A Brief Review of
The Spirituality of Community.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2009.
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Reviewed by Chris Smith.
I was very intrigued when I saw the title of Adele Gonzalez’s new book The Spirituality of Community. It was a little disappointing, however, when I found that is was very distinctively written for Roman Catholic audiences, and although I appreciate the rich tradition of Catholicism, I have never been a member of the Roman Catholic church. The Spirituality of Community was also written specifically for lay audiences, so Gonzalez is very careful to present her ideas in very basic theological language. The latter half of the book, which focuses more specifically on community was of more interest to me. Gonzalez seems to have a solid grasp the basic theology of church communities, and she communicates this theology in clear, simple terms. For instance, she says:
If true community life depends on the growth and transformation of relationships, then differences and even conflict have to be and integral part of the journey. The temptation in some Christian circles is to deny or conflict as a contradiction to the Gospel lifestyle. To dissipate the tension that conflict creates, we often foster a “pseudo-peace” that makes us feel less guilty about our frustrations or even anger (105-106).
The best part of the book, however, is perhaps the epilogue, “Dreaming a Christian Community.” In these final pages of the book, Gonzalez dreams of Christian community that follows more deeply together in the Way of Jesus, and which is more than just a collection of individuals.
The Spirituality of Community is a fine and challenging book and I hope its message spreads like wildfire among its intended audience of Catholic laypeople and even perhaps from there to all corners of the Kingdom of God.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com