Community and Growth by Jean Vanier

by Cam N. Coulter

Posted on April 12, 2017 reading

Revised edition. Paulist Press, 1989.

L’Arche communities are places where people with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities share life together. In Community and Growth, Jean Vanier (the founder of L’Arche) outlines his thoughts on (you guessed it!) community and growth.

This book is both accessible and dense, which is an interesting combination.

It’s accessible because the language is simple and direct. Every chapter is divided up into short sections (usually just a couple pages long), so it’s easy to pick up. The writing easily inspires reflection, especially if you have experience living in intentional community.

It’s dense because there are many ideas and thoughts crammed into this book. While it’s easy to pick up and read a short section, it’s difficult to read this book straight for an hour. Either you’ll have to keep pausing to reflect, or—if you don’t pause to ponder—the book will lose much of its depth and meaning.

Community and Growth can be a bit dull at times, but it can also be rather profound at other moments. I especially liked the last few chapters on welcome, meetings, living with every day, and celebration. If you live in an intentional religious community, pick up Community and Growth, and read a few pages each day.

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nonfiction: religion community Jean Vanier