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The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
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it was amazing

The Book of Longings is the fictional account of Ana, a strong woman with a largeness inside her to be a voice, to fill others' ears with the words she writes from the holy of holies inside her. She is also the wife of Jesus.

I wasn't sure I could go there with a married Jesus; it doesn't offend scripturally, but it sure bucks tradition. Sue Monk Kidd writes in her author's notes that she recognized the audacity of the goal in writing this story. But the story is fully Ana's, and the author's words are so gorgeously entwined that I got caught up among the vines.

Truly, I loved this book. I got angry at the injustices women have faced, then and now. I enjoyed the way scriptural characters and incidents were depicted with new light. Alongside Ana, I fell in love with a human Jesus whose humanity often gets lost in the religious focus on His divinity. I wept while He died in a way that, with its familiarity, I don't weep nearly enough when I read the Bible.

The Jesus part primarily takes place during the years the Bible leaves out, between 12 and 30 years old. Kidd writes: "...the character of Jesus in these pages provides a mere glimpse of the complexity and fullness of who he as, and that glimpse is based on my interpretation of him, which is woven into a fictional narrative...
"I also visualized Jesus as an emerging social prophet and a rabbi whose dominant message was love and compassion and the coming of God's kingdom, which initially he viewed as an eschatological event establishing God's rule on earth, and ultimately as a state of being within the hearts and minds of people. I saw him as a nonviolent political resister who takes on the role of Messiah, the promised Jewish deliverer. And central to the character I've drawn is Jesus's empathy for the excluded, the poor, and outcasts of all kinds, as well as his uncommon intimacy with his God."

Ana's prayer: "Lord our God, hear my prayer, the prayer of my heart. Bless the largeness inside me, no matter how I fear it. Bless my reed pens and my inks. Bless the words I write. May they be beautiful in your sight. May they be visible to eyes not yet born. When I am dust, sing these words over my bones: she was a voice."

"It's always a marvel when one's pain doesn't settle into bitterness, but brings forth kindness instead."

"To avoid a fear emboldens it," she said.
I said nothing.
"All shall be well, child."
I reared up then. "Will it? You cannot know that! How can you know that?"
"Oh, Ana, Ana. When I tell you all shall be well, I don't mean that life won't bring you tragedy. Life will be life. I only mean you will be well in spite of it. All shall be well, no matter what."

"What most sets you apart is the spirit in you that rebels and persists. It isn't the largeness in you that matters most, it's your passion to bring it forth."

"All shall be well," Yaltha had told me, and when I'd recoiled at how trite and superficial that sounded, she'd said, "I don't mean that life won't bring you tragedy. I only mean you will be well in spite of it. There's a place in you that is inviolate. You'll find your way there, when you need to. And you'll know then what I speak of."

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Reading Progress

April 21, 2020 – Shelved
April 21, 2020 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
July 24, 2020 – Finished Reading

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