Saturday, November 10, 2007

Girl Meets God

I wish I could say I discovered this book, because it feels like a discovery! But so many people have recommended it to me, and I have seen it so widely mentioned around the blogosphere, that I almost hesitate to review it.

But I have to, because it's that good. Especially if you're Jewish or Anglican, you've got to read Lauren Winner's account of how she traveled from a minimally religious upbringing through Orthodox Judaism to Anglican Christianity, only to discover that her Jewish roots were worth hanging onto after all. And if you're not from either of those traditions, it's a delightful exploration, told in a fresh and clear voice.

I am not a big fan of non-fiction. It doesn't hold my interest, generally. But there is a certain style of non-fiction writing that I not only admire, I try to imitate--and Lauren Winner is now on my short list, along with Peggy Noonan, Jeanne Marie Laskas and Frederica Mathewes-Green. Though these women write with great insight on completely different subjects, they all write simply and clearly. They are direct and honest. They have a sense of humor, but it doesn't take over. They write from the heart in a personal and winning tone; you feel as if they're sharing their stories with you from across the table over lunch. They are real people.

I can't wait to read more books by this author. Googling just now, I am delighted to see that she's written several books since Girl Meets God, and that I'm not alone in thinking she's a fine writer. And she's Anglican! Which means she writes about things I care about. Here's a great quote:

I'm not sure I understand the sacrament of confession much better than the first time I sat down with Father Peter. I say confession because the church teaches that we should, and I say it because, when I don't, I feel over full--not in a good, cup-overflowing way, but in a sticky, sweaty, eaten-too-much way.

Confession makes sense to me because it is incarnational. In the sacraments, the Holy Spirit uses stuff to sanctify us. In the Eucharist He uses bread and wine, and in confirmation He uses oil and in baptism He uses water. In confession, the stuff He uses is another person. In that way, confession teaches us about the Incarnation all over again. ...

Here, in confession, God is connecting us to Himself not through bread or oil or water or wine, but through another broken body, one who absolves you, and then says, "Go in peace, and pray for me, a sinner."

I have other quotes all lined up for my little series.

Because it's just so tempting to say, "What she said"!

For other book reviews, check out Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.


Summer in FL said...

Jeanne: I love hearing about your faith. Growing up southern baptist, I've never been exposed to anything else. More, please . . . give us more!

Sounds like a great book. I how she analyzed confession -- what a neat way to think about it.

Jennifer said...


I loved Girl Meets God. I passed it around to all my friends and have been thinking I want to read it again.

You should try her book "Mudhouse Sabbath" Its a small book, but in it she talks about how, after leaving Judaism, she really missed the rituals. So, the book is about how she incorporated ritual into her Christian practice.

Your daughter is still too young for Winner's book "Real Sex", but it might be one to keep in mind when she goes off to college. Her audience seems to be Christian college students, many of whom are having sex, and Winner creates an argument for purity that goes way beyond what most people can provide. I think she forms a very holistic view.

Jen in Seattle

annie said...

I so enjoyed this book! Her Sabbath book is alsom refreshing in a similar way. I'm going to look up the authors you just put in a list with her. Thanks for the recommendations.

elaine@bloginmyeye said...

Loved it. And loved Mudhouse Sabbath. Gotta put Real Sex on my reading list.

Islandsparrow said...

I have her books ordered at the library - I'm looking forward to reading them.