Polygamy Now
The unfolding story of polygamy in the United States

Friday, August 03, 2007

Toward Enlightened Community

Big Love fans, have you ever wondered why Joey and his wives Wanda and Kathy refuse to leave their compound? Or why most polygamous families live in polygamous communities? Or why Karen, Lisa, and I would be reluctant to leave our intentional community?

It's because we've found our tribe -- neighbors with whom we live cooperatively, who know us well, and who care enough about us to tell us their truth and ours. And the social, spiritual, and economic advantages of living in community are incredible!

We recently received a gift from another community in the form of an e-book they wrote called Toward Enlightened Community. Click the photo, and you can read or print a copy for yourself. Here's what this community had to say --

We are a successful community who has been around for over 20 years now. Most of our members have been with us for at least 10 years. In those years we've learned a great deal about what it really takes to live together harmoniously. It has certainly been a challenge -- a very HEALTHY challenge. We've discovered a lot about ourselves, about human nature, and about what makes community really WORK, in the process.

Here's the introduction to their book --

Since the hippie heyday of the 1960s, when communes popped up like mushrooms and faded just as fast, community has lost popularity in the United States. Indeed, the popular mind has turned against community, citing innumerable problems and pitfalls as evidence that community living is, in general, foolish, if not dangerous. Thus, the very possibility of community living is viewed with considerable skepticism, and even irrational fear, by many. ...

However, despite its pitfalls and challenges, community has much to recommend it. The benefits of community living run the entire gamut from spiritual, emotional, and psychological, to pragmatic. But that, of course, is something that must be experienced to be believed.

The book is excellent. Whether you live in a community or would like to find one, you really should consider reading it. We'll be offering copies to our own community.

Here's a selected list of chapter titles --

Motives for Community
Community and Utopian Ideals
The poor track record of utopian ideals
The shopping list approach to finding community
A realistic approach to community

The closest possible approach to Utopia
The glue of shared belief
Why marriage and family is not enough
Elements of a good, spiritually-sound support system

Community’s Downsides Are Its Upsides
The Advantages of Not Always Having Things Your Way
The Benefits of Being "Stuck with" People
The economic costs of having your own same thing
The only person that you can really change is yourself

The chapters are short and easy to read. It took me only an hour to read the entire book online.

The book emphasizes the spiritual benefits of community. It's a little light on the nitty gritty of finding, creating, or living in a community. For that, try Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World by Carolyn Shaffer.


Blogger Question said...

Existential angst amongst the masses, by design.
An extended excerpt from Brian Kirkpatrick's Dances with Spain An unsuspecting traveler falls in love with tribal life,Chronicles (Nov. 1999).

The dance was intensely sensual and utterly proper. The few men still on the floor danced with their wives; mothers danced with daughters. Paco, whose mother lived with him, stood entranced by the mother of his children. His intense love for his wife was both proper and erotic, his pleasure wrapped round with stability, his self-control integrated with vibrant, pulsing life and love. When Paco talked to me later that night, he didn't use the word for wife; instead he said tu mujer--your woman--his choice of words reflecting the fact that her womanliness was the issue.

As the women danced, an American girl of 20 walked by. "Will somebody tell me why there are only women out on the dance floor?" she demanded of me. She was angry, sure that if only women were dancing, someone was being oppressed. I thought they had been liberated.

"There's a rule about this," I said. "You don't know it, and I don't know it, but they all do, and they're following it. We used to have this, but we've lost it. These people are a tribe."

Later that night, I asked Cuca, a physician from the northern city of Oviedo, about the dance. Not knowing the word for tribe in Spanish, I struggled to convey the idea of what I'd seen. "I'm from a nation, a country. But you are a people."

With the same gesture and the same expression I'd seen the new bride use when she was teased by the groom, Cuca raised a finger and wagged it back and forth. "No," she said in Spanish. "We are one blood."

Leaving the reception, I mentioned the dancing to the groom as we stood on the small porch of the hunting lodge. "Europe is nothing," I said. "The music started, and all of that disappeared."

He was a little drunk and was saying good-bye to friends he wouldn't see again for months. Some, he would never see again. Scientist, physician, psychiatrist, he beamed, lighting up the night. "I love that kind of thing!" he roared.

My progressive American friends would say that to belong to a tribe is an evil thing, that tribes are the cause of discrimination, pogroms, and war. They would cite Bosnia, Kosovo, the Kurds in Turkey, the Hutus and Tutsis, the Cypriot Greeks and Turks. I might reply that there are tribes who make good neighbors: the Swiss, the Amish. I live in a neighborhood where I am surrounded by Orthodox Jews. When I run at night, I wave and say hello to them. They seldom answer or even acknowledge me, but I know I am safe, even from their adolescents, who walk to temple with their parents. My friends would say such tribes are the exceptions, safe only because they are few in number. I say that line of debate is sterile.

Better to say that without such belonging, we decline into the things that America has become. If we belong to nothing, we become no one. Our marriages fail, our streets are unsafe, our children become lost and go to their schools to kill each other. Better to say there is no escape from this dilemma, that this is our tragedy. This is who we are.

A second American woman in her early 30s, never married, came up to me soon after the Spanish women had danced. She was sweating a little from dancing. I had never seen her so excited. She was a social worker who thought herself progressive, and I wondered if she would agree with the American girl who had been so disapproving. Hesitantly, I asked her if she had seen what happened when the music began.

"Yes!" She was thrilled.

We talked for some time. She thought we Americans had never been a tribe; I told her I thought that once we had. Whether or not I was right, she made the wisest remark of the night. She was joking when she answered me, but she spoke with utter sincerity. Up on her toes, nearly hopping with excitement, she said, "I want to be in a tribe!"

So do we all.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

Thank you for the beautiful imagery, question.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are looking to add a sister wife to our family. If interested email us at keith8575@gmail.com . We enjoy the outdoors fishing, hunting, camping ect. I am 40 my wife is 36. We do have children. We live in Ohio. Thank you, hope to hear from someone soon.

12:45 PM  
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