Clans and Clubs

These monthly reflections generally look at what community is, or should be. No particular formula or ideal way of achieving community gets held up as unique. We simply invite the reader to consider the shared life of faith from every angle, often pointing to the lived experiences, common goals, successes, and failures of those who have engaged in building community. And community, we maintain, comes in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Live-in, parish, congregational, weekly, biweekly groupings-all and each may legitimately claim the title of community.

Less frequent, but no less important in these reflections, is a consideration of the other side of the coin-what community is not. Nevertheless, a look at the shadow side of community, so to speak, can benefit all who try to live out their life in God together with brothers and sisters in the same household of faith. As a famous writer once pointed out, if you get very used to the picture of a person riding a horse, imagine a horse riding the person.

WHAT, THEN, are communities not?

They are not group houses. Most everyone knows this. Even the intentional coming together these days of usually young men and women in communal dwelling situations does not a community make. While entirely appropriate and beneficial for the members, these arrangements, even with a high degree of structure, do not of themselves fulfill what is required for true community.

Their members generally live together for legitimate but completely utilitarian reasons-it's easier, cheaper, and more convenient this way. The cost of living, the single lifestyle, and congeniality are the factors that drive such group houses. The members themselves know the difference between what they are doing and true community life. Sometimes the group does become community.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1995
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