Book Review: The Church And The Community

The Church And The Community, by Jonathan Dade

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookCrash.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I found this book to be structured in a very interesting way.  The author has written a personal memoir that is deeply vulnerable and also addresses matters of racism and the struggles of Messianic Judaism [1].  In many ways, I found the author to be highly Nathanish, and I could identify with at least some of his struggles to a high degree, making this book and its author easy to relate to.  As the author is upfront about his struggle with depression and anxiety and his difficulties in serving his country and finding a position that best matched according to his strengths, the author seems to encourage others to be like this themselves.  The author even had the struggle of having an easy time with friendship but some deep struggles with relationships and intimacy with women, and there are definitely some cringeworthy aspects to this book.  While it was difficult for me to relate to some of the racial aspects of this book–which were pretty overwhelming, the author’s upbringing in a Jewish Christian background with concerns over authoritarian cults is definitely something I was able to relate to.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages and is organized in an interesting way, around various life lessons with flashbacks and flashforwards between the author’s childhood and young adulthood and his experiences as a religious leader for various messianic congregations.  To be sure, the author’s lessons are rather heavy-handed at times, as when he criticized his father for not protecting his property from his younger siblings when he went off to college, and when he sought to deflect the blame for an emotional affair he had with a coworker who had been going through marriage problems.  Some aspects of the author’s life, like his courtship and marriage, are delayed until fairly late, and the author’s struggles with various physical and mental health woes are sometimes painful to read, as is the author’s discussion of dealing with false accusations and outright racism.  Overall, though, this book is a compelling warts-and-all presentation of a life devoted to God but lived by a fallible person with a large variety of struggles in his life that he manages to overcome with the help of God and other people.

In reading this book, I wondered what the author was trying to get out of it.  If he was looking for some measure of personal healing and the ability to reach out to others with similar experiences, there is likely a lot to be found here.  In reading this book, I could not help but wonder if the author had dealt with some experience with sexual abuse of some kind that he was not interested in writing about, as it makes a lot more of the subtext of this book, including the author’s heightened femininity, a lot easier to understand and grasp.  It is unclear, though, if the author had any interest in presenting a view that would necessarily give him popularity or support.  Not all of what is discussed here makes the author look good, and the author’s ambivalent relationships with some of the girls he grew up with and attended college with would run afoul of contemporary gender politics in the #MeToo era where the women’s side of such stories is far easier to believe.  In some aspects of his life, the author appears deeply unwise, in others far too easily combative, but although this book does not serve to make the author necessarily easy to agree with, his honesty makes him easy to relate to, as most of the author’s mistakes are ones that others have dealt with as well, especially among those of us who were born in the time and religious situation that both the author and I share.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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