Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community

Hutterite Diaries by Linda Maendel
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I'm back to one of my major 2018 reading goals - to read a bunch from Alaska and Canada. You can't read the prairies of Canada without reading about the Hutterites. I read three books from their own voices, two of which I got from a Canadian reading friend who grew up on the prairies too. (The other two books are Born Hutterite: Stories by Samuel Hofer and I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage.

The Hutterites are similar to the Amish and Mennonites in belief (Anabaptist, dating back to the 1500s in Europe where Joseph Hutter was burned at the stake for refusing to renounce his new beliefs, forced to flee to America and then largely resettling in Canada because of war bonds issues as they are "historic peace churches.") In practice, their practice of communal living sets them apart from some other groups. Over 400 Hutterite colonies still exist today in North America, and this book is part diary, part memoir, part religious reflection from a woman still living as part of a community in Manitoba.

Maendel works as a teacher in addition to her other duties as a woman (Hutterites separate job responsibilities by gender), and her stories are about her daily life, the education system, the children, the friendships, etc. As an insider she does not share any criticism about the community, and any mention of specific doctrines are couched as positive and intentional (some of the other Hutterite writings speak more to the rigid rules and strict adherence.) I felt like I learned a lot about their historic traditions, the language, the food, and how these communities have thrived based on specific business practices that prioritize industry (efficiency, maintenance and purchase of equipment, shared labor) and offering what isn't in the market (kitchen cabinets, potatoes for McDonalds, etc.) They also have a specific process for starting a new community after they reach a certain size, to ensure that there is always enough people to do the work but isn't too many people to support with the money generated.

I've read a lot about "communal utopias" (one highly recommended book is America's Communal Utopias) and I would say this long history and seemingly successful management is pretty rare. This book came out in 2015, so it's likely that these groups are still going strong!
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Reading Progress

August 11, 2018 – Started Reading
August 11, 2018 – Shelved
August 11, 2018 – Shelved as: canada-alaska-2018
August 11, 2018 –
August 11, 2018 – Finished Reading
August 12, 2018 – Shelved as: read2018
August 12, 2018 – Shelved as: location-canada
August 12, 2018 – Shelved as: location-canada-manitoba
August 12, 2018 – Shelved as: biography-memoir
August 12, 2018 – Shelved as: cults-and-communes
November 23, 2018 – Shelved as: around-the-world

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