Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #6 (Reel 2)
That in the university itself and individualistic solution to the problems that I have. Will know is no longer acceptable. There we see Wright Mills. The American sociologist who said that we must take an individual man's problems and see in them a society's issues. The movement from problems to issues is the one which has begun to engage our vision now recognizing that my individual prostrations have a kind of corporate expression. And dealing with them at a corporate level. I think what we're learning now is that universities must be places in which people learn by doing to make decisions about the structures and policies which affect their lives. And I'm sure that the next few years will see a a a an accelerated spread of the movement to to extend decision making to students at various levels of university life. But I think
what we need more than anything else is a political vision of the possibilities of American society and of the city. We need a vision of the polis if you will. The polls. And by Polish and political I don't mean the rather narrow limited thing to which the word political has been attached in recent years. When the Greeks talked about the POWs they meant the entire human community. The place in which man became man. And he who did not participate in the party was was somehow really a man he was and idiot. As we said something less than a man. A non-participant. We need a vision which will bring together somehow individual fulfillment the fulfillment of the person and the fulfillment of the polis. Without separating these two.
If we have to choose between religious heroes I suppose that I would come down on the side of William Sloane Coffin and Dan Berrigan rather than on the side of Timothy Leary and the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. But these are really the options aren't there. Are we going to spend our efforts and our ministry either as a layman or as ministers. In an effort to change the unjust institutional practices which have a strap. I was very going to cop and have done. Where are we going to find some way or another via a pill or meditation technique to leave it all behind in this or into another world. There are some models emerging. But we need many more. One of the most encouraging things happening in American society today is the effort by
small groups of people to construct models. New types of community schools new types of housing. New forms of local community development and change not just talking about them but actually trying them out. I think it's time for a new epoch of utopianism. I think the word utopia has for too long been a negative one and we now need to resurrect that term as a positive one. And by utopias I don't simply mean the Utopia as one writes about. But the utopia is which are actually tried and practiced. Partial utopias perhaps rather than ones which claim to be totalistic. None the less conscious experiments with new forms of communal structure. That we cannot we can no longer be satisfied that the school the housing patterns the universities which if it handed on to us is adequate in the past will do for the future we need in our society.
Something like a thousand flowers blooming. Now let me conclude simply by summarizing what my thesis is and it's a rather simple one. I'm cheered as most people are by the fact that we cannot any longer speak about this current student generation as the quiet or silent or Silent Generation. One never knows from day to day. At the university I come from who's going to be in his office when he gets back. Students are raising all kinds of questions at every level about the university's investment policies its hiring policies its curriculum its way of arranging courses. Nothing has really now escaped their attention. But one of the things which concerns me as I talk with students and try to keep in touch with them is that somehow or another that corporate vision. Of what we would like has not yet
emerged. And too much of student activism seems to be a rather narrow gauge. And to be able and allowed to do my own thing now I certainly want to be able to do my own thing too. But I dont want to have to write a book. After its over entitled. Yes I did. How can we move from this. Subjective vision to a larger and more expansive one. That's our theological and our political program. I suppose if I had a text for what I've been saying I know it's customary to start with a text when you're preaching rather than end with it. So I think I'll end with it instead. I had a text that would be that much belabored and mist used text in which Jesus says to his critics if it is by the hand of God that I cast out demons then the
kingdom of God is in the midst of you. Now for many years we have mis translated and misunderstood that passage to read the kingdom of God is within you. The word is not with him. It is not an interior word at all. It really means among. In the midst of so I suppose my my final word to you is the kingdom of God will never be within you. Until it is in the midst of us. Thank you. To it's was. Dr. Harvey Karp author of the Secular City speaking on the role of the church in meeting the urban crisis. Dr. Cox addressed himself to the urban crisis during the Wake Forest University symposium on contemporary American affairs. After his address Dr. Cox answered
questions from the audience first in reference to his comment on model common the living possibilities. Dr. Cox was asked to give examples of model calm you know. Let me just describe a couple that I just alluded to a couple. In the city that live that I live in we have three independent communities rolled schools which are not really private schools they're public schools which so far do not. I'm not going to see PAC support. This is an effort on the part of. People living in a particular community. This is this is the community I live in is a is a what might be called poor communities with a very large percentage of people there are black. 70 percent. But this is an effort to use to have a school which is a city which is a. Center for Community life. Which is not run from a downtown school board which really comes out of the concerns of the of the
community itself which is controlled and steered by the community. And that school is now operating it's been operating for a year and a half. We hope it will be operating again for the next couple years that has already has four grades and it's one of three schools in the Roxbury Community which are already in operation as model community school what we're trying to do really is to. It is to do what was attempted at the ocean Hill Brownsville experiment in New York. The other way around that is instead of taking a school which was at a public school so called public school that is. I think that's a misnomer myself. A tax supported school. And. Turn it over to community control. With all the problems inherent in that we are creating a school. Hoping that we can eventually persuade the school committee that it is really ineffective. In fact the public school and is worthy of tax support. Even though it's community control. That's that's one. One example of this is happening in many
cities out there I don't know of anywhere it's as far advanced as it is in Boston. There is another community very close to us a section of the city where some people are actually experimenting with a new form of what you might call community family and economic. Communalism. These are simply some young people who are who have banded together and bought some houses and established a kind of. Something very close to a commune. They work in the larger community they share their money completely and their family structure is such that everyone in the in the entire commune is responsible for all of the children. They don't really think of them as being the children of any particular person. The children are really the children of the concert like a kibbutz you might say a little like a kibbutz. And they're trying to discover ways of. Moving away from
the nuclear family competitive. Ethos in which American children are generally reared. So the different kind of child and different kind of mentality may emerge. I suppose if you go to California you'll find at least 50 attempts here in there to establish some form of community life usually on a very small scale. I was hoping at one point the model cities program might give some cities an opportunity really to experiment with new institutional structures in American life in urban life. I now have much less hope for the model cities program. If we had a genuine model cities program which would really allow a wide variety of different forms of experimentation in local community control. We might have something but I think the program we now have this is probably not going to be very helpful. Dr. Cox's reference to corporate fulfillment prompted one member of the audience to ask if the idea of corporate fulfillment is not a myth
advanced by those who are unable to achieve their own individual fulfillment. I would really put it the other way around. I think the Miss. In the negative sense is the notion that I can achieve my own fulfillment and without reference to. The neighbor or the other the other man. I think that's that's the real Mitt. I don't think you happen is really very happy are fulfilled. However his. His lifestyle may tempt us. But I suppose what you've raised here is a very basic theological question. And I'm I'm trying to interpret here what I take to be the central assertion of Biblical faith which was once put by Pascal. One Christian is no Christian or I would say one is no man. No man is an island. He's a part
of the mainland. And somehow or another we have in our in our culture contemporary American culture have been so persuaded by a large number of different signals and inputs that somehow the answer is yes I can. Yes I can make it. Despite everything we have almost destroyed the very the structural fabric. Of a society which allows for for individual fulfillment and it's per carry I think is per carry Asli near. Dissolution unless there's some kind of a fundamental change in the basic vision of Americans about what fulfillment means into more core corporate and less individualistic terms. The whole thing may just collapse. Another student wanted to know what part the church should play in a corporate society or if there is a need for a church as an establishment in such a society. I think that man is an irreducible a social character and also.
Is a as a. A religious being in some sense of the word. Despite what I said in the secular city which I wrote five years ago I think it is true that man has. Is. To some extent homo religio says he's the religious man. In that he needs a base and wants a kind of basic vision of who he is what his place is in the whole stream of cosmic and historical development where he came from where he's going. And he needs ways to cope with with death unrequited love. Requited to her too I suppose that he needs occasions and gestures for celebration. All of these things so man is religious. He said he's a religious being and he's a social being and this means that will always be something like a church or. Something like it it's a social expression of man's religious vision. Now what that vision should should be now and what the institutional form of the church should be given the situation I described as a.
Wonderful question to speculate about. And I'd like to suggest that the church has the opportunity of being the kind of pioneer the mob the experiment or the green house you might say of forms of corporate fulfillment which can therefore teach the society at large something about the structure and nature of human fulfillment. This is why I called for a return to the utopian tradition which is a respectable tradition in Christian history that is instead of simply proclaiming what Christianity is what the Gospel is the enactment. The dramatise ation and and. The demonstration. Of its character I think is what we need more now. Some of this was done by sectarian movements in the past by Christian utopian movements the Catholic orators to some extent fulfilled this function in certain
periods in the in the in the medieval period. I just this whole idea struck me very forcibly a few years ago when I was visiting Poland. As a tourist and the communist. Tour guides there took us to a new city in Poland called Nova. Which is being built in southern Poland which is a demonstration city used by the poles to show visitors what they hope the entire society will look like after it is completely socialized after the visions of the socialist vision is completed. It's a rather interesting idea. I don't whether it's an accurate one and I don't know but it just occurred to me that we don't have anything like that as far as a Christian vision of man's corporate urban possibilities. Go we don't we haven't had that element of experimentation and demonstration. I think the church could do that. One of my friends says that the Church of the future has to be a mixture of.
As he put it a Quaker and recall at the docks. That sounds bizarre but I think what he what he means by that is. We need two phases really of church life. One is the small. Task oriented service oriented politically conscious unit that the Quakers have developed so well in which doctrinal consensus is not as important as agreement on a particular human need and where there's a degree of intimacy and face to face fellowship and engagement in social change that's on one side. The other thing I think what he means and I would like to see in the church is what I call the big show. And that's what I think he means by the Greek Orthodox as we all have occasions where we want to come together and bring out all of the richness. And maybe the old time him in the processions and
the whole business. I'm not a Catholic myself but I I think most of us who are not Catholics experience at moments a kind of unspoken tiny element of jealousy about all of the spectacular liturgical pump. Of the Catholic Church. There is something kind of attractive about that. And it all it seems to me a little too bad that is if you don't take it with too seriously if you really you know do you really enjoy it as a kind of. I'm a show which in many ways it is. I think it's too bad that just as the young people today are getting interested in multimedia presentations. And light and color and I begin to put on costumes and parade around looking like Saint Francis just at that point. The Catholic Church decides it wants to go back to a small simple economical chaste little service just as just as people are.
Just people getting interested in what the the mass in some ways is then a kind of multimedia show. The Catholic Church goes back to looking more like Baptists every day. No. Simple and. Non liturgical that's just because I think we need both sides both sides are there and somehow integrating them and preserving both of these is. It. Is. Really necessary in the Church of the future. Should the church take an active part in community organization. Dr Cox replied that individual church members should take an active role in community affairs and he stated. I don't think that the church's main function is simply to do what poverty programs and Head Start programs I think every everybody else does. And you should be stimulating people to do these things inspiring them holding them holding up some kind of vision and stimulus but not its main major task is not
direct involvement in that sort of thing itself. I think if if. If. If the society is not doing these things the society is really not living up to its responsibilities then the church has to assume some of them just as the way the church started hospitals in the medieval period the church started schools and so on. But as the society learned to take over those responsibilities. Instead of being sad that the society has now learned its lesson and does it the church should rejoice. And give it gladly give up the things which are taken over and be happy that the society has learned but where it hasn't learned. Sometimes. The church has to do has to take the initiative. Always recognizing that its initiative is not. It is not something that has to cling to but it can give up gladly and move on to something else. It's. So I think it's it's it's time probably now that the church not be. Heavily involved in. In the conventional types of community and
organization. I think that's now safely in most places is safely in secular hands it's time now for the church to do something perhaps more unconventional and more dangerous more something risky or whatever that is and whatever setting up one can answer it in in general. Finally the question was asked since utopian move much of the past have failed. Why should we assume that modern movements would not also fail. I think that the danger of these utopian movements in the past their major weakness was that they didn't see that any utopian community. Must deal with the fact that it lives in the larger society. It must prepare it must somehow. Nourish people. Who live within it and share its kind of vision and its practices but also to liberate and sustain the same people as they engage in movements for larger social change for change on the macro social level.
And that's the problem. See the problem is we either have people who die from from desperation or futility working for larger social change because there is no sustaining kind of model community that they can be a part of how they're doing it. Or we have model communities people plunge into and forget the outside world and they eventually dissolve in the same kind of futility and bickering and internal dissension. So we need something like a combination of the. Of the communal and the societal. And that hasn't emerged yet. And maybe I'm utopian to think that such a thing is possible. But that's really more like what I mean by the the role of the church in the future. I think it's providing precisely that kind of. A combination. Thank you. Thank you. Dr. Harvey Karp. Requester of divinity at Harvard University speaking on the topic the role of the church in meeting the urban crisis. Dr. Cox
- Episode Number
- #6 (Reel 2)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
- Social Issues
- Media type
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-30-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- APA: Challenge 69: The urban crisis; #6 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-g7374v7s