Category Archives: reviews

Leviticus – Fairness, Separateness, and Cleanliness

Leviticus is that book that I always have to just get through. Long lists of laws and regulations that are ancient, taken wildly out of context, and profoundly Other, despite their relative familiarity next to, say, the Code of Hammurabi. Not that there isn’t some really valuable stuff in there (see my notes on the Year of Jubilee – totally brilliant provision for economic equality), but it’s nearly impossible to feel like I have the whole picture when there are also strict regulations for the buying and selling of slaves, preparing animals for sacrifice, and all the things I’m not allowed to touch if I’m on my period. I feel like the image of life Leviticus paints is fragmented and distorted, not because it was that way originally, but because I am so far removed from its original context, I can’t see the pieces as a whole, I can only see them in individual bits, some of them bright and clear, and others cloudy or muddled. With Leviticus I get a mosaic but not a picture. I’m sure someone with more imagination/a graduate degree in ancient Israeli culture/experience in a traditional Orthodox community would have a different experience with this book, but that’s where I’m at.

For whatever reason, I didn’t feel moved to take notes on Leviticus until Chapter 14, so that’s where we begin:

Chapter 14 is so tactile. Lots of smearing and sprinkling and dipping of blood and oil.

Chapter 15: regulations for a bleeding woman. All this washing and refraining from touching sounds like the kind of precautions you take with an infectious disease outbreak or hazmat spill. While I’m a little miffed that my natural body processes were considered so suspect, as a general practice, it would have made the Israelites more endurable during plagues.

Chapter 16: The Day of Atonement is so very solemn. Double sacrifice, first for the priest’s  personal sin (a bull no less) just to be able to approach to offer the sin offering for Israel. And the other two men involved in transporting the animal parts have to wash their clothes before they can reenter the community. And during all this solemn sacrificing and cleansing, the Israelites are to be fasting and observing full Sabbath restrictions. Created an atmosphere where everyone would be hyper-aware of what was going on spiritually in the community. Not a holiday you could brush off or take casually. I believe to this day, Yom Kippur is the most serious of the Jewish holidays.

Ch 21: The high priest must marry a virgin, not a widow or a prostitute. Exactly the opposite of what God asked of Hosea (a prophet, not a priest).

Ch. 22: Women really were only counted based on who was responsible for them. An unmarried priest’s daughter may eat a priest’s holy food, but if she marries a nonpriest, she’s no longer allowed. She has no priestly status of her own, only in relation to her father or husband.

Ch. 25: The Year of Jubilee. Radical redistribution of property every 50 years. It wasn’t redistributed randomly – every family was given an original inheritance, and in the Year of Jubilee, all plots were to be restored to the families who had original ownership. 50 years was a span of time that would mean that if you were lazy or otherwise irresponsible, you became poor for much of your lifetime, but your children wouldn’t be permanently disadvantaged. If you were greedy, you couldn’t accumulate property indefinitely. A countering to the inertia of privilege and income inequality

v. 35-37 – “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you…you must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit.” – What a very different dynamic from the culture of predatory creditors and anti-food stamps.

Ch. 26 v. 9-13: One of the few places where God’s warmth and fondness come through – “I really really want to be friends with you, I just really need you to not be evil.” (Revised Meghan Version).

In reviewing my notes, apparently I did not feel particularly moved to make any notations on the most famous and contentious of Levitical passages today, the ones concerning a man lying with a man. I’ve written about this in personal notes to friends and somewhat over at Soulation, but here I think I’ll just link you to some other people who have said it more eloquently than I.

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Coffee Shop Conversations. Or, How to Talk Intelligently About Jesus Without Being a Jerk. A Book Review.

My copy :)

My copy 🙂

Today’s book review is for “Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk.” I had the pleasure of interacting extensively with the authors, Dale and Jonalyn Fincher, over at their blog Soulation. (See here for an explanation of that interaction). So when their new book popped up as a Speakeasy offering, I jumped on  the chance to review it.

I had another reason for ordering this particular book, too: I was genuinely hoping for some inspiration and guidance. As I’ve been soul-searching through my Christian walk and practices this year, I’ve been remembering how enthusiastic I used to be about talking to people about Jesus. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable sharing my own faith, exactly. I’m still unapologetic about being Christian, but as it’s been evolving pretty drastically over the past few years or so, I’ve gotten a little more guarded about discussing it. Part of that is just a reluctance to put myself in situations where I might be asked clarifying questions that I am in the process of re-thinking myself. Something as basic as “what denomination do you belong to?” for instance, opens up whole vistas of awkward explanation. I am less sure of everything, and so less inclined to make statements.

And partly it’s just fatigue at having to constantly defend it, because there are so many poor examples of Christians out there, who inevitably draw media, like tweens to a Beiber concert. And so I’m wary of the assumptions people make when I use the word “Christian” or even “Jesus.” This dynamic was always in play, but it’s gotten more acute after some negative experiences with Christians in my own community. I feel that in defending Jesus, somehow, to some small extent, I am inevitably defending these people, and I have no interest in defending these people.

So, in ordering this book, which I knew to be written by two unapologetic evangelicals whom I genuinely respect, and who also write a lot about spiritual abuse, though that’s not a central topic of this book, I was hoping somehow to renew some lost spark, rekindle the old enthusiasm. I was wondering if it were possible to re-discover some aspect of evangelicalism that I could still believe in.

That’s a long intro to a book review, but I thought it might be important to understand my motivations for reading the book in order to put my opinions about it in context.

So, the short version is – if you are an evangelical Christian (or any Christian) who feels deeply uncomfortable and anxious about sharing your faith, and also vaguely guilty about how little you actually do share your faith, if you are fearful that the fact that you have not prayed all (or any) of your friends to Christ reflects badly on your relationship with Jesus, you should definitely, definitely read this book. You should absolutely read this book if you can relate to any of the following statements:

“Chipmunks remind us of the way we used to approach evangelism, treating people as mission projects, scurrying out to them only to hurry back to the safety of our den.” – pg. 13

“Layered on top of my concern that my friends were headed to hell, I was motivated by guilt. If I didn’t share immediately and directly, I would disappoint God and miss my sole purpose as a young Christian.” – pg. 19

“We’ve come to wonder how many of our friends, when “conversions” did happen, prayed the sinner’s prayer to soothe our evangelical fervor.” – pg. 19

“Perhaps you can relate to the fevered feeling to share Christ and discharge your duty.” – pg. 21

“One honest friend admits that talking about his faith is like intellectual arm wrestling. “If I don’t crush them, I’ve lost. If I budge toward them, they’ve  won.”” – pg. 21

If you can relate to any or all of those statements, then the Finchers understand your predicament. They were both raised in conservative Christian denominations and homes, struggled with the tensions common in that culture, and they are speaking to other Christians within that culture who feel the same tensions. So if you fall into that category, then this book was written for you, and the Finchers have done a smashing job. They are honest, insightful, compassionate, vulnerable, and tough in a smart, loving way.

I found it very engaging, even when I was arguing with it.

I found it very engaging, even when I was arguing with it.

The Finchers succeed in laying out an approach to evangelism that satisfies the evangelical need for sharing the faith, and also minimizes the risk of injuring your conversation partner. This is a vital topic in a time when most efforts by evangelicals to share their faith are leaving a well-documented bad taste in people’s mouths. Yet even as the Finchers lay out all the ways in which you might be coming on too strong, they are passionate about keeping you engaged in a more authentic way. They offer quite a few practical suggestions for staying engaged in a spiritual conversation at just those moments when it would feel easier to abandon ship. They offer multiple example conversations from their own experience so that readers can see how principles play out in real life. They go over:

Basic Manners (respect, empathy, authenticity, and allowing people space to remain unconvinced, among others);

Christianese That You Don’t Realize Is Turning People Off;

Understanding Your Own Religion (including what is, and is not, essential);

Things You Think Are Important But Aren’t, Really;

How Not to be a Bible Bully, and more.

(I made all these designations up, by the way – the Finchers’ language is much more sincere. The snark is all mine). The Finchers are self-described evangelicals who are “learning to be more appropriately human,” (an excellent mission statement for anyone), and helping other evangelicals to also be more appropriately human.

And they are very evangelical. Depending on your perspective, this will either be a strength or turn-off. If you identify comfortably as an evangelical, then the Finchers will make you feel safe as you explore the topics under discussion, and they will reaffirm your confidence in your faith and in the Bible even as they attempt to stretch your paradigms a little. I see this genuinely as a positive – the Finchers are bridge-builders between evangelicals and the world, a very important vocation in this season when both the right and the left are feeling marginalized and under siege from the other side. The Finchers offer a way through for people who are deeply steeped in evangelical culture, who find it very life-giving, and who want to genuinely engage their neighbors in a way that is also life-giving for all parties.

Too many encounters between evangelicals and non-evangelicals can feel like guerilla ad-bombing for Jesus, and both sides retreat afterwards to lick their wounds, the evangelists suffering painful performance anxiety, and the evangelized feeling violated and assaulted. The Finchers are offering a path towards a better pattern of relating. They are saying things to evangelicals that many people are trying to say to evangelicals, but because the Finchers are, themselves, evangelicals, and can root their message in scripture and evangelical theology, the message can be received in a non-threatening way. In fact, I expect their message will be downright liberating for all the people who have been shouldering guilt for years, always looking over their shoulders and wondering if they’ve done enough, and if they’re bad Christians for secretly hating evangelism, because evangelism as they’ve been doing it always feels so uncomfortably icky. If every person in the target audience read the book and implemented even half of what the Finchers teach, the world would be a much, much more safe, more thoughtful, and more respectful place. Here is a book on how to engage respectfully with people who disagree with you while staying faithful to your evangelical roots and values. The book goes a long way toward outlining and trying to foster a culture that makes space for theological plurality from an evangelical point of view. In today’s sectarian and polarized culture, that’s no small feat.

On the other hand, if you identify outside the evangelical mold, and especially if you are ex-evangelical, then you may find the book uncomfortable and constraining. The scriptural interpretations and illustrations feel like standard Sunday fare, there is the deeply embedded Western dualism (“we can see with proper study that Jesus meant this and NOT that”), there is the deep evangelical emphasis on finding answers in the Bible and letting questions exist only on the periphery, a general discomfort with mysticism, and of course, despite the Finchers’ emphasis on respect and theological space-giving, there is still the utter evangelical inability to Just. Let. You. Be. At the end of the day, this is still a book about bringing people to Jesus, and if you find that the very notion of that agenda leaves an unpleasant smell in your nostrils, then steer clear.

So, at the end of the day, I did glean some great practical reminders for engaging in spiritual conversations (avoiding red herrings, for example), and some further reassurance that there are sincere evangelicals that I can still like and respect. (Outside of Grove City, I mean). I did not find that it stirred my old fervor for evangelism, but that wasn’t really the book’s point, so I can’t hold that against it. This is for those who already possess evangelical fervor but who either don’t know what to do with it (“What if I say the wrong thing!”) or who are tired of evangelism feeling like a battle, and who want to know that it’s Biblically okay just to get to know people without having to convert them first. And in that mission, I think it succeeds admirably.

By the way, you can click to tweet this.

Oh, and before I forget, the legal stuff: I got this book for free through the Speakeasy network in exchange for writing this (late, sorry) review. I was not required to write a positive review, and so the thoughts are still my own. Cheers!

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God Revised. Or, We All Need Religion, Just Nothing Supernatural. A Book Review.

I was reading God Revised: How Religion Must Evolve in a Scientific Age, by Galen Guengerich for my book club this month. (Correction: one of my book clubs.). This is not one of those books I got for free for the purpose of reviewing, I just had such a love-hate relationship with it I wanted to write about it anyway.

When I say love-hate, I mean 85% love, 10% genuine critique, 5% persistent personal annoyance. Guengerich’s main thesis is that the problem of modern spirituality is that human beings need religion, and yet can no longer believe in silly supernatural things because of scientific progress. Guengerich’s solution to this is to re-define God, religion, and ethics so that we can all have religion (not mere spirituality, this is important to him) without needing to believe in anything that can’t be explained (ultimately) by science.

He actually does a really solid job. Guengerich argues consistently that religion is necessary, not “so we can find salvation for the next life, but rather so we can find meaning and purpose in this one.” He is very clear that mere personal spirituality is not so ultimately satisfying, for in pasting together a hodge-podge of different spiritual practices, we end up being alone in our spirituality rather than connected, because we cannot share the whole experience with another, and because there is no central, unifying principle(s) to hold it all together. As he makes the point, just because you walk around Carnegie Hall, buy a violin bow, hum some Beethoven to yourself, and visit the shop where the conductor bought his baton doesn’t mean your experience adds up to the Ninth Symphony. As you cannot have a symphony alone, neither can you have religion alone. You can have bits and pieces and aspects, but you can’t have the full experience. And for Guengerich, connection – to one another, to our pasts, to our possibilities, and to the wider world around us – is a prime value. He makes the point several times that we are all, ultimately, utterly dependent on the universe, connected intimately with everything and everyone else, past and future. Religion, he presses, is about helping us realize that reality, because it is in these connections that we find our purpose and our hope. This is where most of my  85% love is centered – I loved everything he said about religion and the ethic of gratitude that he outlines, and I think his points about dependence are a welcome and important counterpoint to the excesses of American individualism so prevalent today. I also thought his definition of a non-supernatural God was kinda brilliant. I was skeptical at first (“What is he talking about? Isn’t God, by definition, supernatural?”), but pleasantly surprised that he pulled it off.

About that last point – Guengerich is clear that it’s not necessary to believe in the supernatural, or swear allegiance to any fairy tale rule book, in order to have this transcendent experience. In fact, he’s quite persistent in claiming that any reliance on or belief in the supernatural is behind us as a species and that we would all be better off if we moved on. This is where he gets personally annoying for me, as someone who feels very strongly in a supernatural God, Who has an incredible amount in common with Guengerich’s conception of God, except for the supernatural part. I mean really, if we agree on 90% of everything else, can’t you just let me have God supernaturally? Must you insist that I am delusional or childish or backwards for finding the Bible to be rich reading, or for being able to see it as a book that is both divinely inspired and culturally bound in important ways? He makes a lot of passing comments about how belief in both science and the supernatural necessarily leads to a schizophrenic, divided world view, which may be true for many people, but all the scripture interpretations and doctrines he used to demonstrate this were ones I don’t subscribe to. I was fine with his problems with fundamentalism, because they’re also my problems with fundamentalism, I was just wishing for a little more charity towards other traditions in Christianity (and progressive Islam, Reform Judaism, etc.). He spent a lot of time pointing out the worst in historical and modern American Christianity (and there’s a lot of it, I’ll freely admit), and then swiping all the rest of it away as if reformers of the tradition don’t exist or don’t matter, even though we’re fighting for most of the same things he’s fighting for. [And I always find the secular claim that religion is the cause of all evil in the world to be tiresome – claiming that the crusades and the inquisition are the result of Christianity is like claiming that Stalin’s and Mao’s regimes were the result of atheism. Humans are persistently messed up, routinely seek power out of fear, and will hijack whatever institution and rhetoric wields the most influence at the time. But I digress.]

Anyway. I was clearly just not the target audience. Staunch religious in various traditions will be annoyed by Guengerich’s dismissal of all things supernatural, as I suspect staunch atheists will be annoyed that he’s trying to defend religion at all (one of my super-smart book club friends pointed out that a heavier reliance on neuroscience than philosophy would have added more empirical weight to his claim that humans need religion). It seems to me Guengerich is addressing mostly “nones,” the spiritual-but-not-religious, and what a good friend once termed “non-practicing atheists.” Being inclusive towards someone like me might have been too much of a stretch for his audience. He’s creating a path to religion for people who can’t reconcile the supernatural with the scientific, and/or have been burned by traditional religion, but who still crave a deep, richly textured, transcendent experience. I think this is a really valuable service and even an important book for that reason.

At book club, one of my really intelligent and well-read, religious-studies major friends said that she didn’t find anything in it that hadn’t in some way been said before, and I’m sure that’s largely true (gratitude is pretty universal, after all, although I thought a central “ethic of gratitude” was kind of novel), but in the swirling vortex of modern spirituality, I think his is an important voice, and I think this is an important iteration of these ideas. It reminds me of the poem The Second Coming by Yeats:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

This is what spirituality feels like to a lot of people today – things are falling apart, and there’s no center to hold onto – you have to cling to the edges of oppressive fundamentalism or harsh secularism. Guengerich is trying to find and articulate a center that will hold. And for those who are seeking just that, I hope they find the hope and satisfaction that Guengerich is trying to give them.

PS – I’d be really interested in hearing the opinions of any of my atheist friends, if you’ve read the book. I’m curious to know how it reads from the other side.

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One Lovely Blog!

So this is what I was going to post last week, when I posted Christmas Lament instead. I am not over and past the Newtown tragedy, but I find that I said everything I wanted to say about it in that last post. So while I am not laying it to rest in my life (I plan to participate in the 26 Acts of Kindness campaign, for one thing), I will leave it behind on the blog for now, and bring you something more cheerful – more blogs!

This post, by the way, is six months overdue. Way back in the middle of wedding planning purgatory, I had the enormous privilege of being nominated for the One Lovely Blog award, not once but TWICE! Heee 🙂 The only rule is that I’m supposed to feed some blog love back to the blog(s) that first nominated me, and then nominate fifteen more blogs for the award. EASY!

Just a note before you begin – upon reviewing my list of blogs, and thinking about some of the people who might end up clicking to some of those blogs, the contradictions of my life have become apparent. I am a progressive Christian mystic in an evangelical church community, for one, and also a skeptic, an armchair scientist, and a poet. If you know me mostly in one context, don’t be surprised if some of these blog choices surprise you. I’m a big believer in interfaith and other kinds of dialogue, so inclusion on this list does not mean that I agree with everything that every blogger on this list says, or that they think the same things I do, or that they even approve of the other blogs I’ve nominated. And if you click on one and find that you’re at odds with it, please just be respectful, because these are my friends. Thanks.

The first blogger who tagged me for One Lovely Blog was the incredible Clare Flourish. I like Clare because she’s both feisty and whimsical, brave and vulnerable, intellectual and personal. A casual reading of her blog can take you through her impressions of gross art exhibitions, morning commute train rides, moments of horrifying self-doubt, and then defenses of both the Bible and homosexuality. Her blog chronicles a life lived with dignity, courage, and compassion. I was really honored and touched that she thought my blog worthy of a recommendation.

The next blogger who nominated me was my dear friend Mindy over at small-letters. Another life lived with dignity, courage, and compassion, chronicled in poetry, musings, wishes, and the occasional stirring rant. I have the enormous privilege of  knowing this beautiful, complex person in real life, and she is magnificent. As fully alive as they come.

And without further ado, here are the 15 blogs I nominate for the One Lovely Blog award:

one-lovely-blog-number-2

First, three professional blogs that I really genuinely enjoy:

John Shore – JUST FOR THE RECORD, John Shore was already on my list of favorite blogs before he ran “Christmas Lament” on his blog too. It was just a double-dose of awesome for me that my favorite blogger happened to appreciate my writing in return. Anyway. He was described by one of his commenters as “The Dear Abbey of the New Millenium,” and I tend to agree. Mr. Shore is a progressive Christian and writes on topics like hell (“Is Hell Real? What Are We, Six?” – the post that led me to his site and made me a believer), salvation, homosexuality, and now gun control, but to me the most beautiful parts of his blog, and the reason I go back frequently, are the parts where he responds to reader’s questions about their personal lives. He gets a lot of letters from a) gay Christians, b) people escaping fundamentalism in any of its forms, and c) people struggling with abusive relationships. He answers all of these people with grace, verve, humor, and encouragement. The life-giving effects of his insights are evidenced in the faithful community that has extended discussions in the comments section after each post. Seriously, you want to read the comments on this blog. You always want to read the comments; often they’re even better than the blog itself.

100 Days of Real Food started out as a personal challenge for the author to cut out processed food entirely for 100 days. Today, just a couple of years later, it has numerous sponsors, and the blog has oodles of really great information for anyone concerned with eating healthy. They have recipes, challenges, mini-challenges, menu plans, tips for persuading picky eaters, info on various restaurant chains and food manufacturers, and lots and lots of LISTS! It’s a dream for someone organizationally challenged like me, who needs lots of help and support to stay on track with my perpetual food-improvement resolutions.

Health Kismet – Full disclosure: this is my little brother’s blog, but I love it anyway. Health consciousness runs in my family, but Jonathan was always the most interested out of my siblings, and he was enough of a science nerd to actually study nutrition and design his own green food supplement. The blog is great, very informative about trends and research in nutrition and health, if you’re into that kind of thing. And Jonathan is a good soul.  🙂

And here I employ shameless nepotism to brag on the blogs of my friends, either virtual or flesh-and-blood, in no particular order:

Lucy’s Dreadful Thought – Written by my friend Maureen, this little gem contains reflections about all things in the space where spirituality, imagery, stereotypes, and human dignity overlap. The blog is named for a moment in C.S. Lewis’s Prince Caspian, and you will find numerous Lewis references peppered throughout the blog, in both macro- and micro- fashion. She also frequently tackles issues around the way the culture and subcultures we live in shape us, women especially.

kvenna rad – Being the blog of one Marie Marshall, who is a regular commenter on this blog (thank you!), I go here when I want a short poetry break. And I do mean short – most of the little gems she posts are haiku worthy, but much more interesting than most haikus I read. I’ve been especially enjoying the Devil’s Diary series of late…

exiles – This is the personal journal of some very good friends of ours (all three of their children were in our wedding), and it’s a fun jaunt for anyone who likes looking at pictures of kids and upstate new york, and pictures of kids in upstate new york, and reading about parenting, etc. It’s full of daily adventures and little moments.

aabsofsteel – a friend of mine from my writing group, Aabs does a lot of personal reflection and memoir, and has a way of painting moments and memories that really sings. I always want to spend more time with my family after reading her pieces.

thelenaraproject – this new blog is written by another friend of mine, and it chronicles the consequences of her and her husband’s decision to leave their nice plush jobs in New York and try out classroom teaching for the first time ever. In Honduras. I highly recommend that you at least read “The Circumcision Discussion.”

Daya Kripalu – Speaking of Honduras, this blog is written by Kristie, a lovely woman whom I only recently met at my wedding because she was the date of Ray, a very good friend. Just before B and I tied the knot, Kristie and Ray unloaded their property, valuables, and jobs, and then left our wedding to fly straight to Central America. They have been on a three-month-and-counting odyssey since then, traveling with open-ended plans through Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras, and will be heading to Hawaii apparently on Christmas Day. Kristie’s blog is really a treasure, chronicling a true journey, inside and out. I can also vouch that she’s a beautiful person and a really, really good yoga instructor.

Lyrics of a Caged Songbird – And speaking of journeys, Cate chronicles some of her inner journey here. I always trust her to bring me into a safe reflective space. She writes a lot on themes of healing, friendship, and trying to follow your dreams. She also happens to be a killer musician, and you can link to some of her music from the blog.

ajummama – This hot Korean mama blogs about family life, Korean-American life, and life as the mother of now TWO small children with humor, warmth, insight, and love.

while waiting – This is the blog of my pastor. I realized that I was actually very reluctant to add this blog to the list, not because I don’t like the blog, and not because I don’t like the author, but because I go so far out of my way to avoid anything that might resemble evangelism, I didn’t want this to be mistaken for the “Come check out my church!” vibe that is so common in evangelical circles. But if Drew were any other friend, I’d be including it anyway, so I decided that reverse discrimination against him for being a pastor would be unfair. I really do like the blog and the person behind it, and I especially recommend his reflections on race and multi-cultural issues in America and in the church.

notsoblindfaith – Blatant push for the hubby :D. B started this blog in July and then had to temporarily abandon it because wedding planning craziness got the better of him, but it shows much promise and I’m hoping this plug will inspire him to finish some of those drafts and get back in the game. He’s got a lot of thoughtful things to say!

Books Are Wonderful – Shanella, one of my bookier booky friends, reviews books here. She reads a LOT. I read a lot, but I mean Shanella reads a LOT. And she reads a lot of children’s, young adult, and science fiction/fantasy, as well as every other kind of book, so I look here for things I might be missing on my reading list.

tinkering – Last in list but not in love, another newish blog by someone I really admire. Raw truth, so far mostly chronicling the journey out of and beyond Christianity, and the occasional product review 😉 This one will be challenging for anyone living the evangelical dream, and I imagine liberating for those who have left, or who are leaving. I discovered this blog because this person is my friend, but I would read it anyway because spiritual abuse runs hard in my family, and tinkering’s insights into the ways we twist people into dogmas, and the shape of the fallout that occurs from that, are really helpful in understanding some of my own struggles with faith and the church. While I have no plans to leave Christianity myself, I find this blog quite inspiring.

That’s 15 – wow! I know a lot of really amazing people who also happen to be good writers. If you are a regular reader here, thank you for your continued support. If you are a blogger nominated on this list, thank you for sharing yourself with the world, and please feel NO pressure whatsoever to respond to this nomination. This was a tremendously difficult post to put together for me, and I don’t want anyone else to feel pressured to put themselves through the same (although it is my great pleasure to feed you whatever small bit of blog love I may).

Happy reading, happy blogging, and happy holidays!

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