Q & A on Intentional Community

Answering some of your questions

 

Video transcript:

RICHARD
Ok in this final video of our series on intentional communities we’re going to be answering questions folks put to us in the comments section.

MELINDA
We actually had more comments than questions. Some great comments from people who are living in intentional community as well as from people who are interested in the idea. Then of course the odd critique including from a guy who said it was like watching Bob Ross on Thorazine.

RICHARD
I had to look both those things up. Well ok then. First question is “I love the possibilities of my individual life. Will I lose it in following Jesus and join an intentional community?”

It’s a good question. And the answer is yes, you give up quite a few possibilities by following Jesus and being part of a community. I think it’s important to be clear about this: when you live in community you have to lose the idea that your own wants and wishes are what’s most important. That’s the thing that makes community possible.

MELINDA
Yeah if everyone put their wants first and foremost the whole thing would fall apart. The way it’s put in the gospel of Matthew makes this very clear: “If you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it.” (Matthew 16:25). So not to be harsh about this, but if you love the possibilities of your individual life you should probably not try living in community. By the way, what stands out to you as something you had to lose when you joined the Bruderhof?

RICHARD
That’s a tough one because it’s so long ago. Oh, this wasn’t me but one guy who was in the same group as me when we were discerning membership told me one of the things he really loved doing was riding on wooden rollercoasters – like the original rollercoasters. He was fascinated by them and went all over the country to ride on these things. And that was hard for him to give up. Kind of blew my mind. And he didn’t end up joining.

MELINDA
Wow. He’s out there riding to this day. Next question: “Why do the women all look the same and what's with the head covering?? Why is it that these women allow themselves to be controlled by patriarchal rules & traditions?”

Yeah! Come on! Down with the patriarchy!

RICHARD
Why’re you looking at me?

MELINDA
Just a word of advice to the questioner: It’s not very polite to tell women they all look the same. The head covering is because the Apostle Paul (who I believe had deep respect for women) encouraged women to cover their heads when they pray. It’s that simple to me. And women who join the Bruderhof all do so voluntarily and are not controlled by anyone. I know that’s hard for some people to believe but you’re just going to have to take it from me.

RICHARD
Here’s another question: “How does one join an intentional community such as the Bruderhof?”

Well first you’ll want to get in touch somehow and arrange a visit. I can’t speak for all intentional communities out there but for the Bruderhof folks generally start with a day visit or an overnight just to experience what it’s like. Then you’d probably arrange for a longer visit – two weeks to a month. If everything was going well then you’d come to stay. At this point there would be no commitment other than agreeing to respect the order and the spirit of the community. Finally, if you really felt this was the place for you’d be accepted into membership. That about sums it up, right?

MELINDA
Pretty much. The important thing is to take it slow and really test out your decision over time. Next question: “You guys run various businesses for profit. What do you need the money for? Can't you be self–sustaining and gather and make everything you need like the Amish?”

RICHARD
It would be nice. I always wanted to be like Sam Gribley in My Side of the Mountain. Acorn pancakes, stalking deer, catching fish by hand and so forth…Right?

MELINDA
You wouldn’t last a week. Well to answer the question, being self–sustaining would be pretty much all–consuming and we wouldn’t have time and resources to reach out beyond our communities. The businesses we run give us the opportunity to A) manufacture quality products that affect people’s lives in a positive way and B) generate income that we put to use beyond the boundaries of our community. For example, I’ve been on several deployments with Save the Children doing relief work after natural disasters, and that work was made possible in part from donations the Bruderhof made.

RICHARD
Ok but the person has a point. Wouldn’t you like to at least try living off the grid?

MELINDA
I dunno. I don’t think there’s much point romanticizing the past.

RICHARD
We live in such a stupid historical moment though. Well whatever let’s leave it. Here’s another question: “Has the Bruderhof Community ever had to fight legally for its right to exist?”

Yes, a bunch of times and mostly unsuccessfully. Once was in Germany in the mid–1930s when the Nazis were starting to get pushy. Since the Bruderhof had folks who were of Jewish descent and also because none of the members agreed to join up with the war effort they had to leave or go to a concentration camp. Then in England because they were all German everyone thought they were Nazis so they had to leave again. Since being in the US we’ve for the most part been made to feel very much at home.

Melinda do you have a last question?

MELINDA
Well I just wanted to respond to two comments where people were annoyed at some things I said. “No need to diss communes, right?” was one and “Are greasy hair and beards a bad thing?” was another. I totally don’t want to diss communes and I’m sorry if it sounded like I did because actually I live on what you might call a commune. Secondly greasy hair and beards are totally fine with me. Just wanted to clear both of those things up.

RICHARD
Totally clear now. Well that’s it for this series. We’ll be back next week with something completely different so make sure to subscribe to the channel.

MELINDA
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