“People are discovering that satisfying possibilities for their lives are in the neighborhood, not in the marketplace.”
That’s how John McKnight and Peter Block start their book, The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods. I wanted to know more after hearing John, Peter and Walter Brueggemann speak at the Abundant Communities conference in San Antonio, so I’ve just started the book and will share some highlights here. (All of the quotes on this post are from pages 1-2.)
“First, we see the abundance that we have–individually, as neighbors, and in this place of ours.
“Second, we know that the power of what we have grows from creating new connections and relationships among and between what we have.
“Third, we know that these connections are no accident. They happen when we individually and collectively act to make the connections–they don’t just happen by themselves.”
Two words jumped out at me as I read this–“we have.” This book is not about something we do not have but need to acquire; it’s about what we have. That may not seem like a biggie, but so much of what we encounter today through advertising, self-help advice, and even church is about what we need but do not have. The simplicity of the notion that we have what we need seems powerfully freeing.
And while we may have what we need, I like the notion that this is something we’re going to have to work for. That squares with our experience of life.
The three steps mentioned above “awaken us to our abundance, not our scarcities. … [And they] can often be undermined by great corporate, governmental, professional, and academic institutions.”
For those of us who attended the San Antonio conference, these words sound so familiar. Walter Brueggemann made a superb biblical connection between the ideas of abundance and scarcity. (I blogged my notes from Walter’s remarks.)
And then John and Peter pick up the notion of citizenship about which I didn’t get good notes during the conference.
“It is our calling as citizens to ignore the voices that create dependency, for we are called to find our own way. …”
In a democracy, “we strive to be citizens–people with the vision and the power to create our own way, a culture of community capacity, connection, and care.”
I look forward to hearing more about these notions of citizenship.
“… [S]trong communities are vital, productive, and important. And above all they are necessary because of the inherent limits of all institutions.
“No matter how hard they try, our very best institutions cannot do many things that only we can do. And the things that only we can do as a family and a neighborhood are vital to a decent, good, satisfied life.”
I want to be part of something that is vital, productive, and important. I want to have a decent, good, satisfied life. I do experience all of this in many ways now but look forward to seeing how John and Peter open new possibilities for us.