"CC", "SC" in general, and "N" (lm)
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 2004 10:57:12 -0800 (PST)
Dear Cohousing-List--

Thanks, Rob, for the cautionary statements about cohousing which highlights any 
one particular 
faith-view.  From my experience, it makes all the difference in the world when 
and if a group like this 
comes together to be an insular, "holy huddle" vs. a group that gregariously 
reaches out in hospitality 
to a variety of people.  

This, historically, was the difference between the very restrictive Essenes at 
Q'mran and the early 
Jerusalem Jewish Christian communities, who were accused of being atheists and 
anarchists for working 
to subvert the social order by allowing, among other things, men and women, 
servants and children, 
Jews and Gentiles to eat at the same table, at the same time, in fellowship.  
This was an unheard-
of affront to both the Judaism and the secular Greek and Roman philosophies of 
that day.

It is perhaps surprising to learn that these kinds of communities openly 
flaunted their rebellion against 
an oppressive social order.  The Magna Charta of human relationships was penned 
by Paul in Gal. 3:28:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are 
all one in Christ Jesus" 
(admittedly not the open-ended statement of interfaith ecumenism many might 
hope for-- but radically 
subversive for its day).  This, coming from a man who used to pray, "I thank 
God that Thou didst not 
make me a woman, a slave, or a Greek" as part of his morning spiritual 
imprecations.  Could it be that 
there really is a remedy for sectarian, class-dominated male chauvinism?  That 
might certainly indicate 
there really is a God!  Something certainly changed Paul's mind radically-- he 
credits it to getting 
"straightened-out" by Jesus.  

Part of it, at least, came from a fresh look at Gen. 1:27, where God is 
represented as 
deciding to create humankind in "his image, male and female he created them."  
Centuries of male 
theologians viewed the "male and female" part as an incidental added detail; 
when in fact it is an
explanation of what it means to be created in God's image, as a dynamic 
fellowship of inter-related and 
distinct persons who together most faithfully represent the image of God.  That 
is, God being neither 
merely male nor female, can only be accurately imaged by both coming together 
in good-hearted, 
gregarious, equal fellowship.   That spirit seems to be very evident in this 

Let me hasten to add that I am painfully aware of the many excesses carried out 
in the name of 
Christianity.  These are particularly egregious since one of the central 
premises is that the kind of change 
of heart necessary for hope-filled living cannot be legislated (Gal. 3:21), it 
has to be seen faithfully 
demonstrated.  I struggle, along with many of you, to continue to hope for a 
better future, in the 
midst of a mess.  It's, at least in part, your hope in the future of cohousing 
we share; but there is still 
much work to do.  A mutually-respectful, hopeful dialogue must also go forward.

Rob wrote earlier about a visit to the Mennonite cohousing community in 
Seattle, and seems to have 
concluded that they were nice folks.  I can only guess he felt welcomed and 
included among them.  I 
would only hope that he'd feel similarly amidst a group like ours.  We do, by 
the way, have two members 
who are not Christians, by their own description, who nevertheless are active 
and valued participants and 
who have agreed to our ethos.  We'd welcome any questions or comments about the 
webpage or 
related issues it brings up; 
www.bartcommunity.org<http://www.bartcommunity.org/>, and welcome inquiries or 

I certainly don't think it will be everybody's cup of tea.  I just hope it will 
be found worthy of the 
"cohousing" designation, and that we can feel included in things, by virtue of 
the large-hearted 
inclusiveness of this movement.  I'd hope to be able to weather the inevitable 
of our project and criticisms of the faith position (many of which I agree 
with) which has driven 
other cohousers to stay "under the radar."  

Rob's comments are pertinent: "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 religious 
foundation. Of course I 
did nothing of the sort."

Large-heartedness is the atmosphere in which any real social progress happens.  
We are willing to be put 
to those tests.  We will inevitably fail some of them, in your minds, just as 
each of us individually fails on 
occasion.  Perhaps there is room for the kind of forgiving acceptance which 
undergirds so many of your 
lives, as far as I can tell, from reading your posts and hearing your hearts.

Best wishes for the season!

Guy and Christine Coe

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