Building a “Beloved Community”

It’s coming to the time of organizing the next step of work of Communications Committee, AKA ComCom. In this time of turmoil, fear, and new ways of being, ComCom has grown and teeters on a cusp of new possibilities, as well as new realities. Interesting how new realities and new possibilities come together.

The new realities: ain’t no physical gathering happening any time soon. The new pandemic hotspots here seem to be places of worship and gatherings of family and friends. It was heartbreaking, for example, for our governing body to tell one of our facility renters that we couldn’t allow them to open their annual summer program. There’s just so much conflicting guidance available that even the government bodies don’t have answers.

So how do we do worship and other activities in more meaningful, participatory ways, ways that will boost feelings of connection? I have been thinking about Martin Luther King’s idea— originating with theologian before King—of the Beloved Community. King posed it as a theme for his movement, a spiritual, social, and political vision our society could build toward. This seems like a wonderful theme for the coming church year, which kicks off in the fall. Fall starts the new year for schools, too. I *love* the idea of the Beloved Community as a vision for a school.

In part, King’s vision of the Beloved Community, is

…a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

How might this vision play into the formation of ethnographic study? The more I read about ethnographic research, the more intrigued I am with the idea that the researcher enters the site of research as a participant in both the inquiry and the creation of a solution (LeCompte & Schensul, 2010). Their phrasing is more accurately described as “problem” that in investigated in order to devise a broad series of actions that address and mitigate the problematic situation. What goes into that is a process of more clearly defining and understand the contributing factors in the structures working in the community— policies, practices, etc.— and within the values and beliefs from which these evolve. I think it would be as applicable in examining the formation of the vision, such as King’s Beloved Community, and the actions that bring it to life.

What does ComCom do within its province as a communications-focused entity, drawing on the affordances of technologies, to contribute toward building the Beloved Community? What is the process they might use? What stumbling blocks arise? Is this actionable across a broader range of groups, within the church and other societal organizations, such as schools? What attitudes, beliefs, values about technology-forward communications are at play as this moves forward? How might foundational principles related to internet life– the internet as fostering and enabling participatory culture, creation ( instead of consumption) that draws on multimodal means and remix, and personal agency–be guiding forces (Jenkins et al., 2008; Knobel & Lankshear, 2008; Lankshear & Knobel, 2011)?

What if this became the work of ComCom as we move into the next program year?

What is the impact of these questions on the original impulse for this exploration, i.e., attitudes and values related to the internet, affordances of technologies, etc.?



Jenkins, H., Purushotoma, R., Clinton, K., Weigel, M., & Robison, A. (2008, March). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century.

Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2008). Remix: The Art and Craft of Endless Hybridization. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy., 52(1), 22–33.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning (3rd ed.). Open University Press.

LeCompte, M. D., & Schensul, J. J. (2010). Designing & conducting ethnographic research: An introduction (2nd ed). AltaMira Press.








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