Sunday, January 15, 2017

Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church by Rachel Held Evans

“I explained that when our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends aren’t welcome at the table, then we don’t feel welcome either, and that not every young adult gets married or has children, so we need to stop building our churches around categories and start building them around people.” 
For many years I've struggled with church attendance. Ok, in truth, I gave it up a long time ago. Why? Because every time I attended I noticed that things weren't falling in line. That is, a jab at my liberal politics (the horror!), an all-white, all straight (or so we pretend) congregation. A money-rules attitude. Everyone knows who the big donors are, y'all. No women allowed to deliver a message outside of Sunday school, and then, only for the littlest of the congregation.

In short, feeling invalidated, not good enough, not wealthy enough, not subservient enough. Not "lady like" enough. Not knowledgeable enough.

I have hated Sunday School my whole life. As an elementary school child, worksheets and reciting verses. As a teen, empty discussion, judging the people in the room who everyone knew had premarital sex or smoked weed. Playing favorites.

In Rachel Held Evans's book Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church, I finally saw my concerns. While Evans's father is a theologian and she grows up in church, her experience as an adult was much like mine: the overwhelming disillusionment, the hypocrisy, the exclusion. A sense of the lack in the conversation. A lack of complete and utter realness. A hiding from the problems of the world.

Despite the problems, Evans feels the conviction of any devoted Christian. She always comes back to her belief system, despite her questions, her doubts. She believes in science and religion, in the grace of God, the necessity for social justice work, the importance of equality for all, a place for every person at the table. Every person.

In listening to her experiences--the ones that weren't so great, like mine--as well as the really great ones, I found an overwhelming amount of hope. Knowing that there are Christians with these concerns and that they are writing and sharing and preaching and loving gave me more incentive to search for myself, to study. I am not alone. None of us are. And no person is perfect and no church is either, but the Christian world is not wholly disregarding these issues. We are not alone.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Monday Reading and Bout of Books Wrap-Up

It was a good week of reading, though per usual I didn't read as much as I would've liked. That's always the case with readathons, isn't it? Our book gluttony reaches new heights, though our proverbial stomachs are never as big as our eyes. That's my story of Bout of Books.


Princess Jellyfish 01 (omnibus) by Akiko HigashimuraI have a tendency to refer to this as my "first manga" though that's not the truest. I had to read another one in grad school, but that was something crazy like 10 years ago (!!!) so I feel like I'm starting over. This is the first manga I've read of my own volition! This omnibus edition had something like 12 or 13 issues in it, and I looooooved it. It's about Tsukimi is a nerdy young woman who lives in an apartment building full of fellow woman-geeks. She's obsessed with jellyfish and in the beginning of this collection a beautiful, stylish woman who she finds completely intimidating, helps her save a dying jellyfish from a pet store. Turns out that stylish woman is a man who cross dresses as a hobby. There's a specific Japanese term for this in the book but I'm having no luck finding it and Google is letting me down. Hold that thought. I will definitely be reading the rest of this series. It was funny and silly and charming and just delightful. (#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks)

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: I have a complicated relationship with this book. I'll just tell you that I did enjoy it, and I rated it 3 stars on Goodreads. Don't be confused...for me that's not a bad rating. It's a good rating, though I couldn't give it 4 because of those mixed feelings I mentioned.

Still Reading

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer: This is a Christian living book about prayer and it's specifically focused on women in prayer. Still undecided about this one. I'm working through it in the workbook style the book intends, but I don't know about Shirer's delivery.

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit: Goooood book. I'm taking it slow--one chapter at a time--because for a small book I do find there is a lot to absorb. It's one of those books, in fact, that I'd like to read each chapter twice before moving on. Greyson asks me, "Mom, what did you just write in that book?" a lot.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy: A family story set in Detroit, the 13 Turner children must decide the fate of their family home as their mom ages and loses her independence. Love the alternating perspectives in this one, even though that's something that generally annoys me. I feel equally invested in each family member and love Flournoy's writerly voice. (#ReadMyOwnDamnBooks)


Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans: Another spiritual growth type book, this one is also a lot memoir. Evans is a progressive, doubting Christian and I sooooo appreciate her point of view. She reads the audiobook, and I love it so far. 

What are you reading? 

Monday, January 02, 2017

Monday Reading | Bout of Books

Bout of Books 18
It's Bout of Books time! I have a stack:

And I'll have some free time this week with kiddo headed back to school. Just last night I finished my first book of the year, The Shepherd's Crown by Terry Pratchett, so I think I'll go for Princess Jellyfish today for something quick as a companion to the other book I'm reading, Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit. 

What are you reading? 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2017 Begins: First Book and Goals

David is gone to pick up the boy from his dad, and I've taken the morning to have a coffee and breakfast date with him and my mom. Homemade biscuits and gravy. It doesn't get any better.

Now that I'm home, I'm cleaning a metric ton of stuff out of our master closet and bedroom proper. Since I use a corner of the master as my home office, I'm especially annoyed when it gets cluttered, and it's been cluttered for a good year. I know, I'm telling you all my secrets. So far I've lightened my wardrobe by three trash bags full, and this week I'll take them to a local thrift store that supports a domestic violence shelter.

The bedroom is just the beginning. Greyson's room and closet need a thorough tidying, and we have an extra closet in the main part of the house that needs a good pick through. I'm looking at everything, really. Do I still enjoy that knickack that's been gathering dust? Am I ever going to use anything in this junk drawer?

I recently watched the documentary, Minimalism, and while it wasn't that great, it did get me in a lather to clean up and clean out. After the "favorites" bookshelves. If I won't re-read it or teach it, it goes!

The first day of 2017, like the beginning of every year, feels like an opportunity for new beginnings. Another chance to do better, be better, live purposefully. My goals, both reading-related and otherwise, seem simpler this year, though no less important:

  • Learn
  • Make things
  • Help
  • Curate
  • Do more
  • Purchase less
My "one word" for this year, as I've mentioned before, is assurance. I will give it and accept it. 

My first book of the year ties in with my goals and my one word. 

I'm looking so forward to cracking the proverbial spine on Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit. Just as soon as I'm done cleaning. 

Happy new year, friends. 

Images by Freepik