Nightwatch: An Inquiry Into Solitude: Alone on the Prairie with the Hutterites
Good Books, 2009
Journalist Robert Rhodes was raised Catholic, became agnostic, then had a spiritual awakening which eventually led him and his family to live with the Hutterites (mostly in Minnesota) from 1995 to 2002. The experience proved to be disillusioning: “For many, the colony life had become…a self-reflecting culture instead of a place of spiritual fertility and ripeness.” This book is not an exposé of Hutterite life, however, as much as a series of thoughtful, respectful ruminations on solitude and separation, wealth, farming, Hutterite history, and the ongoing possibility for communal Christian groups like the Hutterites to serve as “a penitential witness that can heal us of our many faults.”
He Flew Too High
Ken Yoder Reed
WinePress Publishing, 2009
This dramatic tale of a fictional conservative Mennonite community in post-World War II United States, which splits because of “revival,” seems bizarre and almost unbelievable at times – if it weren’t for the fact that such events and characters have been all too true throughout Mennonite history, including (I think we’ll have to admit) the origins of the MB church. Yoder Reed, who grew up in Pennsylvania, paints a strong picture of the clash of traditional ways and new zeal; the title is a reference to the immoderate ambitions exhibited in the Icarus myth. In a review of the author’s first book, Mennonite Soldier, in the MB Herald back in 1975, I commented that I hoped “to see more books by this author in the future.” Some 35 years later, here it is, a second Reed novel, worth reading and discussing.