I read this book out of spiritual curiousity. What could a woman who had spent years as a leftist feminist lesbian college professor and then become a...moreI read this book out of spiritual curiousity. What could a woman who had spent years as a leftist feminist lesbian college professor and then become a reformed calvinist wife and home school mother....say to speak to my spiritual journey? Could she add anything to my current journey for deeper authenticity and wholehearted living? Certainly in many ways her story seemed somewhat the reverse of my own, but It certainly seemed at least that she knew a lot about drastic changes.
There are two things I really loved about the book. Rosaria is brave and courageous in owning her story despite the fact that it is very likely to be a cause of rejection by both friends past and present. I also appreciate that she is far more critical of Christians than others. (She isn't quite as willing to criticize her particular brand of Christianity.)
But to be honest, this book left me with lots of questions and wonderings. Now I think questions are good, but in this case they are not the kinds of questions that lead you deeper, but the kind that act like barriers to all of the truth. I don't think these were necessarily intentional barriers, but rather indications that this is a story not yet fully told. My questions are all connected to one big wondering. Rosaria states that she felt like an imposter in her life as a professor. It made me wonder how her self-described identity was developed...how it evolved. Was she just following along with others or really following her heart? For example:
1. What was a Rosaria's experience at coming to understand herself as gay? She doesn't really talk about this in any kind of authentic way. In fact, the things she does say give a strong impression that she chose being in a lesbian relationship as part of the package of being what she called a leftist, feminist, college professor. It was more of a political and professional decision than a personal one. She even mentions that coming back to her office and work after a summer away made her feel like more of a lesbian again. She describes herself as being what is the common stereotype used on the right for academicians....far left, atheist, feminist, hostile to Christianity...and the oft mentioned butch haircut.
2. What are the influences that led her from being a lapsed Catholic to becoming a self described atheist.? Again, it felt that her identity as atheist was more connected to her profession than the result of any kind of deeply held beliefs of her own.
3. What was the status of her relationship to her partner at the time she started exploring Christianity...or even before? She does not make it seem as if ending or leaving that relationship was very difficult. Her struggle is only with her profession. Her relationship is looked at fairly casually, or as a source of embarrassment. This would not be the case for most people in a committed relationship.
4. I also wonder about her relationship with the man that is only called R. There is a hint that he might have been gay, and that this is why the two of them were introduced. This is important, because she definitely portrays him as unable to repent from his sin. It seems an important omission not to tell more of his story. I realize she is telling her story and not his...but to have included him at all with so little information gives the impression of someone trying to hide something.
5. Another big wondering is why Rosaria chose to spend as much time me as she did in her bookdefending her choice of Calvinism over other forms or Christianity, including her defense of the regulative principle of worship. It just seemed a strange addition to the story. Her book is not long and so much is left out...yet she takes several pages to defend her belief in this principle.
Because of all the wondering, I am left only with some strong hunches about Rosaria's story. In the end, I think her transformation is not as dramatic as the storyline and details would make it seem. Rosaria seems to have moved from one very tight box to another. She comes across as a follower who needs certainty. When she was identified as the liberal college professor, she had to take it all the way...no questions or nuance. Nothing to decide...absolute morals determined by a set ideology. Not surprisingly this did not feel authentic...because very few people fit into that kind of box. When a preacher with questions makes it clear to her that she is tired of her box...she climbs out of it and into another one. This transition comes with a lot of assumptions, including that a Christian can't be a liberal, feminist, or lesbian. Not by accident, both the liberal colleagues of her past and the Calvinists of her present accept these assumptions. It is an either/or black and white proposition. In many ways her worldview doesn't change at all. She just switches sides. My experience is that in the most powerful conversions, a whole worldview is turned upside down. I just don't see that in her story.
My biggest concern with this book is not with Rosaria herself, but with the way this story is being used in the narrative about gays and Christianity, This story, while hers, does little to inform people on how to understand and embrace the many Christians who find themselves in conflict over their faith and sexuality. While she calls her story a train wreck, her packaging is very neat and orderly. I was an atheist, feminist, liberal, lesbian and now I am a Christian and tossed all of that away. But life is not really that clear cut. Those divisions are not so clear. I know hundreds of gay people, and not one of the fit the clear cut stereotypical way she described herself in the book. Her story should not be used as any kind of evidence that a person who knows on a deep level that they are gay can change. She does not make that claim for herself, and no one should make it for her.
Probably my biggest wonder of all is what story she might want to tell 10 years from now. Will the box she has climbed into still give her comfort? If it does, than I am happy for her. Our faith should be our source of strength and comfort. If it doesn't, the I hope she will still have the kind of courage she has demonstrated in this book and will bring out her pen and write the rest of her story. I will be waiting and wondering.(less)
Don't know how I missed reading this as a child.but I don't remember it. At first I was unable to do anything but picture the voices and characters fr...moreDon't know how I missed reading this as a child.but I don't remember it. At first I was unable to do anything but picture the voices and characters from the movie I have seen countless times, but because it was so different. I was able to start imagining them in different ways. I loved this book...and the way Mary Poppins could be both cross, vain and ill-tempered but still so deeply loved by the kids because she brought them the magic of secret adventures that sparked their curiosities and imaginations. She didn't explain everything ... But let the kids have the most amazing experiences and then figure out for themselves what it was all about. Looking forward to reading more of the adventures.(less)
I knew when I ran across author Roman Krznaric a couple of weeks ago, that he was going to be one of the big ones for me. Someone whose ideas have a h...moreI knew when I ran across author Roman Krznaric a couple of weeks ago, that he was going to be one of the big ones for me. Someone whose ideas have a home deep in my soul. This book is short and easy to read, but at the same time the questions and exercises he poses can allow for many hours of productive reflection. While this book, at times, seems geared toward career changers, I also recommend it for new college graduates, maybe even high school. Great stuff.(less)
This is a book I can't remember if I read as a child. I remember the story, but also remember the movie...so I can't be sure. But a colleague who help...moreThis is a book I can't remember if I read as a child. I remember the story, but also remember the movie...so I can't be sure. But a colleague who helps me plan of family reading program considered this a childhood favorite, so I thought it would be a great choice. She was right. This has been a perfect choice. There is so much in here for kids to love...animal friendships, adventures in the city, that longing kids have for pets, imagination and creativity as the cricket changes a city and the life of a family with his talent. Oh, I can't forget the part about Chinese food. That is definitely a plus. If you are looking for a great story for yourself or to read with your family, dive in! If you love it, I also recommend Masterpiece by Elise Broach which features a beetle with a talent for pen and ink drawings. (less)
This is a book I am counting as finished, but will be working with for at least the next few months. I read the first half along with Brene's web clas...moreThis is a book I am counting as finished, but will be working with for at least the next few months. I read the first half along with Brene's web class based on the book and finished the rest on my own. It is a fairly quick read, but it inspires lots of reflection. This feels like it is going to go on the record as one of my life-changing books. Here's to wholehearted living!(less)
While you might say the book is about a journey...it is also about a series of journeys. Taylor tell...moreI listened to this book and enjoyed it very much.
While you might say the book is about a journey...it is also about a series of journeys. Taylor tells the story of her younger years, in which she found God, not in the church (she was not raised in the church), but in nature where she felt a powerful and persistent call of a divine presence. She takes us through her college years where this presence turns into a major in religion, and then somewhere along the way becomes a call to get her Master of Divinity and be ordained as an Episcopal priest. She spends a number of years in a busy downtown Atlanta church, but feeling that burnout was on its way heads up to the Georgia mountains to lead a small rural congregation. While she does find a different kind of life, she also discovers that many of the struggles that led her out of Atlanta follow her. So we also follow her on one more journey as she leaves parish ministry all together to become a professor at a local college.
While the story is powerful, for even more powerful was her weaving of some very profound thoughts on faith throughout the narrative. Here are just a few.
“I know that the Bible is a special kind of book, but I find it as seductive as any other. If I am not careful, I can begin to mistake the words on the page for the realities they describe. I can begin to love the dried ink marks on the page more than I love the encounters that gave rise to them. If I am not careful, I can decide that I am really much happier reading my Bible than I am entering into what God is doing in my own time and place, since shutting the book to go outside will involve the very great risk of taking part in stories that are still taking shape. Neither I nor anyone else knows how these stories will turn out, since at this point they involve more blood than ink. The whole purpose of the Bible, it seems to me, is to convince people to set the written word down in order to become living words in the world for God's sake. For me, this willing conversion of ink back to blood is the full substance of faith.”
“...salvation is not something that happens only at the end of a person's life. Salvation happens every time someone with a key uses it to open a door he could lock instead.”
“I have learned to prize holy ignorance more highly than religious certainty and to seek companions who have arrived at the same place. We are a motley crew, distinguished not only by our inability to explain ourselves to those who are more certain of their beliefs than we are but in many cases by our distance from the centers of our faith communities as well.”
I also like how the story is told is starkly human terms. Yes, her call to ordained ministry came from God, but it also was filled with all of her very real and normal human desires to find meaning and value in her work. Value she was really sure would be enhanced by the wearing of the clergy collar I think many clergy are afraid to talk about the human aspects of their calling, as though somehow their desire to have meaningful work invalidates the divine calling. Her vocational struggles, while certainly having some qualities unique to clergy, also resonated with me in struggles with all kinds of work where you serve others. It is so easy for people to set you up as the one they look to for the advice, guidance, etc. and it can be tempting to try and be "all that" for them. In the end it is quite a lonely place, and often leads to burn out. Really, what is better, is to be in a circle with people, connecting stories and lives without having to set anyone apart as the one with the answers. I loved her inclusion of the story of the Lakotas at the end of the book. I would like to learn more about their spiritual practices. (less)
I really enjoyed this book and am glad that it will be a series. I always enjoy the first in a series as you are getting to know the detective and his...moreI really enjoyed this book and am glad that it will be a series. I always enjoy the first in a series as you are getting to know the detective and his assistant. Can't wait to read their next adventure.(less)
I just finished reading Columbine by Dave Cullen. It brought me back to when I first became enthralled with true crime books while reading Norman Mail...moreI just finished reading Columbine by Dave Cullen. It brought me back to when I first became enthralled with true crime books while reading Norman Mailer's Executioner's Song. For years I read a lot of these kinds of books, including some good ones by Ann Rule and Joe McGinnis. Then I got sucked into to some titles that were published right after the crimes happened and found them to be shallow and sensationalistic. Somewhere along the way, I quit reading from this genre much. Columbine brings me back full circle to what I loved about this genre to start with. Written more than a decade after the events in Colorado, this book takes an in-depth look at the tragedy from many different angles. Cullen's style makes it read like fiction, but there is still enough detail for you to get a strong sense of the intense work and research he did. This book really brings home the idea of how very little we can really grasp of an event based on the media coverage while it is going on. So many of the events at Columbine have been mythologized to the point they bear little to no resemblance to the truth. I also never realized how much of a coverup there was in regard to very concrete evidence and history that should have been able to lead authorities to prevent the crime. Sure some of that is due to the old idea of hindsight is 20 - 20... But in this case there was actually a pretty strong trail of activity that was known, but not properly handled by authorities that could have prevented the tragedy. As someone who enjoys the study of religion, I was also fascinated by Cullen's look at both the positive and negative roles religion played in community healing. This book is worth a read by anyone who wants to understand more about one of our defining tragedies of recent history and how we can take its lessons into the future.(less)
This is one of my favorite reads this year. It is a rare writer that can simultaneously get you thinking on a deep spiritual level and having you pee...moreThis is one of my favorite reads this year. It is a rare writer that can simultaneously get you thinking on a deep spiritual level and having you pee our pants from laughter. She has unlocked some important truths to help find peace and joy in this crazy life.(less)
I got this book to help me find ideas for incorporating empathy education into my programs for older preschoolers and elementary kids. I like the topi...moreI got this book to help me find ideas for incorporating empathy education into my programs for older preschoolers and elementary kids. I like the topics presented, these will be a good guide for me and some of the questions and activities will be good conversation starters for elementary Storytime. Overall, however, the activities seem too academic and pencil/paper oriented to be directly useful. (less)