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TM "tanya2124" (England)

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Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Price: £7.19

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Healing balm to those who doubt, 14 April 2015
If you have ever been sitting in church, singing a hymn or song, and caught yourself thinking, “I don’t know if I believe any of this", you may well relate to Rachel Held Evans’ experience of having a faith crisis. Part memoir, part-reflection, part-essay, this is a beautiful, vulnerable book about finding church again when you feel like you’ve lost it.

She describes how she questioned and eventually left her childhood church, floundering in small pockets of Christian community before eventually making her way back to a congregation in a different denomination. She structures the book around the seven Catholic and Orthodox sacraments (baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, marriage), because she says that, surprisingly, it was the sacraments that drew her back to faith and to the church.

I loved this book, and here are some reasons why:
- Room for all. You don’t have to be on the same page theologically as Rachel Held Evans to benefit from her process and experience. She doesn’t shy away from the hard and discomfiting questions about hell, women in ministry, and gay marriage, but this book doesn’t feel like a manifesto, it feels gentle and pastoral, a space to breathe and take stock.
- Insightful and relatable. This is always a sign of well-written memoir: her story is so astutely observed that it feels universal. She perfectly captures the lonely experience of grief, anger and defensive cynicism that accompanies a crisis of faith, and I found myself underlining passages, going “YES! This was me!” I was pretty convinced for a while that we were destined to become BFFs, but sadly I think it’s probably down to good writing, so I suspect there will be a long queue of potential other BFFs saying, ‘yes, me too!’ to her experiences.
- Her writing: is elegant, witty, and intelligent. It is a joy to read. I knew from her blogs that she was a good writer, but this really brings out her dry humour. At the start of each section, there is a creative theological reflection on each of the sacraments, which are artful and art-full, and the ‘oil’ chapter especially, on the scent of God, just blew me away: I’d never before thought of the Old Testament sacrifices in quite that way.
- Her perspective on healing: I am someone who has chronic illness, and her section on anointing the sick made me want to hug her. I have always been wary of this rite, but she reframed it in such a helpful way that I wish every pastor could read it. The whole section is quite simply brilliant:

This is a book for those who’ve grown up in the church, but are now questioning their faith, or considering walking away from the church altogether. Rachel Held Evans doesn’t try to ‘fix’ her reader, but invites people to walk with her awhile, which is why, to me, it felt like sanctuary. I wholeheartedly recommend Searching for Sunday: beautiful, insightful and funny, this book will be a healing balm to many who doubt.

- Disclosure: I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review, which this is. -


Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together
Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together
Price: £1.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, gentle, and very helpful, 11 Mar. 2015
Last night I found myself saying to a friend, ‘Ed Cyzewski has just written a book on this exact topic – you should read it’. It’s a sign of a good book when you find yourself recommending it to others without meaning to. I always think of Ed Cyzewski as a pastor to writers, and a writer to pastors, and this book encapsulates his dual ministry perfectly. In the first chapter he says this:

“If you want to improve your prayer life, try writing.
“If you want to improve your writing life, try praying.”

The rest of the book explores how both of these things can be spiritual disciplines and how they combine to make us more whole and healthy. It’s engaging, encouraging, and easy to read, and I wore out my highlighter with all the memorable quotes. As soon as I finished it, I downloaded the app he suggested and it’s already changing my prayer life. It’s a nice short book, about the length of a Kindle single and can be read in one setting.

This is a must-read for all pastors and writers, but I’d say it would be a help to anyone, even if you’ve not thought much about praying or writing before – it’s really gentle and wise with lots of helpful tips. Highly recommended

* Disclosure - I received a free copy and asked to give my honest review, which this is. *


Harvest
Harvest
by Jim Crace
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but slow, 5 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Harvest (Paperback)
This is a modern fable, set in an anonymous English town, at some medieval period, and is about how society reacts to change by punishing the outsider, terrorising women and children, scrabbling for power, etc. This has ‘I want to be a Booker Prize Winner’ written all over it (and indeed it was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize) – nothing much happens, slowly, but beautifully. It is trying to be a Lord of the Flies, but I found that I didn’t emotionally engage with the characters, so the morals fell a little bit flat, and it was just a little too agricultural for my liking. In its favour is the way it conveys the message of quiet stability and power of nature even while authorities and rulers are overthrown. It is a good book, a very well-written book, but I didn’t enjoy it, and if I hadn’t been reading it for a book club I would have abandoned it.


Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior
Fallen: Out of the Sex Industry & Into the Arms of the Savior
by Annie Lobert
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.87

4.0 out of 5 stars A quick and gripping read, 5 Mar. 2015
This gripping autobiography tells the story of how a nice, educated, middle-class girl ended up in the sex trade – and how she found faith and escaped from that life. Annie Lobert, founder of Hookers for Jesus, tells her story with frankness and energy, and I really appreciated her honesty of her own faults, as well as the injustice and terrifying nature of the sex industry. I found myself in admiration of her tenacity and strength, particularly in recovering from her pimp’s repeated and horrific beatings. It’s an easy and quick read, and though the Bible reflections are interesting, the book is strongest when she is telling her story and the story of others in the sex industry. Recommended.


Little Women [DVD] [2000]
Little Women [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Susan Sarandon
Price: £4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 5 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Little Women [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
The young Kirsten Dunst as Amy and Gabriel Byrne as the Professor were the stand-outs for me, and I sobbed my way through it with great enjoyment. A classic.


Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker/ The Mouse King (Arthaus Musik: 101636)
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker/ The Mouse King (Arthaus Musik: 101636)
Dvd ~ Anna Tsygankova
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £17.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and engaging, 5 Mar. 2015
this is a little different to the traditional productions, but I found it utterly enchanting. It makes a real story out of what can feel a bit disparate, through the use of dream sequence, and the dancing of all was exquisite. This is my favourite Nutcracker out there right now.


I Knew A Phoenix: Sketches for an Autobiography
I Knew A Phoenix: Sketches for an Autobiography
by M Sarton
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Immerse yourself in beautiful language, 5 Mar. 2015
I enjoyed this better than her Journal of a Solitude, and her writing is so masterful that I keep highlighting things. As a memoir, it places you like a seagull over the action, rather than in the middle of it, and really there isn’t much action, more a beautiful description of several epochs in her parents’ and her life. It’s the kind of book that isn’t a page-turner, but one I like to read when I need good writing flowing through my head.


A Christian Survival Guide
A Christian Survival Guide
by Ed Cyzewski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those who are questioning the foundations of faith, 5 Mar. 2015
This book is ideal for anyone who has grown up in an evangelical or fundamentalist church but is now thinking of turning away from the faith because it feels too rigid and imprisoning. It asks questions of tenets of faith that we so often take for granted as ‘gospel truth’, and gently shakes the foundations a little, saying that there is perhaps more room for belief than you might suppose. It’s theology, but with a pastoral, gentle, respectful tone, rather than dry and academic.


Girl With A White Dog
Girl With A White Dog
by Anne Booth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Makes the holocaust surprisingly relevant, 5 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Girl With A White Dog (Paperback)
This is a really good book for explaining the holocaust to 8-10 year old children. It’s quite clever, because it still has the shock of what the Nazis did, but without being excruciatingly horrific. I found the ‘twist’ a little obvious, but guessing it would be a surprise and shock for children.

What I particularly liked about it as an adult was the parallels she drew between 1930s Germany in recession, and today’s culture, with increasing hostility towards immigrants and disabled people – it made it current and thought-provoking, which means it’s well worth reading as an adult. It’s well-written, and I read it in one sitting.


The St. Clare Prayer Book: Listening for God's Leading
The St. Clare Prayer Book: Listening for God's Leading
by Jon M. Sweeney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Mini-biography and beautiful breviary, 5 Mar. 2015
After reading Sweeney’s outstanding biography of St Francis, I thought I’d get this book, which is a combination of a mini-biography of St Clare (St Francis’ best friend) and a liturgy of prayers written by her for morning and evening prayer. It wasn’t quite as sparkling as his St Francis book, but still a thoroughly enjoyable biography, beautiful prayers, and a pleasingly quick read. This book would be useful for anyone looking for a breviary, or similar: there are some good Bible passages and written prayers.


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