I’ve been taking advantage of long summer days and the pause I get from the insanity of grad school life this summer to read, read, read, read.
This has included the chance to read the most recent work by one of the most prolific writers in my creative nonfiction program, Sarahbeth Caplin: Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic.I seldom write about issues of faith on this blog–it’s not an area in which I feel I have much insight or expertise. I respect people of all faiths, and I certainly don’t want to estrange any readers.
That said, if you are at all interested in faith and how it operates in the Western world, whether you’re Christian, Jewish, atheist, or agnostic, I highly recommend this book.
Beth, as she now calls herself, was raised Jewish, but as a young adult, converted to evangelical Christianity. That conversion is the focus of her first memoir, Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter. The focus of this second memoir, however, is how she has become more and more uncomfortable with some of Christianity’s doctrines and found, in some ways, more truth in the Judaism in which she was raised. She still identifies as a Christian, but she’s still seeking to define exactly what that means for her.
Here’s what I love about this book: while still embracing, not rejecting, the wisdom and beauty of Biblical teachings, Beth is not afraid to ask some really, really good questions. Above all, Beth struggles throughout the narrative to reconcile her friends’ beliefs about salvation and an exclusive afterlife for those who call themselves “Christian” against her father’s recent death. Whereas the notion of salvation can be a great comfort for those who have lost a loved one who shares their faith, Beth points out that it’s actually profoundly disturbing and hurtful to those with relatives who come from different faith traditions.
I’ve chosen not to share too much about my own spiritual beliefs here on the blog, since I want the focus to be on issues of mental and physical health that apply to all of us, regardless of our spiritual backgrounds. I welcome readers of all faiths to my blog!
What I will say is that I was moved by the honesty of Beth’s book, and that she asks some really important questions that anyone who identifies as Christian or is interested in Christianity should be thinking about.
If you’re interested in issues of faith, I also encourage you to follow Beth’s insightful blog.
In other reading news, I’ve recently started The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. Moriarty is a professor at my alma mater, the University of Kansas, and I’m excited to check out her most popular work!
What have you read recently?