Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: "Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community," by Linda Maendel

About the book:
What would it be like to share your possessions and live in Christian community? In Hutterite Diaries, Linda Maendel offers a rare glimpse into the daily routines and relational faith of her people, the Hutterian Brethren. With stories ranging from accounts of Hutterite weddings to a hilarious tale of an accidental baptism by salad dressing, Maendel invites readers in to her colony. Here, nestled on the prairie of western Canada, children and adults work, play, eat, and worship together, crafting a community of goods and living out an alternative to the individualism and consumerism of mainstream society.

Few outsiders know anything about the Hutterites, a plain Christian group related to the Amish and Mennonites. Maendel’s story invites readers into deeper understanding of this community of faith, calling us to take seriously the example of Jesus and the early church in our daily living.

My thoughts:
I knew next to nothing about the Hutterites prior to reading this book, so I was fascinated by this account of their lifestyle. This particular colony allows modern conveniences like telephones, computers and vehicles, but the people still dress plainly and simply, with values that include thriftiness, conservation and service. What also differentiates the Hutterites from the Amish and Mennonites is a more communal lifestyle, where meals are all taken in a central location, and money is pooled and parceled out to each individual and family. I was intrigued by the turbulent history of the Hutterites, which involved a great deal of persecution and relocation. One thing I missed in reading this book was a personal look at Maendel’s life and the people in her community. Apparently, she never married nor had children, but she rarely addressed such personal details (Is it difficult to find a spouse in such a small community?), and the other people in the colony were broadly drawn so I never felt like I really got to know anyone who lives as a Hutterite. Overall, though, I learned a great deal about these inspirational people who choose to live peacefully through the Scriptures.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

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