The Upadarian Shirehold is a concept based on the ancient practices of the tribal village and the modern practices of a distributed intentional community. Roughly speaking, it is the modern equivalent of the 1st century Greco-Roman “household” that could include 50 to 100 or more adults within its scope.
Today, we mostly lead atomized lives as isolated individuals or nuclear familes within a collective reality mostly ruled from above by a corpostate ruling class. The ONYL possible counter to this is to go in the opposite direction, to de-atomize and reconnect your life, but in a way that nurtures your individual liberty and empowerment without compromising your own core identity and spiritual sovereignty as a human being.
Hence the new/ancient concept of a Shirehold adapted to the 21st century.
The basis of a Shirehold is faith and a sociocultural cohesiveness that comes from shared convictions as expressed in a common identity, namely a form of nationhood (ethne) that is a diversity expression of the Kingdom of God among us. This “organic cohesiveness” comes from both shared faith and convictions and a shared common identity. Because the cohesiveness of a Shirehold is organic, it provides the ability to have a decent-sized body of people act as one without a whole lot, or any, top-down control or centralized hierarchy.
Organic cohesiveness is essential in this concept because without it a close-knit tribal village association like this could only be maintained through some form of hierarchical structure of centralized control. It would not produce freedom and it wouldn’t be liberating!
Here is where, and why, the deeper concept of nationhood is essential. Through adoptive nationhood, where you adopt a “nationality” strictly based on things like ideals and principles that flow from faith and convictions, you can connect easily with anyone who has done the same thing. When people have the same sense and values of origin, in this case the origin being ideals and principles and the like, and the same sense of purpose, in this case being shared mandates, they do not need centralized control to be cohesive and unified.
It is a mistake, we observe, to try to form something like this, the Shirehold or an equivalent by a different name, on a broad basis that doesn’t include fairly detailed values and convictions. When one begins without shared values and convictions, the only way to achieve cohesiveness is a top-down method of imposing standards and norms that might grate against the members and their actual valued and convictions. This lends itself to something hierarchical, controlling, and, in the extreme, cult-like.
Being up-front and honest and drawing in people who already have or who adopt a shared form of nationhood, defined in spiritual as opposed to racial or political terms, prevents your project from devolving into something unhealthy and controlling.
The purpose of a Shirehold is to liberate the individual through mutuality of support and accountability to a higher standard that actually benefits each person. Accountability is organic here, it is mutual, and if it is legalistic it’s not healthy or useful. But we do need accountability to one another, it is a Biblical principle. Accountability encourages and nurtures, it corrects in love and grace, and it is redemptive. When “accountability” becomes “rules” enforced by some “leader”, it’s not accountability, it’s control.
If the Shirehold becomes an ends and not a means to the ends of providing support and empowerment to the individual, then it is useless. If a Shirehold is based on a shared identity rooted in ideals, principles, and practices that flow from shared beliefs, values, and convictions, then it can be both organically cohesive and individually liberating.
It may seem we traveled through a lot of explanation to get to a point of describing a Shirehold, but it was necessary. While we want people to use the concept, albeit with their own terminology, we do not want the concept to be abused. If any kind of Shirehold or its equivalent is presented to you and it doesn’t already reflect your own beliefs, values, and convictions then you would do well to avoid it.
A Shirehold is an organically cohesive body of nuclear families and attached single adults who act and cooperate as if they were a single, extended household. Their focus is on mutuality of support and encouragement to fulfill God’s best for their lives, fulfilling a shared mission to be a witness and influence for Jesus to others, and providing refuge to fellow Christians in crisis while also helping the poor and needy.
In practical terms, a Shirehold is a single body of people with a strong shared identity, based on things like values and ideals instead of politics or race, who are, in deed and actions, a single extended multi-family household. It is important to say here that the nuclear family and the individual are still at the heart of what we call a perfect fractal of human civilization, the extended family acting as a single multi-family household.
While we envision actual families who are blood kin will be able to adopt our, or any other, form of nationhood, it is likely in the early days of using this concept that such familial groupings will have to be more intentional than inherited. In other words, people from different families of diverse ancestries will form new intentional familial groups in order to create Shireholds.
This is not in any way an excuse for someone to sever their ties and responsibilities toward their own blood kin. It will be more difficult in the early days to have both an adoptive familial network, a Shirehold, and still remain connected to your own inherited family, your blood kin. But this concept of Shirehold in no way should ever be used as justification for severing existing familial or friendship bonds. When any group wants you to do this, we call it a cult, and for good reason.
In short, as difficult as it may be, we cannot abandon existing relationships in order to take on a new form of association and relationship through the Shirehold concept.
We think that as the concept of Shirehold grows and as people also embrace things like intentional nationhood, where they choose a new nationality or refine their existing nationality with Jesus Christ at its center, then familial groups related by blood will adopt the Shirehold model in some way. In some Shireholds many or most of the initial members might come from different blood-kin families. In some, many will be related but a few will be adopted into that familial group.
As the Shirehold concept is seen on living practice, your existing friends amd family who may initially reject the idea are more and more likely to adopt it later on. This is just common sense.
While the ideal Shirehold is already related people, or mostly related people, sheer necessity means many who want to be part of a Shirehold will not have many blood relatives who want to do the same thing. But blood ties and inherited identities are not essential: every Shirehold member musy CHOOSE the identity and way of life common in that Shirehold!
In a sense we can call the Shirehold identity and way of life “inteherited”, intentional inheritance as opposed to inheritance by birth alone.
Shireholds would always be dynamic. People may leave, because their convictions change, and people may come who have no common blood ties. The Shirehold may subdivide as it grows too large and produce daughter Round Table Groups that grow into Shireholds. A smaller and shrinking Shirehold may fold into a large and growing Shirehold. In some cases, under duress, whole Shireholds might physically flee an area and settle somewhere new.
In terms of how it impacts daily life, a Shirehold in practice is like unto a very close-knit community where memebrs live near each other and can potentially see one another face-to-face on a regular, perhaps daily, basis. We believe Shireholds, which include multiple 3-5 family (and attached single adults) “Round Table Groups”, should strive to either occupy a shared homestead (Estate) or at the very least live within close proximity. Ideally, a Shirehold is a VERY LOCAL community of people.
But this close-proximity living may not be practical in the early days. More distributed Shireholds that create a Chapter House or Common House, and that include both distributed Round Table Groups and Round Table Groups occupying one single Estate, will probably be necessary. The important thing is that a Shirehold has the ability to closely cooperate for mutual support and encouragement, for practical missional living, and for being a refuge both to members and fellow Christians.
A Shirehold is not a closed loop, severed from the outside world. Even a Shirehold Estate or Villa should include residential and retail space rented to the public on fair housing terms: this is a way to offset costs, it is a way to serve the community, and it prevents isolation from the outside world.
The Shirehold is the body of people, which is exclusively fellow “nationals” of your spiritual nation. We don’t think nationality based on race/ancestry or political boundaries and citizenship in a state is sufficient or useful for this concept. A Shirehold for “only white people” or “only black people” just isn’t a Shirehold as we envision it. In fact, we think that this is racism and very negative.
Here is one example of our approach.
A Shirehold for anyone who is or who adopts, say, a Christ-centered Scottish nationality might work. This would likely mostly consist of people who are Christians and who have a Scottish ancestry, but perhaps a black man who grew up on a Scotland and who loves the Lord joins? This would be possible in our model, because a Shirehold is based on intentional nationhood, not on purely ancestral nationality.
Anyone who loves haggis truly deserves their own Shirehold!
But, seriously, even within Upadarian Shireholds we envision nested identities. A Upadarian Shirehold catering to people who follow Igbo customs could exist, but someone who doesn’t have Igbo ancestry but who does embrace the culture, could be admitted. The important point being that the Igbo sociocultural group within our spiritual nationhood is not purely race or ancestry based.
Ditto for the Prussian nationhood within the Upadarian nationality. A black man who loves Jesus, has adopted the 17 Protocols of Upadaria, and who embraces the Prussian sociocultural identity and lifestyle would readily be accepted into a Shirehold based on the Prussian sociocultural lifestyle nested within our Christian and then Upadarian identity.
Upadarians reject the concept of race as something impermeable or predictive of potential. We view all humans as being the same race and what many call race as a mostly sociocultural construct, even though it is heavily influenced by common ancestry. Race as such means nothing to us and this is a key aspect of the Shirehold: people intentionally adopt the shared identity nested within a universal Christian identity, they don’t just inherit it. Even if this identity was common to their ancestors, what makes this part of their identity is that they choose it consciously.
Thus, a Upadarian Shirehold based on the Mexican identity and culture, nested within our Christian and then Upadarian identity, could include people of Mexican, German, or Kenyan ancestry, it wouldn’t be based solely on biological ancestry! But they would all embrace the Mexican sociocultural norms, like food and language or other customs and traditions.
The diversity expression of our Christian nationhood, wherein we are all citizens of the Kingdom of God, and even of the Upadarian nationhood based its shared ideals and the such, is essential to the concept of a Shirehold. It’s language, food culture, and basic assumptions of everyday behaviors must be deeply and organically cohesive without in any way imposing itself. It should flow from the heart and feel like home, it shouldn’t be something you follow artificially.
In the real world, a Upadarian Shirehold may include diversity expressions through its smaller consituent entity, the Round Table Group of 3-5 nuclear families and attached single adults. You might have a Shirehold with 12 such groups and these might have nested identities like Igbo, Prussian, Scottish, Prussian, or Mexican.
In the beginning, a Shirehold starting as a Round Table Group may solely be based on the Upadarian identity, which is enough for a large degree of organic cohesiveness to exist. This group may be distributed and daily face-to-face interaction may have to be virtual. But as this group grows it can subdivide based on two factors: a deeper nested identity and/or closer physical proximity.
The greater the portion of a population in a given area who adopt our intentional nationhood, the more closer in physical proximity and the more deeper in shared identity will the Shireholds and their Round Table Groups become. Basically, the more people in a given area who adopt the Upadarian nationality and this concept, the closer in physical proximity and proximity of nested identities the local Shireholds would be.
A Shirehold isn’t like an intentional community that draws a group of people who then find some land and build a neighborhood to village sized community exclusively for themselves. A mature and fully developed Shirehold may eventually have a single homestead Estate where most members have a residence, but not all will live there and people from the outside, who simply lease residential and/or commercial space, would also be there.
What makes a Shirehold what it is will always be the relationship and association of its membership and how they connect, cooperate, and build a future together that lifts up and empowers each individual. A Shirehold is foremost a new, but also ancient, practice and mindset for connecting together with other people for mutual support and empowerment.
One could start with a virtual-to-local Shirehold in a given region that, as it grows, establishes more local and face-to-face Round Table Groups which also subdivide based on physical proximity and/or nested identities into more Shireholds. This is growth through cellular division.
In the early days, a Shirehold would be difficult to build in its ideal form. It may be virtual at first, then have local groups meeting in person, and it will likely subdivide as these groups grow and subdivide into new Shirehold groups. Simply getting to a place of embracing the concept and pursuing intentional mutuality with other people is the most important and probably most difficult step.
All this leads to personal liberation. With support from people with whom you have an organic cohesiveness, so that it comes from the heart and feels like home, you will have greater opportunities to find and fulfill God’s best for your life. You will be better able to endure setbacks, like losing a job or an illness. You will have greater access to a body of people who may patronize your business as loyal friends and kin.
Creating a Shirehold, even starting as a virtual-to-local Round Table Group, is a major step away from an atomized life within a corpostate collective that doesn’t serve you or empower you.