Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What communities should we join or form?

At various times, I've written about how creating or joining communities that pursue the good life in common is the best way to bring others to our ideas--or, ultimately, to Christ, because that should be our goal. People tend to convert people, not arguments. I've argued for this from a metaphysical perspective and in a more miscellaneous fashion. I like the metaphysical argument, think it is one of the better things I have written, and I advise you to read it.

The thing is, I don't know of anyone in the Orthosphere who has written about the various kinds of communities / institutions that we can form or join. So I thought I'd provide a little list of the types of such communities, with examples. The list is not scientific; it is not exhaustive; inclusion of a community / institution in the list does not indicate approval of all or even most of the activities of the community, for I am somewhat ignorant of some of them. If I've left any important category out, please let me know.

The following are meant to be for laymen. Obviously there are many religious communities that one can join.

1. Geographically-based, non-parish based communities. Many Christians get together and decide to live together; they might all go to one parish, but the parish does not seem to form the pre-existing nucleus around which they have formed. I've heard of more than one of these, but few seem to last. The Alleluia community in Georgia has lasted, and I've known at least one person who came from it who did not seem nuts; I would like to find out more about them and how they work.

Of course, such things generally tend to be called cults by the outside world. I think that if you want a community you'll have to live with that.

2. Parish-based communities. It is obvious what this is. Protestants might, perhaps, be better at these than Catholics, but Catholics are working on it.

3. Spirituality-based, non-geographic communities. By this I mean a particular organization or group of people who have local groups; these groups meet regularly to pray, discuss life and its trials, and praise God. Some members of the community might live together, rather than merely meeting regularly. Communion and Liberation is such a group, as is Opus Dei, assuming I understand the second correctly. The network that charismatic Catholics seem to form around the country might also form such a community in an informal fashion. There are more, I'm almost certain, but I do not know them well.

These groups can have a surprising amount of trust between their members. Note that these also can be, and are, called cults by those outside of them.

4. Spirituality-based communities that have spun-off from a religious order. Dominican tertiaries, Franciscan tertiaries, etc. One could say that this is the same as 2, but what I have in mind for 2 usually started off as meant for laymen, whereas these usually started off for religious but then expanded to include laymen.

5. Work-based communities. That is, communities meant to help those in a particular line of work reach holiness. The ancient guilds were, if I understand them correctly, such communities. I know of none that exist now.

6. Confessional states don't really exist outside of Malta and Vatican City and maybe a few other countries, at least in the form in which the readers of this blog are apt to be interested. They do not seem likely to be formed any time soon.

I think that unless we are in, trying to join, or trying to form such communities, we are not really serious about what we say.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I exist

Just so you know. Posts will randomly resume soon; don't expect them save on Sundays, as I do work that I enjoy doing on my day of leisure.