Grendel who is a regular commenter here and a good mate of mine from Brighton sent me this article today entitled The Challenge of Building Community.
It is a more sociological approach to the dynamics of different sized groups and how humans function, but its got some great stuff to say. Here are a few quotes:
But creating community is not easy. In Creating a Life Together Diana Leafe Christian describes some of the challenges of intentional communities — finding members, creating honest consensus, resolving disputes, finding the right place to live, keeping it sustainable. This is tough work, and most intentional communities that do work are, well, rather pathetically small. It almost seems as if, as soon as you put more than a certain number of people into one interdependent group, you need hierarchy to keep things in order. Why might this be?
I’ve read everything I can get my hands on on intentional communities, and what strikes me most is that their failure, just like the failure of so many new-age business models, is a failure of imagination. The intentions are good. They invest a lot of time and energy in research, and in trying to make it work. But when they run into difficulties, they keep falling back on ‘conventional wisdom’: we need a council, and committees, and voting and non-voting shares, and strategic plans, and legal agreements, and to borrow lots of money; we need to work harder, and to wait until conditions are exactly right. I appreciate that creating a new community is scary, but the social, political and economic failings of the old system are exactly what got us into this mess, and incorporating them into the new models is just asking for the same terrible results.
The history of our civilization has been largely one of pioneers fleeing the ghastly tyranny of the hierarchical corporation/state, slaughtering gatherer-hunter societies in the ‘unincorporated’ lands they fled to, and then, as their numbers grew, replicating the hierarchical corporation/state themselves, and then constantly warring with other corporation/states.
Got you interested yet?…
The ‘failure of imagination’ rings big bells for me. Its way too easy to default to the old and familiar when we get in a pickle and aren’t sure which way to experiment next. I like his call to keep experimenting!
I have to say its a little ironic to me that the blog ‘How to Save the World’ is written by someone who wouldn’t claim to be a Jesus follower!
Its not to say people of ‘no fixed abode’ in regard to faith don’t have anything to say to us – not at all. But given the centrality of Jesus life, death and resurrection in my own worldview and the significance of the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God I genuinely find it hard to see a world saved in the absence of God’s redemptive love and Jesus’ death on the cross.