Thursday, March 30, 2006

What is "Community" to you?

People use that word to mean any sort of hail-fellows-well-met gathering, to the point where its meaning has become diluted. Our suburban mentality remains, and when the fellowship is over, we retreat to our isolated enclaves, with neighbors we rarely see, much less get to know. Stephen Heiner has done a series on the issue of "Catholic community," using as a case study, Saint Mary's, Kansas, a town settled by German Catholic immigrants in the 19th century, and today the USA headquarters of the presumedly-schismatic (that is to say, if certain decrees are to be interpreted in a certain way) Society of Saint Pius X and many of their followers. While this writer has reservations about the SSPX, to say the least (although their publishing arm, Angelus Press, is an excellent source of material), Heiner's series (consisting of an Introduction, and Parts I, II, III, and IV) gives plenty of food for thought.

At one time it would have been understood; people would gravitate to their own kind, and live and work and worship in a setting which provided its own "comfort zone." The post-industrial era, the rise of single-use zoning, all enabled by the automobile, have scaled our lifestyles beyond the human scale, and have de-humanized our surroundings. It's one reason why after my marriage ended, I chose to leave the suburbs and live in town. I've never regretted that decision.

I began work last year on a series entitled "How then shall we live?" in response to the proposed building of Ave Maria, Florida. One thing led to another, and I was unable to complete the task. I intend to return to the subject one of these days. But a tip of the Black Hat goes to Mr Heiner for his initiative.

Thanks to Nicholas W of Traditio in Radice for the heads-up.

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