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Following The Spirit
Seeing Christian Faith Through Community Eyes
by Philip Bradshaw
Publisher:O Books imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd
One of the exciting features of the modern church is the emergence of new monastic communities. This makes it an appropriate moment to reflect on the experience of those who’ve trod this path before. Following the Spirit tells the story of the development of one such community - the Community of Celebration - from its origins in Houston Texas in the 1960s and its emergence a decade later in the UK. Bradshaw’s account is a fascinating journey – both individual and corporate – and offers us fresh insights into many of the challenges that face unorthodox Christian communities today.
Following the Spirit is divided into three parts. In the first half of the book the author and community member, the Anglican priest Philip Bradshaw, tells the story of the community’s development through the lens of his (and his family’s) own experience. Bradshaw shares with us the challenges, beauties, risks and excitement of community life against the backdrop of the growth of the charismatic movement of the 60s and 70s. The second half of the book consists of a series of reflections on the nature of community life as experienced by Bradshaw – worship, faith, prayer, politics, church and many other subjects – and this is followed by a relatively short Trinitarian theological reflection.
As someone who tried living in community for three years in the early 1980s (and largely failed!) I found this book a riveting read. Bradshaw describes very movingly – and sometimes amusingly - the challenge of trying to reconcile the practice of the early church with Church (Anglican) assumptions about lifestyle norms and especially family life. Living in community is not easy, yet uniquely rewarding.
Anyone who has lived in community will enjoy this book; anyone considering doing so should read this first!
Reviewer: David Ford (22/10/12)