From the days of the apostles to the present, Christians have formed intentional communities. While some Christian communities withdraw to avoid contamination from the world, others reach out in loving service to, and dialogue with, their neighbors. Dan McKanan advocates the latter approach: Christians must be willing to touch the world in order to unleash the transformative potential of their communities.
In this book, McKanan explores two contemporary community movements that touch the world by honoring the diverse spiritual and vocational paths of the families and individuals who join them. One of these movements, Camphill, derives its inspiration from the esoteric vision of Christianity outlined by Rudolf Steiner. It boasts a worldwide network of schools and villages composed of members with and without developmental disabilities, living and working together most often in agricultural settings. The other is the well-known Catholic Worker movement founded in New York by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin.
The Worker movement today includes nearly two hundred urban houses of hospitality and rural farms, along with countless individuals who have taken Day’s and Maurin’s ideals into everyday life. Blending theological and ethnographic approaches, McKanan builds his study on participant observation, archival research, and interviews with members of more than twenty communities. What emerges is a winsome and optimistic vision of the impact transformative Christian communities can have in a blessed and broken world.
Dan McKanan is associate professor and chair of the theology department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. He also teaches in the peace studies department and the Saint John’s School of Theology, and has previously published Identifying the Image of God: Radical Christians and Nonviolent Power in the Antebellum United States (Oxford, 2002). He lives in Saint Joseph, Minnesota, with his spouse Tammy and daughter Oriana.