|Group Spirituality, Public vs. Private||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Axon Instruments (richardlcallamer.com)|
|Date: Mon, 30 Jan 95 01:02 CST|
I've got a question/concern about the spiritualism of our group as perceived by potential new members. As a warning of my agenda, I come from a background where first impressions are very important and I am not able to (or more probably, do not wish to) shake that value. Also, I cherish those who are able to make life decisions based on spiritual belief but generally don't put myself that category. However, I am a founding member of our cohousing group and have worked for the cause on a weekly basis since 1988. With all that disclaimer I'd like float the following and ask for comment: Our group states in it's Mission Statement that it welcomes diversity in religion and political persuasion. However in practice, it seems that if one has beliefs which I pigeon-hole as New Age spiritualism, then that persons' values are more easily fit into the group mind than say someone who would align themselves with the born-again Christian community. Over the years, we have developed some consistent times for gathering and celebration. One of the biggest ones occurs around Thanksgiving. In November last, we entertained roughly 60-70 people for an afternoon feast loosely based on the American tradition. We have always cast a large net for this event by inviting previous members, people who have shown interest in joining plus our architects, lawyer and other professionals. The spiritualism question was raised when I suggested prior to the event that we tone down any show of spiritualism which could be construed as representing the group as a whole. My concern came out of a situation the year before when an "invocation" before the meal included asking all the guests to stand and hold hands as one of our members passed by each guest with a bowl made by Tibetan monks which makes an incredible humming/glowing sound when rimmed with a small fur covered stick. The invocation was much more non-denominational this year. The bowl was not present but hands were still held. However, my questioning of the public spiritualism of the group has touched a nerve and it will be one of the topics of conversation at our annual retreat next month. Each year the members of the group rent enough houses to fit us (presently two large vacation homes) and we spend the weekend with our process mentors (Kay and Floyd Tift, formerly of Findhorn) working through the big issues. Here's my view. I enjoy the spiritualism within the group as long as the assumption is not made that this spiritualism represents the group as a whole. When we are in a position of public outreach, such as inviting possible new members to a function, we should not appear 'New Age' any more than we should appear rabid Republican or pro-beef. If the marketing materials we mail to people say " ... we welcome diversity in age, religion, affectional preference, political persuasion, and financial status" then we have the responsibility the give people the first impression that our written statement is genuine. We need more members I am concerned that if we provide an atmosphere to prospective members which is beyond pro-neighborhood or pro-extended family we will end up disenchanting more potential cohousers than it will attract. The counter argument is that if the group doesn't appear to endorse any specific set of values, then it comes off as milquetoast and appeals to no one as is tries to appeal to all. Comments please, I'm a bit stumped. Rich Lobdill Grell CoHousing Group San Luis Obispo / Oceano CA
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