Being Rooted and Linked in the Twenty-First Century

by Mark Votava


The last ten and a half years of my life have been an experiment in living relationally in the local community of where I live in Downtown Tacoma.  The first five years of this process was disorientating as I stopped believing in a lot of traditional church structures.  The church I had known was no longer providing what I needed for my own growth and formation.  So I started to listen more deeply and cried out to God for a church in North America that has lost a sense of connection to place, community, authenticity, formation, incarnation, embodiment and imagination.

  •  The teachings of Christ are lived out locally

The teachings of Christ will only be lived out locally together.  Christ’s teachings are always about what is before us locally and relationally.  We cannot separate the teachings of Christ from the local, everyday life of daily living together in the parish.

  •  Being rooted and linked is essential

Christianity was meant to be a movement among us of the parish imagination.  So being rooted and linked is essential to partnership with God in the world.  God works through the parish imagination as a movement of locality.

  •  Being a troubling alternative to the power imbalances in the empire

Michael Frost in his book Exiles says, “The Christian movement must be the living, breathing promise to society that it is possible to live out the values of Christ – that is, to be a radical, troubling alternative to the power imbalances in the empire…” 

  •  Is it possible to live authentically together?

It is possible to live authentically together in our local context.  The parish imagination is leading us to this.  The parish imagination does not fear empire.  Being rooted and linked will teach us the wisdom of the parish imagination as the body of Christ in everyday life together.

  •  Listening deeply in the parish

We need to resist the abstract by becoming practitioners in our local community.  The parish imagination resists what is impersonal and abstract.  A movement of locality will cause us to become practitioners who are rooted and linked.  This embodies love into our neighborhood contexts.  This causes us to listen deeply in the parish.

  •  More intimate, local, connected, and authentic

Robert Inchausti asks the question in his fascinating book Subversive Orthodoxy, “Will we make our lives more impersonal, global, abstract, and artificial or more intimate, local, connected, and authentic?…” 

  •  A movement of locality

A movement of locality causes us to become more connected and authentic in everyday life.  The abstract will get us nowhere.  The abstract will lead us to noplace.  The abstract will lead us to dislocation.

  •  Not getting trapped in the box of the abstract

Being rooted and linked through a movement of locality will help us not to get trapped in the box of the abstract.  The abstract will only lead us to deconstruction without imagination.  We need more of a parish imagination that is rooted and linked.  We need a movement of locality that spreads throughout the land with great imagination!

Do you think that living locally is important?  Why or why not?  What is your experience?