Monday, April 24, 2006

Are We Idealistic?


I'm a lazy blogger lately, but I wanted to share here a contribution I offered to a discussion on Abbot Creech's blog. By all means feel free to read and respond there if you like (The title: "What do people want [from church]?"). One of his commenters moved me to think about whether or not we in our shared life, with all our talk about "community," can be called idealists, or if we might find ourselves talking about these great ideas that are essentially unliveable. I find that to be a common objection when I talk about these things, but the crux of the matter is that I see myself and my friends living in these ways right now.
I can see, and appreciate, the allure of the community model that you operate under, in that from the outside, it seems uncomplicated and easy on the surface.
I'm not ready to call our life as VBCC (or my relationships with the folks of hOME in Oxford) to be either easy or uncomplicated, and I never mean it to sound that way. I try to make truth and faithfulness as I understand them to be clear and obvious, but never easy or uncomplicated. Indeed, the whole shebang is about as un/complicated as you could expect a web of relationships to be. There just doesn't happen to be any Powerpoint. Loving each other is never easy, and the ways of doing this in concrete and not hypothetical fashion with real people with real "issues" and life stories is never obvious or easy. There's nothing in my own words about "life in the christian community" that I suppose will make that easy or obvious as such. Being dedicated to one another is never easy. But it is good, and it is healing.

I think we are, however, "People together of like minds, trying to live life and love God."

That should always be square one. But I like to think that we have no illusions: when we start doing that together in the real world with realy people (as we do!) then we see that it's not "easy," but none of us claim for even one moment that it is. It's just faithful.
Nothing of the big church stuff to get hung up on.
Well, there is a certain holy simplicity to it, in my not-so-humble opinion. ;0)
Then I realize that if I were to dive in, even in your community, there would be lots of things to distract and muck it up.
That's true. Now pay attention to this next part, because it's very important: that's the way it's supposed to be. One of the big conceptual and practical tests of our common life is whether and how we see to live with and in that muckiness in a loving and redemptive way rather than to try to escape the muckiness of one another's lives.


Someone once said, "I am neither an optimist or a pessimist. God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead."

Blessed Eastertide to you.

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naak said...

I find much of what you are talking about to be distant and difficult, but I agree with you about the idea of community. Some times I think that western Christianity has become to individualistic. I guess I would call you an idealist, but I guess I would call myself one. To some degree, I think that we have a vision of what it is suppose to be like, though they might be different, and we want to form our relationships and community into that model. To me it just makes good sense to be and idealist.

Hey man, it was awesome getting to meet you and Josh and Jessica. I hope that you guys have had a good time in Gtown. God bless.

Kyle Potter said...

England Kyle Potter, its Minnesota Kyle Potter here.

It seems to me that this alignment of idealism and the real world that you speak about is exactly what motivates idealists, the fact that we have seen our ideals in action. This is the reason why I get so disapointed with people when they don't live idealistically, because I have seen the power of humanity to do good.

So-called realists don't live in a world where ideals guide their actions, so they never see an alignment of ideals and reality and think that its unreachable because they have never experienced it.

Oh, by the way, I'm in the blogging world again.

Stephen Lawson said...

I guess I would really like to know how it works.

How can you honestly live in the kind of community you are talking about in our culture. because I deeply desire (and, to a certian extent, fear) it. However, it falls though, with people's work scheduals, and school, and their own respective families. I find it so hard to function in this society and not become individualistic.

any advice you have about living life together and how that looks in this indivdualistic world would be greatly appreciated.


Kyle said...

Thanks, Naak. It was good to spend some time with you.

I'm surprised that you find what I've written here to be "distant and difficult"; as you read my stuff here please feel free to challenge me to clearer with my language if need be. I don't assume that I communicate things very well all the time, but the difficulty is that I don't know just when I'm writing clearly and when I'm writing something hazy. Anyway, thanks!

Thanks, Kyle. I'll update the link. You know, some folks already think that some of my commenters are actually my alter egos... Oh well.

Man, Stephen, I don't know. We just do it. One has to realize that when we get to the end of all our hopes about what our community life "should" be, and by the grace of God we find ourselves throughly disillusioned, we can hear the Lord's call to love on and stay with the people around us right here and now.

I really think that square one is to create an explicit context of commitment and covenant in our friendships: demonstrating to one another in word and deed that we are and will be around for one another when we get stupid and screw things up and see our dreams dashed and fail to love one another well. We learn to give each other the grace to fail and the strength to keep at it just by doing it. It means that nothing gets to be a "deal breaker" in the life we share together. It means we take for granted that we must "work on" our friendships and do the creative work of loving one another well.

That's where I'd start. That's where I do start.