Community of Grace: An Orthodox Christian Year in Alaska by Mary Alice Cook
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book because of the title, actually two different parts of the title that appealed to me.
First, I read it because of the word community. I love the idea of community and how different people live that out in various settings has always fascinated me. So, to read a book about how a group of Orthodox Christians live community was appealing to me right off the bat.
Second, I read it because of the idea of the Christian year. Seeing that life reflects seasons in a calendar, the book appealed to me as its ideas seem to be following the rhythms of the Orthodox calendar. What the looks like in an Orthodox Christian’s life is of interest to me.
I like the book because it gave me a good sense of both: Orthodox community and the Orthodox calendar. I also liked the fact that I got to know particular members of a particular community and wanted to know them more. I even found myself, briefly here and briefly there, wanting to move to this community and experience it myself.
The book, in that sense, kind of has a Wendell Berry feel to it, or even a Rod Dreher and his book, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, feel to it. But, this book only gets four stars because it isn’t quite up to par with either of those, especially Berry’s works. It is probably not fair for me to rate this book as a comparison to Berry–especially since Cook wasn’t trying to copy Berry in her book, Community of Grace. So I’ll grant that. But, if it had intended to make me want the community they have, it was slightly, just slightly, underwhelming. The desire was there, but only briefly at different points throughout the book.
I still enjoyed the book, and Cook tells a lot of great stories. And I did feel like I knew certain members of the community. Thus, a four-star book.
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