I did not read a lot this week. I did a lot of sewing, and a lot of editing, but not a lot of reading. So here we are.
Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir by Susan E. Isaacs is fascinating. It’s a memoir of Isaacs’ trying to come to terms with God. At the beginning of the book, she’s gone through a really rough patch, and has decided that either God isn’t aware of her, or he is and he hates her. Those are the only explanations she can come up with for how horribly her life is going. She’s of a Christian denomination that uses the concept of being “married to God”, so she decides that if indeed she is supposed to be married to God, that they need couples counseling, because their relationship isn’t working. So she finds a Christian counselor who is willing to work with her, as she tries to come to terms with God. The counselor has her speak for herself, as well as for God and Jesus, as she sees them. The idea sounds slightly sacrilegious, but it doesn’t play out that way. The counselor makes it clear from the beginning that God is unchangeable, and as He’s perfect, He isn’t the one who needs to change. And Isaacs accepts that, and genuinely works hard to figure out why she sees God the way she does. Each chapter begins with a story from Isaacs’ life, which is then followed a transcript (of sorts) of her session with the counselor. Some snippets:
“Either God isn’t personal and I’ve wasted my time, or he is personal and he hates me.” “There’s a third option,” Randy suggested, “God loves you, but crappy things still happen.”
God: I resent you blaming me for everything. And I do not exist to give you what you want.
God: What are your complaints against me? That I didn’t give you the career you wanted? That you didn’t get the husband you wanted? I’m not a life-insurance policy; I am your Maker.
Jesus: I gave you my life, Susan. But you wanted a career and a boyfriend.
Sin is never okay, Susan. Sin cost you a part of yourself. Sin cost Jesus his life. Forgiveness means you turn the burden of justice over to God. Let him take it. You can’t mete out justice yourself.
I really enjoy reading spiritual books written by people from denominations different than my own, because they use different words and focus on slightly different things. Isaacs goes to a number of different churches, with a number of different focuses. One is on being married to God, which is not a phrase we use in my church, but it makes me think about my relationship to God and about marriage in a new way. Another focuses on being healed. We believe in physical and emotional healing in my church- even miraculous healing. But I realize that I focus most on the miraculous healing (which doesn’t come up as often), and not so much on the constant healing that Christ offers. There are elements in the book where Isaacs and I disagree, but overall I highly enjoyed this book and would recommend it. It’s thought provoking in a lot of ways- about our relationship with God, what we expect of God, and also our relationship with those who are struggling. In one of the parts that hit me the most, Isaacs is talking about her teenage years and she says (please note that her comment about Jews is about her Jewish boyfriend at the time, who others did not approve of) :
Susan: Well, you know who got the joke? You know who got me? You know who appreciated me and made me feel like I mattered? Heathens and drunks and potheads and Jews.
God: I sent whomever I could get!
His answer caught me off guard.
Had God used those people to love and encourage me? The ones my church and parents rejected? Well, Jesus did love outcasts and God did choose the foolish to shame the wise. Maybe I could have figured it out. Still, if just one, just one, Jesus person had made me feel loved at the time, it could have changed a lot. It could have changed everything.
I started Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg earlier this week, and then haven’t picked it up again. I’ll get back to it, it is very well written and the topic fascinates me. First, however, I have to reread The Book Thief for book club. I read it about a year ago, but I don’t remember details well enough for an in depth discussion. So I shall read it before Wednesday. (I just realized it’s on Wednesday and not Tuesday. I have a whole extra day before then! What shall I read first? 😉 )
So, only one book this week. What did you read this week?