Posted by: rogermitchell | May 1, 2010

in the end it is all about relationships

I love and agree with this profoundly theological statement of Cheryl Bradbee’s in her comment in the long string proceeding from the last post: ” in the end it is all about relationships.” When I look back at who I am and where I come from I love and acknowledge my parents but connect to the inexplicably unconditional love of Archie and Dorothy Darke, half a century my seniors, quite unrelated by blood but with whom I spent many extraordinary school holidays. It was their commitment to the gospel Jesus, despite the religious peripherals, that drew me into relationship with him as a young boy. Their quite scary trust in him and me that led them to drop me off on numerous occasions at one end of the south downs and pick me up at the other six or more hours later, from when I was barely ten years old, that led me to discover the way that the Jesus of the gospel stories speaks through the power of the wind and the rain and the ancient hills and the molecular exertion of a young boy’s muscles and the exercise of his vocal chords as he walks, shouts and sings together with the trees and the birds. It’s this connectivity of individuality and corporality, of relational trust and particular life that flows from the kenotic love of the trinity and releases the power of heaven that I’ve been working at configuring in words and actions ever since. Archie went to his rest to await the coming fullness in 1977 with the words “I’m going home” and to his wife “thank you for loving me” and to his saviour “take me Jesus.” When Dorothy went on to join him in 1988 in our then home in Ladywell her last words were “let there be no more war, may the young men be faithful and may all our conversations be pure.” Some theological foundations to transfigure an understanding of the kingdom from! Thank you all of you who displaying something of the same unconditional relationality enter the discussions I instigate.

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Responses

  1. Okay Roger – I did not want to leave you hanging on this one but I am in the middle of meeting a deadline about an article on how people perceive urban landscapes. One of the critical issues is scale. Cities are structured around nested scales politically, economically, geographically, etc. So that made me think about your description of that wonderful, important relationship in your life.

    We all need relationships like that and that means we need to reach out to others and be willing to take the risk of human relationship. But somehow we also need to structure our politics, economics and cities in such a way that we promote such relationships as a matter of everyday function. The city, since the 50’s has been structured often to resist and inhibit those relationships, the better to serve retail economics of large scale companies.

    I remember when I was a community organizer in a poor community in Toronto. The housing had been built on a former golf course and the developer had been enchanted with modernist approach. So the roads were all ‘dead worm’ curvy things and the buildings looked like they had been dropped into the fields from the sky without any sort of rational organization. All of this actually worked against community. Add to that buildings surrounded by green lawns, a lack of infrastructure for shops except for a mini mall at one location, and you have a great recipe for future problems. The very design of the neighbourhood worked against us. Now scale that up to the size of a city and you have real big problems. It becomes really difficult or even impossible to have meaningful relationships due to the physical and material reality of city.

    I have been reading a history of Italy’s table culture and one thing noted is that while Britain, the US and other European countries were losing their small shops and moving to large supermarkets, Italy actually increased, significantly, the average number of small shops in their cities. Someone made the decision to do that, actually it did have to do with politics. But the outcome is splendid. It is easy, especially in the city centre to engage in relational economics and enjoy it.

    This is now way beyond my capacity to think at the moment – and I need to get on with the article.
    Ciao,
    C.

  2. I went for a walk around the shoreline where we stay the other day. I used to walk and play there all the time up until I was a teenager. As I was walking the sights were the same but there was sometime different. I realised it was me, on the inside. As a child I remember having so much worry and fear about life that when on my own during those walks I never had peace and was always battling but now all that has gone. Why? Probably a lot of reason but one of the biggest has to be the people that I has met over the years that have showed me a completely different way of living with God till now I am starting to get it and live in it. Thanks for the part you have played in this. Keep on stretching us with the deep stuff, I love it!

  3. Wow, that resonated Roger. For me it was Fred and Dorothy Pride, and the way that they never once lived up to their name.

    Your point resounded too Cheryl. Reminded me of a conversation with Eric Mcluhan (the son of the father, in every sense) many years ago, which was defining for my work. We were talking about how every city has become a suburb of every other city. And how community had become just one lifestyle choice among many, but that what mattered was that it was just a choice. When he began to talk about the devastating effect upon community that had been wrought by… guess what, Air Conditioning!

    He described the way communities in the South were in the forties, how those towns revolved around the front porch, how so many people would enjoy the cool of the evening by strolling past their neighbours’ homes and stopping by for a chat on the porch. But with the arrival of domestic AC machines, architects shaved the front porches off their designs to increase building density, and in the process shut people indoors.

    Hi dad was right. We now live in a global village. So what do we have to do to make the global village a humane village?


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