Book Review – Taize: Brother Roger and His Community

Taize: Brother Roger and His Community by Rex Rico

Collins Publications, Chino Hills – 1978

I purchased this book to learn more about the community of Taize in France, which my wife was privileged to visit this past summer while I was in classes.  I was looking for a historical examination of the community – how it started and developed.  While this book provides a little of that, it wasn’t really the history I was looking for.

The author begins with some biographical information about Brother Roger, the founder of Taize, and the early events which led to the creation of the community.  But the majority of the book is given over to various discussions of contemporary Taize – meaning Taize in the mid-1970’s, and particularly the Council of Youth which spanned multiple years in the 1970’s.  Either because the Council of Youth was vague on its own (very likely), or because of the author’s lack of clarity, it’s hard to make much sense of what this Council was.  I came away with an impression of a loosely connected network of youths living in small groups in impoverished areas of the world for various lengths of time, who would then come together again at Taize – typically around Easter – to share their experiences and highlight the suffering of the impoverished around the world.  Two letters generated from the Council of Youth are referenced in this book, but neither letter is provided in transcript.

The latter half or third of the book consists of various quotes from Brother Roger’s previously published works, as well as an interview with him.

This book conveys somewhat of a sense of the spirit of Taize (though Brother Roger explicitly tries not to use such language) without a great deal of specifics.  I begin to suspect that this is the essence of Taize, prompting people to examine their faith and live it out in meaningful ways without specific directives and guidelines beyond Christian love for one another, prayer, and community.  From that respect it continues to be a community that fascinates me, and I will be reviewing several other resources on it in the coming weeks.

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