I had this dream that one day I wanted to throw a party for my fans. Those who know me solely from the reviews that I write for HollywoodJesus.com. Those who know me from my ministry work (if you could really have ministry “fans”). And those who know me from horror circles. I thought that I could throw all of those people into a room, add alcohol, and have a party. It would either be a huge disaster ending in fights, accusations, random nudity, and worst of all, no sales of anything of mine. OR, maybe the people would find out that they weren’t all that different.

So, I tried a small version of this as an experiment. I noticed that on my message board, several people posted on the board that lived in my city (Indianapolis, Indiana). Some who found me through Hollywood Jesus, some who were invited by friends or friends of friends. Obviously, not everyone knew each other. I don’t know if this is the most efficient way to build a fan base, but I decided to throw a party.

I know that I had truly under-valued the power of online community until I got involved with a couple of horror message boards that I frequent. I was much more a flesh and blood sort of relationship guy. However, I noticed that my virtual relationships impacted my “non-virtual” friendships with some of my flesh and blood acquaintances.

Clearly, the Internet has popularized the idea of nonphysical communities, pushing cup-of-sugar-borrowing, town-meeting-decision-making neighborhoods to the definition. And our president’s it-takes-a-village touchy-feeliness has raised expectations of group coziness so much that it takes a community to have a conversation. But there’s a more fundamental emotional shift in the meaning of the word as well, away from describing an inclusive, indiscriminate mix of people (the sort of community served by the United Way) to something more about personal choice.

Like so many values, community is on everyone’s lips just as it seems to be disappearing. The enormous social upheavals of the past few generations–globalization, suburbanization, television technologies that collapse times and space–have all forced the notion of community to shift from one grounded in a physical closeness that fostered mutual concerns and responsibilities to . . . what?

This past Friday I held a dinner party for them and all but one showed up.

There was an immediate sense of community and acceptance in the place. Love, laughter, and friendship. It never ceases to amaze me how wired we are for a sense of community, how we long for it, how vital it is to our sense of being. We live in a society that values the rugged individual and while we say we want community, we don’t really. We don’t want to be vulnerable, open nor transparent. We may be great at being there for others, being strong for them, but we hate letting people be there for us. That’s seen as weak. We fear the possibility of rejection. While we seek a place where we will be accepted, where people would prove that they love us by their actions as well as their words.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll be cooking for you soon, but you never know.

For those of you with Xanga, there’s a “Friends of Maurice Broaddus” web ring. I subscribed. I’m a big fan of me. If I link to a site that links back to me, am I in danger of opening up some sort of Internet wormhole, infinite loop thing?

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