New book reveals authentic look into Hutterite colony
Hutterite Diaries to be released by Herald Press in mid-May
HARRISONBURG, Va., and KITCHENER, Ontario—Since modern North Americans are often groomed toward individualism, an authentic window into a communal life is becoming rarer and more valuable to society.
In a new book, Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community, author Linda Maendel provides such a window. She describes the daily goings-on of her Hutterite colony, or bruderhof, revealing a life of sharing and Christian community. She makes what could be foreign and strange intimate and familiar through her storytelling.
Herald Press will release Hutterite Diaries in mid-May. The book is the newest addition to the Plainspoken series, a series dedicated to showing what authentic Anabaptist life looks like in a variety of contexts. Hutterite Diaries is a collection of memories and anecdotes with occasional notes on the history of Hutterites, all based on Maendel’s experiences in her own colony.
Readers will find stories about Hutterite beliefs and daily life that not only explain who the Hutterites of Maendel’s colony are, but that allow readers to experience Christian community vicariously. She shares stories that bring readers closer to an authentic Hutterite experience, such as all the mothers of a colony going on an annual three-day trip together to get the children’s Christmas presents.
While Maendel’s stories teach and share about a Hutterite colony, they also provide lessons about all of humanity. She draws readers into a world of autumn harvests, Mother’s Day baking, and workshop fires. In each vignette, community life is essential. The most striking example of this in Maendel’s colony is how the members share possessions communally, as followers of Jesus did in Acts 2. Hutterites share possessions to break down the boundary between theology and social interactions, according to Maendel.
Maendel has been writing about her experiences for a long time, and only now has collected her pieces into a larger publication. In addition to writing, Maendel teaches at Elm River Colony, the Hutterite community of which she is a part, located near Winnipeg, Manitoba.
When asked about her commitment to writing, Maendel responded, “I’ve felt for a long time that it’s important for Hutterites to write their own stories, and not enough of us are doing it. It’s also my hope that my book will encourage other Hutterites to write and publish their work.” Maendel blogs at hutt-writevoice.blogspot.com.
While other writers have focused on Hutterite life in their writings, Maendel’s perspective from within the colony and knowledge of the differences between individual Hutterite communities affects the stories she tells. “It seems some writers make general statements about Hutterites, without realizing what may be true for one colony may not be true for many others,” Maendel says. She offers several examples of how communities might differ, like decisions concerning education and healthcare. “There are very few books available where the author is Hutterite,” she adds.
“I applaud Linda Maendel for giving us a unique firsthand account of her life on a Hutterite colony,” says Mary-Ann Kirby, author of I Am Hutterite. “It’s wonderful to see Hutterite writers emerge and take their place in the mainstream!”
Suzanne Woods Fisher, author of Amish Peace, notes that Hutterite Diaries is “a wonderful collection of true stories and insights, written by a thoughtful woman who loves the life she’s been given.”
Hutterite Diaries: Wisdom from My Prairie Community provides a useful glimpse into a Hutterite colony. It is available for $12.99 USD and $14.94 CAD from MennoMedia at 800-245-7894 or www.MennoMedia.org, and local bookstores.
High resolution photos available upon request.