6 THE DISCIPLINES OF NEIGHBORLINESS

It is more blessed to give than to receive.

—Acts 20:35

The sacred texts have stood the test of time. The sieve that those stories have been sifted through for so long is what makes them valid. In community work, the sacred text has to be joined with the language of neighbor for it to have any power. Otherwise, neighborliness becomes a utilitarian project and the sacred texts become an intellectual exercise, spoken to near empty chapels. What good is it to be neighbors if what that means is to make life a little easier, lower cost, more convenient? The community work is to practice the neighborly disciplines, to celebrate the secular sacraments of neighborliness.

We are accustomed to the disciplines that belong to faith; there also are disciplines that belong to community. They are built by covenantal language held together by vow rather than barter and honor the fact that community has a job to do and needs to be productive. They are the way to covenantal justice, the way we get people to participate or engage in a more just society and a more sustainable earth.

Some signposts of an alternative social order of a society organized around covenantal promises sustaining the common good are:

  • Time. Space for relatedness and hospitality to be chosen as alternatives to speed, individualism, and like-mindedness.
  • Food. Choosing to grow food locally, urban farms, food without chemical intervention, food as the sacred table around which culture ...

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