Wednesday, October 28, 2015

5 Reasons We Still Need Intentional Community - Christian Piatt at Patheos

We need somewhere that we can hear and be reminded of an alternative narrative to the relentless marketing assault of consumer society.

People are leaving organized religion by the millions.

The reasons cited are many: suspicion of institutions in general; perceived hypocrisy; too busy; simply never raised within a religious culture. All of these reasons are legitimate.

But there are some things that community tends to offer us that few other things in the culture afford. And we need them, whether we know it or not. And without them, we suffer, both individually and collectively.

(This is in NO WAY meant to imply that "church" is the only valid place where community can be found and dwelt in.  Rather, this discussion seeks address what those who leave organized religion replace it's inherent sense of community with, if at all.)

1. We Want To Know and Be Known. We long to be known, to share our lives with one another. And in our increasingly distributed, virtualized world, our relationships grow more and more strained, abstracted. We want to be known – really known – and we want to know others with equal depth.

2. Joys Are Multiplied and Sorrows Are Made Lighter. The 1st thing we want to do when something amazing happens is share it with people we care about. It makes it so much more meaningful when we can share it. On the other hand, grief is so much heavier when borne alone. Going through difficult times together makes the grief far easier to bear.

3. We Long For "Set Apart" Time. Though the word “sacred” tends to be loaded with religious implications, the root meaning of it means “set apart. We want occasions that are special, set apart, which significes to us and others, “this is important.”

4. We Need Input From People Who Know Us Well. We are notoriously self-deceiving creatures. We tend to justify whatever we’re doing as ok, even as what we do, value, own and consume changes over time. We benefit by being members of a closely knit community that holds each other responsible. Strong community gives us life and wisdom in ways that living alone can’t.

5. We Long for Sanctuary. Our lives are incredibly complicated. I think we can all agree that, though technology has been created with the intent to simplify our lives, our expectations of our performance always rises to meet our maximum potential for efficiency.

Whereas we used to expend energy to seek out information, now we spend that much energy – or more – holding stimulus at arms-length and filtering through what’s real and what’s bullshit. It’s exhausting. It affects our physical and emotional health.

We need somewhere that we can hear and be reminded of an alternative narrative to the relentless marketing assault of consumer society, somewhere we are reminded that life is built around cooperation not competition, somewhere we are reminded that it is better to give than to get, somewhere we are reminded that our fellow creatures are members of the same interconnected web to be cared for not defeated and walked on in the race to "look out for #1."

The full article is available here