Re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties re­main an in­te­gral part of a healthy so­ciety …

If we’re not ca­re­ful, we may re­cog­ni­ze too la­te how cri­ti­cal they are in dea­ling with the ever-shif­ting so­cial stres­ses of mo­dern life

La Jornada (Canada) - - PORTADA -

If any one re­li­gious con­gre­ga­tion di­sap­pea­red from your city, would your com­mu­nity and city be bet­ter or wor­se off?

The­re are Ca­na­dians who think it would be bet­ter if they did di­sap­pear, li­ke e old re­lics that ha­ve be­co­me bur­den­so­me, even en em­ba­rras­sing.

The think-tank Car­dus us pu­blis­hed the re­sults of re­search that hat exa­mi­ned the ques­tion th­rough ugh The

Ha­lo Pro­ject re­port in 2016. 16.

That re­search sug­gests gests that any Ca­na­dian city ity would be wor­se off, qui­te e a bit wor­se.

Alt­hough a gi­ven con­gre­ga­tions’ in­di­vi­dual im­pact may seem small, when all as­pects of their work or the work of many con­gre­ga­tions are ad­ded to­get­her, the com­mon good ef­fect can be sig­ni­fi­cant. In fact, the re­search sug­gests it would d cost mu­ni­ci­pal cof­fers rs around $4.77 to re­pla­ce the com­mon good va­lue pro­du­ced by every $1 in a lo­cal con­gre­ga­tion’s bud­get.

Applying that ra­tio Ca­na­da’s big­gest ci­ties, it would cost an es­ti­ma­ted $19.9 bi­llion to re­pla­ce re­li­gious con­gre­ga­tions’ com­mon good con­tri­bu­tions - li­ke soup kit­chens, child­ca­re, sui­ci­de pre­ven­tion and even com­mu­nity event spa­ce.

The many com­mon good con­tri­bu­tions of lo­cal faith com­mu­ni­ties means that they may well be among the most so­cially pro­duc­ti­ve set­tings in ci­ties.

What might this mean for city plan­ners, de­ve­lo­pers, edu­ca­tors, bu­si­ness ow­ners, en­tre­pre­neurs and arts lea­ders?

What if faith com­mu­ni­ties are mo­re than so­me an­cient crus- ta­ceans, the hor­ses­hoe crabs of com­mu­nity life that may ha­ve co-exis­ted with the di­no­saurs but which sur­vi­ve only be­cau­se of so­me for­tui­tous evo­lu­tio­nary glitch?

Tho­se who are ge­nui­nely in­ter­es­ted in ad­dres­sing is­sues such as dis­pa­rity, so­cial iso­la­tion, ac­cess to work, en­vi­ron­men­tal de­gra­da­tion, jus­ti­ce, hu­man traf­fic­king, or any of the ot­her ills that pla­gue us u will need to be ca­re­ful neit­her to over­look over­loo nor ca­ri­ca­tu­ri­ze re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties com­mun and com­mit­ments. In so­me som cir­cles, re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties and their be­liefs can be dis­mis dis­mis­sed with a few fa­vou­ri­te anec anec­do­tes that point out fai­ling ings wit­hout any re­cog­ni­tio tion of con­tri­bu­tions. Un­ders­tan­ding and ap­pre­cia­ting the work of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties doesn’t imply that ever­yo­ne needs to join a con­gre­ga­tion. So­meo­ne wit­hout re­li­gious com­mit­ments can learn to ap­pre­cia­te their com­mon good con­tri­bu­tions. As an exam­ple, I ha­ve trem men­do­us res­pect for the ar ar­duous work of be­co­ming a ba­lle­ri­na wit­hout ma­king an any pre­ten­ce of strap­ping ba­llet s slip­pers on my si­ze-12 bas­ket­bal bas­ket­ball-gnar­led feet.

Many of the is­sues and cha­llen­ges we fa­ce aren’t the th ty­pe that will be re­me­died by things li­ke un­res­trai­ned eco­no­mic growth.

If the re­cent past is any in­di­ca­tion, it’s li­kely that glo­bal dy­na­mics will ge­ne­ra­te new ills out of, and com­pli­men­tary to, the exis­ting cock­tail of strug­gles we fa­ce daily.

Re­li­gious iden­tity can crea­te real and sus­tai­ned dif­fi­cul­ties but it is al­so the well of so­me of our dee­pest crea­ti­vity, ca­re and con­ti­nuity. Li­ke Ho­mer Sim­pson wa­shing his socks in the last pre­cious bit of can­teen wa­ter while adrift in the li­fe­boat, fa­mously mis­quo­ting Sa­muel Tay­lor Co­le­rid­ge with “Wa­ter, wa­ter every-

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