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The Other Side of Joy: Religious Melancholy Among the Bruderhof
by Julius H. Rubin
Oxford University Press, 264 pages

In "The Other Side of Joy," Rubin, author of "Religious Melancholy andProtestant Experience in America," turns his attention to "religiousmelancholy" among the Bruderhof, a Pietistic sect of German origin.Many Bruderhof, he argues, chafe under the watchful eye of thecommunity; they can't handle the rigorous spiritual requirements offasting and confession, and develop all manner of psychologicalproblems, from garden-variety depression to eating disorders. Rubin'streatment of "religious melancholy" quickly degenerates intostereotype--unable to shake the presumptions of today's theraputic culture, he views every aspect of Bruderhof life with suspicion. Rubin is especially condescending when dealing withchastity, suggesting that the Bruderhof's belief that "Any expression ofsexuality before marriage was sin" is outmoded and leaves youngBruderhof psychologically scarred. (If only the Bruderhof would getwith it and realize that individual fulfillment and happiness are moreimportant than community standards and the service of God, theneverything would be okay!) If you want to learn about the Bruderhof,skip Rubin, and go straight to the source: Eberhard Arnold's "Why WeLive in Community" is a much more satisfying read than "The Other Sideof Joy."

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