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Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  3,104 ratings  ·  371 reviews
Following up her highly acclaimed Girl Meets God, author Lauren F. Winner has written an engrossing reflection of literary grace and spiritual wisdom with Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.

As she lives through a failed marriage and the loss of her mother, Winner finds her Christian faith slipping away. Through reading religious works and tomes and being counseled by leade
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Harperone
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Dark Night of the Evangelical Hipster Chick

After reading an advance copy of Lauren Winner’s new (forthcoming in February) memoir Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, it occurred to me that far more egocentric than writing a book all about oneself is the feat of writing a book all about oneself and trying to play it off as a book about anyone or anything else.

Furthermore, the one thing more outrageously premature and obnoxious than writing a memoir—a spiritual memoir, no less—before old or even mi
2.5 stars. I have mixed feelings about this book. I was not a huge fan of Winner's debut book (a spiritual memoir) Girl Meets God - I found the writing too clever, too self-conscious, and, while she comes across as honest in a way that is meant to be real and raw, I often felt that what was passing for honesty was still a studied attempt at creating a particular image of who she had been and who she had become. Of course, to some extent, that's what memoir is, I suppose.

Still is not as glib as
I read Lauren Winner's Still when it was first published in 2012 (though my brain has mis-remembered this event as taking place years earlier, when I lived in an entirely different state, for some reason). I remember not liking it much, then.

Part of the problem was what I was expecting from Still. I'd stumbled across Girl Meets God, the memoir of her conversion first to Orthodox Judaism and then to Protestantism, years earlier, and read it twice in one weekend because I liked it so much. I like
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a sad book. An honest, beautiful collection of thoughts, experiences and reflections on faith and doubt, despair and flickers of hope. Though it was an easy read, I put it down partway through and didn't resume til the library due date loomed large.

In part, I felt responsible for her spiritual crisis. I devoured and loved all her previous books, putting her on a pedestal of sorts. Perhaps I should have regarded her more as sister than teacher, more fellow sojourner than guru. I can't im
Jun 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was well written and thoughtful book, but I just didn’t connect with the author. She had some interesting things to say about the middle time of faith (especially in the part where she discusses the middle voice in Greek), but mostly, it just felt very dry and distant, like Winner was holding her experiences, and therefore the reader, at arm’s length. Sometimes, I even felt like writing this memoir was an intellectual exercise in navel gazing, like she was talking around God, looking for Go ...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Winner found God and related her experience of discovering God and converting from Judaism to Christianity in Girl Meets God. She thought finding God was a done deal, that she was finished with struggle.

Then she divorced her husband and found that God was gone.

Winner was bereft, filled with anxiety, filled with depression and fears. She felt abandoned, alone. She did not know what to do.

She began to do what she does best: she researched others who felt they had lost God and she talked with peop
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A really good, short read. (Finished it in two sittings.) I really love Winner's transparency and honesty in this book as well as the various authors and poetry referenced throughout.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it
It gets better...

I almost put this book down quite a few times. The author reveals to us her painful struggles with her divorce and her faith. She brings us through her OCD and intense introspection and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue to go through it with her.

But this book got better as she got better. By the end I was saying over and over again to myself how profound some of her writing was - how beautifully she explained some things.

In one chapter she talks about how she can't always say
Ellen Dollar
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this in one afternoon. While my life is very different than Winner's (I am older, married, have kids, do not have a Ph.D. or even a traditional job, and have never particularly loved church, although I still go every week), I reacted viscerally to the idea of being in the listless, disorienting "middle" of the life of faith. In the middle, you feel alone, a little bored, confused about which direction to go, even unsure you're capable of going in any direction. This is beautifully written ...more
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I became acquainted with Lauren F. Winner a few years ago when I found her spiritual memoir, Girl Meets God.

That book recounts her faith journey which includes being raised Jewish, a conversion to Orthodox Judaism (her mom wasn't Jewish, and the faith is passed through the mother), and then later, her conversion to Christianity.

Winner's authentic, honest and blunt writing style, along with her faith journey captured my attention.

So when her newest release, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, cam
Emily Goldberg
May 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
This book is advertised as exploring what happens at a crisis of faith, when one reaches the "middle" of the spiritual life and feels stuck, or bored, or unsure whether or not to continue. It does not do so in any way that needed to be published.

Lauren Winner is an engaging and gifted writer. Her prose is easy to read and in many places beautiful. However, this story really was not helpful. As others have said, the VAST majority of it was just her self-centered introspection. Not the kind of int
Meghan Davis strader
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
First, I really enjoyed Girl Meets God, so I was excited about this book. However, throughout the book I was finding it harder and harder to relate to her. I’m not sure why that was. Maybe because I’m at a place in my life where I don’t get to sit on the front porch and invite loneliness to sit with me for a spell. I’m not even at a place in my life where I get to sit anywhere! My walk with God is also not nearly so neurotic. I am not called to ritualism in order to feel closeness to my Maker. I ...more
Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it
I reviewed this for The United Methodist Reporter. What I'll say here is that she's better trained as a theologian than Anne Lamott, but not nearly as outrageous and funny. Still, a good read, and informative. I think I'll like her better when she's a bit more aged.
Jan 31, 2012 marked it as to-be-read-pile
I'm having trouble sticking with this one right now. I think I will set it aside for a bit and come back to it later.
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My own "middles" are very different from the author's "middles," but still, I loved, and learned so much from, this book. Beautiful, genuine, resonant voice.
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Today I finished a wonderful, shortish book that took me several weeks to read. Don’t get me wrong, I was not reading this book for several weeks, I read it OVER several weeks.

In between bursts, longer or shorter, of this, I read several other books. Mostly Regency romances, for which I have a huge weakness. While I live life in jeans and t-shirts and am not good ton, I am partial to a good Regency romp.

Okay, back to the decidedly non-Regency, more meaningful (is there anything more lowering tha
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine, 2012
`These middle verbs, it seems to me, are religious; they are the very actions that constitute a religious life; to forgive, to imagine, to grow, to yearn to lament, to meet, to kneel. To have one’s body doused in the waters of baptism. To ponder.

All of which suggests to me that the middle is the language of spirituality, of devotion, the language of religious choreography…it is the voice that tells you that I am changed when I do these things and that there is something about me that allows the
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Man how does one review a book like this?

Let me start with Dr. Winner has written some things that have provided me with some great theologically underpinnings. Her Book Real Sex gave me a better theology for single-ness as a single Youth Minister. She is a writer that I love to read, and usually her writings leave me going off on tangents in my own mind.

This book is in a lot of ways mirrored in a poem that Winner reads for her family, a grappling with hope/faith in the midst of struggle/despair
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
In her critically-acclaimed memoir Girl Meets God, Lauren F. Winner explores her religious identity as she made the transition from Judaism to Christianity. A thought-provoking glimpse into 21st century religion, Winner was praised as "insatiable, and dauntless, in her search for religious truth at whatever the personal cost" by the New York Times.

In Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Lauren offers readers a quietly powerful and fiercely honest exploration of love, loss and what it means to lan
Jun 24, 2012 rated it liked it
I have loved several of Lauren Winner’s other books, especially her conversion memoir “Girl Meets God,” so I was very curious about “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.” Written out of the spiritual torment she faced grieving her mother’s death and doubting her faith in a difficult marriage resulting in an (admittedly) unjustifiable divorce, Winner tells her raw story of doubt and faith. Many times, it seemed that her “journal-entryish” writing (like CS Lewis’ “A Grief Observed,” but a bit more ...more
Karen Blinn
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I stumbled onto this book at my local library and decided to read it as the topic of "Notes on a mid-faith crisis" sounded like an interesting one. And, indeed, that proved to be the case. Lauren Winner is a professor at Duke Divinity School and may, by this time, also be an ordained Episcopalian priest. She was raised Jewish and converted to Christianity at around the age of twenty-one. (An experience detailed in Girl Meets God, a book that I would like to read.) Two events toppled her from the ...more
This one just wasn't for me. Although, it's a little difficult to say exactly why. Winner is a gifted writer, but I found this book very ... careful. Too careful, I guess, at least in the more narrative sections of the book. There's flashes of risk and the "fierce honesty" promised by the advertising copy, but these are few and far between. Winner suggests that this book isn't a memoir in her introduction, but it is very "memoir-ish" (especially "Part 1") and I wonder if the book would have been ...more
Susan Barnes
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Lauren Winner's first book, Girl Meets God is the story of her conversion to Christian faith from a Jewish background. This book, Still, is "notes on a mid-faith crisis" and is a collection of thoughts, stories, poems and quotes from a period of time when Lauren's faith wavered. The crisis was brought on by the death of her mother and the failure of her five year marriage. She had married three weeks after her mother died and I wonder if grief had more of an impact on her marriage than she ackno ...more
Apr 24, 2012 rated it liked it
While I am no longer in a mid-faith crisis of my own, it helped me heal even further to read Lauren Winner's elegant, funny, humbled account of her own existential moment in "the middle." I was dissatisfied with the ending, however - we had been on a journey, but I'm not sure we ever arrived anywhere. Maybe that's part of the point, but it was frustrating all the same. When I finished the book, I realized the book didn't really explore the visceral depths of Winner's dark night of the soul - but ...more
Dec 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have read a couple of Lauren Winner's books before, and even when I don't agree with what she is saying, she says it so beautifully that her books are well worth reading. Still is about the "mid-faith crisis" she went through after divorcing her husband, or rather it is about how she came through that crisis to a new kind of faith.
One of the things I love about her (the same is true for Ann Lamott)is that she is absolutely unafraid of exposing her own doubts, misgivings and transgressions. Sh
This is the second book of Winner's that I have read recently. She claims this is not a memoir, but I believe that when you write about your faith crisis, the book has to be a memoir. There is too much of Winner in this for it not to qualify as autobiography.

It has been awhile since I have experienced the "dark night of the soul". Winner reminded me of what it is like and how such a time can affect your faith life. I think this book is excellent, well written and true. I suspect that I will revi
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a beautifully written and moving book. I love the poetic, rather spare writing style; I appreciated the dignified honesty; I enjoyed how her writing can make me laugh a bit in places and make my heart ache in others. And, importantly, together with some other good things happening, it guided me through a spiritually dry time in the wake of a personal loss into a sense of fruitfulness and promise.

I borrowed this book from the library and thought (erroneously, it turns out) I ha
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This read was both a blessing and an uncomfortable prodding, a whisper of you are not alone in your doubt but also a sense of you can't stay here, nursing your wounds . Winner keeps her prose sparse. There is plenty of white space. Ample time to be still and contemplate the universal reality of being in the middle ground, somewhere along the way, but beyond the euphoria of the great beginning and not yet in sight of the finish line. This place, where the hard work happens. What does one do wh ...more
Mar 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Some beautiful moments in this "non-memoir-that-still-reads-like-a-memoir" particularly these chapters: "in boston, theology for the middle", "reading the bible in eight places", "easter vigil" and and "a sunday morning in massachusetts". But I kept finding myself wondering what insights Winner's experience and reflection has to over the general public. Why was this book published? Her writing is engaging and I don't want to write her work off as narcissistic, but it does come across that way at ...more
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a thoughtful and meaningful collection of essays on the phase of faith where enthusiasm wears thin and hollowness sets in. This isn't a commentary on lost faith, just the figuring of faith in the midst of crisis. What I really appreciated was the way Winner described her life, her circumstances, her habits and traits without bringing the reader down into a hole with her. She also did not fall into the rabid, feverish hunt for meaning in every dark or confusing circumstance. It's enough ...more
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Lauren F. Winner is the author of numerous books, including Girl Meets God and Mudhouse Sabbath. Her study A Cheerful & Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia was published in the fall of 2010 by Yale University Press. She has appeared on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and has written for The New York Times Book Review, The Washing ...more

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“Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt, or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith. And yet I continue to live in a world the way a religious person lives in the world; I keep living in a world that I know to be enchanted, and not left alone. I doubt; I am uncertain; I am restless, prone to wander. And yet glimmers of holy keep interrupting my gaze.” 13 likes
“All throughout Torah, we find people looking for God, and not finding God, because God doesn't often conform to our expectations. God is somewhere other than the place we think to look. And our sages show that you can respond to God's hiddenness in many different ways. You can, like the writer of Lamentations, respond to God's hiddenness by mourning. Or, like the writer of Ecclesiastes, instead of asking where the God you thought you were looking for had gone, ask what God is like now. Or you can respond to God's hiddenness by being like Esther: if God is hiding, then you must act on God's behalf. If you look around the world and wonder where God has gone, why God isn't intervening on behalf of just and righteous causes, your very wondering may be a nudge to work in God's stead.” 8 likes
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