Punk Monk: A Review
I do a lot of reading and its not every day that I come across a book that makes my heart burn the way Punk Monk did. Every time I put the book down I thought, “I want this! I want more of this!”
Punk Monk is the story of a movement of new monastic communities that began in Reading, England. It began with a crazy idea to pray. 24-7. It was more than an idea, though. It was a calling that a small group of people walked into, having no idea what God really had in mind when they started. The book lays out the basics of this incredible journey in the first section. It was a story about how Andy Freeman and the community forming around their experiments into 24-7 prayer began to discover their monastic roots and realize that God was birthing a new sort of monastic community for the 21st Century right there in Reading. They even ended up moving into an old abandoned monastery that had at one point been turned into a pub! This story alone was enough to excite me. As I read in bed each night emphatically saying, “Yes! Yes!” Lisa started to realize she was going to have to read this too!
(I should take a moment to talk a bit about the monastic movement historically and how it is finding a new life in our own time. Contrary to what most Protestants have come to understand, the monastic movement is not all about hiding away on a hill to retreat from the world and contemplate ones proverbial naval. In fact, the monastic movements from their inception in the early fourth century have always been about exploring what it means to live a life wholly devoted to Jesus, particularly in times when it seemed like the church had become lax. Monastic movements have always had a deep commitment to prayer and personal transformation, some more than others, but they have also always had a deep commitment to the Missio Dei. As we look back throughout the history of the church, we see that it was actually the monastic movements that have taken the story of Jesus into new territory! In some cases, monastic communities are what saved the church from going into extinction. Of course, the monastic movements have had their problems as well, but the point here is that the monastic movements of history are responsible for the proliferation of the Gospel, the prophetic voice of reform into the church and the protection of our faith from things that would have otherwise capsized her.)
In the second section of the book, Andy Freeman begins to lay out the “rule” of the 24-7 prayer rooms, called Boiler Rooms. The basic values of all Boiler Rooms flow from the idea that before we go and do, we must first listen and be. We start by resting in Jesus and then we follow Him to wherever He leads. From this grows the Boiler Room values of Prayer, Creativity, Mercy and Justice, Hospitality and Pilgrimage, Mission, and Learning. I loved every minute of it!
So much of what I read relates to what we are trying to do here in Omaha. Newminster Omaha is also experimenting with what it means to be a missional-monastic community. What does it mean to live as a community in proximity to each other; to have a shared rhythm of prayer, worship, community and mission; to invite people to be Jesus’ disciples and plant new churches among them? Punk Monk laid out a very well thought and practiced way of doing this and has already stirred my mind.
As I put down Punk Monk my heart swelled and I couldn’t help but say, “I want it! I want it all! I want this confessing, committed, praying, disciple being and forming way of life. I want mission. I want hospitality. I want reconciliation. I want prayer. I want art. I want mercy. I want justice. I want transformation for me and all those who come around me.
I guess I could say I give Punk Monk 5 stars!