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Denison Journal of Religion

Abstract

This essay is a discussion of Jesus’s political, economic, social, and theological implications in regards to the new monasticism movement. Newman begins by outlining the environment into which Jesus was born: a violent Empire and a genocide. Born by a virgin woman in a stable, surrounded by dirty shepherds, Jesus is immediately a social outcast. Named from his birth as the Messiah, and thus named as a threat to Caesar, Jesus is a refugee from the reigning political order. As he grows older, Jesus’ actions and teachings refute the political, economic, and social culture. He over turns the money changers’ tables, condemns the temple, and spends his time with radicals and prostitutes. Certain of Jesus’ explicitly quoted teachings concentrate on maintaining the dignity of all humans. His lessons and actions are the particular focus of new monasticism, as this new community strives to live lives based on who Jesus was when he lived. As a radically peaceful man who condemned the dominant form of rule, Jesus sets an example for the new monastics in contemporary America. The essay then moves into its second segment, which aims to show the contrasts between Jesus in first century Palestine and the image of Jesus and the Church in the modern day. Through individualism and mock separation of church and state, Jesus as a figure and a model for Christianity has become co-oped as a model for personal salvation and political validation. Finally, Newman examines the lifestyle of the new monastics, revealing their commitment to relationships (including relationships with the marginalized), economic redistribution, and prophetic action, revealing the political, social, and economic implication of Jesus to church communities who remain enculturated within American civil religion.

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