There are many places in the world that I would love to travel to. Between my wife and my immediate family, I’m the only one who hasn’t been to Iona – and I think there is something wrong with that. However, another well-known worshipping community that I would love to visit some day is Taizé. Many in the contemporary church culture are very aware of the Taizé community now because of their simple – but powerful – music used in churches around the world now. In the .bE alt.worship gathering I lead from time to time, we generally try and use some Taizé music when we can. And when churches decide to start an “alternative” or alternate worship gathering – one of the most popular options is to do a “Taizé service.”
Does this mean that it’s simply a passing fad in contemporary church culture? Will it be forgotten about when Aboriginal drum circles become the “in” thing. I don’t think so – and that’s because Taizé is the real deal. It is a place of Ubuntu, as Desmond Tutu calls it in his Foreward to Jason Santos’s “A Community Called Taizé.” Desmond Tutu writes:
“In my language, I would call it [Taizé] a place of Ubuntu, a place of community, where every single person matters and where no one is diminished since that would lead to the diminishment of all.”
I got to know Jason Santos during my time at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the field of practical theology. Santos has traveled to Taizé numerous times (he was even present on the night of Brother Roger’s death), and the brothers at Taizé expressly gave him permission to write this book. As I read it, I had to agree with reviewer Dennis Okholm when he wrote “If a virtual reality tour can be conducted through words, Jason Brian Santos has done it in this book.”
I really felt as if I knew what it felt like to be there at Taizé and experience the life and worship and context of the brothers of Taizé and their pilgrims who traveled from all around the world to be there. And if you are planning a trip to Taizé anytime soon – Santos even gives you plenty of practical and packing tips in Appendix A.
Santos does a beautiful job of painting a picture of life at Taizé and helps us learn more about the history and hopes of this community working for peace and reconciliation in the world. If you want to learn more about the book (including a short sample of Santos’s writing) check out A Community Called Taizé: A Story of Prayer, Worship and Reconciliation.