Will Potter who runs a blog about the green scare entitled Green is the New Red gave a short speech at an environmental/animal rights conference about the lessons he learned from the Catholic Church about creating community and building healthy movements. It only began to scratch at the surface of how we create strong and lasting communities, but I think it was a good start.
Many of us have had really bad experiences with organized religion growing up and understandably have tossed it aside to pursue a more fulfilling spirituality, or even abandon spirituality altogether. Potter also left the religion he was raised in for many good reasons. However, it was nice to see him reflect back on the elements of the Catholicism he was raised under that were healthy.
Even though much of religion can be pointed to as the source, or at least a large contributor, to many of the injustices we've experienced in the world, many of them also have a wisdom that runs centuries deep as to how we can best relate to one another and support one another.
My parents came from the Mormon religion and I am absolutely amazed and impressed with the way in which many Mormons maintain close-knit and supportive family and church structures. Of course there are elements of coercion and dogmatism present, but many of the simple acts that Potter points to in the Catholic Church are also seen in the Mormon church.
As we continue to work towards relating to one another in new and healthy ways, it's important to draw from our own experiences, even from places we have formally left. They often hold pieces of incredibly profound insight into the human condition.