Could I Be A Hutterite?

The Hutterites are an Anabaptist religious group founded in Moravia by Jacob Hutter in 1528. They believe firmly in communal living. I once had the privilege of visiting a Manitoba Hutterite colony for a day.  Some things were appealing about their communal life .       

You need less self-discipline to live on a colony. Your days are planned and organized for you. The jobs you must do are clearly outlined. Times for meals, worship and work are all pre-arranged. Lovely chimes ring out across the buildings and fields to mark the hours and call you home for coffee break, supper and lunch. 

Worried about where the food you’re eating comes from? Not on a colony. It’s virtually all grown and raised right there. If you were a Hutterite it wouldn’t matter if you had less than exemplary cooking skills. Meals are prepared and enjoyed jointly. You wouldn’t even have to decide where to sit at supper time. Each person has an assigned spot.  Civilized dinner conversation with other adults would always be possible because youngsters are served earlier in a separate room.

You would not be the only one to care for your children.  Raising them is a community venture with everyone playing a part. There would be no concern about the kinds of ideas your children were picking up at school. Colonies have Hutterite teachers who have grown up with a common set of religious beliefs. They are qualified and have been trained as educators in a special program at the University of Brandon. You could rest easy about the kind of world view and lifestyle options your kids were exposed to in the classroom.

Looking for a marriage partner? The field is narrowed considerably because you would only choose a spouse of your own Hutterite faith. There’d be no need for expensive dates. Inter-colony get- togethers and visits would provide opportunities to meet someone who might be a future husband or wife.

 You wouldn’t need to do any shopping. Purchases are made jointly and in large quantities.  You’d  just ask permission to take things you need from the colony’s communal storage area. There’d be little worry about appearance since everyone wears clothing made from the same materials and patterns.

“How will we pay the bills?” is a question you wouldn’t need to ask. A community board of elders, which includes a financial manager, makes all the monetary decisions and insures there is cash in the coffers for houses, vehicles and living expenses.

A Hutterite colony might be the perfect place to be a pastor. You can’t lose your job. Once elected you remain the religious leader for life. Sermons have all been written out in advance for you. You are provided with dozens of books of  handwritten meditations. You can add your own insights if you wish, but your basic homily is prepared and ready to use.

Looking for entertainment? No need to travel to the city for sports or cultural events. The colony I visited had a baseball field and hockey rink. Homes featured keyboards, guitars and other musical instruments. Why go to a concert when you can make your own music?

 I couldn’t be a Hutterite. Having been raised in a culture where the rights of the individual are paramount, where freedom of expression is cherished  and the privacy of the nuclear family is the accepted norm, it would be too hard to adapt. However there were many things I observed on my visit which were very appealing. I could never live on a Hutterite colony but I can certainly understand why some people do.

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