ACW

ACW

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Community: why it's Important by Mari Howard aka Clare Weiner




Shared meal, shared lives ...


Thinking what to write on the blog I’ve come up with Community. Some of us who go to Scargill will know what a powerful and blessed place it is - yet ‘being community’ is something each member must work on, or the whole will fall apart.

Why is community important?

Society has become individualistic: Britain was described as ‘the most individualistic society’ worldwide, even back in 2009. Developing our own skills, interests, relaxation, watching TV, demanding each of us have our own right to be totally ourselves, can lead to personal fulfilment. But, it also leads towards alienation, discrimination, fear of the other, intolerance, breakdown of close relationships. Other people become characters in a movie going past our eyes …

Two novels I read recently reflect aspects of this. Great Small Things, by Jodi Picoult, illustrates fear of others, and of difference, in terms racism and white supremacy. Ink, by Alice Broadway, is a dystopic fantasy tale set in strange country where everyone is ‘marked’ or tattooed all over with illustrations their life events, (so there can be no secrets). The ‘enemy’ are the ‘Blanks’, who are not marked, and are therefore unknowable … whatever might they do? It is a story about dictatorship…

How could community make things better?

A real community is one where people can learn to interact with one another, to listen, to respect, to value others for who they are and how they are. It will be a mixed group. In community we also learn about ourselves, we contribute, and in turn we are supported and loved. 

None of this is easy. But in today’s lonely, competitive, corporate, global, world, while countries and political groups fight and destroy one another, being community is something worth learning. If the world was a community, would we all work together against climate change?  Would we find people more ready to support the disadvantaged and disabled - would there be any disadvantaged and disabled?  Unlikely … yet world resources might be better used if we all pulled together for the good of all. Developing medical advances (to combat drug resistant malaria, for example), are a lot more use than throwing resources at destructive military conflicts … 

That’s just a dream. 


Why this is important for Christians ...
Why is it worth doing?

As we watch communities break down (as they have since the industrial revolution), being people who believe in a God who loves the world, living as members of a community rather than isolated individuals, is important. Belonging is important. To our local community has well as our church community. Bringing the two together. It’s also the style of the very earliest Christians: ‘living stones’ building into a church, the ‘body Christ’, which had all things in common. The way they interacted caught the imagination of the surrounding society, which was impressed: ‘see how these Christians love each other’. 

Of course, I’m not saying community building is easy: it involves both being in relationship with a group of others and living an authentic life … for which we need to also develop our spiritual lives …One for another time! How do we get along with everyone else, and not resort to wearing masks to impress?

Answers may be found at Scargill - or another community you know. I am told it’s not an easy life, to be a member of a convent, or a lay community … very believable… 

Mari Howard is the pen name of Clare Weiner, who is writing the third in a series of novels of today, tracing the lives of Drs Max and Jenny Mullins, a couple raised in contrasting homes, who meet as students, marry, and pursue professional lives while raising a family and struggling with societal changes and the demands of their very different backgrounds. Through this we look at belief, motivation, acceptance and our changing world ...




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