RE: Christian Cohousing & Diversity
From: Rob Sandelin (Floriferousclassic.msn.com)
Date: Sun, 7 Sep 1997 21:45:57 -0500
Hate to tell you all this, but there is a very functional Mennonite cohousing 
group living (in sin?) up here in the socialistic state of Seattle. Very nice 
little scene they have going for themselves, very much cohousing by all 
definitions, except...membership is only open to church members. You can be 
green, black, brown, or other, they don't care, but they require you to be a 
practicing Mennonite, whatever that means. They have been living together for 
four or five years now I think.

Somewhat early on they got blasted by somebody or other (Not me!)  and decided 
that they are really not interested in being part of any "movements" thank 
you, and thus they do not participate in any networking or other connection to 
the greater cohousing world. I happen to have a personal connection which is 
the only reason I know of them at all, and I must admit they were very nervous 
about me coming to visit the first time, afraid I would "blow the whistle" on 
them, tell them they were misappropriating cohousing because they have a 
religous foundation. Of course I did nothing of the sort.

So religous cohousing has been done, although it is definately not open to the 
public view. My take on it is that they don't really care at all about what 
your opinions are, they are quite happy to have discovered this idea, and 
created it to meet their needs, not anybody elses. As one person I talked to 
put it: "God knows what we are doing, and that's all that matters".

I have heard some kinda loud voices who claim that cohousing and religion 
can't mix, or that its coruption of cohousing to create it with a spiritual 
base. From my own limited observation of the Mennonite scene, cohousing seems 
to fit enormously well with a spiritual belief system as the foundation. I am 
surprised that more church organizations haven't latched on to it, but then 
maybe they have and decided to just keep quiet about it, since the idea seems 
somewhat unwelcome by some people in the "movement". 

Ideology and cohousing are not mutally exclusive, and I often wonder why it is 
people seem to think they are, or should be? I suppose Rush Limbaugh could 
create a cohousing group of ditto heads and they would get as huge a return on 
cohousing life as anybody else. 

Oh yeah, the mennonites say grace before each meal and that really sets a 
mellow tone with the kids and all, something I wish my own communty would 
adopt.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood


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