- Paperback: 230 pages
- Publisher: Twenty-Third Publications (April 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1585950920
- ISBN-13: 978-1585950928
- Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,660,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Unwilling Celibates: A Spirituality for Single Adults Paperback – April 1, 2000
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According to Sheridan, our institutions and our culture reinforce the idea that singlehood is a “limbo” state in between or on the path toward the “legitimate” state of marriage. The church typically addresses the genuine need of single people for meaningful community merely by providing social settings for singles in which to gather. “For the unwilling celibate, community is often missing. Sadly, it is what we need most. Standing at the margins of the ‘official’ church, the single adult envies those who appear to have community: the married, the ordained, the professed religious—and he or she wonders how to get there.”
“Our church does not offer us a hand,” Sheridan writes. “Sure, we can get involved in all sorts of committee and ministry work, which many of us do. But no one ministers to us; we are left to our own devices. The antidote for isolation and all of its many entrapments, of course, is community, but only community of a special kind. Families, friendships, and workplace relationships all constitute community and they support us in their unique ways, but what the single person needs is a community that promotes growth to wholeness by developing a heightened awareness of the spiritual aspect of everyday life.....
Most beneficial in Sheridan’s exploration of the spiritual single life is her suggestion for participating in what she refers to as “intentional community,” as opposed to the larger “accidental” communities to which we already belong: our workplaces, civic and political organizations, educational institutions, and even the church itself. According to Sheridan, an intentional community is “one in which I and other like-minded people overtly expressed our mutual commitment to one another in a conscious and deliberate way.” An intentional Christian community is consistently committed to a high degree of mutuality in their relationships; pursues an informed critical awareness of and an active engagement within the cultural, political, and economic megasystems of their society; cultivates and sustains a network of lively connections with other persons, communities, and movements of similar purpose; and attends faithfully to the Christian character of their community’s life. Sheridan insists that a central focus of intentional community must be social justice.
In addition, Sheridan offers a rich bibliography of resources. She suggests Albert Nolan’s “Jesus Before Christianity” as an example of living with and among, not apart from, human society, particularly the poor. Dick Westley’s “Redemptive Intimacy: A New Perspective for the Journey to Adult Faith” is a valuable resource in participating in intentional community. Parker Palmer’s “To Know As We Are Known: A Spirituality of Education” also proved to be another insightful discovery, as well as the writings of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. Sheridan also draws on the writings of other single Catholics struggling with their spirituality, including Dag Hammarskjold’s “Markings” and Dorothy Day’s “The Long Loneliness,” the source for the title of Sheridan’s book. To this list I would add Mary Beth Rogers’ “Cold Anger,” another excellent resource for intentional community and public relationship-building.