Perhaps the enduring value of monasticism is that it takes the most religious people in society -- the zealots and the fundamentalists -- removes them from the general population, silences them, and causes them not to reproduce.
From a sociological standpoint, what if the actual contents of their practice don't contain any wisdom at all -- but rather the value of the tradition comes from its unintended Darwinian outcome of gradually removing religious extremists from the gene pool?
Notice that the the two centers of religious extremism in the world right now -- the U.S. and the Middle East -- don't have a monastic tradition.
I have a book for you. It's called Sisters. it's the history of the Sisters of Mercy. Some kick-ass women who were feminists before their time and have left an enduring mark on our society.
Yeah that was a particularly snarky post on my part hunh? There are some rockin' nuns out there and some good monks too. The Jesuits in Latin America often did good work in the 1970s and 1980s (even while getting undercut by the Vatican). I'd be interested to learn more about Sisters.
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