Re: "CC", "SC" in general, and "N" (lm)
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 07:14:16 -0800 (PST)

On Dec 17, 2004, at 1:56 PM, CHRISTINE COE wrote:

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.

Wonderful points on religious communities. I talked with a woman recently who is a nun in a non-cloistered order and wanted to know if she would feel comfortable in our community. The fact that we have a Methodist minister made her feel that she would be accepted. She wanted neither proselytizing nor negativity -- just acceptance.

  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 misunderstandings 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."

One of the interesting things about liberal Christians is that they incorporate all good things and call them Christian. This can be very confusing to people who restrict "religious" to "beliefs" like which god you pray to and whether you believe Jesus Christ was a savior or just a great teacher (or neither), Visitors to my Unitarian Church were very confused to find that some of our members were observing Jews. They observed all their religious traditions, but preferred the Unitarian community where their religious beliefs were respected, though not shared. I suspect the values that your community calls "Christian," other communities call "cohousing."

The question is how far those values are allowed to grow and develop. Can people change? Is there questioning? What happens when someone does something unChristian? Are people expected to talk in terms of Christian and unChristian in all conversations -- Do they have to mention the word 65 times a day or be suspected of witchcraft?

One of the things I've discovered in our community is that the definition of "Christian" that is held by some Jewish residents is not anything similar to anything I've ever associated with Christian, not even in a Fundamentalist Baptist congregation. They make no distinction whatever between Catholic and Protestant, between the year 2004 and the year 1800 or 1935.

It has made me realize that I'm not a Christian -- I do not accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior -- but I'm very much a Protestant. I believe in and trust my ability to interpret the world wisely and appropriately and to determine the best course of action without the interpretation or intercession or permission of an authority. Fundamentally that is what the Protestant rebellion was all about. And this means things change, each circumstance is different, life is complicated. That's cohousing. You just have to work it out. There are no right answers.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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