The Monastic Life

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Globe-trotting for God.

That’s one way to describe William Claassen’s two-year trek through the monasteries of the world. A journalist by training and a nomadic pilgrim by calling, Claassen set out in search of God. What he found was humanity. The humanity of the men and women in cloistered communities from France to India, Italy to Japan, who worship different deities but share a common language: silence. In spite of that quiet, or perhaps because of it, he heard something. About the rigors of monastic life. About dwindling numbers in the ranks.

About the challenges and joys of being alone in community. Christians. Buddhists. Sufis. Hindus. Each religion comes with tradition built in, but here’s Claassen’s greatest discovery of all: They’re all more alike than you’d ever guess.
(Hosted by Alex Beam)


William Claassen, author of “Alone in Community: Journeys into Monastic Life Around the World.”