04 Mar The Spirituality of Community – Book Review
The Spirituality of Community
Adele J. Gonzalez,
Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2009,
124 pages, $14.00, paper.
Reviewed by Douglas S. Hardy
Professor of Spiritual Formation and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program,
Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO
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Two words in the title of this book may have grabbed your attention as they did mine: “spirituality” and “community”. Both are hot topics in the church and academy, although they often generate more heat than light.
Adele Gonzalez, in this deceptively simple little book, does just the opposite, providing incisive definition and clarified understanding to both terms. I’ll have more to say about the title later in this review, but first let me introduce you to the author and her intended audience.
Gonzalez, a Cuban-born Roman Catholic laywoman, earned a DMin degree from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota and writes, consults, and offers spiritual guidance in English and Spanish through her non-profit organization “Get With It/Ponte-en-Onda”. The book is part of a series, “Catholic Spirituality for Adults” in which General Editor Michael Leach invited “the best Catholic authors writing today . . . . to explore the deepest dimension of their own faith and to share with us what they are learning to see” (8). Like other books in the series, The Spirituality of Community reflects the author’s particular socio-cultural location, passions, and vision ofChristianity. She intentionally writes as a non-clergy/non- religious layperson to other ordinary Catholic laypersons “who are totally immersed in the world and who desperately need to find God in the midst of our everyday life” (12-13). Her goal is to help readers recognize and respond to the presence of God in their lives, their churches, and their world.
In the mode of a Christian teacher of adults, Gonzales fills each chapter with clear definitions of key terms, generous quotations from and references to Scripture, and vivid personal illustrations of her main points. In chapter one she posits a Christian spirituality expressed in lived relationships with a transcendent God, oneself (God within), one’s neighbor, and all creation. She grounds this theologically in the doctrine of the Incarnation which she explains using both Scripture and references to early church thinkers.