I watched the video again of author Bill Bishop on The Daily Show, and I wanted to extrapolate part of the conversation. Bishop talks about how we live in neighborhoods and move to neighborhoods where the similarity isn’t always race or economic status, but political beliefs. Here’s a quote that struck me:
(3:30) Jon Stewart: Was it always this way? Wasn’t this country founded on this ghettoification of groups would come over and find their own kind and stay there, and slowly like molecules assimilate into the community.
(3:43) Bill Bishop:That’s what is different now. The separation is due to lifestyle, and it is increasing. Over the past 30 years, communities are becoming increasingly Republican and increasingly Democratic.
So instead of the typical immigrant communities that create Chinatown or the Italian district and then spread out into society, people are moving backwards and ghettoizing into more and more homogeneous units and neighborhoods. We aren’t talking gated communities, we are talking typical neighborhoods. For instance, from his book, the following statistic:
In 1976, less than a quarter of the American people lived in so-called “landslide counties” – that is, counties in which the spread between the two major presidential candidates was 20 percentage points or more. By 2004, nearly half of us lived in this kind of politically tilted territory.
Wow. This is the situation that I began writing Hacking Christianity about. But it is worse than I thought.
What can the church do about this? Should we continue to claim diversity in the face of a uniform neighborhood surrounding the church square? Or do we, like our politicians, play to these individualist and like-minded sensibilities. Bishop, one last time:
(5:05) Bill Bishop: We live with mirrors in front, and that’s what the campaigns are doing is putting a big mirror in front of you and saying “Vote for You.”
Thoughts? Have you ran into these difficulties in your community or street or neighborhood? What do successful churches do to provide a space for dislike-minded people to worship together while they live alongside like-minded neighbors?