The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

The Whole World Was His Monastery

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The Dish

What made St. Francis of Assisi so revolutionary? Reviewing the political theorist Giorgio Agamben’s recently translated investigation of monasticism, The Highest Poverty, Nathan Schneider emphasizes that St. Francis dreamed of a way of living “beyond the reach of ordinary politics” – not by retreating from the world, but through engaging it:

The Franciscan emphasis on poverty, for Agamben, represents a critical extension of the Giotto_-_Legend_of_St_Francis_-_-15-_-_Sermon_to_the_Birdsmonastic rules. Clare of Assisi, who led the female branch of the Franciscan movement, insisted that Francis had given her not a rule at all but merely a “form of life.” He taught his followers by example and by preaching, eschewing the decrees one might hear from a monastery’s abbot. When his followers failed to listen, he didn’t police or punish. “I do not want to become a persecutor to pursue and frustrate them, like the power of this world,” Francis reportedly said.

Rather than…

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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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