Organic Community by Joseph Myers – A Literary Review
One of the differences between a literary review and a straight up book review is that literary reviews are written to help with future research. So I am writing with the idea that this will guide me to what I want to go back and study in regard to this book. There are various approaches to literary reviews, but here is mine.
I basically start with my sense of the author’s thesis, followed by a general overview of the book, and then I focus on themes that are pertinent to my future research. With that said, here is my reviews.
In Organic Community: Creating a Place Where People Naturally Connect, Myers makes the case that practitioners need to shift from being master programmers to environmentalist, people who follow principles of organic order to shape environments where people naturally connect.
Myers supplies us with nine organizational tools, which are designed to be used in an organic way, to move us from trying to “program” community to using organic order to create an environment where community can emerge naturally. Here is a chart (click to make larger) of the tools with a short explanation given my Myers.
THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER
This book is filled with meaningful ways to be an environmentalist so that people can connect with one another naturally. In a time when some have programmed the life out of the church, it is helpful to have some tools and guidelines to create an environment for life to emerge in spontaneous ways.
Myers gives us helpful ways to distinguish between master planners and Environmentalists. Master planners use master plans to try and control the future, while Environmentalist use organic order to enable life to spring up. (29,30). Master planners use a language of “ought” and “should”, while environmentalists use a language of possibilities (30). Master planners begin with the end in mind, where environmentalists begin with a horizon in view (31). Master planners ask the question “Where are we headed?” Environmentalists ask, “What are we hoping for?”
I enjoyed each section and found each of the tools to be helpful, especially his thoughts on measurement, growth, power, coordination, partners and resources. In the tool of partners, he compares accountability relationships with edit-ability relationships. He mentions how accountability relationships inadvertently reinforce negative behavior by concentrating on it. An accountability partner tends to look for mistakes and keep account of them. In contrast, edit-ability relationships celebrate the journey toward wholeness and tend to look for strengths, in making suggestions for improvement.
The metaphorical difference between accountability partners and edit-ability partners is the difference between an accountant and an editor. “An accountant’s training, job, and passion are rooted in looking for errors and covering all bases. An editor’s training, job, and passion are to help an author toward richer communication – a rich, full voice that is free of encumbrances” (139).