Tuesday, August 17, 2010

At the communities conference

This past weekend, I had one of my more interesting encounters of the summer at the Twin Oaks Communities Conference which can be explored at this outdated link here. I'd visited Twin Oaks, which is northwest of Richmond in the middle of nowhere, central Virginia, 10 years ago to do an article so I was familiar with this group of 100 or so people living on 400+ acres. Every year they sponsor a communities conference which I thought might be the perfect place to interest folks in my new book.
Well....nice idea but the workshop I had on Sunday morning (on bringing the Spirit into community life) never had more than 10 people (some wandered in and out) listening at one time. I realized that all my talk about the religious roots of community was meeting with mostly non-comprehending stares. Most of the people listening had not a clue of what I was talking about even though I tried to simplify my terms, double-explain things and so on. Later, during lunch, it was raining and so a bunch of us took refuge on the floor of one tent - the photo here shows Veeka trying to sit cross-legged and looking pretty sopping wet as were we all - and discussed our ideas of God. I played devil's advocate and shot down some peoples' ideas as God being whatever one wants Him - it - She - to be. I insisted that God is not our projection but we're His projection. Also, I heard a lot of folks talking about absolutes while denying the possibility of God. I asked them what gave them the right to speak of absolutes when they were denying the standard - and standard-Giver Who makes those absolutes possible?
I got told I was being soooo dogmatic and basically ruining the discussion! Getting frustrated, I plunked Veeka on my lap and said if everything was relative, what was to prevent me from throwing her in a river? No one really answered that question. One woman broke in to say that she was offended that we were talking about God at all, especially God as "He." I really didn't care how offended she was but the rest of the group was more concerned about her sensitivities. That was how our discussion went; some of us would be in the midst of a debate and an outside person would break in to say how their feelings were getting hurt by just picking up some of our vibes.
Anyway, we were all at a camp site 1/4 mile from the Twin Oaks community, which had gone to great pains to set up some very nice clearings, space for preparing meals, tables and a wonderful little hollow with things to do for kids. Veeka loved camping and loved sleeping in a tent and relaxing in the colorful hemp hammocks that were everywhere. (Hammocks is one of the industries that Twin Oaks lives off of). Since we were a long way from a road, I could let her dash about and not watch her constantly as I usually have to do every day of my life. So mark that down as an enjoyable weekend.

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