The Intentional Christian Community Handbook: For Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus by David Janzen
David Janzen helped found New Creation Fellowship, a Christian intentional community in Newton, Kansas. In 1984, he and his wife moved to Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, Illinois, where Janzen now runs an affordable housing ministry. He has visited many Christian Intentional Communities and is familiar with the blessings, benefits, and challenges faced by these idealists who often share possessions and live in close proximity to each other. . . . read more of our review.
In an interview for the "Take & Read" blog, Janzen discusses how the Christian community movement is driven by believers who take seriously the radical teachings of Jesus and the challenge of living in a close, seven-day-a-week community where practice, sharing, and mutual caring are pre-eminent. He also talks about what he has learned about nurturing and growing intentional communities.
Throughout history religious groups have encouraged people to express their shared values through how and where they live. Some cultures also put a heightened emphasis upon community life. Here are books about these forerunners of today's intentional communities.
- The Findhorn Book of Connecting with Nature by John R. Stowe honors the community in Scotland that pioneered New Age spirituality some fifty years ago with its special gardens nourished and sustained by angelic presences called devas. Stowe calls readers back to a communal relationship with the trees, plants, streams, and animals of the natural world.
- Listening to the Light: How to Bring Quaker Simplicity and Integrity into Our Lives by Jim Pym salutes this spiritual path for its emphasis on silence and living faithfully with others by remaining true to oneself and to the importance of nonviolence, simplicity, equality, creative listening, and honesty.
- Ritual: Power, Healing and Community by Malidoma Patrice Some explains the central role community plays in his West African Dagara culture. Rituals give meaning to all the stages of public and private life.
- Seeking Paradise: The Spirit of the Shakers by Thomas Merton and Paul M. Pearson reveals the Trappist monk's high regard for the Shaker religion with its emphasis on work as a form of worship, rejection of violence, reverence for beauty and simplicity, and joy in their "paradise consciousness" of the kingdom of God. This community valorized the creativity of its members as forms of devotion.
- Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision by Randy S. Woodley celebrates the ways in which Native American communities have practiced the shalom of Jesus as an animating virtue that is dynamic, holistic, tangible, and communal.
- Simply Living: The Spirit of the Indigenous People by Shirley Jones is a collection of quotations from ethnic groups on every continent. This rich reservoir of wisdom recommends seeing Spirit in all things, living in harmony with the rhythms of the natural world, practicing interspecies communication, and keeping the culture alive with storytelling. Weaving all these activities together is a deep and pervasive appreciation of the importance of community.
- Welcoming Spirit Home: Ancient African Teachings to Celebrate Children and Community by Sobonfu Some explores the role of children as life-givers who "bring out the spirit of the community." Adults in turn support children as their caregivers and sources of wisdom.