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Community? or Communism?

Happy new year everyone!

I love getting topic suggestions from you, and I got a good one from Jedidiah this month. He originally pitched it to me as, “We all think community is a good thing we should foster; we all hate communism and think it’s bad. What’s the difference?” I thought this was fantastic. So I’ve asked him to guest-blog about it. Here’s Jedidiah:

In what is sometimes called the Fourth Great Awakening, a sea-change in worldview within the United States, 1000s of people became involved in communal living, sharing everything in common, and putting the good of the group before the good of the individual. Christian communes at the time claimed that this was the way the first Christians lived, and that it was a continual theme within that faith.  However, many communes were attacked for being cults or simply communism, especially after Jonestown.  Today, a milder version of this movement continues among people of all faiths or no faith in the cohousing movement in the United States, although some 60s communes remain.

Is communal living basically the same as communism?  Are there any significant differences?  Is one form preferable to another?  What are the positives or negatives to that lifestyle choice?  Is this an approach that can help us significantly develop deeper, healthy relationships with others, learning to care for others better?  Or is it something that does too much harm to the psyche, treading on our individual rights?

Jedidiah grew up in one of the communes he describes, so he’s got some interesting perspective on community. But you do too! I hope this topic challenges us and generates some lively discussion. See you soon!

For those of you wondering what “see you soon” means, this blog posts topics for a monthly meetup in Verona, Wisconsin. You’d be welcome to join us! If you’ve been to the meetup before, your comments will be allowed here.

One Response to “Community? or Communism?”

  1. Great topic, Jedidiah.
    Even though your questions are framed more generally, considering communal living regardless of the particular mindset or belief system of the group, much of my interest in the topic has to do with Christian living and the obvious observation that has been gnawing in the back of my mind for years that Christianity in America (as a whole) seems to be fairly far removed from the simple examples we see of the early church in Acts 2, Acts 4, etc. It is becoming increasingly clear to me how “institutional” the Church in America is (and I believe wrongly so) and how important it is that Christians should (voluntarily) strive to live in a far more communal way. The amount of “letting go” required would be very hard for most Christians living in the American culture (myself included), but I have no doubt we can “grow” towards this ideal if we so choose. I am interested in hearing of your personal experiences in this area.

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