Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

October 20, 2008

Whoa!…or…just let go and enjoy the ride.

Filed under: Intentional community — theburts @ 3:55 pm

As a kid, I used “whoa” as it was created to be used…to command my horse to stop. :) It didn’t always work, like when I rode bareback and unbridled, or when I somehow lost control of the reigns and was just hanging on for dear life. But that’s what “whoa” meant to me. Now it’s just another exclamation, like “holy smokin’ metal, batman!” 

“Whoa!” could be used in both ways here. There’s been a lot of exciting things, so a big ol’ exclamatory “wow!” is definitely in order. And, things have been moving so quickly lately regarding community that an outsider might caution with “whoa!”…but we’re thinking instead of just letting go of the reigns and holding on. :) OK, now that I’m done with my cheesy little introduction (which I think was quite clever personally), I’ll proceed by updating you blogreaders with the latest on our community formation.  

Our group is still meeting every other Wednesday to discuss the book Schools for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism. We’ve enjoyed discussing community issues, both living together and living within a neighborhood, from a theological perspective and also from a practical one. Haven’t gotten everything figured out yet, ha, but have had some great conversation! Meanwhile, we met Jason Adkins about a month ago at the new monastic conference. Since then, we’ve gotten to know him and his wonderful family of seven (that’s right, Jason and Stephani and 5 kids! and they’re my age! talk about “wow!”), and it’s looking like a good possibility that we’ll make an offer on a house together within a week or two. There are at least two among our existing group who plan to join the community. The Adkins’ vision of community life seems to align perfectly with what we’ve been discussing, only they already had a neighborhood of Nashville in mind and have thought much more about how to serve the neighborhood while living faithfully as a community of Christians.

To that end, we learned that Jason and his co-conspirators have been meeting for a long time trying to nail down a proposal called the “Oikos Project.” In the word “oikos,” evidently, there are roots in the words ecology, economy and eccumenism. So this project would work in the neighborhood to bring an alternative economy where affordable housing was built, local jobs were created, and people live together and share economic resources, working together against suburban individualism and urban gentrification; it would be eccumenical in joining people from different faith backgrounds in common service of the kingdom, promoting unity of believers; and it would attempt to be ecologically sustainable by using local building materials, growing much of its own food in urban, community gardens, and sharing common space in “designed for community” housing. All of this would be done through a non-profit organization that would allow people and organizations to donate their time and money to keep it going. That’s all in my own words, so I’m sure that it could be said a lot better and that I’ll learn more about what they want to do in the neighborhood as we go along. So, even though Jason and friends have already been meeting with neighborhood organizations, city planning officials, and others who all are extremely excited so far about their ideas, it will take some time. Like, years maybe. 

Jason and Stephani have expressed the desire to go ahead and move into the neighborhood. As soon as possible. Otherwise, they’ve told us, it seems very much like a church who goes into an area to clean up or play with the kids and then retreats to the safety of their building and homes. Good service, no doubt, and a needed one. But those of us who desire to live in intentional community often want the benefits of living in, learning from, and growing with the neighborhoods that we want to serve. 

They are very encouraged in finding others who are ready to make this move into community, and we’ve had a wonderful time spent hearing each others’ journeys. And on a lighter note, their family is just super fun to be around! After living in community with Ariah and Mindy and Dawn and Bryan and Avery and Roman and Josh and Chris, with all the laughter and joy that we shared, I wasn’t sure that community could ever be that fun again. And maybe it can’t! :) But I’m 100% convinced that, though we’ll no doubt have conflict at times, we’ll immensely enjoy the experience of living together. More than that, I get excited imagining how the grace of our Lord may be present in our community, and I’m eager to grow alongside our new and old friends as we try to practice kingdom life together. :)

So the house we’re looking at is in really poor shape. I’ve seen it from the outside only…but I’ve been told that it smells like pee. So it needs some work, a lot of work, much of which will be done by us and by our friends and churches who may come and help with renovations. It’s also fairly inexpensive, though, and is right in the area where our friends want to relocate. It’s only 1,650 sq ft with an additional 600-700 sq ft that would be finished as an attic bedroom(s). So that’s not enough space for the 12 or 13 (including children) people who are immediately interested in forming a community. So we’re considering options such as renting a place close by, buying another nearby house, etc. 

We don’t know yet what exactly the core values of our community will be. Maybe we need a short mission statement, maybe not. :) So far we’ve discussed the importance of a weekly house/community family meeting, frequent common prayer offered (but not mandatory) maybe twice a day, having open and honest conversation about community members’ role in being authority holding adults while maintaining a very limited role in discipline, some form of economic sharing between members of the community, and the need for private space both in some sort of a prayer/library area and in each family unit’s space to be alone.

Pray with us! There will be a lot of decisions to be made in the next few days/weeks. Scary, a little, and maybe a little crazy. Or a lot crazy when you look at it outside of the context of the kingdom of God! But also exhilarating to live in an alternative way that is contrary, foolish even, to what our current society offers…as exhilarating as letting go of the reigns and galloping away. (Yes, I brought the cheese back at the end!) That’s all for now, I guess, though I’m sure I’m forgetting some important details.

Peace!

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October 9, 2008

Where is Wall Street again?

Filed under: Just for fun — theburts @ 9:15 am

Ok, I’m not that ignorant on what’s going on…close, but not quite. Since my ignorance in economics disables me from making any comments on the financial situation, I thought I’d point out something a little lighter. Has anyone else noticed the pictures that CNN (and I’m sure others) are using for their stories on the economy? It’s actually quite funny…it seems as though they have some photographers who are trained to go around Wall Street and find people with despairing looks, most of whom have their hand over their face somewhere and some of whom have put both hands on their heads. If I worked in Wall Street and wanted to be in the news, I would get a group of my friends together, find something random that we could look up and watch, and all put our hands on our heads or one hand over our mouth and try to squeak out a tear or two. We’d be on the news in minutes. 

Please excuse my flippancy, I realize that the crisis itself isn’t funny. On a more serious note, I thought this article about a sheriff in Chicago was really interesting. Check it out here.

Or if you’d rather see the video…

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/10/08/chicago.evictions/index.html

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