Archives For Community

 

Last weekend, we hosted the annual retreat of the Nurturing Communities Network (NCN) here at Englewood Christian Church.

 

NCN is

“an informal and growing network of Christ-centered intentional communities. Older established communities connect with novice communities for the purpose of learning from each other, encouragement and growing.  This happens through visits, regional and local gatherings, meals together, and many conversations.  The hope is mutual encouragement in Jesus’ way of simplicity, justice and peace.”

 

I was inspired by this retreat to compile the following list of books that offer diverse perspectives on life in Christian intentional community. (Some of these titles are recommended on the NCN Resource list.)
 
If you are curious about Christian intentional community, I encourage you to take a look at some of these books, and the NCN website.

 

By ERB Editor C. Christopher Smith

 

  

The Intentional Christian Community Handbook: For Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus 

David Janzen

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Listening to the Voice of God
in Your Heart

A Review of 

Grace: On the Journey to God
Michael Casey

Paperback: Paraclete Press, 2018
Buy Now:  [ Amazon

 

Reviewed by Mark Jenkins

 

With everything that Michael Casey does, I can’t help but wonder when he finds time to sleep! He is one of the most widely sought after, erudite, and respected priests active in the world of Roman Catholic monasticism. A select bibliography of his books and articles spans ten full pages, covering more than 45 years of publication. Fr. Casey has lectured and led retreats in more than forty countries on 6 continents. He was a primary force and the principal author behind the 1990 revision of the “The Constitutions and Statutes of the Order of Cistercians of Strict Observance.” He served as prior of the Tarrawarra Monastery in Australia from 1988 to 2003 and vocation director from 1998 to 2012. He has written extensively on the care and formation of novices and has contributed significant, substantial scholarship to the field of Benedictine studies.

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Meeting Ourselves in the Mystics
 
A Feature Review of

Mystics and Misfits:
Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints

Christiana Peterson

Paperback: Herald Press, 2018.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Tammy Perlmutter
 
 

“Maybe simplicity, as it turns out,
is both boringly simple and searingly difficult.”

-Christiana Peterson

 

The first time Christiana Peterson encountered a saint or “mystic” was while cleaning out her grandmother’s house after she had been settled into assisted living. She fell in love with a worn, wooden garden statue of St. Francis carved out of a log she had spotted through the patio door.

Paired with the coloring pages of saints her daughter was bringing home from Catholic school, Christiana met other mystics, “devout human beings who lived on the edges, who longed for unity with God.” Little did she know it would bring her into an experience that would have a profound impact on her life and faith.

Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints is not your typical book about saints you can never hope to emulate or otherworldly mystics. Mystics and Misfits feels like an unexpected, personal gift, a friend sitting you down to tell their story with complete openness, trembling but present, offering you their world-weary soul.

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Living, Loving, Dancing, Praying, and Contemplating
 
A Review of 
 

In Praise of the Useless Life: A Monk’s Memoir
Paul Quenon, O.C.S.O.

Paperback, Ave Maria Press, 2018.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Richard Goode

 

If one is looking for a guide to explain contemporary monasticism, Br. Paul Quenon offers the strongest of résumés. He is, for example, the embodiment of Trappist stability, having been a monk at Kentucky’s Abbey of Gethesemani for 60 years. As a novice he studied under none other than Thomas Merton. Br. Paul is also well published, receiving such accolades as “Best Spiritual Book of the Year” for his work. Beyond these facts, he is adept at painting a verbal picture. In the pages of this book, for example, we see the darkened Gethsemani church as the monastic choir prays Vigils at 3:15 am, an Office that the community has honored every day since its founding in 1848. Moreover, he portrays a modern Cistercian community respecting its centuries-old practice of “Ora et Labora” (prayer and work).

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Cultivating Shared Presence
 
A Feature Review of 
 

Together: Community as a Means of Grace
Larry Duggins

Paperback: Cascade Books, 2017
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Alden Bass
 
 
 
New Testament scholars believe that when Paul entered a new city on his missionary journeys, one of the first things he did was set up a tent-making stall in the local market. Day after day, he would sit in the narrow alleys of the shopping district, doing business and striking up conversations with passersby. Though he engaged local synagogues, there is no doubt that many of his contacts came through the spontaneous communities which formed around his daily presence in the marketplace.

In this latest addition to the Missional Wisdom Library series, Larry Duggins suggests that the church recover something of this model by facilitating missional “communities” – making space on church property and within church life for Christian and non-Christian people to come together for work, play, and fellowship.

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Learning to Dance Together
 
A Review of 

A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community
John Pavlovitz

Paperback:  WJK Books, 2017.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
Reviewed by Jennifer Burns Lewis
 
 

Whether one is graceful and light on one’s feet or is rhythmically challenged with two left ones, learning to dance with a partner can take time and varying amounts of patience. In his new book, A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community, John Pavlovitz calls for courage and patience in leading congregations…and people in general… toward the marks of a bigger table, a different kind of dance. Radical hospitality, total authenticity, true diversity and agenda-free community are the author’s indications of a faith-filled community of believers that truly strives to welcome all. Like dancing together, the building of a bigger table takes patience and Pavlovitz offers an honest and transparent new book that is filled with autobiography, story-telling, and strategy for a hopeful path forward for those who wish to accept the invitation to be brave and bold in their faith community’s welcome and to be effective dance partners in the dance between religion and culture today.

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Single And Married People Together
 
A Review of 
 

One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church
Gina Dalfonzo

Paperback: Baker Books
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle  ]
 
 
Reviewed by Catherine Guiles
 
 
As a never-married Christian woman in my mid-30s who’s been a part of fairly mainstream evangelical-ish churches my entire life, I was excited to read Gina Dalfonzo’s One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church. Like a lot of single Christians, I’ve been the recipient of slights, misunderstandings, exclusions and insults from fellow believers, many unintentional, but all hurtful to one degree or another. But thankfully, I’ve also been the recipient of a great deal of love, community and opportunities to serve and lead — the kind of things Dalfonzo argues that churches need to give more of to their single members, whether never-married, divorced or widowed; male or female; or young or old. I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate the way she unpacks the issue and frames it within a larger, holistic context of how Christians should relate to one another and make their churches places where “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor. 12:26). ­­­

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This excellent book was recently released…
 
 

Living Sustainably: What Intentional Communities Can Teach Us about Democracy, Simplicity, and Nonviolence
A. Whitney Sanford

Hardback: UP of Kentucky, 2017
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 
 

Read the Introduction to the book…

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That Frumious Bandersnatch

A Feature Review of

Bandersnatch: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings 
Diana Glyer

Illustrated by James A. Owen
Paperback: Black Squirrel Books, 2016
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Sam Edgin

 

In the corner of a pub in small town Indiana, I met with dear friends weekly for over a year. Huddled in dusty yellow light beneath a wrinkled photocopy of a painting of a British hunting party, their red jackets faded orange, we fancied ourselves like the Inklings, that company of writers who met – also weekly – in the infamous Rabbit Room in back of the Eagle and Child in Oxford. This comparison was generous – we only talked about books, not wrote them – but little makes a young man feel more infinite than sitting in a pub with friends, laughing loud and arguing louder, empty pints scattered victoriously across the table.

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Jean-Vanier

Tomorrow (Sept. 10) is the birthday of Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche communities.

To mark the occasion, we offer the following introductory reading guide to his most significant books.

We’ve ordered this list in the order that we think the books should be read, and offered a brief explanation of why each book was included. We’ve also included excerpts of most the books via Google Books.

 

 

1) Community and Growth

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