All posts tagged: Christian community

“Parks and Recreation”: Icon of Community

Over the past several months, I’ve been rewatching NBC’s comedy series Parks and Recreation, which is, in my opinion, one of the most quietly wonderful shows ever to be on television. Having seen every episode at least once now, I think I’ve figured out what made the show work so well (or, more accurately, what made it work so well once its writers figured out what they wanted it to be). Parks and Rec works because its characters are better together than they would be alone. Fans of the show undoubtedly recognize themselves in one or more of the characters (I’ve been cast as Leslie Knope by multiple friends, and I’ve cast my own friends as Ron Swansons, Donna Meagles, even April Ludgates), and it is this recognition that also serves as a reminder that we are made better human beings by the other people in our lives than we could ever become on our own. Leslie’s overachieving drive and relentless enthusiasm needs to be tempered by Ron’s taciturnity, Ben’s pragmatism, and Ann’s steadiness. On the …

A Vision of Heaven: Dorm Community as Christian Community

How good it is and how pleasant when kindred dwell as one. —Psalm 133:1 A wise priest once held up for me, as an image of spiritual maturity, the Gospel story of the Visitation. Luke narrates the story of Mary running to Elizabeth immediately following Mary’s own visitation by an angel. Told by the angel that Elizabeth is with child, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. Why? In the story of Mary’s annunciation, the angel announces to Mary her startling new vocation, and immediately follows that with the magnificent work that has been done in Elizabeth by God. Elizabeth’s bearing a child in her old age is given to Mary as a miraculous sign of grace. Rather than running to Elizabeth to announce her own monumental good news, as one might expect, Mary goes to Elizabeth to delight in Elizabeth’s good news. Mary, the model of all discipleship, models for us a radical call to rejoice in the other. But Elizabeth’s response to Mary elevates the scene to a still more excellent image. Elizabeth cries out: …

Goodness Multiplied: An Examination of Christian Community

I was a lone wolf until college. I prided myself on not having a group of friends but many distinctive, particular friendships. I hated following the crowd and I thought of myself as something of an artist. Maybe it was becoming Catholic as a senior in high school that changed me, but by my roaring twenties, I had become a community junkie. I opted into several intentional communities after the college years at Notre Dame, including a Catholic orphanage run by volunteers in Honduras and a Catholic Worker House back in the U.S. upon my return. I discerned several religious communities seriously, but ultimately married an equally community-oriented man, and we’re now raising our children in a semi-intentional communal neighborhood. Having spent a number of years involved in various communities, I’ve realized that I’m interested in how to keep communities healthy and united, how to draw the appropriate boundaries and how to make things last in a sustainable, ongoing way. Short-term service in community is great. Long-lasting, deep, real community rooted in faith that takes …