Community Exploration

A friend of mine – Jack – sent me and a few others this article the other day via Facebook – he and I are good friends, but still it came out of the blue. The epigraph of his post read: “Great commentary on life and lifestyle. Thought you discerning minds would enjoy.”

He and I have not spoken about the article – though I did follow along with the comments others responded with – but the reason I kept to myself was because the prominent feeling this article invoked in me was that brief pang of wanderlust that is only felt when the muse of a community exploration strikes. He was a seminarian, so I have no doubt he’s had a similar experience, but I think his ultimate takeaway was entirely different in priority than my own.

The article, follows the Christian narrator through the neighborhood and characters of Brooklyn, as he continually laments his secular surroundings at the cost of his own piety. I imagine the plight of the narrator resonated with Jack – I certainly don’t begrudge him that; I feel the same way often – but I found myself longing for, and then finding, the viewpoint of the Rabbi, who advises the narrator:

“Starry-eyed longing for a binding community can become yet another way of surrendering to this world. Rather than living and working where we are, we dream of where else we might be.”

Further, he warns that utopia is something to be sought, but that seeking is just another “option” in the sea of what the narrator deems hipster culture.

It’s this, which I believe demands that we explore; demands that we expand our world view, and demands that we immerse ourselves in cultural education. The absolutes that our narrator seeks here are worthy and Good pursuits, but embracing and immersing ourselves in those nuances, particularly when they are at our doorstep, can be so much more valuable.