “Great Hall” where people from various traditions meet to discuss life and the faith. Off the great hall are various “rooms” where people find homes in more specific expressions of the faith. Our new banner was designed to reflect C.S. Lewis’s vision and to more accurately describe what happens on the site day after day in 2015: we hold “Conversations in the Great Hall.” That is our new theme.
Here’s the original passage from Mere Christianity:
I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions — as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.
It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall, I have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. For that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into the room you will find that the long wait has done some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling.
In plain language, the question should never be: “Do I like that kind of service?” but “Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?”
When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. This is one of the rules common to the whole house.
• C.S. Lewis
It is our goal at Internet Monk to represent at least a part of that “Great Hall,” a place of conversation where people from various Christian traditions can meet to talk about the faith. Here’s the way I see us and where we’ll be coming from as we have those talks:
A post-evangelical, ecumenical, pastoral, and contemplative site
devoted to maintaining a legacy of Jesus-shaped Christianity.
Note the key words:
- Post-evangelical — Most of us have emerged into the Great Hall not from outside the house, but from evangelical rooms where we no longer feel comfortable. Some of us still struggle with that transition mightily. We will continue to write about that, reflecting upon what we see as weaknesses in the evangelical rooms of the Church. This helps us process our journey and provides a necessary critique to that which has become a prominent “face” of Christianity in the United States in particular in the past fifty years.
- Ecumenical — We embrace the larger Church and seek to learn from other expressions of the faith. Over the years, Michael emphasized more and more that the way forward for evangelicalism and the Christian faith in general was to mine the riches of its past, to learn to appreciate the power of a living tradition. To him, contemporary American evangelicalism had cut itself off at the roots and was, to use Bonhoeffer’s words, like “Protestantism without the Reformation.” We are intentionally ecumenical here at Internet Monk because God has a big family and we all have a lot to learn from each other and from what the Holy Spirit has taught the Church for over two millennia now.
- Pastoral — When we write about ministry, we emphasize the kind that is local and personal, non-programmatic, not based on fads of the day or trying to stay “on the cutting edge.” We aren’t about building big churches or impressive organizations. We prefer face to face, down to earth deeds of loving one’s neighbor and laying down one’s life for others. It’s about God’s people gathering on Sundays to share the Word and Table, and walking with Jesus between Sundays through our neighborhoods and communities, fulfilling the vocations God has given to each of us. God’s mission in the world is an organic one — it’s about life, not products. It’s about planting seeds, not cranking out widgets.
- Contemplative — Many of us have found rich resources for growth in faith, hope, and love in historic practices of spiritual formation: community, liturgy, keeping the Church Year, silence, meditation, prayer, service, and sacred reading. We write about what’s going on within us, hoping that our words will find resonance with fellow pilgrims. We are hungry and thirsty for life and true sustenance. The “wilderness” we talk about is not always the one around us, but often the one within us. We want to encourage us all to press on in knowing the Lord.
- Jesus-shaped — We believe that God has revealed himself preeminently in Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and Lord of all. We seek to maintain Michael Spencer’s legacy of keeping Jesus central in all we write and emphasize, because that’s where we’ll find God for ourselves and others.
We count it an honor every day when you join us for conversations in the Great Hall. Our new banner reflects this ongoing purpose for Internet Monk. Thanks to Michael Buckley for prompting our imagination through his art.
NOTE: When the banner is displaying properly, you may notice that, at this time, it is wider than the page on the site. This is in anticipation of a new, wider theme that will make Internet Monk more readable and accessible to mobile devices. The work should be completed in a couple of weeks, thanks to our friend Joe Stallard, aka “Joe the Plumber.”