Do We Live in a Library?

…or “Why I hate HOAs.”

(And, yes, before anyone has any smart remarks, I realize that based on the number of books in our house, one might mistake it for a library. But, if you’ve been here, the sheer volume of our house will make you realize that books or not, this is no library!)

We got our summer “newsletter” from our HOA this weekend. It was filled with the usual nonsense, but the last section really got me:

“Are you a quite neighbor? Voices carry, and so does dog barking, loud music, home theater systems, loud TV’s, loud parties, etc. A reminder to residents that we live in close proximity to one another and voices/noises carry. Keep in mind that the city does have a noise ordinance and violations can be issued at an officer’s discretion. Horns honking and car alarms sounding early in the morning and late at night are an obvious noise nuisance and quite disturbing to the quiet enjoyment of our residents. In addition, please keep your car stereo volume turned down when driving through our community.”

There are so many things wrong with this excerpt that I don’t even know where to start. First, it really annoys me that the whole thing is vaguely threatening. The casual mention of an officer, instead of simply mentioning the ubiquitous HOA fine, is meant to intimidate. But, then again, that’s what HOAs do best–rule by intimidation.

And, sure, I get the sentiment of the newsletter–no one wants constant noise in their neighborhood–but voices carry? Seriously? I should be able to talk as loud as I want in my own house/yard, and I’ve never heard anything from any our neighbors in the area of loud voices that should warrant such a warning. Loud music? Sure…our next door neighbor is a prime offender, and yes, it’s annoying. But voices? Give me a break.

The other thing that bothers me about HOAs is that they read like an apartment complex covenant, or dorm rules. Surely responsible adults must not be the ones buying these homes, if all of these rules are necessary. You’d think that there were shared walls within our community when “close proximity” is mentioned. Before you know it, they’ll be instituting specific “quiet hours”–oh, wait–isn’t that what they’re already doing?

When you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, you’re basically giving up your rights. Want to build a deck? Have to ask the HOA.  Change the color of your front door? Ask the HOA. Personal freedom? Not so much, if your community has an HOA.  Again, I get the purpose behind them, but in my experience most HOAs have way too much power, and are run by people who enjoy abusing that power.

I wish we had any other option. But when we were looking to buy our home, we discovered that every neighborhood in our metro area, (and I do mean every), had an HOA in place. Short of leaving this area altogether, we had no choice but to live in an HOA community. And even if we had looked to move elsewhere, I fear that HOAs are becoming increasingly common, and we likely would have run into the same problem in other areas, as well. It’s too bad that we no longer trust people to act like respectable citizens without policing their homes. And it’s also too bad that a minority of people who can’t act like respectable citizens have caused others to feel that this kind of policing is necessary.

Lutheran Witless

While I was waiting for my older two children and husband to get out of Sunday school this last Sunday (read: I was trapped in the cry room with the younger two because they’re not old enough for Sunday school, and that hour with a bunch of different toys is a huge treat for them), I skimmed through the past two issues of our synodical publication, The Lutheran Witness.  After reading through the letters to the editor, I am totally convinced of the complete idiocy of some of the members of our church body.

Here is what I learned, in just those two issues.  Christians are responsible for the moral decline of America (primarily promiscuity and homosexuality) because they moved out of the cities and into suburbs, and because they pulled their children from public schools and enrolled them in parochial institutions (I bet that person would love the fact that we’re homeschooling!).  The ESV is a horrible translation, because one person doesn’t like the “way it sounds” in comparison to the NIV.  Oh, and some stick in the mud got all up in arms over what I guess was an advertisement (I didn’t get to see the original photo in context) with a picture of four older women in completely modest bathing suits at the beach (I hope that person at least isn’t a total hypocrite, and gets equally incensed upon seeing advertising in the secular realm featuring young women in skimpy bikinis!).

Here are my feelings on the above.  I’m grateful to live in the suburbs, because I can’t imagine being cramped in a crowded city with four small children, and having to deal with public transit to boot.  And I’m not so naive to think that bad morals don’t exist here, so I will assume that even if people hadn’t flocked to suburbia from the cities of America, the moral decay would still have occurred.  And, as a homeschooling parent, I am also grateful that I don’t have to send my children to public school (although I am grateful for the option, especially when it comes to Moose getting the extra help he needs from the school system), because they would not be adequately challenged in that environment, and they wouldn’t be learning about Jesus as much as they are now, which is, according to them, the best part of the school day.

I love the ESV, and in my somewhat limited understanding of such things, think it’s the best translation out there.  I can’t wait until the Concordia Study Bible finally comes out in that translation (can I just say that I think CPH totally dropped the ball on that one–they should have made sure their new Bible came out before, or at least with, the Crossway edition), and I’ll probably get the Crossway one in the meanwhile. And one of my pet peeves is people who pick and choose Bible translations based on what they think sounds pretty, or worse yet, which one says what they want it to say.  I’d rather stick with one good translation and use it for everything (which is why I’ve tweaked our weekly memory verses to all be ESV).

As for the bathing suit thing…I don’t know why the picture was in there, or if it was appropriate for the magazine or not. I do know for certain that I’d rather see modest pictures of women at any age genuinely enjoying themselves and their lives, than fake pictures of women who are trying too hard to impress, and who are dressed completely inappropriately and sending horrible messages about body image and sexuality to my daughters.