Reflections on Redeeming the Routines by Robert Banks
Banks focuses on Reformation, overturning dominance of clerical or monastic over lay or worldly vocations, reclaiming the priesthood of believers and secular calling. He bases his theology on the biblical vision that all Christians are laity and all Christians are ministers. I agree that “all” laity are called to serve God. Everyday theology is a cooperative effort between ordinary Christians and professional theologians, ordinary Christians can best identify their everyday concerns, and ordinary Christians already have some elements of an everyday theology.
While agreeing with this premise, I still value the monastic orders. Monks and nuns have much to offer us all. Through their contemplative prayer they minister to us, offering wisdom and a model that we can use even in our hectic lives to develop a deeper prayer life and closer relationship to God. I have watched a Roman Catholic monk teach that with every step we take, every breath we make, every routine act, we can pray to God and experience God’s presence even in the seemingly mundane. Learning this prayerfulness can enable us to redeem our daily routines, contemplate the connection between our faith and our daily life, and refuel us to serve in our ministries.
What Banks says regarding general social pressures resonates. We must understand our relationship to God in the daily routines of our life, making the mundane meaningful. Living by our faith means using our faith to inform our daily decisions, as well as develop our understanding of God and our relationship with God by being mindful of God’s presence in our life. Even in the most simple and humble of God’s creations, we find his love.
Banks identifies busyness as a barrier to redeeming routines. I find myself constantly struggling with the dilemma of busyness, thinking that I do not have enough time to take care of myself, balance work/school, home and family, no less respond to God’s call. Find myself feeling guilty, as if I am failing at one or another responsibility. How do I redeem these routines? I remind myself of that monk’s instruction. At all times I can pray to God, listening for and responding to his call.
Banks advocates house churches, which he claims provide, “more communal and down-to-earth church life.” I am skeptical of house churches. Perhaps house churches are necessary for oppressed believers who must hide the practice of their faith, but Christians in Western society? For those without the guidance of a trained minister, there is a greater risk of abuse and the development of a cult. Without structure and theologically trained leadership, there is increased chance of individuals misinterpreting the Bible and misusing power. Chaos is a risk, as is poor theology. On the other hand, supplementing one’s institutional church experience with home Bible study and discussions of theological relevance to people’s lives can nurture an intimate community and increase the breadth and depth of one’s understanding and faith.
– Written October 2005