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Breaking Up With God: A Love Story

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  354 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
"Honest,like down-to-the-core honest, beyond what most people are capable of,especially in public on the topic of faith." —Kelly Corrigan, New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place

Inthe tradition of Barbara Brown Taylor and Sue Monk Kidd, Sarah Sentilles offersa poignant, beautifully wroughtmemoir of her personal crisis of faith. Sentilleswas on the way to beco
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by HarperOne (first published June 1st 2011)
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I have been wanting to read a book like this for a while. When I was studying theology as an undergrad, I remember reading a theologian or philosopher who had left faith behind comment that theology was the weaker for having no balance on one side. There is a range and diversity of ways to believe and degrees of faith, but once a person crosses a line of doubt to unbelief (or no longer thinking "Do I believe?" is an interesting way of framing a question.) that person's voice is no longer part of ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Liralen rated it liked it
Fun fact: I am a divinity school dropout. The differences between my div. school experiences and this author's, though, are that I a) realised much earlier than she did that I was not where I wanted to be, and b) I didn't have a crisis of faith, just a crisis of calling. (Or possibly a crisis of career. Or city. Crisis of words beginning with 'C'?) (Oh, and the religion is different, but I'm less interested in reading about the religion itself than about the experience of it.)

Anyway, I was real
Aug 03, 2011 Jan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I felt a great deal of empathy with Sarah Sentilles in this memoir about becoming disillusioned with institutional Christianity. Although Sentilles, in her title, claims to be breaking up with God and asserts that she is now an agnostic, I think her real struggle is with the Church and the its institutional interpretation of Christianity. I have a lot of problems with that, as well. As she studied the scriptures (she was in Divinity School studying to become a pastor), she was struck at the huge ...more
As an atheist I was excited to read a book that detailed a serious religious person's fall from grace, so to speak. However, I didn't get the feeling that the author was really ever that seriously religious. I mean, sure, she was training to be a priest, but it was because she wanted to do something grand with her life not because she felt God was calling her. Overall, an interesting read, a well-written book to be sure, just not what I was hoping for.
Mar 20, 2016 Annie rated it it was amazing
One of those humble books you happen upon that manages to change your life. Maybe it didn't change anyone else's, and your friends have never even heard of the author. Maybe it'll never be a New York Times bestseller. Maybe it won't even have its own Wikipedia page. But it connects with you, moves you, reminds you that you are part of a bigger story, and you keep coming back to it. This book is one of those personal pets for me.

I was in (a Catholic, all-girls) high school five or six years ago w
Sep 25, 2011 Eddie rated it really liked it
I bought this book because I loved the title. I am an atheist and did not always grow up that way. So, to find this book and to read about a woman who grew up Catholic and also went to school to become a priest and then ended up having a falling out with God was a joy to read for me. It helped me even understand my own struggles on the real reasons of me giving up on God, or what I like to say, my invisible sky-buddy. Well, actually, YOUR (if you believe) invisible sky-buddy. I will admit, I alm ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Rachel rated it liked it
Recommended to Rachel by: HarperCollins booth @ AAR
I was drawn to this book because I have a deep respect for people who leave their faith. The emotional and social costs of making a definitive break with a religious community are high, and the path of least resistance for many who find they can no longer believe what their religion teaches can be to just go through the motions, or to drop out of active participation in church life but retain the identification as a member of their tradition. It is a brave and honest act to take the step of actu ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Marya rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Jesse
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
If you like memoirs and you want a brief primer on the flavors of Christian theology, this is your book. Sentilles chronicles her understanding of God (for which she uses the metaphor of a romantic relationship) from her Catholic christening, through her masters of divinity program at Harvard, to her ordination process for the Episcopalian church, to ending at the present day when she has "broken up" with God. As she explores her changing views on God, she includes a synopsis of various theologi ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Jan rated it it was amazing
Sentilles describes the evolution on her faith in God as if they had been lifelong friends and lovers.
The strong, comforting faith of her childhood led her to study religion at Harvard, work as a youth minister, and decide to become an Episcopalian priest. As she learned more about both religion and human experience, she came to realize that her relationship with God wasn't working. In her struggle to decide whether to stay on the path to priesthood, her mother told her, "Part of life is discer
Jun 09, 2012 M rated it really liked it
Was this the best book ever? Hardly. But this is something I have learned in my years of reading: good writing, that's probably first, but a close second in swaying opinion is definitely relatability. The fact is, I found myself on pretty much EVERY page (miserable dating experiences, check. Complicated in and out feelings with religion, check. Good God, we even both bake for everyone but ourselves!). So, does this make me a narcissist, that I give a rather well written but somewhat choppy, mean ...more
Aug 20, 2011 Heidi rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
The farther along I got into reading the book, the more apparent it became to me that the author was/has suffered some psychological paradoxes throughout her life. Initially I was okay with this concept but the further I read, the more I thought the author was/is suffering from either one or a combination of mental illnesses related to her unfounded spiritual/christian beliefs. It just got weirder and weirder to me as I read on until I couldn't stand reading about her beliefs anymore. Not my cu ...more
Saundra Robinson
Wasn't quite what I thought it would be and didn't touch my experience but I recommend it for those who are having issues with their faith, their church, their relationship with God. Everyone's story is different as is mine. I left organized religion several years ago. Still studying, reading as many books as I can get my hands on. My issue is that the God I now love (God of love) is not the same God (serve Me or go to hell) I grew up believing in. And so I now sometimes feel betrayed and lied t ...more
Jul 14, 2016 Becky rated it liked it
3.5. On paper, Sentilles' religious background is similar to mine - mainline Protestant in her early adult life, but with a mixed-faith background that gave her an early understanding of religious diversity. I enjoyed her encounters with different theologies and following her experience of leaving a belief system that defined her identity.

However, I didn't connect with this book on a deeper level because Sentilles' experience of religion is quite different from mine. In part, her Catholic upbrin
I feel like this is a book I should have connected with, since some of it was very relevant to my own experiences with religion. But on the whole the writing style left me cold.
Micah McCarty
Jul 26, 2011 Micah McCarty rated it really liked it
I truly loved this book. I was a tad disappointed with how she chose to end it. I think even she realized that it sounded trite. But overall I haven't read anything before that is even remotely similar to my own struggles with faith. This book captured many of the same feelings and reasons I have experienced and it is written with a candor and honesty that I normally have not seen in religious memoirs.
Nov 13, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, memoir
I loved this book! Sentilles' book is a memoir about how she left her faith in a traditional, patriarchal Christian God. She interweaves theological ideas with stories from her own life. I was so moved by this book, and I highly recommend it to seekers, believers, and anyone interested in the importance of thinking about how our ideas about God impact our world.
Beth Transue
Oct 18, 2012 Beth Transue rated it really liked it
This book provides an honest look at the crisis of faith experienced by a seminarian. I think it shows how important it is for those considering a call to ministry to fully explore their faith and their motivation for entering the ministry. It also leads me to greater compassion for those experiencing crises of faith and its impact.
Dec 14, 2011 Carol rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-review
It’s not a book I would choose to read again, but Sarah is open and honest about her journey, which I can appreciate. She has insights that did make me think about issues. As a personal memoir, It’s not the most well-written, but it was interesting, at points enlightening and at others just annoying
David Anderson
Mar 16, 2014 David Anderson rated it it was amazing
A truly moving memoir! Having not been raised in a religious family, I'm always curious about and eager to hear stories from those who loose their faith or leave the faith tradition in which they were raised. This book is all that, emotionally extremely powerful! It helped that, out of curiosity as a political progressive, I've studied some the progressive theological positions she references here (James Cone's liberation theology and Mary Daly's feminist theology) and, frankly, as intriguing as ...more
Aug 25, 2014 Meg rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2014
I was strongly pre-disposed to like this book since the author and I had a few things in common, but I was disappointed, mostly because it was written in that "memoir voice" I find off-putting, but also for other reasons. The author's discussion of her theology classes was interesting, but hard to square with her pursuing ordination despite not liking to go to church (unless she is in charge!?) and not personally owning a Bible until she began divinity school. And, despite the advanced theology ...more
Kate Gal
Oct 17, 2015 Kate Gal rated it it was ok
I initially loved the concept of this, and being a recovering youth minister I feel I've broken up with God myself. The beginning of the book sounded all too familiar to my situation. Struggling with the fanatical Christians, the overdone church services with closed eyes and swaying songs, the false feelings it all brings up within me when surrounded by this "faith". But that's all another story.
As the author traveled her life I felt very connected to her story, until we reach the end where som
Feb 20, 2012 Candice rated it really liked it
I happened upon this little treasure on the "new releases" shelf the last time I was at the library. I had heard nothing about the book but the title intrigued me. It was a fantastic read and everything I'd wanted Bart Ehrman's books to deliver, thought they'd failed to. This gem by Sarah Sentilles is an open and honest look at her own personal journey of faith. It's true, she's since broken up with God, and would most likely label herself an "agnostic", but I have nothing but respect for her as ...more
Jul 10, 2012 Myth rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book is an interesting journey into doubt, but it doesn't seem that the author really comes to a point of resolve. I do appreciate this as a memoir based on discovery and continuing discovery rather than of reflection. Sentilles has a naivete about her (self/writing) that can sometimes be annoying, but it portrays who she authentically is. I didn't ever feel like she was trying to hide anything or be someone she wasn't. However, it seems like she needs a lot of support and doesn't have a lo ...more
Feb 18, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
"My relationship with God was never casual. When it began to unravel, I was going through the ordination process to become an Episcopal priest. I was a youth minister at a church in a suburb of Boston and a doctoral student in theology at Harvard. You might say God and I was engaged and the wedding was planned - church reserved, menu chosen, flowers arranged. Calling it off would be awkward."

But call it off Sarah Sentilles' did and she writes about her break up with God, mostly the before and du
Jan 06, 2013 Allison rated it it was amazing
I read this in one sitting, and it rang truer for me than anything I've read recently. It's a beautifully written, honest book, and it made me feel as though I had found a kindred spirit. It made me want to have all my friends read this, just to see if there's anyone else who feels the same way.
I can't relate to all of the author's experiences of church and God and growing up (feeling like if you just pray hard enough, bad things won't happen, etc.), but so many of the realizations and conclusi
Oct 20, 2012 Ebony rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
It took a minute for me to get into Breaking Up with God. It’s a disjoined memoir that moved more quickly to destinations I initially wasn’t particularly interested in. I kept thinking, “get to the breaking up with God part” but in retrospect the break up wouldn’t have been as powerful without her girlhood narratives.
I loved that Sarah found love and that she married a man who understood her. Part of me feels guilty for writing that. As if I thought she needed a human man to save her after she
Like Craig Thompson's "Blankets" and Madeleine L'Engle's "Ring of Endless Light," this book and its protagonist's struggle with faith and religion resonates with me on so many levels. Sentilles, who grew up in the church and spent many years studying theology and the ministry, evaluates her relationship with Christianity as if examining a personal romantic relationship, from the initial infatuation to the “going steady,” the highlighting of differences and the eventual parting. She raises many o ...more
Ann Buechler
Feb 09, 2014 Ann Buechler rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly what it purports. It is a succinct journey of the rise and fall of faith in Christianity. As I read about the author's journey, I couldn't help but see so much of myself in her, all the way to the end. Wrapping up with what life is like after the break up and finding something to truly believe in without requiring extrapolated explanations. She found a passion and a much needed cause to place focus on, shaping a new way of believing in the universe.
Rachel Jaffe
Aug 12, 2015 Rachel Jaffe rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, bargain, memoir
I liked the opening quite a bit, and the concept of a relationship with G-d like a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, with all the complications that that can have. But I felt like it didn't quite dig deep enough. Or maybe there wasn't deeper there. She was in a relationship that didn't satisfy her, and she hung around in it for a while, and then she met another guy and that relationship made everything right and she didn't have to evaluate the past anymore.
Emilie Claire
Sep 13, 2013 Emilie Claire rated it liked it
I found Sentilles' central metaphor (Christian faith as a romance) a bit overwrought, but as it flows from page to page her writing is excellent: compelling, controlled, and tactful. She raises a number of well-presented questions, and I respect the candor with which she writes. The title seems a misnomer to me as I don't think she actually "broke up with God" so much as turned away from what was (for her) a too-narrow and prescriptive concept of divinity. The content can feel a bit academic at ...more
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Sarah Sentilles is the author of A Church of Her Own and Taught by America. She is a scholar of religion and earned a bachelor's degree in literature from Yale and a master's of divinity and a doctorate in theology from Harvard. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
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