what I have been reading (mid-July edition)

Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary by Marcus Borg (from the public library)

I read two books about Jesus by Marcus Borg in quick succession, and I liked both of them. In the end, I think I liked this one better, but I had the same problem getting into the first half that I did with the other one. The second half was amazing and inspiring. Recommended for: people who like Jesus, people who don’t mind getting their boring lives wrecked by Jesus’ message.

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son by Lori Duron (from NetGalley)

When I was pregnant and we found out we were having a boy, I wondered what I would do if it turned out that he wanted to be a girl. As he has gotten older, I have realized that I would love him no matter what, because what I love is that person at the core of Atticus who is. I also realize that’s easy for me to say since he conforms to a lot of gender norms (although he says his favorite color is pink). The main revelation for me in thinking about this topic is that I don’t know a lot about kids who are gender creative or gender non-conforming, so when I saw this book, I was interested. The author, Lori Duron, is the mom of a gender creative boy who likes dolls and princesses and pink and who doesn’t feel “like a boy” and the book tells their story as a family to make sure they are loving him well. Duron talks honestly about some misconceptions she had and the things they have learned in a way that brings the reader along. This is a book about love, plain and simple: a mother who loves and protects her child even when she feels like this is not what she signed up for. Recommended for: people who are interested in thinking more about the T in LGBTQ, people who care about kids.

photo (86)

(A literal rainbow from last week’s Moral Monday. SEE WHAT I DID THERE?)

Thrashing About With God: Finding Faith on the Other Side of Everything by Mandy Steward (from NetGalley)

I should start by saying that I am probably not the target audience for Thrashing About With God. Mandy Steward makes a point of saying that she knows she is not finished with this journey of grace, and I completely understand that. I hope I am never done learning about the mysteries of God either. But the sense I got from the book is that she is not settled with herself, that she still feels defensive about parts of her story like taking a break from church and not reading the Bible. This is understandable because she is a pastor’s wife, but it is also very far from the life that I live, and that made it hard to relate. I felt sorry for her a lot, because I felt like she was “thrashing about” with a confining view of Christianity more than she was “thrashing about with God” and that it’s likely that God isn’t as worried about some of her hangups with Christianity as she has been taught. In the end, I thought that the book would have benefited from further time for growth and reflection on her part: her story is worth telling but it did not feel ready yet. Some of her thoughts were beautiful, especially the ideas of light and dark that she returned to several times, but the book as a whole did not gel for me. Recommended for: people who liked the message of Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman and the style of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Little Black Sheep: A Memoir by Ashley Cleveland (via NetGalley)

I am familiar with Ashley Cleveland mostly from The Jesus Record but I have always admired her as a person who was uncompromising about her art. She never tried to shoehorn certain words into her lyrics so that her songs would be appealing to Christian audiences (at the time, we called this “Jesus per minute” or JPM). Instead, she wrote honestly about her faith and her life. This book is no different – it is her story of finding a place in the music industry and her journey to recovery after years of addiction. It was a quick and engaging read. Recommended for: people who are bad at compromising, people who like memoirs, people who have been known to call themselves “black sheep.”

NetGalley provided me with copies of Raising My Rainbow, Thrashing About With God, and Little Black Sheep in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

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