Thursday, August 26, 2010

The ZigZag Café

We will be convening here at the ZigZag café, Suisse, on Thursdays for conversation and dialogue. I invite you to stop by every Thursday for the question of the day. Your thoughts and participation are most welcome. Pull up a stool, avec un café, un thé, ou un chocolat chaud, et un croissant, and join in here on Thursday at the ZZ café.

For today:

Why is the search for a community life so intriguingly popular today, and what do you see as the value and purpose of Christian community?

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Rhett & Valerie said...

Hey Greg,

I think a large part of the attractiveness of community (as a concept intentionally pursued) might be related to family disintegration.

It's not a totally popular thing to say among my generation. A lot of us don't really think about the concept of family or pursue cultivating strong families intentionally because we think they're a lost cause. Or just lame. Go find your affinity group and make that your family.

The hard thing is to maintain a balance when you do have a strong, high functioning family. Its easy to screen everyone else out and just focus on your spouse and your kids, and not intentionally include single people or pursue deep relationships with them.

I'm interested to see how others respond. Lately, when I've been thinking about community, I immediately think "local". What's more local than your family in your house, and then your neighbors living next door?


Greg said...

Thanks. I like your twofold direction here. The notion of "community" has increased in popularity, partially because of the devastation of so many family breakdowns nowadays. Yet, there is a toxic polarized other side to this, where family becomes total "community." How do you think we can avoid these? How might we be more intentional about reducing family divisions or seclusions?

From a Christian point of view, as Kevin Vanhoozer has pointed out so pertinently, we want to see ourselves and others as "glocal" people. That is, in my terms, global and local members of the body of Christ who worship the Creator God, through the power of the Spirit.

Rhett & Valerie said...

I like the idea of "glocal". It maintains immediacy and concern for your geographically "near" community without being provincial or xenophobic.

In fact, I think part of the distinctiveness of a Christian community is that it practices hospitality. (And hospitality not as "entertainment" but as seriously inviting someone in to your daily life). At the same time, there should be a place within our concept of Christian community for privacy and boundaries. L'Abri has definitely worked through those different issues over the years.

So part of the purpose of Christian community is to live out the drama of the Gospel-- God inviting the strangers in; grafting the Gentiles into the olive tree; adopting them into his family. I think part of the purpose of Christian community is for our own good, too. We were made for each other.

I think living out a really healthy concept of community probably takes years of practice. Lately, I've found some local church's attempts at producing "community" to feel contrived and awkward. Community should be pursued not just for "community's sake", but for a greater purpose. Sometimes I'll be in these gatherings and just wish I was at home with my family (surprise). But just because that's my initial impression doesn't mean it's not a worthy endeavor.

Greg said...

Excellent points.

Hospitality is costly, but nevertheless a crucial dimension of community. It has to be worked on and finding something of an imperfect balance between invitation and privacy may be a life long task for some of us.

I agree that community has to have that essential ingredient of the "real." I guess I do wonder why it can often be, as you have pointed out, contrived. Perhaps, this is due to jumping on to the popularity of something without a sense of the "real" that makes it essential, even vital. But going for that greater purpose and beginning to find it takes time and experience - and might we say - God doing something in it all.

Lukas und Céline Kuhs said...

Yesterday I had a talk with someone and thinking about it today after having read Valeries posts, I noticed a strange thing. This persons family hardly communicates at home, while they are masters of communication at church.
Looking at me, I must admit that I sometimes value church (community) more than family community myself.

How can that be? I think it is part of the answer to the original question.

Everybody wants and needs community. But you want to achieve something with your community/communication. You want acceptance and love. And sometimes it is hard in your family to receive such. But choosing and forming your community will put you in a position where everybody values you... Also you can choose what role and face you want to present or reveal. This puts you in a good position - a position that might be better than your position in family.

Greg said...

Thanks. If I'm understanding you, I like what you're getting at here. The whole problem of self/other -deception arises. Harder to do in a family than a wider community. In the broader context, we can be the master and present ourselves in a favorable manner. Our desperation for community can sometimes falsify a truer picture of who were are, as we are driven by the need for love and acceptance.

The other side of being in community could also be a real positive - not a charade - if there is a greater alignment between family community self and wider community self, that has the other and contributing to that other life as one major goal.