|Re: Group Spirituality, Public vs. Private||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: rsk (rskuclink2.berkeley.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 30 Jan 95 22:39 CST|
Rich Lobdill Grell CoHousing Group San Luis Obispo / Oceano CA wrote: 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....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....The invocation was much more non-denominational this year. The bowl was not present but hands were still held....I enjoy the spiritualism within the group as long as the assumption is not made that this spiritualism represents the group as a whole....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. Bob replies: I like that you've raised this issue. My own biases are that I experience a dimension of life that transcends the self, and thus I see myself as "spiritual"; and with such a broad definition of spirituality, I experience most people I know as having a "sprituality". Perhaps it is the degree to which we, "make life decisions based on spiritual belief," that registers each persons level of comfort or discomfort with the concept of spirituality. Two comments on your experience of Thanksgiving. First, it's interesting to take note of what is experienced as sectarian and what is benign. Both "invocations" expressed a sense of spirituality, but one was more familiar that the other. IMHO it's important to look through our own cultural biases and see that one activity may not be any less "spiritual" than the other. Second, your embracing of diversity is its own kind of spirituality. What would be appealing to me as a prospective community member would be a true sense that the diverse talents and world views I bring to the group would be appreciated and embraced. I would not ask that other members believe, act or think as I do; but that my opinions and beliefs would be respected. The problem often comes when one person or group of people asks for respect of their own views and practices, but is not willing to respect those of others. In part, I criticize my own "community" when I affirm your general perception that some forms of spirituality and their values seem to "more easily fit into the group mind" than others. I don't want to say that one is better than the other, but I do think it worth noting that diversity is not something to celebrate for some expressions of Christianity. Tolerance and respect for differing points of view are not held as virtue. The thrust of the spiritual life then focuses away from the richness of diversity, and becomes an exercise in creating homogenaity (if that's a word) by converting you to my beliefs. It's important to realize that not all forms of spirituality operate in this mode, and thus diversity does not have to be a threat. It's easy to represent this as a task that can easily be accomplished, but you know it's not. Let me be an advocate for tackling this issue at your coming retreat. I hope that the richness and strength of differing views and sensibilities can come together for you all. Bob Kehr
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