Monday, April 16, 2012

Still ~ by Lauren F. Winner

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis ~ by Lauren F. Winner, 2012, memoir
I first learned of this book in early February on a RevGalBookPals post, which said:
What happens when you hit a spiritual wall, and rather than fleeing, you stay there right there at the wall?

What happens when the things you thought you knew about leading a Christian spiritual life no longer seem to make sense in the actual life you find yourself living?

What happens when you realize you have left the (joy-filled, thunderstruck) beginning of your spiritual life, and entered the decidedly not thunderstruck middle?
The author sent copies of the book to those of us who wanted to read it, though the books were gifts and neither RevGalBlogPals nor any of the recipients are required to review or promote the book or participate in a discussion of it.  When the book arrived, I wrote about it here.

While waiting for my copy, I borrowed Lauren Winner's 2002 memoir from the library.  In Girl Meets God, I learned she was born to a Jewish father and "a lapsed Southern Baptist mother," chose to become an Orthodox Jew, but was increasingly drawn to Christianity.  In this earlier memoir, she tries to reconcile the Jewish and Christian sides of her religious identity.  The book is structured around both the Jewish year and the Christian year, as she compares and contrasts the two.  This earlier book was less mature than the one we'll be discussing today on the RevGals blog.

Written ten years and a crisis of faith later in her life, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis has three parts:
Part I — The Wall, as in "hitting the wall"
Part II — Movement
Part III — Presence
The book is made up of "fifty-four meditations on what it looks like to arrive at a middle place in a spiritual journey and how to respond to a feeling of God's absence."  That quote is from a 40-day study guide for Still.  The first note I took the time to write out from this book was when Lauren quoted the poet Carrie Fountain (p. 64):
was the last skill I learned.  I practiced
rigorously.  Just as I was getting good, I lost it.  As soon as it
was gone, I understood it was not a skill at all.
The study guide asks, "If prayer is not a skill, what is it?"  The prompt for reflection has more questions:
"Lauren realizes that even when she cannot pray, she knows that other people continue to pray for her.  Have there been seasons in your life in which you have had a profound sense of other people's praying for you?  What is the importance of praying for one another?"
One more example of how readers can use this book to study, whether alone or in a group:
From Still:  "When I stand with the faithful at Holy Comforter and declare that we believe in one God . . . I am saying, Let this be my scaffolding.  Let this be the place I work, struggle, play, rest.  I commit myself to this."  (p. 169)

From the study guide:  "What does this response to the creed call forth for you?  What would your faith look like if you allowed the teachings of the church to be your scaffolding?"
I rate both of these books 8 of 10, very good.

Lauren F. Winner
Author's website:  Laurin F. Winner
Study Guide:  40 Days with Still
Other reviews and discussions of this book:
Comments @ RevGalBookPals
Pastor Julia @ Faith, Grace and Hope
Alissa @ Episcotheque
Ramona @ Ramblings of a Jesus Freak
River Song @ Desert Spirit's Fire!
St. Inuksuk @ Signs Along the Way
Sandy @ The Table (March and April)
Michelle Van Loon @ Transforming Words
RevGord @ Following Frodo
Earthchick @ RevGalBookPals:  "seems like a memoir"
Unfinsymphony @ An Unfinished Symphony
Rev Dr Mom @ RevGalBookPals:  "good book group book"


Robin said...

Thanks for this, Bonnie.

Jan said...

Thanks for hosting this today, Bonnie.

Please send me your snail mail address again!

Bonnie Jacobs said...


Pastor Julia is the one hosting the discussion at RevGalBook Pals. All I've done is link this book review there and collect reviews people share in the comments. I want to spend more time thinking about what they've written because I was busy much of today doing things like getting my annual eye exam that's been scheduled since last year.