|Re: Christian Cohousing & Diversity||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Michael Mariner (maikanoidcomm.com)|
|Date: Fri, 5 Sep 1997 16:16:25 -0500|
Scott Cowley Said: >What is "christian" about "christian cohousing" ? >Indeed, what is "cohousing" about "christian cohousing" ? >This sounds like the "vegan" cohousing we had discussed last spring. Answer: Christianity is a binding force, a force that motivates Christians to live in community. Vegan is another belief system that is so pervasive that vegans want to live around others who eat vegan. Though existing cohousing groups typically have *some* diversity of spiritual belief (Jewish, New Age, Christian, Buddhist, atheist) the forces that bind them typically include being white, middle class, college educated and having read the Cohousing Book. What I hear Scott being irate about is *some* Christian (and Vegan!) sects tendency to not want to associate with others who are not "saved," even those who are not part of their particular church. I, too, would like to see everyone be more tolerant and to avoid being insular, at least, that's the ideal. >Don't you get it ? Cohousing is not just another utopian commune movement. >Sure, we are an "intentional" community. I disagree and I regret Scott's condescending tone of "Don't you get it?" True, cohousing isn't an income sharing "commune" but cohousers have considerable property in common, make decisions in common and eat some meals together! Are we talking about complete purity here? I don't see any hard boundaries between cohousing and other forms of intentional community. Many of the 60's communes have become more cohousing-like and, over time, some cohousing communities may become more commune-like, who knows? And, actually, I feel cohousing *does have* some "utopian" aspects if you define utopian to mean a more visionary way of living that is better than what we had. If you define utopian to mean a static, perfect, heavenly place, no, cohousing ain't that. (My dictionary has both meanings listed.) >But the historical cohousing >movement principles of _Diversity_, Cooperation, a concern for the land we occupy and use, > Cooperation is a must - we can't have community without it and we won't sustain ourselves for long if we don't steward the land. Diversity is a helpful ideal and a laudable goal if we don't get dogmatic and rigid about it: - On the one hand, we all are unique personalities with diverse opinions, likes, dislikes. We can't help being diverse. (Try to reach consensus and you vividly experience diversity, right?) I actually think that embracing diverse personalities takes more flexibility and personal growth than embracing people of different races, religions, or subcultures. I have trouble with wildly irresponsible or relentlessly controlling people, no matter what race or religion they are, but: - On the other hand, most cohousers envision a society that would be kinder, gentler and more tolerant if we all lived in diverse communities where we constantly rub elbows with diverse ethnicities, spiritual outlooks, ages, etc. This is a wonderful ideal and goal. But realistically, when we put up our shingle that says "come join our cohousing group" we have to move forward with those we attract. I've heard of some groups that worked hard to attract diversity (of age, race, income, whatever) and either failed completely or got some token members of the targeted diversity. So let's not give up on the goal, but let's allow it to evolve over time. Right now, 1990's, we should encourage vegans, Christians, Trekkies, and Neo-Luddites to each have their own communities and learn to tolerate and love the diverse personalities within their groups. Then when they come to regional cohousing gatherings (and we should definitely invite all), we can all rub elbows and ideas and begin to moderate and soften hard-edged, xenophobic beliefs once or twice a year while celebrating the sharing we've learned in cohousing. I say any cohousing is better than a suburb of isolated households who rarely rub elbows with anyone except those who are completely like them and let TV or ingrained prejudices define their world view. >and especially an attempt to create a Humanizing force at a neighborhood level which evolves >away from the the existing capitalist system (a system which continues to embrace war >and christian religion as vehicles to enforce its principles of waste and exploitation) are >much broader than a community representing such a single belief system. Scott, the above paragraph sounds like a leftist rant. I don't know what to say except the great majority of people I know in cohousing make their living in the capitalist system. Almost everybody sees excesses and problems with it, but free enterprise with a social consciousness seems to be evolving. We just need to insist as a culture that all businesses serve society besides making a profit. (The tide turning against tobacco may be a sign of this.) And, yes, a lot of people would like to evolve a local economy where many could be employed right in their cohousing community. There are already many who work at home and/or barter goods and services within (and without) the communities. >As always, we must fight to avoid sinking to our lowest common >denominator: An idyllic, gated golf >course community of like-minded, well-off American isolationists. Well, in some ways relatively well-off, like-minded cohousing sites *are* gated communities, though I haven't heard of any with golf courses. The gate you must pass through is the cost, the time and tolerance to sit through hundreds of meetings, the ability to form empathetic relationships with other cohousers, a belief in the holy grail of cohousingness, etc. True, coho groups could probably do more to make the gates less imposing, but the gates will be there, nonetheless. Isolationist? I've heard that during the post move-in burn out phase, some cohousers tend to hole up for quite a spell. Also, even post-burn out, cohousers seem to largely concentrate on their own communities. Few have an energetic outreach program going on to show adjacent neighborhoods the cohousing way. In time outreach may well increase. Scott, I'm hearing you infer (by the context of paragraphs above) that a Christian cohousing community would be the epitome of this lowest common denominator. For one thing, Christians vary hugely. Many Christians (even far right) are finding passages in their Bibles that say humans are supposed to steward the earth and live harmoniously with all peoples and all species. A commitment to stewarding may not be widespread (far as I know) *yet*, but is growing. There are also passages in the Bible that laud the benefits of living in community. And, yes, there are a definitely Christian (and non-Christian) isolationists . Finally, we must have ideals and goals (such as diversity) to strive for and we shouldn't be complacent about the working toward them, but let's not be so pure that we denigrate or disallow Christian or vegan cohousing. Like punker Billy Idol said, "...ain't nothing pure in this world, ain't nothing sure in this world.... but it's a nice day for a white wedding, a nice day to start again." Kat Kinkaid's book about Twin Oaks Community is called "Is it Utopia Yet?." No, but each intentional community is working towards it one day at a time in its own diverse way, according to its unique idea of what Utopia is. Viva la diversity! Sorry, I can't tell you where to look in the Bible for those passages. Can anybody else? Michael Mariner * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * The future *is* community -- get connected. KEY COMMUNITY RESOURCES: Cohousing: http://www.cohousing.org/ Ecovillages: http://www.gaia.org/ Intentional Communities: http://www.ic.org/ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
- Re: Christian Cohousing & Diversity Michael Mariner, September 5 1997
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