I've just been rereading an article called Proposal for a Radical Discipleship Community
that I wrote back in the 1970's. At the time, I typed it up on a mimeograph master sheet, ran off a couple of hundred copies or so, and passed it out to all kinds of people I thought might be interested. The community I envisioned never came off, but I pursued other versions of it from time to time over the years. Well before I even wrote this article I had lived with a group of draft resisters and their supporters in Albany called The Community of Loving Resistance
[I know, I know, a really corny name, but we were children of the sixties, what can I say.] Then I had been part of the New Swarthmoor
Quaker community that then had a house in Clinton, New York. After this article, I also participated in a quasi-ecumenical attempt at Christian community called Morningstar
. It included some Quakers, some Mennonites, and some Roman Catholics (including Janet Accetta, who is now my wife). Morningstar had a communal house owned by the Mennonite Church (the same building is now called Menno House and is located on East 19th Street in NYC), but most of us who considered ourselves the Morningstar community didn't actually live in the house. We just went there two or three evenings a week for worship, Bible Study, and business meetings (!). The latter were sort of Quakerish in form. As I recall them they were also largely dominated by two or three talkative men (one of whom was me).
Looking back on the Proposal I wrote, I find that it still expresses pretty well some of the longings I have for Christian community, but that I wince a little now at some of the rhetoric and some of the details in the proposal.
Here's what I would change if I were writing this proposal today:
1) I would talk a little more bluntly about Jesus and not go on about Christ having all those different "names" in Christian/Quaker tradition.
2) I would propose that Quaker Meetings become
radical discipleship communities, rather than that they have such communities within them.
3) I would abandon the whole concept that this would mean people had to share housing.
4) I would radically de-emphasize the whole section on disownment.
5) I don't think I would talk about refusal of jury service as some kind of radical witness. I have come to think that jury service is actually a good thing.
Maybe that sounds like I'm repudiating the whole article. But I don't feel I am. I think there's still a core there that I want to hold onto. I hope some of my blog-readers will read the article then come back here and comment. Eventually I may write an updated version.